Green Lantern: Earth One by Hardman and Bechko – A Book Review

It made my day when I won this graphic novel by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko through Goodreads.  I’d been hearing good things about it, and even though I’m not a huge Green Lantern fan, I thought the idea of reworking him within the Earth One concept could be a wonderfully entertaining experience.

Even though Green Lantern has been rooted in science fiction for the last sixty years or so, word on the street said this book would strip away all of the fantasy elements the character carries and make it a true work of science fiction.

If you’re unfamiliar with the character, Hal Jordan is a test pilot who was chosen to replace a deceased member of the Green Lantern Corps, which is an intergalactic police force.  Each member wears a ring that will create hard light constructs of anything the wearer imagines.  However, Green Lanterns must recharge their ring every twenty-four hours with a battery that looks quite a bit like a … well, lantern.  That’s green.  This corps has hundreds if not thousands of members, and you can imagine all of the betrayals, deaths, love connections, uprisings, reshuffling of power, and so on that has occurred during the last several decades.

In this version, they broke with tradition and made Hal Jordan a rejected astronaut who currently works as a space prospector.  And … that’s about it.  Though the circumstances are slightly different, he still happens across the ring.  He eventually connects with other Green Lanterns.  He organizes and leads them.  This Jordan is more of an underdog, but I found the whole book very similar to what’s come before.  Even his costume is pretty much the same.

In my opinion, they did not take it nearly far enough.  They did not break away from his Silver Age roots in any meaningful way.  That’s generally been my issue with all of the Earth One books, though.  The idea is that these books would depict what these heroes would be like in today’s real world, and the answer is … pretty much the same.

I do want to commend Gabriel Hardman’s art, though.  He’s got an expert sense of anatomy and perspective, and his backgrounds are exquisite.  I also very much enjoyed Jordan Boyd’s colors.  His use of green light surrounded by the darkness of space felt fresh.  At times he seems to employ a dot matrix technique, which was also felt both nostalgic and original.

So while the book is well executed, I didn’t find it particularly inspired.  It wan’t the innovative science fiction extravaganza that I expected.

Image result for green lantern earth one book cover

(Did you enjoy this review?  Check out Scott William Foley’s short stories HERE!)

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Wonder Woman: Earth One by Grant Morrison – A Book Review

Grant Morrison is a luminary in the comic book industry.  He has earned every bit of adulation he has acquired over the years.  He is incredibly imaginative and fearless.  Frankly, though, I’ve always found him to be better at big ideas than actual execution.  In past books I’ve read, the concept is always amazing, yet the dialogue and pacing tend to fizzle out near the midway point and lose focus for the remainder of the story.

Wonder Woman: Earth One struck me as odd, consequently, because it suffered from the exact opposite issue.

Before we begin, though, it may be helpful to note that Earth One is a dimension within the DC Multiverse that essentially takes place in the wold as we know it.  Thus far, only Superman, Batman, and the Teen Titans have appeared on Earth One.  It is generally a place where the plots are a little more gritty and the heroes a little more flawed.

So I assumed Morrison would go bonkers with all of Greek mythology at his disposal.  I figured he’d take an entirely new angle and regale us with a Wonder Woman never before seen.  He would blow our minds with Greek power cosmic and postmodernist Amazonian idealism.

In fact, none of that happened.  He shook up the status quo a bit by making Steve Trevor black.  This ultimately had no real bearing on the character.  He also unequivocally identified the Amazons as lesbians, which, if you think about it long enough, would seem to make total sense.  He assigned a new father to Wonder Woman as a driving force of the plot, but, frankly, it wasn’t quite as notable as what Brian Azzarello already did with Wonder Woman’s regular DC title.  In other words, it’s fairly bland by Morrison’s standards.  Structurally, it stands up well.  The beginning, middle, and end all work well together with no instances of rambling or wandering.

With all that being said, it’s not a bad story.  It’s just not as original, thought-provoking, or creative as I expected from Grant Morrison.

The bright spot of the book is certainly Yanick Paquette’s beautiful drawings.  His art is streamlined and graceful.  He delivers an Amazon society that is both classical and technologically innovative.  His Amazonian women are powerful and elegant.  Like Cliff Chang, Paquette’s Wonder Woman is a regal warrior brimming with intelligence, confidence, and compassion.  It’s all right there, on her face.

But the star, the single person who makes Wonder Woman: Earth One a true work of art, is Nathan Fairbairn.  I’ve often said that a bad colorist can ruin a well drawn book, and a good colorist can make a poorly rendered book look amazing.  Fairbairn takes a wonderfully drawn book and amplifies it by tenfold.  His colors are bold without being distracting.  They make the drawings pop off the page.  They are an absolute pleasure to perceive.  I won’t pretend to understand the technical aspects of coloring, but I know great colors when I see them.  Fairbairn executed his craft masterfully in this book.

If you’re a Wonder Woman fan, I think you’ll find things to appreciate in this book — certainly the art and colors are worth the price tag alone.  It’s not the most bombastic of Morrison’s work, but it is one of his most direct and concisely delivered.

 

Teen Titans: Earth One by Lemire and Dodson – A Book Review

Jeff Lemire is always hit or miss with me, but when I saw that Teen Titans: Earth One received positive criticism and when I found it at my local library, I had to give it a shot.

I’m glad I did.

The Earth One concept is an interesting one at DC Comics.  They’ve had success with both Superman and Batman under the Earth One banner, and the idea is basically that these heroes are debuting in modern times in the world we live.  The biggest advantage is that they are completely free of any previous baggage.  Anything goes with the Earth One titles, but honestly, Superman and Batman remained largely unchanged and didn’t take enough risks.

Teen Titans, on the other hand, made a very large break from their original incarnations, and, in my opinion, it’s a positive one.

Lemire has a very good handle on Starfire, Changeling, Cyborg, Raven, Jericho, and Terra.  The plot is that Starfire has been held captive since her arrival as a baby on Earth.  Scientists used her DNA to run experiments, and those experiments resulted in a certain group of teenagers developing amazing abilities that are largely beyond control.  Raven looks on from afar at her Navajo reservation, connected to the group for reasons we don’t fully understand, but always prepared to intervene when necessary.

This book is definitely a case of familiar names in very different situations.  In my open, Lemire has done a fantastic job of keeping these characters’ essence the same while remaining unpredictable.  In an industry that sometimes becomes stifled by its own intricate serialization, Teen Titans finds a way to be fresh and exciting.

Terry Dodson, as always, creates fluid, beautiful images that rocket the story forward.  His perspectives and layouts are always masterful.  It’s a fun book to read, but it’s even more fun to view.

Near the end of the book we are introduced to a favorite Teen Titan and the groundwork is laid for even more to appear in the future.  Teen Titans: Earth One is a satisfying origin story, and it certainly leaves the door wide open for a sequel.

Traditional Teen Titan fans will find this unusual angle interesting, and the casual fan will have no trouble getting to know these characters and joining in the adventure.  I look forward to seeing where Lemire and Dodson go next.