Monday, November 28, 2011

Green Lantern: New Guardians Thoughts

Green Lantern: New Guardians

Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Tyler Kirkham

And so we come to the last of the Green Lantern titles. While Green Lantern focuses on Hal (still DC's flagship title), and Green Lantern Corps is the "special ops" team focused on Guy Gardner and John Stewart, Green Lantern: New Guardians focuses on Kyle Rayner, the old-school.

Written by former GLC writer Tony Bedard, New Guardians shows Kyle Rayner suddenly chosen by the rings of the other Lantern Corps for some currently unknown reason. The action ramps up fast, with the first issue showing what happened to the previous owners of the rings before they were drawn to Kyle, and members of those Corps coming to retrieve those rings (or take retribution for what happened to their former owners when they were suddenly left without rings).

More than any other title, Green Lantern: New Guardians carries the continuity of the previous Green Lantern titles. If you were a fan of Geoff Johns' multi-part epic space war and want to know where to read more of it, this is the place. All the characters from that era are involved in this new story. Unfortunately, if you've never heard of any of that, and just wanted to get all the Green Lantern books, this one can be pretty new reader unfriendly. We're given Kyle's revised origin, but even that origin goes against what people know about how someone becomes a Green Lantern. While there's so much more to Kyle becoming a Green Lantern, this simplified origin here could confuse even someone mildly familiar with comics.

Setting that aside, with so many characters all vying for attention, the story can feel somewhat scattered. Kyle's the main hero, but he feels like a supporting cast member in his own title alongside the Guardians and the people from the other Corps. Fortunately New Guardians 4 wil be getting to the secret behind why all these rings are after Kyle, which is good because hopefully it'll place him front and center in his comic again.

Overall, this is an interesting comic to me because Kyle was the first Lantern I read about as a child, and because I like what Johns, Pete Tomasi, and Tony Bedard have done with this universe. But it's difficult for me to recommend something so wrapped up in recent comic history to anyone but the most hardcore fan.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Aquaman Thoughts

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis/Joe Prado

So, I'm a little late with the first issue thing. My bad. No excuses. But to make up for it I'll be doing thoughts on the first three issues for what I'm behind on. I've got seven titles left to do, including this one.

The opening issue of this is pretty good. It teases us with a new villain(s) for our hero, one that's a fair deal more terrifying than even Ocean Master and Black Manta, Aquaman's most notable bad guys. Geoff takes advantage of Aquaman's long history of being in the public eye (even if as a joke character) to skip over wasting the first issue retelling Aquaman's origin or giving us long expositional backstory for him, instead showing us what his take on the character will be. Gone is the arrogant king of Atlantis, more concerned with his people beneath the surface than above it. This version, while confident and self-assured, is a superhero through and through. Despite the jokes (more on that later), when he sees someone in need of help, he dives right in. (Pun, once realized, TOTALLY intended.)

Fortunately, this Aquaman doesn't live in a world that pretends he ISN'T usually the butt of every superhero-related joke. A lot of fans reason that this is a bad thing, but DC was not just aiming for old fans when they relaunched this title--they were aiming for at least SOME new ones, and one of the first things people ask when they pick up an Aquaman book is usually: "Does he even have any powers outside of the ocean?" (For the curious, yes he does. The opening adventure of the comic displays Aquaman's super-strength and super-tough, "I-laugh-at-bullets" skin.)

What's most interesting about this title to me is that Geoff considers this to actually be a comic about two characters, rather than one. Indeed, over the first three issues, Aquaman's wife Mera plays just as much of a part of the series as Arthur/Aquaman. Mera walks the line between a wife who's deeply in love with her husband and a bad-ass warrior who can make tornados and spears out of water. (Think Aqualad from Young Justice.) My only complaint is that in making her so amazing Aquaman suddenly becomes a little less cool, when Johns' entire goal with this opening arc is to make people realize why Aquaman is awesome. Still, even if you don't think Aquaman is awesome by the end of these three issues, you do want to root for him. With everyone from cops to bloggers questioning his abilities (or downright mocking him), you realize he's just a guy with superpowers that wants to help people, and it's kinda stupid that anyone without powers would actually thumb their nose at potential help from a guy who can flip armored cars over with little trouble. You WANT him to prove everyone wrong, just so they'll shut up.

Finishing up the last issue, I was left with quite a few questions. Who ARE the Trench? What's up with the guy that taught Arthur how to use his powers? Why does no one believe in Atlantis even though Aquaman's pretty obviously FROM Atlantis? I look forward to getting the answers over the next few months (hopefully--Geoff's got a bad habit of leaving comics not called "Green Lantern"). One question I do have that I don't think I was intended to have is who Mera is. As stated earlier, I assume Mera is still his wife, but with the entire universe being reset I cannot be certain of this. After all, no one ELSE in the new DC Universe is married. It's easy to take for granted the knowledge you have of the characters and assume they were given a proper introduction, but the truth is, if I hadn't read Brightest Day/Blackest Night I wouldn't have the slightest clue who Mera was by the end of the first issue, other than some really attractive woman who had the hots for Aquaman. The second and third issue do a slightly better job of introducing her, but overall we're still not certain who she is or how they met by issue 3's end. I can only assume we'll get that sometime later, as it's not the brightest idea to tell people, "Oh, Mera? You should read Brightest Day, this 26 part story that's kinda about her but not really about her because it's an epilogue to something else entirely and it may not all be in continuity anymore because we undid bits and pieces of it.", in order to learn about a character. But don't let that shy you away from this title. Geoff has pared Aquaman's giant universe down to Arthur, Mera, and these villains that are brand-new. Everything else from the Aqua-sidekicks to Atlantis are being pushed aside for now, keeping things simple. Still, this was the man who turned Green Lantern from a story about space cops to a book about warring armies wielding weapons forged from rage and fear, hope and love. I'm certain he's got more to come for us.

The last thing I want to mention is the art. Ivan Reis is probably one of my favorite artists working in comic books right now, alongside his bud Joe Prado. Green Lantern never looked better under their pen, and neither has Aquaman. If for no other reason than to see the gorgeous art on the cover also be the same on the interior (for once), you should at least give the opening arc of this issue a try.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Song of the Week - Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa ~ End of Triangle

A friend and I recently finished Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa, the second part alternate retelling of one of my favorite anime series to come out of 2000-2010, Macross Frontier.

While I won't spoil the movie itself, considering this song spent three days bouncing around in my head (Valkyrie~...*ahem*), I HAVE to post this song. Be warned, it's 7 minutes, but it's a duet between Sheryl and Ranka, and it's beautiful. I wish I could post the video clip that goes along with it, but again--no spoilers.

Go see the movie. There's no excuse for you not to. I know some people would prefer an official copy, but unless you want to watch it raw it's not happening. Go find your eyepatch. (Or your GokaiCellular.) In the meantime, enjoy the song.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Song of the Week - Childish Gambino: Heartbeats

Definitely my favorite song off of CAMP. As much as I love the swag and energy and classic Gambino lines in both "Sunrise" and "Power", this track is just the perfect mix between a good beat and lyrics that are easily relate-able and resonate with anyone that's been in any kind of situation like this.

Don't let the beat and the chorus fool you; you can almost feel the anger in Donald's voice as he sings this song, with each verse going deeper into the mind of a man who's been abandoned by a girl he was truly in love with because of his commitment to his work.

The last line is hilarious, but it's also kind of symbolic of the ridiculous thought processes of men in general: So many guys have either stayed with women or gone back to women because we were simply incapable of giving up the sex, regardless of the mental or emotional havoc that gets wreaked upon us.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Song of the Week: Childish Gambino - L.E.S.

Gambino is a Mastermind.

I played this song at least a dozen times back when it was just a one minute clip on Vimeo. To hear the full thing is almost like bliss and I can't stop playing it.

Can't say its my favorite track off CAMP (which has a First Listen on NPR), but it's definitely pretty far up there. I find hipster girls both amusing and kinda hot (the look at least), so I can't help vibing to this song.

Next week I'll probably throw up my favorite, but I'll be honest: I can't get this album out of my head right now so favorite is relative.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Heroes Phantasia Trailer

I was pretty sad this summer when I couldn't find a trailer for this game, but this eight minute trailer definitely makes up for it.

Showing us all the universes that will be participating in the game (including Slayers, R.O.D., Scryed, Mai-HiMe, Magic Soldier Louie, among others), this game looks completely insane and so awesome your PSP will barely be able to handle it.

...But it's by Banpresto, so it's entirely likely it'll never get localized. Especially since there would be rights issues insofar as who owns what. Still, I've been studying Japanese for like a year and a half. Might as well put it to use!

Heroes Phantasia drops 1/19 for the PSP.