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Jason Schachat missed you.
Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdowns
April 12, 2005

Sorry about that whole lack of comic reviews during March, kids. I saw my shadow and X-Force – Shatterstar, and it seemed like a good idea to hide in my burrow for another month.

Way back when the last issue of Green Lantern: Rebirth came out, I predicted issue #5 would be a pretty standard slugfest that couldn’t possibly live up to the promise of the return of Hal Jordan.

Turns out I was only half right.

Green Lantern: Rebirth #5 IS the big faceoff between Hal and Sinestro we’ve always wanted to see, but, man, is Hal Jordan ever BACK.

Geoff Johns reaches into the history of the character and yanks out all the indecisiveness, guilt, and fear that have plagued Hal Jordan, buffing him to a fine polish and promising a hero even better than the one introduced to us during the Silver Age. Much like Captain America, Green Lantern became bogged down by the clashing political awareness and simple-minded heroism which served as his moral barometer. Unlike Cap, Johns was able to install a reset button on Hal and make his return truly satisfying.

No evil shall escape my sight...
unless it's buried deep within myself.
However, nearly all the two-fisted, green energy-spewing joy of this issue is ruined by the last page. To some it will make sense, but most people will probably frown and toss the comic across the room. While Johns may characterize Hal quite nicely, he still scores low with certain others, and the excitement built up in this issue quickly dissipates with the way Johns portrays his least favorite DC hero.

Ethan Van Sciver’s art works well, but none of it’s as gloriously detailed as what we were treated to in the first issue. The rest of the production team pulls it together and make Hal and Sinestro’s cosmic fistfight one to remember, but, especially with the botched deadline, you’d think a few panels would’ve been rendered better. This issue earns my recommendation and works on most levels, but it’s still hard to say whether the next issue will be worth the pesos.

For fans of the recently departed She-Hulk or those who always meant to give it a try but never got around to it, the team of Dan Slott and Paul Pelletier return to the scene with GLA #1. No, it’s not a new JLA book. The letters stand for “Great Lakes Avengers”. And, yes, it’s about as hilarious as any book with that title can be.

(And it also qualified as the "lost" Brian's Books Spotlight Title last week -- except Derek had no time to write a review.)

Starting us off with some irreverent humor, the story opens with a public service announcement that slaps fanboys in the face and continues to beat on us throughout the rest of the issue via a talking squirrel. We move through the story with Mr. Immortal (a man whose only power is that nothing can actually kill him, but gosh does it smart) as our guide. He summarizes a life story filled with the deaths of loved ones, constantly turning to tragedy and making the reader want to cry just before another public service announcement by that talking squirrel makes you laugh out loud.

The team forms, is incompetent, and patrols the Great Lakes area in its own modified “Quinn Jetta” Volkswagon compact. But Mr. Immortal continues to feel that they don’t even rank on the superhero totem pole—until they find out that the Avengers have broken up and some of them are even dead! And a supervillain is tearing up a local science lab! This looks like a job for… well, actually, anyone but these guys…

Counterbalancing his smart and powerful storytelling with riotous humor, Slott gives us a great start to a miniseries that also works as a single issue. In fact, it almost works too well, since we’re left with no inkling of what the next issue’s about (except for the appearance of two new heroes). But this is still a great issue and proves Slott is one of the best writers Marvel has. Hell, after the fallout of DC’s Countdown to Infinite Crisis, he may have cornered the market on humorous superhero stories (Honestly DC, what are you gonna do next? Toss Plastic Man into the sun and resurrect him as a villain?)

Remember that Hawkeye once led these guys...
Paul Pelletier’s art was always a strange fit for She-Hulk, but that was largely due to having to follow in Juan Bobillo’s footsteps. With GLA, he not only owns the characters from the start but seems far more at ease drawing a comedic book. The superhero aspect is never lost for a moment, but it looks like he’s learned to let himself go with expressive faces, humorous action, and comedic timing. At the same time, he keeps the story dead serious when it’s meant to be.

All in all, GLA works even better than most of the recent Avengers books while lampooning the hell out of the franchise. Life is good. Definitely recommended.

The Walking Dead is always a good book, still without a single lackluster issue in its run, but The Walking Dead #17 is a languid example of one of the low points in the story. How could it not be? We saw the deaths of nearly five characters in the last three issues, coupled with the revelation that ANYONE who dies will return as a zombie, and smothered in the lingering fear that someone in the survivors’ new “home” is a homicidal maniac.

The last issue revealed that one of the former inmates recently taken into the group was responsible for the killings, but this outing quickly wraps up that conflict while starting a new one: what do you do when one of the few living humans left in the world turns out to be a killer? In a situation where the top priority is keeping everyone alive no matter what, how do you handle the breaking of your most important law? And how do you handle the civil war such punishment is sure to start?

While I can’t say this issue fails, it certainly suffers in the latter half, which consists of only one scene. Robert Kirkman slows down the pace so we can feel the full impact of Rick’s decision to exercise his authority, but Charlie Adlard’s art isn’t quite up to the task. In various panels proportions are off and the staging seems rather awkward, but it goes by fast enough for readers to roll with it. However, the perspectives of the massive splash pages are too funky to sit right. Especially when the story slows down so we have to take a good stinky look at them.

Worse yet, Tony Moore’s cover art outdoes anything inside the book by leaps and bounds, leaving longtime readers aching for him to return as the series penciller. In the end, would I say it’s a bad issue? No, but it’s filled with reminders that it’s certainly not the best this team can do, and, while it’s worth the cash, is not a good place for anyone to jump on or expect to see the series really shine.

After months of confusion and… more confusion, Superman/Batman #18 brings the duo’s alternate reality-hopping adventure to a close. Having raised half the Justice League from the dead last issue, the team now faces a Ra’s Al Ghul who controls the world and has Lightning Lord, Cosmic King, and Saturn Queen to back him up.

The resurrected Leaguers fall in an anticlimactic orgy of violence, but the great struggle here is for Batman to reassert himself and shrug off the weakness of his alternate life as Bruce Wayne— and it may very well take the death of Superman to remind him of why he fights.

This whole arc has been a little wonky, what with the usual mess that goes into any time travel story and the added bonus of dredging up continuity from all parts of the DCU. The conclusion manages to force less Legion of Super Heroes continuity on us than it could, but it’s still pretty confusing. And what happened to the eco-terrorist aspect of Ra’s?

Glimpses of scenes from Crisis on Infinite Earths and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? are sure to inspire a collective head-scratching from newer fans, but older fans still won’t reap more than a couple chuckles from this journey through hypertime. I’d like to think this story would have some lasting ramifications (Superman’s murder of an alternate Wonder Woman, Batman’s memories of a full and happy life as Bruce Wayne, etc.), but that may just be me getting my hopes up.

Superman/Batman has given us big action and big archetypes for quite a while now, but its connection to the rest of the DCU is simultaneously tenuous and mind-numbingly dense. This issue will be fun for some readers, and Carlos Pacheco’s art is clean while Laura Martin’s colors are glorious, but it’s too complex for the casual reader and too loosely threaded for the hardcores. Only very mildly recommended.

Jason Schachat

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