Friday, March 20, 2009

Emerald Eclipse: Part Two (DC)
Green Lantern Corps #34 When: May 2009
Why: Peter J Tomasi How: Patrick Gleason

The Story So Far...
With the resurrection of the fallen Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, a new era began for the intergalactic Corps. Absolved of his crimes by the reveal of a fear mongering entity called Parallax, Jordan resumed his role as champion of willpower, once again wielding the green ring.

Alongside the Corps' return came the arrival of Sinestro from obscurity. As vengeful as ever, the fallen Lantern once again sought to bedevil his nemesis with the yellow ring he obtained during his exile in the anti-matter universe of Qward. However, his latest defeat would lead Sinestro to recruit others to his cause, resulting in the creation of a yellow fear-wielding Corps that was the Green's opposite -- the Sinestro Corps!

Programmed to seek fitting candidates who inspire fear in each sector, the yellow rings spread across the galaxy just as the green had. The character of those who would deserve position amongst the Sinestro Corps is very different, however. The vile and sinister congregate to Sinestro's cause, but the one called Mongul seeks only personal gain from the ring and it's limitless power. With a Qwardian ring obtained from a dying Sinestro Corpsman, he marches against the Sinestro Corps, demanding all follow him, or surrender their lives and rings. One patron refuses his rule, however, and so it is that on the planet Daxam, Arkillo fights!

Tale of the Tape...
Strength: Mongul 6 (Invincible)
Intelligence: Mongul 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Draw 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting Ability: Mongul 6 (Martial Artist)
Energy Power: Draw 7 (Cosmic)

- The son of a being from the planet Arkymandryte, Mongul is the inheritor of his father's name and legacy upon his death. Despite his father's death coming about as a result of his Earthbound machinations; Mongul's first appearance on the planet comes about during the incursion of a powerful entropic being called Imperiex. In an effort to strike back at the creature that destroyed his artificial kingdom of Warworld, Mongul trains and teams with his father's arch-nemesis, Superman.

After appearing to perish in the Our Worlds at War saga, Mongul returned to Sector 2814 to menace the Justice League in the debris of their satellite watchtower, this time as an enemy.
After killing his sister to eradicate all weakness in himself, Mongul came in to possession of a yellow Qwardian power ring after finishing an agent of the Sinestro Corps.
Wielding a ring of Sector 2811, Mongul begins a quest to collect multiple rings as his own, forcing any Corpsman he encounters to serve him, or die. The limitless powers of the fear rings compliment his own impressive invulnerability, strength, ability to channel concussive force, and mobility via teleportation.

- From the jungles of the planet Coristeel, Arkillo is the Sinestro Corpsman of Sector 674. The carnivorous powerhouse that once ruled the jungle was among Sinestro's first recruits into his Yellow Lantern Corps of fear.
Serving as a drill instructor to potential members of the Corps, Arkillo is among the most senior members under the group's founder. He wields his yellow ring and innate super strength to crush the spirits of those who refuse to know fear.

Math: Draw Ranking: Mongul (#547)

What Went Down...
On the planet Daxam; Mongul powers through the streets sending much smaller citizens scattering to their deaths as he pursues his foe, Arkillo, reeling from the force of his blow. Structures collapse beneath the powerhouse as he toppls, but even as Mongul delivers a devestating right hand to his falling opponent, Arkillo is plotting his next move!

Having reached out to a nearby flagpole during his fall, Arkillo clutches the broken off metal shaft. In his hands, it becomes a deadly weapon as he drives the pointed edge through Mongul's gut!

Though the wound might have finished any mere mortal, Mongul persist to shunt his attacker with an elbow to the head. The protruding impalement repeats it's purpose, allowing Mongul to stake himself to Arkillo like a giant Sinestro Corps shaslick! Joined at the hip, the pair tumble from their pedistal above Daxam!

Arkillo gnashes his jaws over his foe's head during the fall, while Mongul does his best to battle back and mount a defensive. The pole slips from their bodies as they careen amongst debris, before reaching a stop at the base of a mountain.

With a small army of Sinestro Corps onlookers gathering at the base, Arkillo rises above his nemesis. With the Sinestro Corps symbol of fear glowing from his ring, it seems the trainer from Sector 674 is victorious. Mongul rises, however, to disprove this assessment, taking a toppled Arkillo by the maw to rip the tongue from his large fanged mouth!

Bleeding profusely, Arkillo inadvertently kneels before Mongul, who clutches his bloodied tongue in one hand and asks for any other challengers to step forward.
By Arkillo's own terms he kneels before the monster he must recognise as the new leader of the Sinestro Corps, but somewhere across the gulf of space, the Corps' titular leader approaches to confront Mongul.

The Hammer...
With bloody results, we too must recognise Mongul, registering an impressive victory over an intriguing new induction into the Infinite Wars, in Arkillo.

Y'know, you might as well acknowledge Green Lantern Corps as an exciting new prospect introduced to the site, as well. The series, running alongside Geoff Johns' headlining work on Green Lantern, has proven itself to be far more than a simple tie-in to plot threads developing in the main book.

That's not to discount the relationship between GLC and events in the flagship book, of course.
In fact, in coming weeks, we're about to witness Geoff Johns tagging his popular antagonist, Sinestro, over to Peter Tomasi, in the interest of tackling the rising plot of leadership in the Sinestro Corps.

It's been storylines like these that have not only proven the value of a second Lantern title, but also gone lengths to greatly enhance the aspect ratio of an epic tale with a July deadline.

Geoff Johns' expansive model for a 'War of Light' arguably began with the first appearance of the Sinestro Corps, and subsequent event of the Sinestro Corps War. Since then, unveiling a procession of colourful Lanterns has been the writer's chief objective, lacing the prophecy created by Alan Moore, into retroactive, and
current, continuities that surround the sci-fi space-heroics of the Green Lantern.

With only a year-and-a-half to establish a universe of content before the forecast deadline of Blackest Night, most Johns pages have been focused primarily on checking off details, characters, and skinny moments of characterization. If there's a criticism of his exciting work, it's that so much of it has come abruptly.
GL Corps lightens the load, taking time to develop necessary plot threads, while also just lending a much larger context to the existence of creations and ideas that will be relevant to both the War of Light, and Blackest Night.

As an alternative, I'm almost inclined to say Green Lantern Corps is actually the better book. Without the preoccupation of a large goal, the series has been able to play with these concepts benefitting from work done elsewhere. This particular issue doesn't just feature Mongul, Arkillo, and the Sinestro Corps predicament, but also touches beautifully on Sodam Yat, Kyle Rayner, Soranik Natu, Kilowog, Guy Gardner, the new GL laws, and the GL prison. It's a beautifully balanced piece of writing that makes great economic use of writer/reader shorthand, and the expansive mythology we're all coming to understand. It has so much more personality for this, too, in ways that Geoff Johns' important work just hasn't seemed to allow for.

If we're going to pit the two books against one and other, I have to say the visuals of Green Lantern Corps are far more delicious than anything we've seen in the title book in quite some time. Ivan Reis is wonderfully efficient, but Patrick Gleason delivers a confident line with enough style to make it distinct, even though this is very much a mainstream superhero book. Rebecca Buchman (and Christian Alamy) deserve heaps of praise for their solid blacks on inks, while Randy Mayor provides colours incredibly complimentary to the work. In it's deviations to quieter moments (like a bathroom scene between Rayner and Natu), you could almost mistake this for an independent romance comic.

Reading both GL books in the lead up to Blackest Night is probably ideal.
Free Comic Book Day draws ever nearer and I don't doubt that every reader is going to want to get their hands on thirty-two pages of free, original comic book that sews the seeds for the mega event that's coming! While the event probably won't require you to have read everything before it, the image will be that much more vivid, and really, what are you reading right now that's better?

As a companion, I'm sure GL Corps is a deliciously minty refreshment.
Not only will it cleanse your palate after gorging on the construction materials of the Johns book, but it also promises it's own significant details. Just as it seems increasingly likely that Hal Jordan will find a way to channel the powers of all the spectrum as a super-duper White Lantern, so too does there seem to be a dark variant growing in Mongul. Though he currently possesses only multiple yellow rings, there is the promise of green and red, yet to come!

Will he be part of the ultimate solution to the War of Light/Blackest Night, or is he the evil Yin to Hal Jordan's triumphant Yang? It furthers the same metaphorical literal devices that are making each Corps instantly intriguing regardless of depth of characterization that accompanies their membership.

The Fight: 5 The Issue: 5.5
Winner: Mongul

This chapter of the Prelude to Blackest Night, Emerald Eclipse, is still underway, but if you're keen to get in on the War of Light, then you can preorder the hardcore edition through Amazon. You'll also find other great stories on offer in the Infinite Wars Amazonian Gift Shoppe, featuring collected editions of many issues reviewed in the Secret Archives, including those detailing the Sinestro Corps War! By using purchase links provided, you sponsor future entries, and Green light!

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