Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Review: Smallville Lantern #1

Smallville Lantern #1 came out last week, the first part of the next 'episode' of Smallville Season 11. Writer Bryan Q. Miller has done a great job on this book, bringing in more and more DC Universe characters to this particular Earth, creating great characterization for the main characters of the book, moving a long standing Crisis arc along with each episode, but also presenting a good stand-alone story with each episode that can be enjoyed on its own. I have been happily stunned by the quality of this book.

And Smallville Lantern continues that trend. If we have Flashes, and Titans, and Martians, and the Trinity in this universe then we need Green Lanterns. So Miller introduces us to his version of Jon Stewart, his version of Oa, and more importantly his version of Tomar Re and his ring's mission. And Miller does all of this with the usual nods to longstanding DC continuity while bringing his own wrinkle to the works. Fantastic.

Cat Staggs, as usual, does a great job on the cover, bringing us a rather willful appearing Super-Lantern. But I have to praise inside artist Marcio Takara. I have been drooling over Takara's commissions on Twitter and loved his stuff on Blue Beetle. Here he brings the same stylized, slightly exaggerated, flowing work to the linework inside. It really is pleasing to the eye and moves the story along wonderfully.

Now I will admit that I don't have strong memories of the last seasons of Smallville so I sometimes need to rely on the help of others for the show continuity odds.

For example, we open up with  a replay of the ending of Smallville season 9 (I think) where Zod and all his cloned Kryptonians are transported away from Earth to Argo in sector 2813. We have seen the colony as it is in the future in the Argo arc in this book.

With life again being in sector 2813, a dormant Green Lantern ring goes searching for a suitable host. Since these beings are 'synthetic' (and anyone who can clarify why) the ring rejects them. But it does recognize them as Kryptonian and so goes to find another. That was then ... it will take some time for the ring to find someone who fits the bill.

One thing I like are the small things that build up the depth of this book. Having a Kryptonian on Argo think the ring is Flamebird is just a nice little touch.

Things remain quite in Metropolis ... at least for now.

There is some playful banter between Ollie and Chloe. They are both out of the adventuring business now, instead vowing to be there for their impending bundle of joy.

It can't be a crisis without someone dying. At first I worried it was Kara. Then I thought Steph Barbara. Now, with scenes like this, it has to be one of these two. Maybe Ollie?

And Clark and Lois enjoy a quiet night at the movies. They also have some wonderful, playful conversation.

For folks like me, who think Clark and Lois should be together, scenes like these are perfect. I love how Lois says that even if there haven't been vows, the two are married.

I really love Lois in this book.

At last, the ring arrives and claims Clark.

I like how the armor has the S-shield, not the Lantern corps symbol. It shows just how strong Clark's will is. That his symbol is the primary one despite the ring's powers.

In fact, Clark seems to have an innate ability with the ring. He flies off and tries to take it off. And as he thinks of it, a variety of tools - crowbars, drills, etc - appear. Usually we hear how hard it is to will the ring to make anything. Here, subconsciously, Clark is able to make constructs.

He finally peels the ring off and flings it into deep space.

Meanwhile, the Lantern of Sector 2814, NYC police detective Jon Stewart, learns that someone on Earth is also wielding a ring. I like that it is Jon here. And I like that he is a little different, acting as a police officer.

But hearing that there were others ... fascinating.

Of course the ring doesn't accept rejection and returns and rebonds to Clark. Before he can remove it again, a tank battle erupts in Metropolis ... a bank robbery of all things.

Before he can even use his own powers, the ring must sense Clark's motives. Suddenly green energy missiles appear all around him. And when the tank fires, Clark must want the battle to end quickly. Because suddenly a huge construct Superman appears, smashing the tank to bits.

It is clear that Clark needs to learn to control the ring. I like the idea that he is naturally gifted with the ring as opposed to needing to work hard to activate it. Superman ... super-will ... right?

Stewart arrives and the two leave.

I have had many favorite moments in Smallville over the course of its comic run. This ranks up there. The bank robbery was a ruse so crooks working for Prometheus could steal something else. And this is one cruel Prometheus, gunning down people firing-squad style.

I am a huge Prometheus fan. The real Prometheus. The one who almost beat the JLA singlehandedly. Not the one beaten by Shiva or Batgirl or whoever.

I want a dangerous and deadly Prometheus, a true super-villain. I hope we get one here.

We next see Clark viewing Oa which is in a state of disrepair. Clark is getting a tutorial from Tomar Re, the GL who we know failed in saving Krypton. This is a message which gives Clark a thumbnail history of the core. The Manhunters, the possession of Hal by Parallax, the resulting war.

I love it all.

Is Jordan still around as Parallax? We hear from Stewart that Kyle took over after Hal. Then Jon got the ring. Does that mean Kyle is dead? And how did Alan Scott have his ring? All these ripples of DC lore here. I hope Miller explores it all.

And will Clark accept the role of GL of 2813?

I am interested in seeing how this history plays out in this universe. This is about as good a hook as any!

Except we get an even better one. Parallax obviously lives. Whether it is Jordan or just Parallax we don't know. But for whatever reason, it detects the 2 Lantern rings in sector 2813. And that enrages Parallax. He activates Manhunters and sends them to Earth.

Nice cliffhanger.

So overall, a great first chapter for this arc. We have the main plot of the Lantern ring. We have Parallax. We have Prometheus. And we have the usual characterization of the supporting cast.

If a first issue is supposed to intrigue the reader and grab them, this one did it!

And, as I said, Takara's work is just stylized enough to complement a more galactic/sci-fi natured story. I hope I run into Takara at a convention some time so I can grab a commission.

No complaints here.

Overall grade: A


Starsaber said...

The Kryptonians from Season 9 of Smallville were all clones based on genetic samples taken during a war years before Krypton was destroyed, which the ring was apparently able to recognize. There are fans on another forum I go to that don't like that explanation, but that's what was being referenced.

Did you notice the little jab at Avengers when Clark and Lois were coming out of the movie?

Jay said...

Hope I'm not being uncouth by posting about something other than the topic piece, but Anj you need to see the July Supergirl solicit. You'll be quite happy!

Anonymous said...

Small correction: there actually ::were:: marriage vows between Lois and Clark. They said their vows in the finale in front of a Minister. They also said them in Kryptonian in the episode before that. What they are missing is the state's paperwork from City Hall. But they :airway:: took vows in a church. -- Shades