And Then I Read: GREEN LANTERN 43

GL43Image © DC Comics

Hal Jordan as a sort of wandering space policeman/detective was working for me, but this issue gets Relic involved, the central bad guy from a recent crossover event. Hal wants information from him, and doesn’t want Relic to know who he really is, as Relic is determined to destroy all Lanterns. Things are working out until one of Hal’s new sidekicks, Virgo, throws a massive spanner in the works. Some help he is…

Still kind of fun, but this issue is less appealing and mildly recommended.


FreeCountryHCImage © DC Comics, Inc.

This new hardcover reprints the two large issues from the 1993-94 Vertigo crossover with an all-new center third lettered by me (along with other pages in the final section), a total of 75 new pages. As Neil explains in his introduction, the entire idea of a Vertigo crossover was new at the time, as was the imprint, and the original plan didn’t pan out well, so the story was never reprinted. In this new version, the story line has been carried through as originally intended with a center section plotted by Neil, written by Toby Litt and with art by Peter Gross. I think it works much better now.

And Then I Read: A SAILOR’S STORY by Sam Glanzman

SailorsStoryImage © Sam Glanzman

This handsome 8.25 by 11 inch full color trade paperback is the first I’ve seen of Dover Publications’ new series of comics reprints. I have lots of Dover books on my shelves, they’re known for quality but inexpensive reprints in a vast number of categories, and I welcome their entry into comics. They’ve done a fine job of reproducing the art from the original Marvel graphic novels of 1987 and 1989, with new material added. 164 large pages for $19.95, a bargain, and a treasure.

There have been few comics written in this genre: autobiographical accounts from World War Two in graphic form. Yes, plenty of ex-G.I.’s wrote and drew war comics, and elements of those were often drawn from their experiences, but they were usually presented as fiction. This book is full of real stories from young Sam’s time as a sailor on board the destroyer U.S.S. Stevens in the South Pacific, where he began serving not long after Pearl Harbor, and saw lots of action through the end of the war. From his accounts, Sam was an average guy from upstate New York who was ill prepared for war, but gamely tackled everything asked of him, from scrubbing decks to manning ammunition stations in combat at sea. While it seems to be true that the sailor’s life is somewhat easier than that of a soldier in war, sudden death is just as common, as the destroyer dealt with submarines, kamikaze pilots, and crazed Japanese soldiers on remote islands. Glanzman is particularly good as showing how war affected the men aboard his and other ships, as well as giving insight into how war devastated the many islands they visited. Sam’s art style is along the lines of Joe Kubert, in that it’s a little loose and full of personality. His writing and art together make this memorable.

An excellent and important work, and highly recommended.

And Then I Read: UNDER WILDWOOD by Colin Meloy

UnderWildwoodFCImage © Carson Ellis

This is the second book in a new fantasy trilogy (the first was simply “Wildwood”) by the singer/songwriter of the group “The Decemberists,” illustrated by his wife. While they do at times hearken back to classic fantasy tales, they also mix in modern elements in a way that makes them feel fresh, a trend I like. The illustrations also have a fresh approach, simple and stylized in some ways, but with lots of detail in others. They make a great addition to the story. Colin and Carson live in Portland, Oregon, and have crafted a fantasy version of that city’s Forest Park for their series, The Impassable Wilderness, a large woods filled with magic, talking animals, people from old tales like a Bandit King and his band, as well as dangerous shape-shifting assassins and an underground mole kingdom. Magic keeps the population of nearby Portland from noticing or getting into this place, though there are some who desperately want to, as well as some people from Portland who are trapped in the edges desperately trying to get out.

Prue McKeel is a teenage girl we met in the first book who has some Wildwood blood in her, and a little subtle magic that allowed her to enter the wood to rescue her baby brother, along with her friend Curtis. Prue is back home in mundane Portland, trying to fit in at school, while Curtis chose to stay in Wildwood, joining the Bandit King’s band. Both are beset by new trouble in this book, with Prue attacked by one of those shape-shifting assassins, and Curtis dealing with new threats inside Wildwood. They are soon both back in the struggles of Wildwood, and eventually together again. We also follow the sisters of Curtis who are placed in a horrible child-labor factory masquerading as an orphanage at the edge of Wildwood whose owner is trying desperately to break through the magic barrier into the wood so he can pillage its natural resources. Then there’s the political struggle for control of the many diverse areas inside the magic barrier that has made some outcasts and others powerful.

This is a long book, but the kind where length means lots of entertaining reading. The characters are well-developed and fun to read about, full of good and bad qualities like real children/people, even if some are animals, and there are lots of them. The plot is complex but satisfying, and the adventure engrossing. The only down side to this second book in the trilogy is that it leads directly to the third volume, “Wildwood Imperium,” without very much of a satisfying conclusion in this book. I’ll be reading that soon.



And Then I Read: SUPERMAN #42

Superman42Image © DC Comics

Superman’s secret Identity is unraveling. First he revealed his secret to Jimmy Olsen to gain an ally, but then he found himself compromised by some unknown online messenger. Now Lois Lane learns the truth, and things soon promise to get further out of control if Clark Kent is outed by the group “Hordr” that contacted him. Meanwhile, Clark and Lois are under attack from a real-world group of assassins. Condesa, a former Hordr member, has offered to help by getting them into the secret Hordr campus, but can she be trusted? Writer Gene Yang continues to do a good job of keeping me intrigued, though his placement and organization of the Hordr campus is a bit hard to swallow. Romita and Janson’s art continues to appeal to me. I plan to continue reading!