Green Lantern #61 and Batman, Inc #2

Rar!

Green Lantern #61
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke, and a ton of inkers.

After the disappointment of Batman: The Dark Knight, Green Lantern came as a relief.  This is funny to me since I have felt for the last few issues that Green Lantern has been treading water.  Yes, the story and art have been good, they just haven’t been all that interesting to me.  If nothing else, they have been predictable.  Yes, Parallax would possess The Flash.  That was signposted in the opening pages of #59.  Issue #60 saw the inevitable fight and ultimate revelation of the new villain of the story, The Mad Guardian, a revelation that was on the level of Nekron from Blackest Night (underwhelming).  The final line was also cheesy beyond words.  But with #61 we have what made me a fan of Geoff Johns to begin with:  the balance of intrigue, super-hero action, and character.

Issue 61 focuses on Atrocitus as he hunts for the Rage Entity, The Butcher.  The Butcher finds a home in a father who is attending the execution of his daughter’s murderer.  The Butcher then attempts to use the rage of the father to kill the murderer.  In a wonderful twist, The Spectre appears, forbidding The Butcher access to the murderer.  Vengeance on Earth is the province of The Spectre.  Naturally, a fight ensues.  The murderer is killed.  Atrocitus arrives to capture The Butcher and take him back to Ysmalt.  Atrocitus and The Spectre have a conversation about the role of emotion in vengeance.  It is all rather good, and the art is wonderful.  The Butcher looks especially chilling and awesome.

These are the types of stories I like from Johns.  There are wonderful character moments, hints at big things to come, and it all doesn’t seem too bogged down in continuity or rehashing the past.  There has been a lot of that lately in Green Lantern, and while it has often worked, I’m growing tired of it.  I’m ready for some well-crafted, close-to-home stories similar to those Johns did in his first year or two on the title.  Sometimes I fear he may be spreading himself too thing over the DC Universe.

Why is Mr. Unknown making a monkey pose?

Batman, Inc #2
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Yanick Paquette, Michel Lacombe

The first thing you notice when you open a comic is the art, so I’ll start there.  I have hated the art on this title.  This comes as a surprise to me because I know Yanick Paquette has worked with Morrison in the past and I’ve never hated the art on a Morrison title like I have on this one.  This leads me to wonder who is ultimately to blame: Michel Lacombe on inks, Nathan Fairbairn on colors, or is Paquette somehow still responsible for my dislike.  Oddly enough, the fact that this story takes place in Japan makes the art fit.  I know, I’ve said I don’t like the art, but for whatever reason it still seems to fit the Japanese cityscapes.  Perhaps a decision was made to do a manga-influenced style while the story is in Japan.  Regardless, I hope issue 3 moves away from this particular look.  I’m all for experimentation, but in this case, I really would prefers something more traditional.

The story itself concludes what was started in issue #1.  Bruce Wayne is in Japan with Selina Kyle and he is looking to recruit the Japanese Batman.  He puts the candidate through a test while also tracking down Death Man, a character from the Batman Manga.  Death Man is an odd character, but as usual, Morrison finds a way to get past the weirdness and make him chilling.  The actual motivations of the killer seem secondary to the theatrics, but that’s been typical for many Batman villains over the decades.

I can’t help but feel Morrison is taking a break, having some fun having just finished bringing Bruce Wayne “back from the dead”.  This might be the calm before the next storm.  While it all seems somewhat light and a bit fluffy from where the Bat-titles have just come, with Morrison there is always the promise of something deeper and more horrifying just around the corner.  It may be another year or two of stories before we get there, but I’m sure it is on its way.

I have one more title from today’s excursion to the comic shop:  Batman Annual 28.  I have not read it, however, because I’m a bit irritated with it.  I had no idea that there was a story that started in the Detective Comics Annual this year, and that this story is concluded in Batman Annual 28.  This has been an irritating trend in comics recently.  At one time you could get a complete story in an annual (sometimes two or three complete stories).  Flipping through 28, I saw that there are two complete back-up stories following the second half of “All The Rage”.  Why couldn’t “All the Rage” just appear in ONE title?  I’m sorry, but if I’m going to put out $4.99 for a comic, I would like it to be complete, or at least feel that way.  The only reason I even bought it was because the comic guy pulled it for me because he thought I might be interested.  I wanted to help support him.  I accomplished this, so I guess I can say something good about the comic.

And apparently the cover to part 1 forms a bigger picture when combined with part 2. Well worth your $5.

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