Friday, February 7, 2014

Review: Green Lantern/Red Lantern #28

The Red Daughter storyline for Supergirl began yesterday in the Green Lantern/Red Lantern #28 flip issue. I will admit that the concept of the flip issue was a fun one for me and I was glad to not have to buy two extra issues to follow Kara’s story.

I stopped buying Green Lantern when Geoff Johns left the book so this was a good way to let me peek in on the emotional spectrum and Hal. And I have bought the last few Red Lanterns in anticipation of Kara joining the book so I would have bought this issue anyways. But to see the two corps react the Supergirl wearing a red ring was very entertaining and revealing.

Robert Venditti writes the Green Lantern half of things; I enjoyed his brief run on Demon Knights so was curious to see him on the cosmic environment of this book. Gratefully, he wrote this issue in a way that someone like me, who hasn’t read GL in several months, could jump in and easily understand. It is clear that Hal is trying his best to run things in the absence of the Oans. Seeing old friends like Kanjar Ro being recruited was strange and intriguing. And  who knew there was a Star Sapphire named Rol-Anj. No relation, of course.

Billy Tan does the art on the GL pages and brings a slick, detailed feel that matches up nicely with the ordered ‘will power’ tone of the book. I especially liked his more idyllic pages on Mogo.

Charles Soule remains the writer on Red Lanterns. I have enjoyed this book much more than SM/WW. The Lanterns here seem like fun-loving but honorable people with nasty streaks, almost libertarian in their viewpoint. They aren’t vomiting, growling psychopaths. There is a streak of black humor throughout the book as well making it a more fun read than anticipated.

Alessandro Vitti does the art on Red Lanterns and is as perfectly suited for RL as Tan is for GL. There is a raw feel to the art, a bit more grungy and rough which works with the raging tone here.

The art on both halves of this book was beautiful.

I don’t think we can necessarily call this the beginning of the Red Daughter arc even if this is the first issue on the shelves.

I say that because we are dropped into the story with Kara already wearing the ring, zipping through space. Hopefully the ‘read Supergirl #28’ blurb at the bottom of the page will bring some new readers to her title.
Now this is a Green Lantern book and a Red Lantern book, not a Supergirl book, so I understand that the focus is going to be on those characters here. Indeed, Kara is mostly a plot point in this book. And since she is a freshly minted Red Lantern she is in the ‘vomiting, growling’ stage of development.

That said, Billy Tan draws her as if she were in agony, fighting the change that has happened to her. The furrowed brow, the unringed hand holding down the ringed hand, the screams. It looks as if this is a painful and not necessarily embraced change. 

It furthers the feeling that Kara is in turmoil, angry yes … but more. Maybe she wants to move past this rage rather than have it fuel her.

How did Supergirl get the ring? Why is she flying crazily in space? I hope the rational part of her is trying to get herself away from populated areas since she is so out of control. Supergirl ends up running into a couple of Green Lanterns and briefly battles with them before passing out, presumably from exhaustion after using her heat vision.

Is it just heat vision? Or is it ‘rage vision’? Who knows how Kryptonian physiology can manipulate a ring’s energy. Maybe Kara will have more than the standard array of ring-slinging capabilities.

But even this panel where she is fallen unconscious is fascinating. She looks completely spent. Is it the vision? Or is it that she is fighting two fronts, an internal battle of wills as she fights the ring and the external battle with the GLs.

Here is the one thing that does irk me a bit … not about the writing or art but about the New 52 universe in general and how they have treated Supergirl as a character.

Hal doesn’t know who Supergirl is … at all. He has to scan her to discover she is a Kryptonian. And even then he doesn’t know who she is as an individual.

And this is the problem of Supergirl in the new 52. She is completely isolated. So isolated that the members of the Justice League don’t know who she is. How can a character this removed from the greater universe thrive?

Even if you assume Supergirl has only been on Earth for a couple of months …

Wouldn’t, in passing, Superman have mentioned his cousin to Hal at some point?
Wouldn’t Hal have heard about a force field covering New York when Supergirl fought the World Killers?
Wouldn’t he have seen news clips of her in the S-shield costume when H’El on Earth was unfolding?

At least we know Flash and Wonder Woman know her … unfortunately it is because they fought her.

Heck, Jeph Loeb knew enough to have Supergirl introduced to the DCU by Superman by the end of her first appearance!

Unconscious, Supergirl is brought to Mogo, new HQ of the GLC. There, she awakens, shatters the green energy cage she is in, and needs to be rerestrained but it takes many Lanterns shackling her with green constructs to subdue her.

While some of the Lanterns want to remove the red ring from Kara's hand, killing her, Hal feels more noble. I was glad to see that his first thought is to 'cure' her of the red energy rather than simply kill or imprison her.

Unfortunately, Blue Lantern Saint Walker isn't using his ring anymore (something about the rings draining the universe) so he can't/won't cure Kara.

Nice sentiment by Hal.

And as I said, the art in this jungle really sparkle.

And more good stuff from Hal.

He thinks of Superman as a friend and an honorable man. And he pleads with Kara to fight the insanity that comes with the red energy. This is different than the bickering Hal in JL who complains that Superman always floats above everyone and spies on them. I like this Hal much more.

And look at Supergirl in this panel. While she seemed in pain before, here she looks forlorn. Part of that might be that she is shackled and gagged. But I wonder if she is sad about this predicament, from accepting the ring. Maybe there is a part of her aware and fighting the rage.

Flipping over to the Red Lantern side of the book, Hal decides the best thing to do with Kara is bring her to Ysmault.

There are a number of reasons to head there. If this is a new ring, Hal needs to know if the Red Corps is growing (there are only a few red rings left). Second, Hal wants to check in on Guy.

But he also wants to bring Kara there.

I love how the take on Superman is different between Guy and Hal. Hal describes Superman as good and honorable, a friend. Guy's first response is almost fear. If Superman gets mad about this Kryptonian 'we're all done'. It is as if Guy anticipates Superman will attack ... and defeat ... both Corps.


Like in the Green Lantern side of things, Kara overwhelms the constructed prison and it takes two corps to hold her down and dunk her in the lake.

So Supergirl really is a snarling animal for parts of this book. I like to think that struggle we saw earlier is present but the rage can be overwhelming.

Anyways, it at least shows just how tough a ring-wearing Kryptonian would be.

One dunk in the lake later and Kara is awake and coherent.

What I take from this panel.

One, she introduces herself as Kara Zor-El. She really doesn't consider herself Supergirl.

Second, I like how she asks 'Please, what's happened to me?' Clearly the ramifications of taking the ring were not explained to her. She might not have accepted if she knew. And she doesn't come out snarling with red eyes. She's almost pleading ... please, what happened.

Although she really is out of control for the most part of this issue, small flourishes like this and the expressive work by Tan make me think there is more to her story than simply embracing rage.

We'll have to see if this internal struggle is part of her narrative.

And if Guy was worried about Superman and his thoughts about any Kryptonian, he has to be much more concerned about what Superman would think of his family becoming a Red Lantern. I guess we'll find out next month.

I think my thoughts about this Red Lantern Supergirl arc are pretty well known. I don’t think it should happen. It would have been better if it didn’t need to happen. The concept of the isolated angry Supergirl doesn’t work.

Now if Tony Bedard and Charles Soule are using this story as a turning point, a way to have her recognize her rage and move beyond it, then I guess it is okay. It is like burning away a tumor. The treatment hurts but it is still a cure.

All those feelings stated, I actually liked this issue.

It is clear that Supergirl isn’t maniacally giggling at her new power, or thriving with it. And even her two lines evoke a person wondering what is happening with her life.

And the personalities of Haland Guy seemed spot on for this sort of encounter.

Plus the art is just spectacular. Hoping now I run into Vitti at some convention.

So if I had to have an opening chapter to Red Daughter (a storyline I don't want to see), this one was as good a start as I could anticipate.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Yes indeed, so far, so good. It's thanks to the commentator here that I also gave the new RL book a chance and it's so not what it was at the start. I love it. Maybe Kara will actually allow herself to have a few new mates after this.

AndNowInStereo said...

I thought this was good too. The pacing was very rapid in both parts, but between them they were able to touch on nearly all the ongoing subplots in both series at least briefly. Kara's presence provides a lot of momentum to proceedings, I do agree she's more of a driver of the plot than an active character here though. While it is unfortunate that she's got little dialogue here given her pre-Lake status, I completely agree that Tan in particular did great work in letting us in on her internal state of mind and it feels like all four creators have shown her respect here, in my opinion. This is what prevents her role here from feeling like a gimmick or a stunt to me. Next month should be interesting, that's clearly going to be a much richer issue for Kara character wise.

I liked the other subplots too. Hal & Saint Walker's scenes felt right and looked gorgeous, and I liked the interaction Walker has with Mogo. It's also nice that these scenes are shown immediately after Kara arrives, making sure the audience knows there's a way out, but that Saint Walker has to sort himself out first. As for Red Lanterns, I enjoyed it as much as I have the preceding issues. I really like Zilius Zox now, the obnoxious spherical lantern, and its clear that he and Skallox will be shouldering a lot of the sillier moments in this comic.

Guy and Ice's scenes were satisfying too. She's completely right about him - He's not stopped being a short-fused hothead just because he's restrained from punching one bad guy, and the fact that he thinks he's done enough to persuade her in such a short time makes him look very immature. And a little needy, in fact. It doesn't make me feel sorry for him BUT it does feel quite realistic and sensible - many lazier narratives would just have had her get back with him that easily and it would have felt cheap. Guy might have his heart in the right place but he isn't relationship material.

So overall I liked this one. I'm definitely looking forward to the next arc of Red Lanterns. I wonder what Supergirl itself is going to be like?

Unknown said...

I dont think Supergirl is going to be insolated anymore, she is about to make new red lanterns "friends". And the ending of this issue showed me Supergirl isn't going to be in a killing spree or nothing like it.

In conclusion Supergirl's comic will be more entertaining, with new characters and a new kind of adventure. I say "yes".

Yota said...

Okee-dokee. So, I reviewed the issue at (and I tagged your blog in the post, Anj :) ) and I agree with most of what you're saying here. I liked the dynamic between Guy and Hal, and I think that it's an interesting start, but I think we're in for Red Lantern Supergirl for a long time if she's a part of this whole nine rings of Atrocitus thing...

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Anj: Hal's remark is confusing. My understanding is that he has been off-planet for X amount of nu52 months as leader of the GL Corps.

It likely makes sense to the writers that Hal wouldn't know Supergirl, and have it be a plot point. And it adds to the isolation of her character. The Flash didn't know about Superman having a fortress or a zoo or a dog, but I can't recall if Flash was that much aware of who Supergirl was.

I have NO idea how time progresses in the various titles. But it could be possible that Hal wasn't around, in the nu52, it doesn't seem to me that Superman and GL confide in each other or talk much at all. Maybe you or someone else can tell me if I'm wrong? Have there been examples of overlap I've missed?

Regardless, I enjoyed the review , and I'm hoping this story both bumps sales as well as sets up a way for Kara to be more cosmic and high profile (outer space-wise)to tie in with her being a member of the JLU book.

Count Drunkula said...

From your review, Anj, it does sound like these stories really emphasize how irrelevant Supergirl has been in the DC Universe post-Flashpoint. No one knows who she is, and it DOES reflect poorly on Superman that someone's first thought is he lied about being the last Kryptonian.

On the other hand, it sounds like Soule and Venditti are tackling that problem head on, saying the character's full potential and popularity has been squandered up to this point and we're going to change that. If Bedard considers her rage period one step in her road to happiness, then this dalliance with the Green Lantern family of books may be crucial to expanding her visibility amongst readers.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

I agree that the main point of this book was to advance the Lantern story lines and it succeeds well there. Heck, I am actually interested in the GL stuff. Kara is really a plot device but one with a little depth.

But the subtle cues do make me think that the creators will try to rectify all the stuff that is burdening her ... being alone, full of rage, and on her own.

The arc is three issues so I thought that might be it. But maybe that is the arc in the main book while she remains a RL longer in this book. Or maybe Red Daughter is just the first arc. I does seem that the Nazgul arc (9 rings to rule them all?) should be an integral part of Kara's story here.

And given the wonkiness of the DC timeline, maybe all that will take place over many issues here but only 3 issues in the SG book.

Still, overall, I thought Kara was treated well here.

PRgirl1294 said...

Just to clarify (and maybe correct) some things here, Hal Jordan isn't part of the Justice League anymore. He quit in "Justice League #12", if I'm not mistaken, and we haven't seen much, if any, interaction between him and Superman, or any of the League, since then. And who knows how long Hal's been out in space and out of touch with Earth?

Martin Gray said...

If anyone else is intrigued by Soule's take, DC Comics/Comixology are having a 99 cents sale on Red Lanterns (and other New 52 GL books) today, only.

(They should give me commission - hope this is OK, Anj! If not, delete, delete)