Green Lantern: “You and your sister melded into one hybrid male/female creature? Bad which way, Todd? Bad as in super-duper creepy? Then I’d give that a big fat check in the “yes” column.
Synopsis "Emerald City. A Dark Things Epilogue"
The JLA and JSA have freed Green Lantern (Alan Scott) from possession by the magical Starheart. For years Alan had controlled the small fragment of the Starheart which gave him his Green Lantern powers. Now he finds himself custodian of its entirety. The cost is that his twin children (Obsidian and Jade) must stay fore ever apart. They are the personifications of light and shadow within the Starheart. If they come within a 1/3 of mile of each other the power of the Starheart overwhelms them and fuses them together into a single being. The danger is that this will break Alan’s control of the Starheart and sets free once more.
Alan tries to console Obsidian by showing him the magical city that the Starheart has created on the Moon. This Emerald City has become a beacon for magical creatures, peoples, and elementals with many of them arriving there via portals from Earth. As the “Sentinel of the Starheart” Alan has become the City’s Governor and has had to become use to dealing with Fae Vice-Ambassadors and making treaties with Sorcerer’s World. The buildings and roads magically grow to accommodate any number of new migrants.
Obsidian questions that with all Alan’s new power he can’t prevent himself and Jade merging again (as shown in JLA #48). However, Doctor Fate and Alan divined the future to see what would happen if Alan Scott lost control of the Starheart. Potential scenarios include the Fae becoming crazed maniacs and declaring war on the Vampires, the Earth being torn apart by geomancers, and Jade/Obsidian being killed trying to kill Alan. Obsidian is suffering as he only learnt that Jade was alive on the same day they he also learnt they had to say apart. Alan has struggled to find the language to console him and hoped the colour and sceptical of the new Emerald City would lift Obsidian’s spirits.
- The Starheart’s Fortress on the Moon’s surface remains as an Emerald City. It is now inhabited by an assortment of Fae, elements, and magical creatures.
- The Fae, otherwise known as Elves or Pixies, speak English, but “apparently anything less than superfluously poetic phrase is a sign of weakness and insult.” The can also have a nasty flip side according to Alan Scott.
One of the main draws of James Robinson on Starman was his ability to mine obscure DC characters and to give them weight and personality. There was a plot device that once a year Starman (Jack Knight)would receive a visit from the ghost of his brother, an early very-temporary Starman. It was an excuse to chew the fat and deconstruct recent events in the series. This Justice League issue is very much in that vein – albeit with two living characters. This entire issue is a conversion between Alan Scott and Todd Rice. There are no subplots, no scene breaks, just a single two-person conversation.
I think I may like this epilogue issue more that any of the regular parts of the crossover is follows. The difference in the personalities between the older, more reserved Alan Scott and his younger, depressive son are interesting. Remember that Alan Scott should be in his late 90s (he was already a professionally engineer in 1939 and had to be born 25-30 years before that). Alan is genuinely trying to reach out to Todd (Obsidian), but he’s old enough to be Todd’s great-grandfather and there are many aspects of Todd’s life and sexuality that he finds “difficult”. An interesting distinction is made here – it’s not that Alan disapproves of Todd’s homosexuality, he clearly doesn’t – it is that Alan is finding it hard to articulate the concepts and issues involved. (He’s like your grandmother who loves her DVD player or ipod, but she doesn’t really understand how it works).
The aforementioned generation gap also came up with the “cured” joke from Bill Willingham’s last issue. That created a lot of comment online, but I think its a genuine insight into their relationship. With the “cured” joke Todd was gently making fun of his father’s obvious discomfort about discussing sex and sexuality and in this issue Alan actually says that explicitly. Obsidian’s boyfriend (Damon Matthews) was name checked towards the end, it’s good his the character isn’t being completely forgotten. It’s too easy (safe?) to have a “gay” character who is effectively celibate so appearances or at least acknowledgement of their partners is important.
(After I’d written the above a short Todd Rice/Damon Matthews story appeared Justice Society of America 80-Page Giant 2010. It was about Todd and Damon applying to adopt a child together. It was an interesting recap of Obsidian’s backstory and was written by Marc Andreyko, the writer who paired them up originally. They got turned down which isn’t surprising given Todd’s mental health history – borderline manic/depressive, suicidal episodes, psychopathic episodes, and an unhealthy obsession with his sister. )
This is penciller Jesus Merino’s last issue on JSA and it’s a pity he’s leaving. He may not have done the main crossover, but his work on the title has been one of the main draws. What could have been a very boring talking heads issue is elevated into wonder by the sheer beautiful and grandeur of their surroundings. I do agree with Greg @ CBR who suspects that “all writers not named James Robinson” will probably ignore the new setting. I hope that doesn’t happen and we at least know from the Brightest Day commandment and James Robinson’s comments at NYCC that these plot-lines will be followed up next year Justice League.
|Reviews Portal||Comic Book Resources||Greg McElthatton||2/5|
|Community Reviews||Comics Vine User Reviews||Av. of 2 reviews||3.5/5|
|Community Reviews||iFanboy||211 Pulls||3.4/5|
|Character Site||Supergirl Comic Book Commentary||Anj||B+|
|Reviews Blog||Comic Book Bin||Koppy McFad||2/10|
|Reviews Blog||Comics Per Day Reviews||Timbotron||Average|
|Character Site||Captain's Justice League Homepage||Jason Kirk||4/5|
Cover – This issue does not have a variant cover. Its a minor point, but this is the first review (full index, not that short reviews I do of Power Girl/Booster Gold) for a loonnnggg time where there has only been a single cover.
Page 2-3 – The Starheart is talked about and can be seen as the crystal hovering above the City.
Page 4 – The Emerald City is filled with many fabulous people and creatures – some of them recognisable, most of them may just be brilliant scene-setting. In the first panel here we see some Winged Monkeys which are undoubtedly a reference to the Wicked Witch of the West’s minions from the Wonderful Wizard of OZ (from which the original Emerald City comes). The city is referenced as being on the “dark side of the moon” and DC Women Kicking Ass have pointed out that Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon famously synchronises with the pictures from The Wizard of Oz.
The Fae appear to be based on the Faeries from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Their manner of speaking is similar to a Shakespearian character and their manner of dress is like that of an Elizabethan or Venetian Nobel man. Vice-Ambassador Glyn Droilx is a new character, but we aren’t told which King or Queen he represents. Given the look and styling of his people it’s very possible that Droilx is representing Queen Titania from Neil Gaiman’s Books of Magic and Sandman series. She is, after all, meant to be the real character from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Page 6 –
- As mentioned by the text box Mordru’s conquest of Sorcerer’s World took place during the Captain Atom backup in Action Comics. That backup was written by James Robinson. The present day Sorcerer’s World is a planet in a dimension that sits at the intersection of many alternative magical worlds. Sometime during the next thousand years the world will shift into normal space and will be part of the background for the Legion of Superheroes.
- The Nightmaster, is Jim Rook, a rock star who gets transported to the fantasy world of Myraa and becomes its heroes — I always think that writers miss a beat with Myraa. Rook’s a Heavy Metal singer and there is so much that could be done paralleling old Album covers. In that vein there is a one-shot appearing in November 2010 called Nightmaster: Monsters of Rock by Adam Beechen and Kieron Dwyer.
- The 5th Dimension is the home plane of the trickster Mister Mxyzptlk. There was a story from Grant Morrison’s JLA run that unified the backgrounds of the various trickster imps (Mxyzptlk, Quisp, etc) and the Thunderbolt Princes like Johnny Thunder’s old Thunderbolt. That story introduced Jakeem Thunder from Kingdom Come into the normal DC Universe and set him up for future membership of the Justice Society.
- Gemworld is another of this legion of fantasy/sword-and-sorcery worlds that litter the edges of the DC Universe.
- The Monolith was created by writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and penciller Phil Winslade. The Monolith was a Golem created in the 1930s to defend a young woman. Its found decades later by her grand-daughter and becomes a superhero of sorts.
- Zara‘s presence on the Moon is strange as she’s a fraud. She used gadgetry to make people believe in her “Crimson Flame” cult, but was defeated by Wonder Woman.
- Naiad is the water elemental that Batman (Dick Grayson) and Supergirl were fighting in the opening chapter of the “The Dark Things”.
Page 7, 8 - Alan Scott has received greater power from the Starheart before. In that instance he internalized its magical power and no longer needed his power ring. It was part of DC’s attempt to streamline the Green Lantern brand to just a single character (Kyle Rayner) without killing off Scott. During the time he didn’t need his ring Scott used the codename Sentinel and become a senior and powerful figure in the magical community. The forerunners of the Shadowpact (i.e. a magical justice league) were also called the Sentinels of Magic. They were brought together by Sentinel/Scott to watch over the new Spectre (at the time Hal Jordan).
Page 14-5 - Andrew Bennett of “I, Vampire” fame is a rather tragic figure. He is your archetypical “good” vampire – a bit like Angel, but with a far higher Dracula quotient. I love the idea of a war between the Lord of Rings Elves and Shlock Vampires with Frankenstein’s monster and a Vampire Mister Terrific running around in the middle. The split between the two sides is interesting – Batman is on the side of the Elves (pointy ears and all that). There is a woman in black on the far-left that I don’t recognise, but if that costume was red and she’s a vampire you’d mistake her for Vampirella. Marvel Comics is currently running a major vampire campaign.
Page 16 – All these character have the ability to shape/manipulate rock/earth. Geo-Force is a member of the Outsiders and is Crown Prince of a country called Markovia. The Terra shown here isn’t the original (who was Geoforce’s delinquent younger sister), this one is a friend of Power Girl and is from an underground civilisation. Sand is the former Sandy, The Golden Boy – the sidekick of the original Sandman. There was an accident that transformed him into a rock-like monster, but he recovered and by degrees has become able to sense the rock beneath him and move through it at will. The Geomancer is mercenary who has cross paths with Sand and the JSA a couple of times.
Page 17 – The merging of Jade/Obsidian into a single entity took place in Justice League of America (vol 2.) #48.
Page 18 - Polar Bears in Armour with Wings. Well Armoured Polar Bears are from Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass. The Wings? I’m not so sure about.
Page 19 – Kid Karnevil is a teenage supervillain who has fought the Shadowpact and Justice Society. He infiltrated the JSA as they were expanding and pretended to be the descendant of the original Mister America’s sidekick. However, he was actually working for a neo-nazi group. They captured Obsidian and turned him into a “shadow egg” which they intended to use as the power source for a machine they called the Darkness Engine. They were defeated with help from Mister Terrific who had a deathbed vision of a future where Karnevil had become an American Fuhrer. Obsidian was restored, but the dialogue here implies the “The Darkness Engine” and “The Dark Things” occur immediately one after the other.
Page 20 – Damon Matthews is Obsidian’s boyfriend. He was introduced as a supporting character in Manhunter as a federal prosecutor who worked with the lead character Kate Spencer. When they started dating he didn’t know about Todd’s secret identity although they stayed together after he learn the truth. See the Opinion section for my comments on this section.