Thursday, December 5, 2019

Bullet Review: Green Lantern Blackstars #2

I freely admit that I am a Grant Morrison fan, the odd mix of acolyte and apologist. I find most everything he writes interesting even though it often is impenetrable. I have decided that reading a Grant Morrison comic is akin to sitting in a thunderstorm. It is exciting. And you just have to let the experience wash over you.

But even when Morrison is at his most inscrutable you can tell he loves comics and reveres the concept of hero. His love of Superman is palpable. And he wants to honor the past.

His current Green Lantern comic is a typical Morrison book. It is pretty trippy. It is often more about the myth and location than it is about Hal Jordan. And I love it.

Currently, we are in the midst of a side story in the book. Hal Jordan has joined the Blackstars, a cult who follow a being named Mu who hopes to bend the universe to his will, a way to protect people. Hal has seemingly abandoned his ring, taking the name Parallax, and is out there with the conquerors.

Green Lantern Blackstars #2 came out yesterday.

I am surprised DC allowed it to be published.

Because in it, Morrison gives a withering, blistering castigation of the state of comics today, in particular DC.

And, of course, I loved it.

Get ready to ride the wave.

The Blackstars have targeted Earth as their next conquest.

They look at Gotham City as a microcosm of the problems with this world.

Villains no longer wear animal masks and want to poison the water. They all want to attack Batman himself.

We are in a never-ending spin cycle of what Hal calls 'Breaking the Bat'.

Now it is funny that Morrison pokes fun at that given his own run in Batman. But I can tell you I miss the days of the Gotham reservoir being turned to jam. Or one and done issues where Batman foils the Penguin.

Blackstar Parallax faces off against Superman in a debate more than a battle. Hal wonders why Superman wouldn't just step aside and let the controlled environment of the Blackstars and Mu calm the chaos of Earth.

Superman says it is hard for super-heroes to help people when they are dealing with their own mental health issues.

We cut to a panel of Wonder Woman (remember, the ambassador of peace) viciously castrating a minotaur with a sword.

That is the antithesis of Wonder Woman.

I can't help but think that the 'mental health' comment is a jab at the odious Heroes in Crisis.

And I believe that Morrison believes that heroes should be heroes, above the fray of normal humanity, beings to inspire ... like gods.

He even doubles down on the Wonder Woman problem.

He points out that Diana has put down her bracelets and lasso and picked up the shield and sword.

This is true of the character concept of Wonder Woman these days. When was the last time we saw her without a sword on her hip.

So Morrison is taking a jab at the more recent takes on Wonder Woman.

They two stand in front of a JLA satellite which has advertising space on it. The home of the JLA is for sale. Or maybe the concept of the JLA is for sale, meaning whatever book sells is what the JLA will be.

Even this Superman has to admit how ridiculous things are. Every month, locked in battle with anthropomorphic cosmic nonentitites. These beings attack from the Depressoverse.

On the rack next to this book sat Justice League #37, Perpetua sneering at our fallen heroes. Nearby say books with the trade dress 'Year of the Villain'.

Yes, this new universe is one of constant mega-threats played out in the most violent, grim, depressing way possible.

Seriously. How did this get past editorial?

"Every Day something awful happens -- someone dies, or gets resurrected, or goes mad and betrays everyone."

That is the DCU of today, a Depressoverse of evil.

And I don't think Morrison approves.

Even Hal notices it. Where is the 'jeans and t-shirt' Superman? This, of course, was Morrison's New 52 Superman, the social justice hero.

As Hal notes, history changes every few years these days.

This whole scene ... this whole debate was an indictment against the current DCU, or perhaps more aptly the last few DCUs.

Interestingly enough, Jon (Superboy) Kent wants to join the Blackstars.

Remember how when discussing All-Star Superman, Morrison said Superman is the most relaxed being in the universe. Not here.

And the tired Batman in that Gotham City? He says 'not again' and ultimately gives up.

Now the back end of the book is classic Morrison mythology looking at the Blackstar Bezlebeth's vampiric history.

But before we get there, there is one last swipe at the heroes of the DCU and the current Earth.

Hal calls them all suicidal, locked in a cycle of self-destruction.

It is as if Morrison heard my complaints about the majority of comics these days and decided to show how absolutely ludicrous and dark the characters have become.

And for that I applaud him.

The front half of this issue, showcasing just how terrible things are, should be force fed to the upper echelon of DC like the images burned into Malcolm McDowell's eyes in A Clockwork Orange.

Thank you Grant Morrison ... this was one hell of a ride!


KET said...

Seems to me that Morrison is inadvertently pointing a mirror at himself, considering the dark and convoluted nature of his past 'blockbuster' comics output pretty much dwarfs the stuff he's putting out today. He created his own 'dark' materials back in his more popular heyday, and now he's fighting a losing battle over the monster he helped create with the publisher. Meanwhile, quick buck gimmickry still rules the comics sales cycle (of perhaps the more appropriate term would be "recycle" at this point).


SimB said...

I agree with you upto a certain point KET, but if you were to look at his entire JLA run or even Final Crisis, HOPE does spring eternal.
Among his most bombastic crazy "Armageddon of the week" stories, it usually comes down to heroes Inspiring and not just leading but joining hand in hand with the population as a whole.
It's like the contradiction of Dan DiDio, he oversees so much of the things I hate and yet if you read the books he cowrote that are FUN(OMAC, Forever People and Sideways) it becomes mystifying.

KET said...

"but if you were to look at his entire JLA run or even Final Crisis, HOPE does spring eternal."

...except that nowadays, this same kind of gimmicky, overstuffed storytelling is still being played out, by arguably lesser 'blockbuster' talents. Grant seems to be in the same kind of circular cynicism boat as 'curmudgeonly Alan Moore now hates superhero comics'....except that both of them inadvertently led everyone else to this 'creatively dark' cash cow corner.

Sorry, but I do remember Grant's JLA run. It's still arguably overheated Silver Age.