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Green Lantern #156
writer: Judd Winick
artists: Dale Eaglesham and Rodney Ramos

If for nothing else besides Cartoon Network viewer identification, John Stewart returns to glory as Green Lantern. Actually, it's been building for a long time, and definitely something that had been in Winick's mind from the get-go.

Thankfully, Eaglesham and Ramos remember that Stewart has an architectural background, and we may be lucky enough to see artists take advantage of it. Already, John's ring constructs have a unique look without being just power blasts. The only drawback to the art is an inconsistency of style; at times the team looks like they're aping the work of Ron Wilson and M.D. Bright, both good artists, but an unnecessary swipe.

The plot involves him taking on refugee smugglers, making it hard to fault Kyle for needing to take some time in space. While that issue seems a bit facile (especially after Kyle running into the same hatred and disregard for life on an alien world early in Winick's run), whatever excuse brings new energy to the Green Lantern book works for me.

Actually, it's an old energy, and it's welcome. While we may not have a full-strength corps left, there are still plenty of GLs running around this book, and it should shift focus every now and then. With the imminent cancellation of The Spectre, maybe even Hal will come back as Dead Lantern.


JSA #42
writers: David S. Goyer and Geoff Johns
artists: Leonard Kirk and Keith Champagne

Not only does the cover promise a classic slugfest, Goyer and Johns manage to make it make sense in a heroic way. For a change, two superheroes meet, get to know each other, like each other and then still have to beat the snot out of each other.

For years, speaking of Mr. Terrific was usually cause for derision. But the writers have put the original, Terry Sloane, front and center here, and proven that the character has a lot of life in it. (Okay, the costume is still a little goofy.) Last issue, when the future villain Borax was cited as facing Sloane, it seemed out of place. It really works, though; it's nice to see a hero legitimately outwit his enemy.

Oh, yes, there are other members of the JSA appearing here, but really, they all take a backseat. And that's just fine for now.


Nightwing #75
writer: Devin Grayson
artists: Rick Leonardi and Jesse Delperdang

In the wake of writer Grayson's first arc, Bludhaven has a major house-cleaning in the police department. Certainly it's an event the city sorely needed. Grayson takes the opportunity to examine the Bat-family's relationship to the law, pointing out the differences between Batman's and Nightwing's attitude. It doesn't entirely work.

Batman, you see, thinks that now that Dick has exposed the corruption within the department, he should quit. Never mind that Dick has also done a pretty good job fighting crime while in a regular, legal uniform. Never mind also that he might gain new and valuable insight to the mind of those Batman still clearly needs.

To further illustrate the split between the two, a new vigilante shows up in Bludhaven, a latina version of The Tarantula. Utterly puzzled by which of his supporting cast it could be, Dick tries to discourage her. (And oh, how intimately Leonardi and Delperdang depict that discouragement.)

For a split second, Barbara appears jealous. And then Dick offers a solution to The Tarantula which makes only a little sense. The writer's idea here needs to take a few issues to develop, but it feels rushed, even in a giant-sized issue.


The Punisher #18
writer: Garth Ennis
artist: Steve Dillon

War Story: The Reivers
writer: Garth Ennis
artist: Cam Kennedy

Nobody writes comical, over-the-top violence like Garth Ennis. So when he turns serious, you'd best pay attention.

Last week, Ennis demanded attention in two books, from two different publishers. Both tackle a similar theme, and both work extremely well in their own ways.

Frank Castle got involved in what is often euphemized as "The Irish Troubles." Such trouble doesn't have an easy solution; how do you solve hate? Ennis may have given it a slightly simplistic answer, but by using The Punisher, it makes us question the very joy we've taken out of his run on the book.

The violence is still above and beyond the average comic, and in another situation might have been funny. But the situation is real. And though we can get a chill from it, The Punisher dare not. He has to walk away not recognizing the similarity between the troubles and his own approach to his life. Yes, he kills mobsters. That's what he does. But he could have had a life.

Best not to think about it.

In Ennis' latest War Story installment, he teams with Kennedy to show a dark side of World War II. What few people want to accept about war is that while everybody seems to be against it, there are a few people who rather like it. Unfortunately, they tend to take a lot of good people down with them. And if you're surprised that Ennis condemns those who love war, you've missed the overall point of his work.

It's easy to lose that point amidst the carnage, but in Ennis' best work, a clear morality lurks beneath. These two books are among his best, and when held up with Daredevil/Bullseye, form a trilogy of truly thought-provoking comics. Imagine that, even with costumes on.


Derek McCaw


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