Archives for posts with tag: Robert Vendetti

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I recently embarked on an intense reading/rereading mission. Throwing myself into the Green Lantern narrative as I had never before, I set off to read the entire GLC chronology up to this point beginning with Hal Jordan becoming a Green Lantern again in Green Lantern: Rebirth. For GL fans, this ambitious reading project is something similar, on a much smaller scale, to the Islamic rite of the Hajj. As Muslims fulfill their religious duty by making their pilgrimage, modern Green Lantern fans owe it to themselves to familiarize themselves with as much of the story as possible and while it isn’t possible to read the entire story in one sitting, I believe there is something special about reading it all at once.

Light reading

Light reading

My motivation for this spurred from my wife giving me the Brightest Day omnibus for Christmas. I had read much of the story out of sequence and I had picked up a few trades at conventions- saving them for when I had amassed a complete set. With the introduction of the Brightest Day omnibus, I went ahead and filled in the rest of the holes though I did miss a few- I haven’t read the Teen Titans trade associated with Brightest Day and I’d really like to because the Black Adam/Isis family from 52 is one of my favorite storylines in DC history.

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As an active member of the comic book internet community, I intended to write about the experience as I went along. I considered starting a twitter account and live-tweeting as I read, but I ending up just getting lost in the narrative. It’s hard not to. This run on Green Lantern is extremely well-executed- a sophisticated narrative with a reaching stories that attempt to take the notion of a universe controlled by tiny blue fascists to its ultimate absurd conclusion. During the first few trades, those leading up the Sinestro Corps War, I found myself constantly impressed with Geoff Johns forethought. The seeds of the Blackest Night and all the new Lantern corps as sowed in the very first issues where Johns brings Hal back. The integral roles played by Mongul, Cyborg Superman, and the Manhunters in the arrival of the Blackest Night and the writing of Atrocitus into Hal Jordan’s origin story all demonstrate such solid planning I wonder how much Johns had planned when he first began writing the character.

pucca-starsapphireWhile Johns’s master plan is certainly apparent, reading the whole story together allowed a chance to see how characters and concepts developed. The voices of certain writers who joined Johns become easily recognizable- primarily Dave Gibbons, Peter Tomasi, Tony Bedard, and Peter Milligan- and the end of Johns run is not only noticeable, but the final issue is included in the collected trades of every GL title published at that time. The creative teams that followed that crew brought their own voices as well. Though the art is largely consistent, both following and creating the DC house styles of their time. Some characters are drawn wildly different from artist to artist. None more so than Arisia Rrab- Reis gives her an adorable pixie face, Gleason makes her a hideous troll, and all the other artists find themselves somewhere in between. The female lanterns of all the applicable Lantern Corps often find themselves most easily distinguished by the nature of their scanty uniforms, but even that changes over time. When Rob Vendetti took Johns’s place as the guiding hand of the GL legacy, female characters in nearly all of the GL titles found their uniforms had become more conservative or at least less revealing. Green Lanterns like Arisia Rrab and the Star Sapphires received more modest outfits, but Red Lantern Bleez kept her trademark skeleton wings and black thong- which I’m happy about it. I can’t really imagine Bleez without some sort of overwhelming sexuality- it’s part of her origin story to some degree that she be sexually desirable and hostile to sexual advances. Sinestro Corps member and hot librarian Lyssa Drak actually sports a more conversative garb in the Sinestro series, but rocks her more traditional barely-there attire in the Sinestro issue published as part of Villains Month and in the Sinestro: Future’s End issue. It could be intentional, but I suspect disrupted communication as the likely culprit.

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When I first read Blackest Night, I read a digital copy that put every issue in chronological order. Unfortunately DC hasn’t collected the event that way. Instead, they separate the trades by title. To recreate the single issue experience, one would need to carry a lot of books with them, juggle them intermittently, and do their best to keep their bookmarks from falling into the wrong hands. If you don’t want to do that, I’d recommend reading the books in this order and split a few of the books in half.

Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps

1/2 Blackest Night

1/2 Blackest Night: Green Lantern

Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 1

1/2 Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps

Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns

2/2 Blackest Night: Green Lantern

2/2 Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps

Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 2

2/2 Blackest Night

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Both Blackest Night and Brightest Day require the reader to know a bit about the DC universe, both contemporary and historical, to fully appreciate all the ins and outs. In the Blackest Night trades, they’ve provided blurbs about how each character rising from the dead to become a Black Lantern originally died, which I definitely appreciate.

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Beyond the White Lantern of it all, Brightest Day actually has much less to do with the Lanterns than it does the rest of the DC universe. The affiliated GL books are actually quite strong though. I particularly like the story line of the Weaponer of Qward and his quest for vengeance against Sinestro from the Green Lantern Corps title, which depends entirely on Deadman creating a net out of White Lantern light in Brightest Day. The Brightest Day overlaps with the War of the Green Lanterns through a limited series called Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors. The War of the Green Lanterns peters out through the Green Lantern titles and a small handful of limited series. In the aftermath of the War of the Green Lanters, the arrival of The New 52 is very apparent. The trade War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath ends with two single issue stories that suggest heavily their authors were simply waiting out the clock before getting the emotional spectrum involved in any new crises. The shift from pre New 52 to New 52 is weirder for the Green Lantern titles than any of the others (even Batman) as so much of the Green Lantern story depends on a character-rich past. Rebooting Superman makes Cyborg Superman’s destruction of Coast City hard to explain. Similarly rebooting Green Arrow makes his friendship with Hal Jordan patchier than an early puberty beard. Johns, Tomasi, Milligan, and Bedard do their damnedest to balance the demands of the Lanterns with the demands of the New 52 reboot, but one character comes off really weird: J’onn J’onzz. Before the New 52, he’s one of the Brightest Day twelve while in the New 52, he’s a virtually unknown agent operating in odd stealth. Newsarama recently published a list of queer doings afoot in the New 52 and Martian Manhunter featured prominently among their findings

J'imm J'onzz

J’imm J’onzz

In addition to reading all the texts, I also watched all the films and must regret that DC has pursued more Green Lantern animated movies. I liked the television series okay, though it paled in comparison to the superior series Beware the Batman!, which suffered the same cancellation fate, but the tv series was a bit more childish than the animated movies. I stand by my earlier contention that outside of the comics, the best use of Green Lantern in media is Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.

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…And somehow this all felt relevant because something big is coming for the Green Lanterns as DC is cancelling most Green Lantern titles in the coming months. With that knowledge, I spent much of my time reading also speculating.

 

 

 

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It’s been a pretty good week here at The World’s Second Greatest Detective. My mind has been consuming some great content- I got to hear Ashley Anderson talk about his Memory Beach project; thoroughly enjoyed Justice League: War ; and met some great folks at the Atlanta Comic Convention,where I may have also picked up a few good books. Most excitingly, my new role with Wonder Root’s library led to Valiant Entertainment sending the arts center a box full of trades, the inaugural donation to the comics portion of the library. A perk of my role is reviewing the material before it’s cataloged, which I will also do.

So far I’ve read two of them, Shadowman: Birth Rites by Justin Jordan, Patrick Zircher, and Brian Reber and X-0 Manowar: By The Sword by Robert Vendetti, Cary Nord, Stefano Gaudiano, and Moose Baumann. I choose to start with these two works for two reasons. 1) Justin Jordan and Robert Vendetti can both be considered local treasures. 2) Jordan and Vendetti are both currently writing Green Lantern titles. Followers of this blog should already be appear of my fascination with the Green Lantern universe.

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Shadowman: Birth Rites is pretty good. The art is phenomenal and I would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys the sort of superhero horror found in DC’s Dark family of titles. The color and detail in the horror elements are outstanding, especially the main villain Mr. Twist. I find it interesting that Shadowman’s story stems from receiving an amulet, Luther Strode’s story stems from receiving a book, and Kyle Rayner’s story stems from receiving a ring and that while Justin Jordan has written all these stories, those three characters and their stories couldn’t be more different. There’s a talking monkey that demonstrates some self-awareness in regards to racial undertones that would be impossible for a modern audience to ignore. It’s a good book.

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X-0 Manowar: By The Sword has the charm of not only the original series, but also of those classic science fiction comics that ruled the day before superhero multiverses, somewhere around the time of romance comics and breaking the sound barrier. The book travels through time at a breakneck pace, posing constant questions about the how of it all. The book moves quickly, but coherently and invests the reader in multiple conflicts without skimping on character development.

Final Opinion: Of the two books, Shadowman has the better art while X-0 Manowar has the better story. Perhaps more importantly, Valiant Comics should be recognized for their generosity towards Wonder Root and the Reynoldstown community. I wish the Wayne Xiaolong bump was as powerful as the Colbert bump because Valiant Comics really deserves for sharing their comics and expressing such interest in helping comics programming at Wonder Root grow. Good comics from good people? No, great comics from great people.

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As the last moments of 2013 are sucked up into the vortex of history, I thought I could share a few items that I feel really articulate the Christmas Spirit of Wayne Xiaolong, the World’s Second Greatest Detective.

Firstly, craft plays a huge role in what makes this site tick. One of the things that separates Wayne Xiaolong from other comic book sites is the ambition of this site to produce content rather than review or report on the content of others. This holiday season I’ve made a number of crafts and I’d like to share some of them here.

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I made a significant quantity of lighters as holiday gifts this year. I haven’t given them all out, so I’m only posting pictures of ones that have already been claimed. Making these lighters was really simple. If you want to make some yourself, you’ll need a few things: cigarette lighter(s), decoupage, paint brush, and some images. I created my images using Photoshop. I cropped pictures from the internet and pasted a gold frame to keep it classy. You don’t need to print pictures though. You can cut images out of magazines, comics, instruction manuals, etc. I would recommend thinner paper over thicker paper, so no encyclopedias except maybe Wikipedia. Then you paint a little decoupage on the lighter and the back of the picture. Place the picture on the lighter. Paint a little decoupage on the top of the picture and let it dry. Repeat that last step a few times and viola! You have a fun and inexpensive gift. Many of the lighters are made were tailored to the recipient, but the ones in the above photograph were chosen as more generic crowd-pleasers because who doesn’t love Earth Kitt, Li Xiao Long, Linda Carter, and Zhang Man Yu?

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Secondly, Wayne Xiaolong exists in response to the exciting stuff going on in comic books and the Atlanta art world. The work that I do with artists and arts organizations here in Atlanta gives me a very real sense of community while the current generation of comics creators provides me with a different sense of community as I find myself identifying with and finding inspiration from the incredible work being produced right now. WXL proudly wears its branding as an outpost for the eccentricities of the Green Lantern narrative. The last decade of Green Lantern work opened my eyes to the renaissance taking place in comics while the new crop of talent working on the title have been very supportive of this site. Now is a great time to be a Green Lantern fan and I encourage all of you to check out the independent titles that helped Vendetti, Soule, Jordan, and Jensen catch the attention of DC Comics. Anyway, last night I received a gift from Van Jensen, a GL writer who has made Atlanta his home, that I wanted to share with you. It’s a magnet featuring two classic GLs from the Silver Age, Tomar-Re and B’dg.

tomarrebdgmagnet

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Thirdly, a desire to bring light into this dark world is fundamental to the philosophy of this site. Some of the most frequent visitors to this site come in search of ESL crossword puzzle and clozes related to superheroes. Having taught a university course on the history of superheroes to Chinese (i.e. ESL) students in Dalian, I have the unique experience and expertise in using superheroes as tools for teaching English language and Western culture to people from the East. For the past year, I’ve been creating these crosswords for the family from Myanmar that I tutor. They’re a really fantastic family from the Chin state of Myanmar- mom, dad, and two lovely little boys. The two boys often greet me with one of three battle cries: “Superhero!” “Batman!” and “Go Go Power Rangers!” They’re pretty young (2 & 4) and English is their 2nd (maybe 3rd/4th) language, but my goal is get at least the older boy to be able to recite the full GL oath (In brightest day, in blackest night; no evil shall escape my sight; let those who worship evil’s might; beware my power- Green Lantern’s light!) .  Here’s a picture of the two boys as pandas that I created last year. Like most children their age, they’ve been growing at a phenomenal rate.

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I often bring them sweets and small toys. After Free Comic Book Day, I brought them a big stack of nearly age-appropriate comics. Their joy is some of the most rewarding joy to witness and they provided what I believe will be the highlight of my holiday season. This past Wednesday I brought them their Christmas present.

Christmas gift with candies taped to it

I wrapped the gift and adorned it with candy canes, gingerbread Twix, caramel apple Milky Way bites, and a Godiva truffle. These kids love chocolate and superheroes, so we have a lot in common. When they opened the gift to find the world’s greatest heroes, their excitement could not be contained. Jumping up and down, shaking their fists, shrieking- these kids seemed to be in total awe that the seven major members  of the Justice League were now part of their toy army. In a pleasant coincidence, Young Justice was playing on the TV, which made it very easy to explain to them who Cyborg is.

The Treasure

Finally, the World’s Second Greatest Detective would like to wish a safe and happy holiday season to everyone who reads, supports, and inspires this site. Let’s all pledge to work towards a more cooperative world in 2014, to turn hope into action, and to celebrate the contributions and potential in others and ourselves. I have a feeling we can look forward to some great comics too.

bruceleeinterviewsvan

As you probably know, Geoff John’s nearly decade-long run as helmsman for the Green Lantern titles is coming to a close. Green Lantern fans nervously await a new era as all the GL titles receive entirely new creative teams and a new title Larfleeze arrives. When the new creative teams were announced, fans prepared themselves for the transition. The GL fan base was shaken up again by the announcement that Joshua Fialkov would not be writing Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns, despite initial announcements that he would. DC demonstrated a high level of cool when picking Fialkov’s replacements, finding two very original voices from independent comics, Van Jensen and Charles Soule.

I had the good fortune of meeting Van Jensen last summer and we’ve eaten hot wings together several times since. When I heard the news that Van was chosen to replace Fialkov, I was excited for both Van and for the Green Lantern Corps. If you’ve seen Van’s previous work the Pinocchio Vampire Slayer series, you might have a hard time imagining this guy writing Green Lantern Corps, but you shouldn’t worry. From talking with Van, it’s clear he takes this responsibility very seriously and is thrilled to be working on the title. Growing up in Nebraska, Van’s access to comics was somewhat limited, but he could always rely on finding G.I. Joe comics and he still carries much affection for the series. Isn’t the Green Lantern really just a story about soldiers fighting vampires? Don’t worry. The Corps is in good hands. Bernard Chang will be delivering what is surely to be some amazing artwork.

Here we offer you our exclusive interview with new Green Lantern writer Van Jensen-

WAYNE XIAOLONG: Over the past decade, the Green Lantern titles have enjoyed tremendous popularity earned through outstanding writing and art. Since Hal Jordan exorcised Parallax and the Green Lantern Corps reformed, a great many iconic characters have been introduced and core elements of the DC multiverse’s quantum mechanics and metaphysics have been defined in the pages of Green Lantern books. Geoff Johns and his buddies pursued nearly absurd limits of grandeur, affecting the entire DC universe in fundamental ways. Your work in Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer has been an intimate series of small town murders while the Green Lantern books have been planet-wide genocides. As a writer, what are some adjustments you’ve been made as you tackle a narrative with consequences that reach pretty far beyond what you’ll write yourself?
VAN JENSEN: The work done by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, Dave Gibbons and so many more is really remarkable, up there with some of the best creative runs that anyone has had in comics. So, first and foremost, I come in knowing that I have huge shoes to fill. I’ve worked to familiarize myself as much as possible with the details and mechanics of this universe, as well as with the complex histories of the characters. The scope of that research is quite a bit beyond what I did for Pinocchio, which relied almost entirely on Carlo Collodi’s original story. A key component is simply thinking on a grand scale about impacts—asking myself: “If this happens, what are the reactions not just within the Corps, but around the universe?” And the last component is working closely with Green Lantern writer Rob Venditti. Luckily, we come into this having been friends for years. Rob is an extremely talented, thoughtful writer, and it’s very easy to work with him.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: You’ve worked with artists long distance successfully before. What are some tips you can give creative partners separated by geography?
VAN JENSEN: The key is simply communicating clearly. Know what your expectation are, hit deadlines and work through problems together. We live in an age when distance isn’t the barrier it once was, so geography never should come between creative partners.

WAYNE XIAOLONG: For Green Lantern Corps, you are working with Bernard Chang. Chang’s style is quite different from Dustin Higgins who you worked with on Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer. Is the process very different with each artist? Any positive surprises working with Chang?

VAN JENSEN: I’ve known and admired Bernard’s work for a long time, and I count myself as extremely lucky to have a chance to work with him (as well as colorist Marcelo Maiolo). One thing I’ve learned is that Bernard is very attuned to storytelling. He asks lots of questions and brings lots of great ideas, making sure that the narrative flows effectively. That’s something that is very true of Dusty as well. So they’re fairly similar to work with, even though they are so different stylistically.
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WAYNE XIAOLONG:The internet breathed a sigh of relief when the rumor that you were going to kill John Stewart was put to rest. Many sensitive readers are still recovering from the death of Damian Wayne. Given the chance, how would you kill Superman?

VAN JENSEN: With a spoon.

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WAYNE XIAOLONG: I think what DC Comics is doing with We Can Be Heroes is really fantastic. What causes are you involved with?

VAN JENSEN: I agree completely. We Can Be Heroes is a great program, and it’s nice to see a company make such a significant effort to make a difference. Mostly, I’m involved with programs local to Atlanta—our Habitat for Humanity chapter, a couple of local homeless shelters and a creative writing mentorship program for kids at inner city schools.
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WAYNE XIAOLONG: Which U.S. President do you think a Green Lantern ring would have most likely chosen?
VAN JENSEN: I doubt that any president had as much willpower as Teddy Roosevelt, and he would’ve created some totally crazy constructs.

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WAYNE XIAOLONG: Which ring would most likely end up on your finger?
VAN JENSEN: If I’m stuck in Atlanta traffic, definitely Red.
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WAYNE XIAOLONG: Which ring would most likely end up on Pinocchio?
VAN JENSEN: Probably Red. That puppet has a lot of anger. And it’s fun to imagine him with an endless supply of stakes AND spewing flaming bile.
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