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Green Lantern: The Power of Ion

I know that I mentioned last week that I try to review the lesser known stuff and that I try to make you, the reader, aware of books that you wouldn't no about otherwise. Then, I broke that solemn vow and reviewed critically loved Y: The Last Man. Well, I'm breaking taboo again.

Judd Winick has been writing Green Lantern for a couple years now and from what I've heard (mostly from your favorite editor and mine, Derek McCaw), it's a pretty solid run. I don't pick up GL by the issues for a million reasons (no, I'm not one of those "Hal Jordan is the ONLY Green Lantern!" people, those people are jerks and Hal was insane), but I have grabbed the TPBs that collect Winick's stuff. How the man writes three to four different comics on a monthly schedule and still makes them good is beyond me, but he damn well pulls it off.

The Power of Ion trade is a good example of his pulls-it-off-ness. See, a while back, Kyle Rayner, last of the Green Lanterns (kinda), got a major power boost; he became Ion, the living embodiment of all the power of the Green Lanterns.

He was, in fact, something very close to being a God (think the almighty is everywhere at once? Try the Almighty Green Lantern, beeyatch!). This trade is the story of how he gets the power, how he uses it, and ultimately how it leaves his possession.

But hey, you're saying,"this isn't anything new. Superheroes become gods all the time in comics. Then they get drunk with power, try to reorder the universe, and then get the multi-title crossover equivalent of a spanking. Oh man, and then the redemption…"

Winick knows this is a tired plotline so he spins it around: what if the god-like guy didn't get drunk with power? What if he decided to a lot of good stuff AND still be a guy you can go grab a sundae with at the Dairy Queen?

Kyle doesn't become Hal Jordan and go balls out crazy (take that Jordaneers!); he instead feeds the hungry, averts a planetary civil war, and restructures soil so it's more applicable for farming, all while enjoying a movie and some super-hanky-panky with his green skinned girlfriend Jade (ahhh, every Fanboy's dream).

It's damn refreshing to see a mainstream book not act mainstream. It's predictable to have a character attain great power, abuse said power, and then realize with great power comes…(you know the rest, damn Tobey Maguire). Winick never lets the story get predictable or boring.

Part of that is the fact that he doesn't always focus on his lead character. Under Judd's plotting, GL has become more of an ensemble book than a straight leading (super) man story.

Characters like Jade and Sentinel get large parts of the action and characterization, as well as some rump-kicking fun, but no one supporting cast member gets more attention in this volume than former GL Jon Stewart. The background story about his paraplegic status, and the real reason for his loss of mobility is thoroughly engaging, and Winick gives the reader a complete highlight of Jon's career as a superhero and life in general, to further flesh out the character. It is expertly done.

The art, as it is with most monthly books nowadays, is a toss-up due to the frequent artist changes from issue to issue (not so much a problem here as it is in the eyesore that the Superman books have become).

While I love Dale Eaglesham's several issues (the man has a great touch with the characters and the various energy constructs that inevitably pop-up), some of the others like Jamal Igle and Eric Battle just don't hold up when standing next to his work. But don't worry, there's more than enough Eaglesham to go around in the book.

As collections go, this one doesn't have all the bells and whistles that a lot of other trades have been sporting recently, but there is a small cover gallery and, in a nod to fans who may not follow Green Lantern too closely, a great two page section called "What You Need To Know" that outlines the basic plot of GL and the backgrounds of the major characters (DC, the reader friendly comic company). Also, it's a great deal at $14.95 for the equivalent of nine issues of comics. Even at $2 a comic, that still comes out to $18, and my finite math skills count that to be…savings!

Oh, I do remember fondly the days when $2 was the maximum for a comic. It seems nothing but a lofty dream now…

Robert Sparling

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