Thursday, June 09, 2005

SPOILER Review: RANN/THANAGAR WAR #2

I am beginning to believe that DC needs to reintroduce the use of the editorial footnote caption because, quite frankly, I don’t know half of what is going on in this issue.

With Issue #2, RANN/THANAGAR WAR maintains its epic super-heroic space-opera scope, feeling as much like a big budget blockbuster as anything else we are likely to see this summer. The art by Reis and Campos is busy, detailed and just plain fun to look at -- not unlike a the visuals of a certain space opera now in theaters. And like that other work, R/T WAR #2 is ambitious in trying to tell so much of the story in a single episode and, ultimately, only does so at the expense of the audience. Not that Gibbons doesn’t write well -- while fast, the pace is even and he manages to include good dialogue in the midst of all the action. But in a strange reversal of the usual decompressed storytelling we see in comics these days, he crams just too much and too many characters in R/T WAR #2.

My concerns about R/T WAR #2 can be summed up with the single question I had upon opening the book: “Isn’t Starman a skinny geek who wears goggles?” Now, a quick google showed me that the STARMAN comic had introduced this Prince Gavyn, but the point remains the same -- Gibbons assumes I know a lot more than I do about this segment of the DCU. This is an unfortunate trend running through the INFINITE CRISIS mini-series, most particularly this book and DAY OF VENGEANCE, that requires remedy. But I have strummed that harp before and will leave it at that.

R/T WAR #2 opens on Throneworld, which is being defended from a Thanagarian invasion by a very different than usual Starman and a lynx-man named Tigorr who, apparently, is a member of the Omega Men. The whole galaxy is taking sides in the war between Rann and Thanagar and war threatens to consume every system, it seems.

Back on Thanagar, we get a great sci-fi pulp moment as the evil cult sacrifices a scantily clad damsel to a horrible monster in order to appease it. In this case, the monster seems made out of Nth Metal -- which, by the way, is quite yellow and clamoring for ‘pain and fear’ making one wonder how bad this is going to get for the Green Lanterns by series’ end -- and is named Onimar Synn.

Skip to the world of Ancar, where Green Lantern Kyle Rayner -- see, Kyle fans, he is still around d even after Hal Jordan returns -- steps in to defend the planet from both the invading Khunds and the L.E.G.I.O.N. forces hired to protect it. Green lantern uncovers the truth behind the Khund invasion: the Khunds were hired to recover Nth Metal lost across the galaxy since Thanagar’s days as an empire, specifically by the same Seven Devils cult. Green Lantern gives both the Khunds and the L.E.G.I.O.N. one day to get off world or “face the consequences.” It’s a nice turn for Kyle, who so often has been portrayed as a rookie and a lesser Lantern. One wonders what sector he is going to end up with, given he is one of Earth’s 4 Green Lanterns, and it looks like Hal and John Stewart are the ones that are going to stay. But that is neither here nor there.

Back on Polara, the Tamaranean queen bitch Komand’r -- sister of Starfire, also known as Blackfire -- meets with Thanagarian ambassadors -- who, by the way, are definitely looking like Seven Devil cultists -- with the intention of lulling them into a false sense of security so Tamaran can scoop up Rann once Thanagar was expended its strength in taking the planet. Her gift to the Thanagarians: Hawkwoman Shayera Thal. That is when Adam Strange, Hawman and Hawkgirl explode on the scene and manage to allow Shayera to escape so she can turn on the Rannian forces assaulting her captors. Obviously, she is dedicated. I expect we’ll be seeing Hawkwoman’s funeral by the end of this series.

Back on Ancar, Kyle Rayner investigates what the Khunds were after and discovers that the Thanagarian god Onimar Synn has tangled with Green Lantern Alan Scott in the past and was “apparently“ destroyed. Captain Comet -- working for the L.E.G.I.O.N. -- shows up to lend a hand and the two decide to go to Thanagar and determine for themselves than Onimar was destroyed.

On Thanagar, Onimar Synn walks free across the wasteland, attended by members of the Seven Devils cult. He devours the soul of some poor creature, raises dead Thanagarians as his zombie enforcers, and ultimately promises to feast upon the souls of the whole universe.

That is all a lot happening in 22 pages, which although in a way is refreshing, doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for bring the neophyte up to speed. Perhaps it is the advent of the Web and the easy access to information, but it seems that DC doesn’t think it is necessary to tell us who these characters are -- many of whom haven’t been seen in years. Given that it is beginning to look like INFINTE CRISIS is going to make casualties out of any number of B-listers, this is unfortunate: not knowing a character means not caring when that character is in peril or dies. The other complaint I have is one of continuity: when does this all take place for Hawkman, who in his own title just assaulted Hawkgirl and in JLA is fighting with the rest of the team over having mind-wiped Dr. Light and Batman? Being everywhere isn’t necessarily a good thing for a character, especially during these big crossover events.

Overall, I give R/T WAR #2 a 7. It is consistent with the first issue, and a lot happens that propels the story forward, but it suffers from being a little too dense and not providing the reader with all the necessary information to enjoy the issue.

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