Geek Reads

Geek Reads

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

War Of The Green Lanterns - Gotta Love It!

It’s been about 4 years now since I last re-visited Green Lantern and realized why I had this penchance for rings when I was a kid. Fast forward to today and after major yearly crises that has plagued OA and the rest of the DC Universe; I am still hooked and proud to be a Lantern at heart. Reading War of the Green Lanterns this month as it only came out in hardcover and compiles the entire storyline via different issues of Green Lantern and Emerald Warriors; Geoff Johns has once again won my heart and proved why he is the man who wears the DC crown.

Touted as the big crisis following the successful and my favorite GL crisis, Blackest Night and its 3 part sequel, Brightest Day, one would think that there would not be another crisis than can come close to equalling these past 2 big events. And it so happens that they didn’t have to create another villain to spin a brand new crisis that would incapacitate and affect our ring wielding friends because they already have one in their midst. And this came in the form of a renegade guardian named Krona. The hardcover 10-issue compilation collects the different runs of the storyline as it appears in Green Lantern #63-67, Green Lantern Corps #58-60, Emerald Warriors #8-10.

Having met Krona first in the 80’s series, Crisis on Infinite Earths and then have him associated with past DC events like Infinite Crisis and the 2 most recent GL crises, it was but natural that they bring him back to finally tie up loose ends with his fellow Guardians and to give Krona the centerstage attention that he so long desired. (I’m not saying, deserved either)

With Krona’s entrance, it’s also the resolution of the damage that the so called Guardians have had to answer for. From the secrets and lies that they told in order to keep the Lanterns in the dark of what they must not know and limit their knowledge to what they need to know, this war was very much a war among the Guardians themselves and not just confined to their Green “police squad”. Following the events of Green Lantern: Brightest Day, we find our hero Hal Jordan working alongside with the other members of the different corps, branded as such by the Guardians as enemies, in protecting the various emotional entities from Krona’s influence.

So far Krona has succeeded in obtaining all the emotional entities (Ion for Green; Parallax for Yellow; Ophidian for Orange; Butcher for Red; Adara for Blue, Proselyte for Indigo and Predator for Violet) and have “led” this temporary truce-bound group of lanterns to the Planet Ryut; which is in Sector 666, and homeworld of the red lantern leader, Atrocitus. This same planet where his Red Lantern, representing the emotional spectrum of rage, was formed and tragically is also site of the massacre of his people by the robotic Manhunters made by the Guardians eons ago.  According to the Book of Oa that contained a history of the Lantern Corps, the Manhunters were robots manufactured by the Guardians to ensure peace in the galaxy but a glitch in their basic programming caused them to massacre everyone on the planet Ryut and thus begin Atrocitus’ lifelong dream of exacting his revenge on the Guardians.

On Ryut, the multi-colored Lanterns fell susceptible to the Book of the Black kept by Krona and protected by now Black Keeper Lyssa Drak who once was a member of the Sinestro Corps and wielded a yellow Ring that represented the emotional spectrum of fear. The Lanterns were thus given a glimpse into the true secret that the Guardians have kept for so long. The “secret” was actually the omitted and torn out passages or journal entries from the Book of Oa and were replayed in their minds as they are strapped to the book by Black Chains for the duration of their “virtual history lesson”.
As the book shows, Krona was one of the original Guardians hailing from the planet Maltus who sought out the meaning of life; the origin of creation. 

He was a brilliant scientist that dared to question and in his result bungled his own experiment and created the opposite of all life called The Anti Universe. For this and for recognizing the existence and use of emotion to which the Guardians were totally against he was sentenced to death and was in pursuit by the Manhunters. The book further revealed, much to the horror of all that It was Krona who re-worked the programming of the Manhunters and to randomly select a world to kill; a point which he had hoped to bring across to the Guardians that he meant business. That an “emotionless” police force is not without flaws and must be corrected.

Having thus learned the truth, the Lanterns were sucked into the book, but not before Sinestro and Hal detonated their own rings and enabled Hal to be free of the chains that bound him. Which was well and good, had it not been for the arrival of several Green Lanterns lead by Salaak who were commanded by the Guardians to arrest Hal and bring him back to Oa for sanction.

Krona as this time had already returned Parallax, the yellow entity of Fear into the central battery and have begun manipulating the bearers of the Green Lantern ring thru Parallax and was havin them fight against Hal, former Guardian Ganthet (but now a self inducted Green Lantern), John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner.

That basically is the gist of the run of the storyline and I’m stopping here lest I be tempted to reveal more spoilers. Just like my favorite GL crises, The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night, this compilation has all the action that any GL fan has come to love and expect with its own share of character introspection and plot twists. Only when I re-read this a second time did it dawn on me that Hal for all his bravado and will is turning out to be rather Machiavellian in his ways and it is perhaps in this that the Guardians have begun to fear him and regard him as a threat; that he perhaps could be another Krona in the making. But in his defense, Hal is aware of the radical steps that he has taken and in one panel, has admitted he has bitten off more than he can chew at the height of this crisis.

Suffice to say, Johns has given us another reason to love the Green Lantern Corps and what it stands for and in the process have given two major lanterns a shot of soul searching and redemption. If you like your reads action packed and unpredictable  then 
War of the Green Lanterns is a must this holiday season. And although the end certainly paves the way for the new reboot of the franchise by way of the new-52 by DC, I can only imagine the next chapter that all our favorite Lanterns would have to go through following this devastating blow of a war. No one said that war will exempt the brave and the lucky ones from being a casualty. But after this, the word “casualty” is certainly being redefined as the Corps itself is being reshaped and put into the ringer. Power up Poohzers. Time for a new beginning!

Monday, November 7, 2011

For Heaven's Eyes Only - Secret Histories Book 5

We all know or have heard of the expression, NO Rest for the Wicked. But perhaps a tad of that was forgotten or could be reworked for this novel, as there is certainly No Rest for the Ones who faced the Wicked! In this case, the new bad in the continuing Secret Histories series by award winning author and my fave, Simon R. Green.

Last we saw our hero, Edwin Drood, he was stabbed and left for dead in Book 4, From Hell With Love, after confronting the accursed Immortals who infiltrated the ranks and the family of Droods to assassinate their leader, the Matriarch. Although they were also successful in storming Castle Frankenstein to battle down the Immortals with the help of Frankenstein’s spawn, it was finally time for Eddie to get some peace and quiet.

But peace and quiet were not exactly what he had when the book opens up with a scene in a ghost dimension, or  Limbo, and has Eddie running up and down a cold, glass-frosted, and desolate looking Drood Hall. He’s all alone and hasn’t found a living soul to talk to except finding and talking to members of his family who already have died or those foes or friends that he has dispatched and died from the service of protecting the world from supernatural bad-asses, as that’s what the Drood Family does.

The Droods, all clad in their indestructible and retractable, Golden Armor, are our defense against the supernatural horde who want to lay claim to the world that is ours. In Limbo, Eddie encounters someone telling him, and alluding to it successfully, that his parents are actually alive. And of course, Eddie being the hero of our tale, never really was dead, as his girlfriend, the powerful witch Molly Metcalf comes into Limbo and brings him out.  Although he was nearly dead, he wasn’t quite so as Molly had the initiative of transporting his heart elsewhere; to a secret location and thus he couldn’t be killed. Dear reader, this was also a trick that Molly did in Book 4 when I thought she was a goner. I know, spoiler! Me bad.

But moving on, Book 5 continues on the mayhem and doubt instilled in the previous book and brings in a new malevolent force slated to create havoc in the world, by way of a Satanic conspiracy. The need to know who’s behind it and how deeply the organization has infiltrated the British and other governments of the world in preparation for the much touted, Great Sacrifice; once revealed was shocking enough to make me shake my head in disgust. Disgust, not from the writing or plot points, but for what it entailed for its success. Ah, Green, you still amaze me with each book outing.

Suffice to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this 5th book and urge anyone to not read it in random order but to start where it all began. From new characters like powerful telepath, Ammonia Van Acht, Charlatan Joe, Lady Damnation, Indigo Blue, the adorable spirit named Poof that finally has revealed itself and guards the Drood Library, to other noteworthy recurring and revealing characters like the Drood lovers Roger Morningstar and Harry Drood, the novel offers the same witty dialogue, repartee and snappish remarks between Molly and Eddie and also between other members of the Drood clan make this another classic Drood read for me.

Just when I thought Book 3 tired and burned me out early and left me for a revitalized reading, Books 4 and 5 certainly did that. And with another cliffhanger to top all endings, I fear that I may have to wait too long for the next book to come out next year. And because this is the supernatural James bond adventure that we have all come to enjoy and love with each release on the life of a Drood, Book 6 is aptly titled, Live and Let Drood.

Frankly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Where’s my Martini?

Shaken…not stirred. Please.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Trese Book 3: Mass Murders - Philippine Graphic Fiction

To say that I was expecting a good read from my continued foray into the supernatural world of Alexandra Trese & her ghoul-fighting righthand Twins is an understatement. In fact, it was an awesome read!

Expecting another series of paranormal vignettes stitched together with creative storyline by Budjette Tan & sharp depictive drawings by Koji Baldisimo plus the promise of more clues & hints to questions that loyal readers have wanted to be answered were just some of the expectations that greeted me when I started book 3.  But when I saw that it opens with a murder & in walks Anton Trese into the scene with our heroine, I knew that this was not just another book to be added onto the series, but rather was the beginning of a history lesson; one that should not be hurried.

At first seeing Anton Trese alive with no preamble whatsoever, it initially got me confused but having trusted the material so far, I owed myself as a reader to be led into the journey. We immediately pick up that this is a prequel and see that Alexandra has always been into the family business. And at 16 she had promise & held her own supernatural ground when enemies come knocking. But in the course of the reading, Alexandra along with her father uncovered the presence of the Bukidnon god of war, Talugbusao, connected in a series of murders. 

On top of that she must take care of its accursed progeny & face 3 trials to prove her worth as a champion, being the 6th child of the Trese line.
I don’t want to say a lot and give too much detail about the plot but let me just go out on a limb and say that Budjette has certainly brilliantly and cohesively weaved a tale that brings everything full circle in this 3rd book and like my favorite Tv show, Charmed, their 3rd season, as well as Book 3 of Trese provides the best writing of the series so far.

 With much care, not to mention creativity, in presenting Alexandra Trese both as a new player in the supernatural community and one who doesn’t shirk away from responsibility, I hope that Budjette has fully accepted that his responsibility to us the readers is to continue to give us amazing Trese adventures with each book outing while celebrating the culture that is ours; that is Filipino. Fans of the Kambal will have a lot to cheer about in this one. I know I did! (And loudly too while reading).

More power Budjette and Kajo. May you always be inspired to equally inspire us all. If you love art, it will love you back.

Now off to…….and with Book 4 in tow. J

Monday, October 24, 2011

Trese Book 2: Unreported Murders - Philippine Graphic Fiction

Equally as good as the 1st one, the second TRESE book continues the supernatural adventures of paranormal consultant & investigator, Alexandra Trese & her magical gun-wielding & flying righthand men, The Twins.

Focusing more & utilizing the appearance of elemental forces than the plethora of philippine mythological beings, the collection has Aswangs, Tiyanaks & zombies to keep you busy while keeping the suspense & mystery surrounding Trese with lotsa hints about who her father is & was in the supernatural underground community.

Book 2 also has a lot of crafty re-naming & association to real life urban legends like the Robinsons mall creature that abducts ladies in their dressing room or the evil conglomerate of a power company that require sacrifice for usage.

All in all this 2nd is another great read but like me I suggest you start from the first & work your way to the more recent book. Coz thats how good ideas are, like seeds of a tree in book 1 they are introduced & planted. It grows beautifully into Book 2 & now as I write this has blossomed to fruition in Book 3 & has grown into an orchard in Book 4.

So watcha waiting for, go get hooked on Trese. Coz if I had my way, I wanna be dressed as one of the Twins this Halloween 2011. As a bonus and on your right is a sample of a recent cosplay of Alexandra Trese by Bianca King. :)

Ok off to start Book 3 now, with Book 4, the current & recently released on stand by in my room...

Ps. End of the book has sample art by my faves Oliver Pulumbarit, Carlo Vergara, Ian. Sta Maria, Reirand Santos and Reno Maniquis. So go and get your copy now...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Trese- Book 1 - Filipino Urban Fantasy Graphic Novel

Kept seeing this at National Bookstore then and admittedly when another author spoke extensively about this did I try picking it up and loved it!

Combining urban fantasy and Philippine folklore, this graphic novel is a series of stories about Alexandra Trese, our Philippine equivalent, to Kolchak and Fox Mulder. But the cool thing about her is that she's got two magical twins as her right hand men and doesn't bat an eyelash at the different magical creatures and circumstances that she gets herself involved in whenever the police call in on her for help on things, paranormal.

So far Book 4 has been released and it's no surprise why I already have Book 2 on stanby for my weekend reading.

Celebrate our being Filipino. Remember our own folklore and mythology and read this. :)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Utopia- Dark Avengers & Dark X-men

The vision or dream of Utopia itself apart from a fleeting one, is truly ambitious. But to collect several issues of Dark Avengers and Uncanny X-men in the hopes of establishing coherence in one continuous read is definitely no easy feat either.
This graphic novel collects Uncanny X-men #513-#514; Dark Avengers #7-8; Dark X-Men The Beginning: #1-3; X-Men Legacy #226-#227; Dark X-men: The Confession and material from Dark Reign: The Cabal.  This collection released last year 2010 and written by Matt Fraction brings together the 2 most popular superhero teams of the Marvel universe, namely The Avengers and The X-men. But for uninitiated readers who will dive into this seeking current and updated clarification, they may be confused as the heroes they knew have taken not only a dive but a 180 degree turn.
Here’s the lowdown.
At this point in the story, the Avengers have disassembled and Tony Stark, aka. Iron Man has been deposed from leading the Avengers following his debacle in handling events concerning the Skrull infiltration of superheroes in the Marvel event, Secret Invasion, which if I may add was brilliantly conceived by Brian Bendis. The current hero of this tale ironically became Norman Osborn, aka. Green Goblin. Yes, the Spider Man villain killed the Skrull Queen and became a hero. Fast forward, he now leads the Avengers and is the darling of the US govt in all things “mutant”. To this he has re-shaped the Avengers and used the symbolism that our heroes represent and warped it into his own. In replacement of Iron Man, he took Stark technology, crafted himself an armor and calls himself Iron Patriot. He then hired Daredevil nemesis, Bullseye, and had him become Hawkeye. Venom was recruited to take the place of Peter Parker, aka. Spider Man while Daken, Wolverine’s son became the adamantium wielding hero and Dr. Karla Sofen who has the powers of flight, intangibility and energy blasts, became Ms. Marvel. Add to this roster the presence of the godlike superhero but psychotic Sentry and Ares the God of War and you have the New Avengers.
Onto our favorite Mutants this time, Scott Summers aka. Cyclops is now the leader of the X-men with Storm now based in Wakanda and living the life of queen and wife to Black Panther. Former villainess and now teacher, Emma Frost, aka. The White Queen is now with the X-men and  2nd in command in addition to being current love of Cyclops’s life. Unfortunately Beast and Professor Charles Xavier have been captured by Osborn and is currently being forced to take part in an experiment to drain mutants of their powers to feed his other team member of the Dark Avengers, Michael Pointer, aka. Weapon Omega. The experiment is funded by Osborn and headed by (don’t hold your breath), Beast or should I say Dark Beast as he is an evil Dr. McCoy from another timeline. (now scratch your head and say, Huh?)
Our compilation opens with riots in San Francisco being led by Simon Trask. Yes, we remember him from Sentinel days of early X-men and has been causing a lot of anti-mutant sentiment around the area. Cyclops although trying his best to contain the incident by having other X-men members take care of it has not been successful and was branded as “incapable” by the media to govern and police mutantkind. On top of that Osborn has just come in from New York, in line with the rumors that San Francisco is about to be “federalized”. Needless to say Osborn has his Dark Avengers in tow and is encroaching upon X-men territory. The clash between two teams ensues as it is unavoidable and leads to both betrayal and deception on Emma Frost’s part to form her own team of X-men to handle the rising threat of anti-mutant sentiment and superhero withdrawal from the populace.
With the X-men team divided and Osborn’s Dark Avengers looking united and certainly a force to be reckoned, how can resolution be achieved? Of course, with utmost planning and some trust along the way.
My friend lent me this compilation and promised me all out action. Indeed I was and am happy for it. Just like my other favorite Marvel event, Siege, this compilation was indeed energy blasting-knuckle punch action all the way, with more intricate power playing and secret hiding along the way for proper garnishing. Not everything is what it seems in his story and although you would applaud Scott Summers’ plan after reading, you may just applaud Emma Frost’s nerve and will as well when you get to the end. Betrayal is trust, is certainly a operative word phrase in this storyline.
But alas the Utopia storyline itself is only a little half into the entire book and others are more side stories that we never got to see or as other readers complained, need not see as it was pointless and didn’t really drive the narrative forward. True, the back stories about the X-men villain, Mimic, and how he got drafted to join Osborne as well as Raven Darkholme, aka. Mystique, plus Cloak and Dagger as well as Daken and how Emma convinced Namor to join her cause as the ace up her sleeve may be well and good and certainly gives readers a deeper look. But frankly I never liked Namor and so skipped his story. Don’t necessarily see the bond that he and Emma have, much less the “he smells like fish” reference in Cabal is equally off putting for me. Would you sleep with a superhero who smells like that? LOL!

Ok digressing but all in all it was an ok read. I still rank Civil War, Secret Invasion and Siege as my favorite all time Marvel crisis stories and hoping for a good one when the current Fear Itself storyline is compiled. Here’s to a good attempt Matt Fraction but here’s to more Brian Bendis for me.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Brightest Day Vol 3 - Is it really Bright?

One review that I read prior to finishing the 3rd and last volume of Brightest Day asked the question that I also found myself asking at the end of it all, was that, “Was it needed?”

If we go by the Lantern Oath and pick up on the beat of Geoff Johns thinking, then perhaps yes. Because after Blackest Night, something should follow suit, and true to Oath form of the Green Lantern Corps, Brightest Day does follow. But does it make sense? Does it strike a chord in the characters, much less the readers?

It did when I first finished Blackest Night, which by the way was a tour de force in itself. From storyline to the artwork, the pacing of the panelling and how the entire arc of the story affected the entire DC universe. It was brilliant. And having the creative lightning strike hard and strike gold, could it have been possible to do it a second time?

Picture this.

At the end of Blackest Night, several DC characters who were dead were brought back to life by the sentient living entity that was hidden underneath the Earth. It spoke of the path that follows the dark. And metaphorically, I do get it. That after the dark and having been touched by light, what do we do? After epiphanies of our own, being in the dark for some time before that, how do we deal with the consequences? Of course, we move forward, live our lives and go where the light takes us. But somehow, somewhere in the midst of my reading all 3 volumes, I was asking if I wanted to be taken there in the first place.

As opposed to the first crisis that involved dead superheroes becoming Black Lanterns and corrupting the living, Brightest Day doesn’t add much on that scale and narrows the “crisis” down to the resurrected characters and how their lives and choices affect the others in the DC universe. Vol. 3 continues the battle of Hawkman and Hawkgirl against her mother in beating out the life and death Prophecy cycle that they have been subjected to. Aquaman battles for his place in the underwater kingdom and mentoring the new Aqualad, who just happens to be the son of his nemesis, Black Manta. Not to mention dealing with Mera’s revelation that she came to Atlantis to kill him but not counted on falling in love with him. Firestorm for his part had to deal and reconcile that being fused into one as Ronal Raymond and Jason Rusch has its advantages and drawbacks while being transported to the Anti-Matter Universe. Martian Manhunter dealt with D’Kays treachery and deception while Deadman, had to face with how it is to live his life and discover love with Dove in the process. All of these lives and their subsequent choices are as the White Lantern reveals all part of the process.

But after the process itself was revealed, I felt for Deadman. He was duped and manipulated by the White Entity to push these returned heroes to live out their choices because they were being groomed to take part in another battle to come. And that was against the so called, Dark Avatar; a residue of Nekron’s influence on the Earth during the Blackest Night crisis.

When I read Blackest Night I felt that it could have been longer. I wanted more action scenes played out as it was indeed in the truest sense of the word a worldwide crisis. But after this Brightest Day “crisis” which spanned the whole year long before it was compiled and doled out in 3 increments, I felt that it could have been shortened. Was Geoff Johns like the White Entity manipulating and cashing in on readers to buy his latest effort? One would surely look at it that way. But from a creative side, one would argue that he had a story to tell.

And yes while I applaud the effort for a story, it could have been shortened and heightened with more kick ass action rather than the low key and philosophical implications that we are left with and only to be sparingly laced with action and manipulated mystery along the way. No doubt that I may yet get some gem of wisdom from reading all 3 of them again. But I like my superheroes, swinging, flying, shooting and beating the crap out of the bad guys. But with given that Life itself is the challenge to deal with this time, there really are no bad guys; just bad choices stemming from a different form of perception.

 And that perception itself may have come from a place of capitalism in order to cash in more profits for one’s coffers or the perception that if a story is stretched to the limit, it may make for a good yarn of a tale. And because it is such a yarn, consider me like the cat that buys in on that ball of yarn and brings it back to you, looks you in the face and with utmost hope, purrs, “What’s next, Geoff Johns?”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Who is Wonder Woman?

I think a politician was the one who said that, unless it gets my attention, it doesn’t get my vote. Now, our favorite Amazon Princess has always gotten my attention and my vote but I felt that it was just a vote that was naturally given. I mean, how could you not?
She is a compelling figure to look that. She is fierce, fearless, gorgeous and as per Batman, never fails to inspire and that puts her above the rest of all other superheroes. But for this compilation, the life of Wonder Woman that we all view as almost perfect as her form and figure is less than ideal. This compilation comes after the startling events in Infinite Crisis and follows the death of former Justice League member turned murderer, Maxwell Lord who saw his own demise at the hands of our Amazon as a result of mentally manipulating Superman to kill her. The world saw her then as a murderer and Diana had to retreat and go into self-imposed exile and let Donna Troy, then Wonder Girl take over for her as Wonder Woman.
In this compilation, Donna does the best that she can to fill in for Diana but finds herself up against former British archeologist, Dr. Barbara Minverva, aka, Cheetah; Dr. Doris Zeul, aka. Giganta; and the most power telepath, Dr. Psycho. Together they ganged up on Donna and almost left her for dead, although not quite while our own Diana, having been stripped of her title, goes undercover to work for the US Department of MetaHuman Affairs as Agent Diana Prince.  With this new assignment she adds the “title” of double agent to her superhero resume and had to work with Agent Tresser, aka. Nemesis, the Master of Disguises in search of the missing Wonder Woman who has not been seen since.
This search soon finds herself being allied with Hercules and facing the witch Circe who for a time being in this compilation relegated herself to being the new Wonder Woman; vengeful and unrelenting, after stripping Diana of her powers and capturing both Donna Troy and the new Wonder Girl, Cassandra Sandsmark. While being human has not dampened our Amazon’s spirit, it in a way has been the catalyst for her to move forward and be resourceful in unraveling a conspiracy between Hercules and Circe and later managed to get her powers back and once more become the Wonder Woman that we all love.
This was the Wonder Woman that I knew and this was the compilation that won me over once more. With brilliant and beautiful art drawn by Terry and Rachel Dodson and creative and paced writing by Allan Heinberg, this compilation attempted to answer the question we all asked ourselves. Who is Wonder Woman? To paraphrase the foreword by writer, Brian K. Vaughan, the iconic and elusive Amazonian was never that easy to understand, much less write about for she was full of contradictions? Diana Prince was a warrior at heart and yet loved peace. She also was a champion for women’s dignity and yet runs around wearing star-studded blue underpants while in spite of being a goddess possessing the gift of flight, still rides an invisible plane to get around. Truly a woman herself is already hard to understand and to add these contradicting elements into the mix, no wonder readers have yet to still scratch the surface about this iconic lady.
And given her icon status, layers upon layers have yet to be peeled off to understand her. And thus gives rise to the opportunity to always spin a new take on her story as it revolves around the people closest to her. From members of the Justice league, to her constituents as Ambassador of peace of Themyscara, to her fellow Amazonians, Donna and Cassie, her desire to be human and to explore this side of hers continues on promisingly after this compilation. This, for me, is human and goddess drama at its best. Next episode please.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Seeing Green and Red...with Guy Gardner

First off, I was never a Guy Gardner fan. It was always Hal Jordan from Day 1. Kinda felt that Guy was the offbeat Lantern; one who couldn't keep his cool and foam at the mouth whenever something or someone didn't agree with him. But in the past 3 years of reading GL and all other tie-ups I've come to accept Guy and all his quirks. And so it was in this spirit that I looked forward to reading this compilation and boy did I like it.

Branching off from the events compiled in Brightest Day:Green Lantern, this compilation centers on the pact that he made between Guardian Ganthet & Atrocitus, and the devestating results from following up on that.

Not to give anything too much for those who have yet to read the other issues of Brightest Day, basically it follows up on the mysterious disappearances of the other entities of the color spectrum as someone seems to keeping them plus the fact that the Green energy of will seems to be on the verge of being siphoned out by another entity located in the Uncharted region that prompts Guy Garder, along with Drill Sergeant Kilowog and Lantern Arisia to check it out.

The host for the Ion entity, Sodam Yat also returns in this issue and figures prominently in the events on Daxam following his sacrifice to go into the planet's sun, turn it yellow and empower all inhabitants of his home planet to have superpowers. He faces the consequences of that sacrifice and how it means to him to follow through after such a choice was taken from him.

All in all it's a good wild ride of a read together with the unlikely partnership of Red Lantern, Bleez, I'm excited for the next compilation and like Guy I'm starting to see Green.....and Red!!!

Power up Poohzers!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Middle of a Vampire Trilogy - The Fall

                To say that reading The Fall would remind one of the movie 28 days and 28 days later but with a “Bite” is perhaps close to how reading the book would feel but of course any cinematic medium still can’t compare to the cinema of images and sound that runs and rules the mind when gripped by a good book. Such, for me, is this one.

                Following the events detailed in the first book, The Strain, its sequel, The Fall aptly titled, metaphorically works on different levels for the reader upon finishing the last chapter. When last seen our hero, (CDC) Center for Disease head, Ephraim Goodweather together with Jewish Pawnshop broker and Vampire expert, Abraham Setrakian, has just faced the Master and lived to tell the tale. Along with rat exterminator, Vasilly Fet, they have traced the Master’s lair to the tunnels underneath Ground Zero in New York, flushed him out and even wounding him after facing him head on following an attack on their home. But surviving that was just the beginning as The Master’s human partner in this pandemic crisis, billionaire cripple, Eldritch Palmer have begun to infiltrate people in government, and turned the tide against Ephraim and made him look like the bad guy for having uploaded a video of a Vampiric transformation and blamed him for the death of fellow CDC officer.  Apparently in wanting to warn the public and do good, he has done more harm.

                By the time the crisis was addressed by Congress, numerous raids by newly turned Vampires have begun in different neighbourhoods and being not warned, local enforcement officers have fallen both as prey and have become turned victims by the monster themselves. If this wasn’t enough, Ephraim had to deal with his wife being newly turned and is hunting them as they move from one sanctuary after another. One silver lining amidst all this was the revelation of The Ancients, a group of 6 Vampires who are opposed to what the Master is doing and have rescued Book 1 survivor, Gus and added him to their roster of exterminators and contracted humans to fight against the Master’s increasing forces.

                Like the first book, and in spite of the wait for its release, The Fall, succeeds in keeping the pace and twists of the storyline and even add more glimpses into some of the characters past like how Abraham and Eldritch Palmer have been rivals in the Vienna University, and it is rivalry that has characterized their relationship ever since. We also learn that being a survivor in a Nazi concentration camp, Setrakian’s commanding officer was currently the Master’s right hand man, Thomas Eichhorst. Add to that is the revelation and search for a mysterious book called the Occido Lumen, a silver lined tome that holds the key to the Vampiric origin and greatly desired by both the Master and Abraham himself. And you know how Silver is poisonous to Vampires. Well, in this book, that is.

                The title works for me on all levels as it refers to different beats in the story. On the surface, it does mean the fall of different key cities in the book like New York, Washington, Korea, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Paris and others as well as the fall of Man to these beings who clearly declare that they are at the top of the food chain by way of their actions. But in certain places, it also covers the fall of the Ancients themselves, by falling into hubris and not protecting their own ranks from the Master’s infiltration as well as Man’s own fall into the abyss of his own dark side and turning against his fellowmen when push comes to shove.


                So clearly on all levels, the book is a good read for me in spite of some scenes that didn’t explain why some of the Ancients were just dropping down like flies and turning into a pile of white ash while Abraham was in conference to them when he brought them the book. Clearly it was the doing of the Master who by this time in the book we know was part of this Ancient Coven and was also the 7th and the youngest member of the circle who rebelled and waged this war; this infection of the food supply in bitter protest against the Ancients who have not given him his due. But I would’ve wanted a clear insight as to how the Master was doing this. Or we left to assume that the silver-lined photo flash that Fet and Abraham rigged underneath the tunnels have been copied by the Master? (scratches head)

                With that said I hope that I have given this book its due and warrants enough interest for you to either pick it up or begin reading the book that began it all. Like Empire Strikes Back, Two Towers, our heroes are battered, bruised, pushed to hell and back but there is definitely still some fight left in them. Till then like you, I will be awaiting the 3rd and final installment of this hi-tech vampire epic and like the Master and picking up on his own line, I look forward to “The Night Eternal”.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spectre: Infinite Crisis Aftermath

I encountered the Spectre first in my early Green Lantern readings when Hal Jordan came back via Geoff Johns and our Emerald warrior's soul was "grafted" to this avenging agent of God.

Since then I was curious about his origin and storyline and when Powerbooks marked this off as less 30%, well how can I not check it out.

Crispus Allen was a good cop and investigator when he was alive but after being killed on the job, God's agent of Justice called the Spectre needed a human host to perform his duty. Crispus was not ready and refused the offer. Without a host, the spirit took its frustration on humankind and went on a magical rampage leading up as one of the events prior to Infinite Crisis.

Since then Crispus had one year to think and after accepting the post, his task as the avenging spirit of justice, punishing sinners and evildoers for their crime begins and he learns that it is not as easy as punishing the guilty as singling them out based on priority or gravity of crime even if it leads to family.

If you want your reading dark, gritty and macabre then try this one for size. :)

Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

Stephanie Meyer wrote in this book’s prologue that “no two writers go about things in exactly the same way. We all are inspired and motivated in different ways; we have our own reasons why some characters stay with us while others disappear into a backlog of neglected files.”
Now, if you have read Eclipse, 3rd book in her bestselling Twilight Saga, you would wonder why did she even bother to write about Bree as we all know her fate in the books. But as Meyer says, some characters just take on a life of its own; and vie for attention. I guess this is what happened to Bree. 

One would have to have read and be familiar with the saga in order to appreciate the novella. Lucky for me, National Glorietta had a major sale and I saw this novella on hardbound and scooped it up.
Basically this is a short retelling of Bree Tanner and how as part of the newly born vampires who fought the Cullens in Eclipse, she had to learn the hard way about truth, vampire politics and burgeoning attraction, if not love, by way of Diego.

Both Bree and Diego were part of a coven that Riley, another Vampire made by Cullen nemesis, Victoria, was breeding and training to be part of the group that is to attack Edward and his family. Victoria has an axe to grind with Edward as he killed her Vampire Boyfriend James in Twilight. 

Now, creating and deceiving Riley at the same time to breed an army for her to distract & dispose of the Cullens while focusing all her efforts on Edward and Bella was her plan all along. So, no need to tell Riley the truth and no need for Riley to give details about their “mission” for “her” to these newly born/made vampires and let them wait at her beckon call. Lucky for Diego and Bree, they found each other in all this, but sadly for these two, circumstances kept them apart and they found out about the lies a little too late.

Oh and which lies were these?

That Vampires like them will burn in direct exposure to sunlight. Wrong. They won’t for they will only be sparkling like, “disco balls”. That their Coven in Seattle is being threatened by the arrival of the Cullens who were originally from Seattle and they have come back to lay claim and ownership of their turf. Wrong. The Cullens are living a peaceful existence in Forks and have no knowledge of these newborns and have firsthand historical experience how unpredictable and untamed newborns are. That Victoria, who is unnamed to these newborns and only referred to as “her” or “Maker”, is devoted to the newborns welfare. Wrong, of course. She only wants revenge on Edward and on Bella. A eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. In this case, a mate for a mate; Bella for James.

I’m giving this a meager 3 stars. I liked it but felt Meyer could have done more with it. But perhaps, knowing how Bree’s life fared in the books, why give it your all? Why even bother to tell her tale when according to her it would be just in one of those hidden folders in her hard drive. Had she created another Vampire that lived to tell the tale with the Cullen skirmish and currently is going through their own Vampiric life, then perhaps that would have prompted her to dig a little deeper and paint a more fully envisioned tale; if not spun another one with a darker edge. But since she is writing for the young adult market, I suppose Meyer felt she should adhere to the parameters of that readership as well.

So, it’s a good thing I am an Anne Rice loyalist and that I am typing this review from my flat in Rue Royale close to Louis and Lestat’s while hearing Violetta’s waltz from La Traviata blaring from Julien Mayfair’s Victrolla as its being turned and wound up by Mona and Lasher up until the wee hours of the morning. 

Viva Lestat!

Monday, July 25, 2011

FlashPoint – Abin Sur: Green Lantern #2

Some things never change.

This is what I learned in spite of the life altering events borne about from the current DC crisis called Flashpoint. It’s the current storyline following the previous years biggest event, Blackest Night that involved our favorite Green Lantern, Hal Jordan and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps as well as all other DC superheroes. It was that much of an “EVENT”.

This time around for Flashpoint, of which I myself am trying to wrap my head around, centers on an altered timeline in which Abin Sur, the original Green Lantern who bequeathed Hal Jordan his ring, is actually alive and is on his way via orders from the Guardians, to retrieve the White Entity (as revealed in Blackest Night) from Earth in order to be brought back to Oa for safekeeping from Nekron and the rest of the Black Lanterns. Apparently, in this time line, the Blackest Night was not stopped and took hold of the best, even our favorite drill sergeant, Kilowog.

Issue #1  ended with Abin Sur’s craft being shot down. The bolt was colored Violet, so I may be thinking what your thinking but that has yet to be revealed. I am hoping the last issue which is #3 will tell us that. Simultaneously, Sinestro is on the planet Ysmault talking to the crucified Atrocitus and extracting information about a prophecy; or should I say The Prophecy about Flashpoint.

Issue #2 begins with Abin having sought out Hal and giving him the ring but was stopped by Cyborg of the Teen Titans, nursed back to health and begins his own quest to save Earth from harmful elements of society, as a personal penance from not being able to save his own planet Ungara and his beloved sister, Ariana.

Sinestro soon arrives to tell Abin Sur of the prophecy and that it is caused by someone from Earth who has altered not only events in Earth but in the entire Universe as well. If you must know, in this current story line Aquaman is Emperor of the Seas and Wonder Woman is married to him; Batman is working for the government and Clark Kent is still a reporter. Here comes in what I mentioned about things not changing as Thaal Sinestro has revealed that The Flash is currently fixing to alter and fix the timeline once more. For Sinestro, he can make the Flash change the world in “Their” image. And only he being Sinestro can “fix” it all.

I guess in any timeline, ego will always be ego. And in so doing, Sinestro is blind to all and follows the prophecy to the letter; for as revealed by Atrocitus, as long as Abin Sur is alive, he is doomed to fail. Needless to say a battle between these two ensues and we are left hanging for the next issue.

Figuring that these stories are just supplementary tales to the main arc of Flashpoint for DC this year, I decided to collect them and found myself enjoying these changes. Plots involving timelines are certainly not new in any form of fantasy writing. Shows like Charmed, Legend of the Seeker, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have certainly incorporated this “alternate universe” angle and it does freshen up any franchise and gives us a peek into the the world of the “What-If”.

What if Sinestro does fulfil the prophecy to the letter, does that fulfil and rectify his timeline and complements the “work” that Flash is doing, or will this timeline be an added running story that the writers can continually reference and go back to whenever they just wanna spruce up the stories. I guess I would have to wait for Issue 3 next month. And looking up to the calendar, it is only a week away. 

Can’t wait.

FlashPoint -Hal Jordan #1

Having re-written and given birth to a new and alternate timeline that involved Abin Sur being alive in the current Flashpoint story arc involving Green Lantern and the rest of the DC superheroes, why should Earth’s first Green Lantern, Hal Jordan be any different and out of the action right?

Picking up the story from Abin Sur Green Lantern #1, Hal Jordan in this timeline is still a pilot flying for Ferris Air, pining for Carol Ferris and dealing with the loss of his father from that tragic airplane accident when he was a kid and just dealing with the attack of a shark-man that latched onto his plane in one of his flying sessions with Carol. 

And like Sinestro, in this timeline Hal is still as brash and hardheaded as he is in the timeline we know. Along with that, he crashes a multi-million dollar plane into Carol’s own in the process of saving her from the shark but not before taking off in another one and bearing witness to Abin’s own craft being shot down and be offered the chance to save Earth.

 As it is, this is only Issue #1 and so we can only wait for the next issue to see how different this timeline featuring Hal will play out and with a man legged shark up and about looking for meat as reminiscent of another compiled issue of GL featuring mutated animals due to some alien experimenting that also brought William Hand’s back but with much dire consequences, some things just needed to be played out in time, much like this 3 issued storyline. Strap in and wait.