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Geoff Johns’ Run on Flash – Blackest Night: Flash (Review/Retrospective)

I have to admit that I quite like DC’s approach to event tie-ins. Whenever a massive series like Infinite Crisis or Final Crisis or Blackest Night emerges, it doesn’t disrupt the on-going narratives being told in the books. Instead, the crossovers are shrewdly isolated to tie-in miniseries, so as to minimise interference. This means that a reader of Grant Morrison’s Batman & Robin doesn’t need to concern themselves with the zombie apocalypse in Blackest Night, as Peter Tomasi is handling a separate miniseries. Blackest Night: Flash, however, is something of a different beast, as there was no on-going Flash series at the time, with Blackest Night: Flash serving as a bridge between Flash: Rebirth and Geoff Johns’ on-going Flash series. The fact that the miniseries was written by the main architect of the event also makes the tie-in seem that little bit more essential, putting Blackest Night: Flash in quite a strange place.

Static eyes...

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Geoff Johns Hawkman Omnibus: Volume 1 (Review/Retrospective)

I’m always glad to see a nice, big and thick DC comics omnibus. Marvel have cornered the market in putting out over-sized gigantic collections of modern and classic runs on iconic characters, and I’m disappointed that it has taken DC so long to follow suit. After all, they have any number of long runs on iconic characters by acclaimed creators deserving some nice love. Geoff Johns’ Hawkman run is perhaps the writer’s run that I was least excited about, but it’s still nice to get the majority of Geoff Johns’ character-defining and continuity-clarifying run on the character handily collected in one gigantic package.

Hawkin' his wares...

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Geoff Johns’ Run on Green Lantern – Brightest Day (Review)

It must be difficult to follow an absolutely huge event like Blackest Night, which cemented Green Lantern as one of DC’s largest franchises (perhaps second only to the Batman books under Grant Morrison). After all, the gigantic crossover was the culmination of over five years of work by architect Geoff Johns, and it might have been easy for the writer to pack it all in and call it a day. However, he didn’t. This collection, covering the entire New Guardians story arc, is very clearly a bridge between two big Green Lantern events – Blackest Night and War of the Green Lanterns. It also works a launching pad for a whole host of other titles, from Brightest Day to Emerald Warriors to Green Lantern Corps. However, the collection works at its very best when it is smaller in scope, and more intimate – when it pauses to wonder what happens to a world-saving superhero when the heat of the great big galactic threat has passed.

Hal's still got really poor self-image...

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Brightest Day (Hardcover Vol. 1-3) (Review/Retrospective)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” This one’s not so much an “event” as a bi-weekly miniseries, but let’s count it anyway…

Balancing the internal storylines is a tough task for any anthology, especially one running over the course of an entire year. In this respect, 52 feels like the exception rather than the rule. It’s a fairly fundamental problem with Brightest Day that not all of the plotlines are interesting (and certainly not all of the time). It’s a rather strange phenomenon: the early issues try to balance the characters somewhat evenly across the issues, and feels somewhat awkward in trying to devote an equal amount of space to stories that aren’t equally compelling; on the other hand, the second and final thirds seems more comfortable devoting large stretches of single issues to certain characters (and to have other members of the ensemble go unheard from for issues at a time), which has the bizarre effect of meaning that a cliffhanger or two isn’t picked up for two or three chapters. It’s a tough balance to get right, and I’m sad to say that Brightest Day doesn’t acquit itself particularly admirably. It’s a shame, because there are some interesting ideas here.

Everything burns...

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Flash: Rebirth (Review/Retrospective)

This January, I’m going to take a look at some of DC’s biggest “events.” I’ll be starting with the most recent one, Flashpoint, but – in the spirit of the character – we’re going to have a marathon run through Flash stories before we get there. Check back daily this week for more Flash-ified goodness…

From the outset, Flash: Rebirth was going to be an infinitely more complex endeavour for writer Geoff Johns than Green Lantern: Rebirth had been. Both miniseries aimed to firmly establish an older legacy character (in both cases, the iteration of the character active in the late fifties/early sixties) as the core of that particular franchise, replacing their replacements, as it were. However, Hal Jordan had been absent for about ten years, and had been hovering around the DC Universe in various guises during his absence from the role of Green Lantern. Barry Allen, on the other hand, had been gone twenty years and his appearances had been far scarcer. There had been a whole generation of fans (including the author of this miniseries) who grew up with Wally West as the Flash. Bringing Barry back was always going to be tricky, but here it becomes evident just how tricky.

A darker shade of red?

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Justice League International: Volume 4 (Hardcover) (Review/Retrospective)

In light of the massive DC reboot taking place next month, launching with a Geoff Johns and Jim Lee run on a new Justice League title, I thought I’d take a look back at another attempt to relaunch the Justice League, emerging from the then-recent Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Hm. Typical. Just as DC stops collecting Justice League International in these nice little hardcovers, I find that the series is getting back into the sort of swing and rhythm that I really loved about the superb first volume, but which became hard to maintain in equilibrium through the second and third collections. The last two books have veered just a little bit too much into sit-com territory for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like the humour that Giffen and deMatteis bring to the book, but I think it works better as a counterbalance to some nice superhero spectacle or drama, rather than being allowed to run free. The wonderfully wicked, occasionally subversive and often amusing sense of humour is in full effect in this collection, but it also features some nice character-centred storytelling, the type of refreshingly not-too-serious, but never completely out of control, approach that made the first few issues so damn appealing.

The new line-up...?

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Non-Review Review: Green Lantern

Green Lantern is solidly middle of the road as far as superhero movies go. Perhaps in a less crowded (and less high quality) summer action season it would seem a stronger contender, but the film really shows as Warner Brothers’ first major attempt to produce a big-budget superhero film not directly related to Superman or Batman. It’s perfectly functional, managing to do everything it sets out to in a relatively efficient manner, but there’s never really a sense that the film exists as anything more than a series of plot points that need be checked in order for the movie to cross the finish line. Given the potential of the source material, as well as its relatively unique nature amongst the slew of generic superheroes, a functioning and formulaic adventure can’t help but feel like a bit of a disappointment.

Hal Jordan: Space Cop? It has a nice ring to it...

Note: We also have an introduction to the Green Lantern mythos available, if you’re interested in checking it out.

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Batman Beyond: The Call (Parts I & II)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. This review/retrospective was meant to go out over a week ago, when I looked at Justice League: New Frontier, but unfortunately my package was delayed in the mail. However, I thought it might be worth a look back at the first time we saw a Justice League in the DC animated universe.

It seems that Bruce Timm and his staff of writers had considerable advanced notice that they’d be working on a Justice League cartoon show. The last season of Superman: The Animated Series contained animated introductions of characters like the Green Lantern in In Brightest Day and the Flash in Speed Demons. However, the introduction of the Justice League as a concept, a team of superheroes working for the greater good, came in Batman Beyond of all places. Portraying the distant future of the animated universe after Batman retired, it proved an interesting way to look at the team without getting too involved in the personalities involved.

Batman goes Beyond the call of duty...

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Non-Review Review: Justice League – Crisis on Two Earths

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. This is one of the “stand-alone” animated movies produced by the creative team that gave us the television shows.

Okay, well maybe it’s not quite “stand-alone”, seen as it’s based off a script that was intended to bridge the two animated series Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. Anyway, some of these movies – such as Justice League: New Frontier – are excellent examples of Western animation in their right. Some – such as Wonder Woman – are spectacular introductions to characters that perhaps never really got the attention that they so sorely deserved. On the other hand, some are just animated versions of a Jerry Bruckheimer blockbuster production.

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths is one of those.

Owlman is a bird of prey...

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Grant Morrison’s Run on Justice League of America – The Deluxe Edition, Vol. 3-4 (Review/Retrospective)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. With the review of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths later on today, I thought I’d take a look at Grant Morrison’s graphic novel which inspired it in someway. However, I figure – given that large debt that the entire Justice League cartoon owes Morrison’s iconic tenure on Justice League of America – it’s time to take a look at the latter half of Morrison’s run on the title.

We have no powers, there are millions of them and there’s a child in there who needs us to save the world. Let’s go.

– another day at the office for Superman

I remarked in my review of the first two deluxe hardcovers collecting his work on the series that I was perhaps a lot less impressed than most with Morrison’s work on the title. It was grand and bombastic, but it ended up feeling more than a little hallow, especially measured against some of his bolder efforts within the superhero genre. Although time and a few re-reads have softened my perspective quite a bit, I will concede that I don’t measure this as the writer’s best work. It’s epic and smart and fun, but never really becomes anything too much more.

But, then again, they are the Justice League. If I want deep characterisation of philosophical meanderings, I can check out a different book.

It actually looks quite peaceful when you're not saving it...

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