Thursday, March 15, 2012

Paul's Picks! - March 14, 2012

Well, it's that time again folks: Wednesday! And you know what Wednesday is?... Well, of course you do, you're reading a blog about comics, so you obviously know it's New Comics Day, a.k.a. Paul's favorite weekly holiday! And in celebration of this weekly, well, celebration, Paul is here to give you his favorite book of the week.

Hello everyone! Wow, has it really been two weeks? Alas, it has, but don't worry, I'm back to provide all of the comic-loving goodness that you've become so accustomed too over the last few months. I was out of town last week on the Spring Break with some family doing a whole lot of nothing, but sadly that nothing kept me far away from my comic store, so there was no way for me to read my books and relay my pick to you all. I considered starting up a new column, which is still forthcoming, but as it turned out I was also without an internet connection. Yes, you guessed it: I was out in the hills of Kentucky living off of raw meat and dry vegetables!... Okay, maybe not, but I'm back in the land of Internet connections to give you my favorite book of this week, and I'm excited to reveal that my pick is...

Green Lantern #7 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

Classic GL Cover
Now, I won't lie, this week's pick was a tough decision to make. This was one of those surprising weeks when nothing you read is total crap, and all of them are good enough to talk about. Paul Cornell showed us why we go out and buy Paul Cornell with the final issue of his beginning arc on Demon Knights. Actually, month #7 marked a significant point for just about every issue I read this week, whether it was a big finale or the beginning of something new and exciting. When it came down to the end, however, I was torn between Green Lantern and Tomasi/Gleason's Batman and Robin. I just want to say, the full page spread by Gleason on Batman getting up out of the Batwing... Wow, just plain wow. That is classic, angry, vengeful Batman at his best. Pages like these are just one more prime example as to why I read comics.

But at the end of the day I just couldn't give the pick to Batman and Robin. It was a fantastic end to a really great arc (and wow what a last page), but I knew I would have been saying all the same things I said this time last month about issue #6. This week's pick goes to what was, in my opinion, the best single issue coming out by Geoff Johns since the first issue of GL back in September. That may or may not be a gross exaggeration, but the fact stands that this book took me back to some of the fondest days of Johns' continuing run on Green Lantern. Don't get me wrong, this is one of those series coming out of the new 52 that remains consistently buyable, but it just hasn't felt just right for me. That first arc got off to a great start, but I felt like it kind of floundered out in the end (we won't even talk about issue #6). But this issue kicks off what I believe is going to be the next great story that I know Geoff is capable of giving us: one that is on an epic scale in terms of the threat with a deeply rooted mythology, while still managing to remain very character driven.

In order to keep this review as concise as possible, I'm going to break my love for this issue down into two core reasonings. First of all, Geoff Johns has done something with Green Lantern #7 that I believe he must do if he wants to get it out of the rut it's in. Some of you may disagree, but I can't help but feel that this book has basically been in limbo since Blackest Night was ended. Whenever Geoff got on this train starting with GL: Rebirth, he set things in motion that were meant to take him through a series of wide-spanning stories, which continued with the Sinestro Corp War, and I felt that it culminated with Blackest Night. From then on, through Brightest Day (which was incredible boring) even on to the War of the Green Lanterns (which wasn't terrible, but wasn't solely under Johns' hand), the series seems to have hit a stalemate. Seth and I recently discussed on the podcast (which ALL OF YOU should be listening to by now!) whether or not Geoff has finished what he came to do with this series. The obvious answer to me is, yes. He has. He's one of my favorite writers, no doubt about it, but I can't help but feel that he's been here too long and things have become stale.

Get 'im Hal. Get 'im.
Or at least, that's the danger that he's presented with. I believe that if Geoff wants to keep this thing alive, he's going to have to do one of two things: try something completely new that we won't see coming (which means getting away from the different Corps that he's been exploring for a few years now), or find a way to breathe new life into the stories he's been holding on to. At last, in issue #7, I believe he has done that. Perhaps it's that this story about the Indigo Tribe is one that he's been holding onto for years (he's said that himself), or maybe it's that he realizes the book needs to break free of whatever is holding it back. But the first reason that I love this issue is because it is finally taking us back to some of that Geoff Johns GL feel that I've been missing. Maybe it's just me, but that two page title spread with Hal manning-up and punching Ol' Sinestro in the face got my blood pumping. What's been missing over the last arc? Hal Jordan has! He's been emasculated, willingly lying down under Sinestro's thumb, and that title page of the new arc shows us that Hal's ready to start swinging again. Ring or no ring, Hal Jordan is a man of pride, and as he so adequately put it, "I'm never working for anyone again." Except Carol, of course.

Black Hand, you one creepy dude.
So we have that oomph that we've been missing, that Geoff-Johns punch. So what now? Books like Batman: The Dark Knight have shown us that action and gut isn't enough to carry a book, so what more do we need? We need a cool story with characters we care about. That's missing in a lot of books these days, and I had thought that the first arc had it down by putting the focus back on Sinestro, but honestly I felt like it abandoned characterization after the second issue. But this arc, this one promises to deliver on all accounts. Already I can see that Hal and Sinestro are going to be holding the spotlight, but also the villains, or at least the antagonists are definite attention getters: the Indigo tribe? Who doesn't want to know more about those guys? There was one scene in this book that reached out and grabbed me. It let me know that there was going to finally be some substance here, and that was this panel on the right. In my opinion, Black Hand is one of the creepiest and most interesting villains we have, and he's been totally out of the game since the end of Blackest Night. Well, ladies and gentlemen, there he is, in all his creepy, mind-controlled glory. We even get a conversation between him and Hal, eluding to the great mystery surrounding the tribe of Compassion and what lies ahead for Sinestro. Without a doubt, at the end of this issue, my interest was peaked. And it still is.

There is some rich story here for the telling, I just know it, and I have a feeling that Geoff has been holding this one off for a reason. I've been waiting for the next "Secret Origin," the next story to be told that jumps off the pages, the one that gets my blood pumping and makes me say "No freaking way!" out loud in the living room, where my wife will undoubtedly laugh and shake her head because I'm talking to a comic book. I want the next great Green Lantern story, the one that'll bring him back from the loss that he faced coming in to the New 52. Johns has shown us time and again that he cares about these characters, and that he cares about his fans. And as one of those avid fans, I have a gut feeling that this will be it: what we've all been looking and waiting for.

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