Monday, June 29, 2009

Agent Orange: Part Four (DC)
Where: Green Lantern #42 When: August 2009
Why: Geoff Johns How: Philip Tan & Eddy Barrows

Strength: Draw 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Green Lantern 4 (Tactician)
Speed: Draw 2 (Average)
Stamina: Larfleeze 6 (Generator)
Agility: Draw 2 (Average)
Fighting: Green Lantern 4 (Trained)
Energy: Larfleeze 7 (Cosmic)

Math: Green Lantern
Ranking: Green Lantern (#29)

The past few years have seen the Green Lantern go from strength to strength, beginning with
Rebirth, and reaching it's epitomy with a company-wide crossover event -- Blackest Night. It's been under the loving direction of writer Geoff Johns that the series has hop, skipped, and jumped it's way from obscurity, to a most improved title, to a firmly established A-list franchise for DC comics.

As the figurehead of the reinvention,
Hal Jordan has been restored as one of the most popular and significant superheroes in comics. Despite this boost, the hero has been suspiciously absent from the 2009 Infinite Wars action! Toady, we set about to finally correct that disappointing -- and inadvertent -- oversight.

Those of you new to the site might appreciate a clarification: "Secret Wars on Infinite Earths" not only refers to the two definitive comics crossovers of the mid-eighties, but also the endless battles undertaken by characters from different companies, mediums, and internal universes. It is a literal description of the "fight league" high concept that provides a foundation for review, observation, discussion, and silly win/loss ranking lists based on featured fights.

Key to the momentum of the Green Lantern titles throughout 2008, and the first half of 2009, has been the development of an entire spectrum of rival ring wielding Corps who derive their powers from the cosmic emotional totem. This spectrum was first teased at the conclusion of the Sinestro Corps War, where the Green Lanterns successfully fended off the fear-wielding fright of the Yellow Sinestro Corps.

This tease also introduced the prospect of the Black Lanterns -- undead warriors to rise from the defeated corpse of the once feared
Anti-Monitor. We now know they are the risen dead from across the galaxy, fated to snuff the light of the other Corps and return the universe to darkness.

The Corps represent the colour-coded powers of: Green (Will), Blue (Hope), Indigo (Compassion), Violet (Love), Red (Rage), Orange (Avarice), Yellow (Fear), Black (Death).

Agent Orange is the storyarc responsible for introducing Larfleeze, the sole possessor of the Orange power battery of avarice. It's the last major storyline to establish other powers from the emotional spectrum before the Blackest Night officially launches with an eight issue mini-series, and issues of Green Lantern,
Green Lantern Corps and other.

I think it's fair to say, after waiting a year and a half since the
Green Lantern #25 teaser, everyone's getting just a little antsy for the main event. I would speculate even Geoff Johns himself has gotten a little sick of the build-up, abbreviating his introduction of the various Corps as he rushes to establish vital new mythology in the DC universe before Blackest Night finally kicks off.

Things feel rushed and a little on the sloppy side as we get the lowdown on not only the existance of Larfleeze and the Orange Light, but also other maneuvering parts of the Blackest Night set-up process. Of the two books, GLC has been able to juggle multiple storylines with much more fluidity than the master title -- a bold compliment for Johns' writing counterpart/collaborator,
Peter Tomasi.

In introducing the spectrum of colours, Johns has also presented the prospect of mixing the pallette of powers to create new results. [Hal] Jordan has come to possess yellow, red, and blue powers, with Agent Orange giving him reason to want to take Larfleeze's power enough to add orange to the tally, as well.

Typically Red Lanterns are mindlessly raging beasts who vomit their power, but when Jordan added the red to his green, he was able to form constructs through the combination of rage and willpower. It's an interesting metaphysical translation of how real emotions can be utilized to different ends, this being an example of a constructive use of anger. Similarly realised was the addition of a blue ring of hope, which super-charges the Green Lantern power, and is likewise rendered incapable of offensive without the compliment of willpower.

These distinctions have prevented the spectrum of Lantern Corps devolving into a pointless exchange of arbitrary colour fights. It's also presented a possible solution to the upcoming rise of Black Lanterns, assuming the powers of coloured light could be combined to create white light (capable of ending the dark).

Larfleeze, the possessor of the orange light of avarice, has a natural greed about him that's greatly enhanced by the orange light, which compells him to horde his power and seek other. The grander mythology of Larfleeze reveals that his Corps is actually constructs based upon the lives he has stolen, rather than allies who share his philosophy. Like greed itself, he is an ancient creature who has had dealings with the
Guardians of the Galaxy prior, leading to the no-fly zone of Sector 2828 that began the story.

The previous issue ended with Larfleeze chopping Jordan's hand off to get a hold of his Blue ring. This would've been a fitting pageturning moment of shock mid-issue, but instead, served as an entirely hollow cliffhanger ending to the last issue. I would speculate that it was an out-of-character ending for Johns who's simply running out of space before Blackest Night must begin.

The twist? The Blue ring projected an illusion of Larfleeze's hopes, distracting him with a curtain of indulgence! He didn't chop the hand off and take possession of the blue ring -- it was just a dream! Wuh-wuh. A bit of a cop-out in the world of writing, but it set us up for battle-proper in this issue!

Super-charged by the blue ring, Jordan creates his own Corps of constructs of other Green Lanterns and familiar characters. An attack that offends Larfleeze's sense of intellectual property, rather than any fear. It's an effective consistency in the characterization of the Orange light, but also infers just how powerful Larfleeze is as the sole proprietor of the orange power battery.

Agent Orange smacks Jordan in the head with his power battery -- a move that puts it in proximity to be stolen away by the Green Lantern!

Jordan is quickly swathed in thoughts of greed as he powers up with the orange light. It's a further glimpse into the hunger the power incurs, which is quickly taken back by it's owner for centuries.

The Guardians and several Green Lanterns arrive to aid Jordan as Larfleeze charges up to 7839% power levels and reimagines himself as a giant energy construct! He single-handedly resists the offensive of the Green Lantern Corps, living up to the claim of the Guardians that the orange light of avarice cannot be extinguished. The untenable situation finally allows Hal Jordan to invest in the power of hope and unlock the offensive capabilities of the blue ring.

With a mighty thrust of the blue ring, hope gives Jordan the power to deliver a knock-out blow to the Larfleeze energy construct. Though it does not destroy Larfleeze himself, it is sufficient an attack to curb his warpath and grant the Guardians the opportunity to enter into negotiations with the exiled beast.

Resetting the game just before Blackest Night is the departure of the Blue ring upon the expulsion of it's power and defeat of Larfleeze. The ring does, however, leave one lasting mark in the form of a now trademark Geoff Johns flashforward!

Infinite Wars stat hounds should note the assist from: John Stewart, El'Qa Squa Zreenah, Barreer Wot, Stel, Venizz, Lok Neboora, Turytt, and Torquemada.

The issue closes with the promise of a clash between Larfleeze and the Blue Lantern Corps (who were sold out by the Guardians), and the first Black Lantern to rise as Green Lanterns, Saarek and Ash, arrive at the Black Lantern central battery (and final resting place of Anti-Monitor) teased at the end of 2007.

We're running months behind schedule, so I'll wrap this up here. I'm interpreting the successful offensive of Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) as a victory blow sufficient enough to constitute the defeat of Larfleeze. [Corpsman assists listed above.]

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 5
Winner: Green Lantern

Green Lantern is currently available monthly from DC Comics. Blackest Night is the storyline developing for two years and is both an eight-issue DC Universe mini-series and event effecting multiple series in the DC line-up including GL and Green Lantern Corps! Blackest Night officially begins in July! While you wait, you can find more Green Lantern battles in the Secret Archives, and purchase collected editions via links in individual posts, and in the Online Gift Shoppe. By using purchase links provided, you help sponsor future entries in the site!

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