The #NerdsRead Pull List – August 24, 2016
This week, Kylee read weird west fantasy mash-up Kingsway West from Dark Horse Comics. Check out her full review of the new series! Jackson read two titles from DC Comics, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #3 and Batgirl #2, with the latter being much more enjoyable to him.
Check out the full reviews below and tell us what you’re reading in the comments!
Kingsway West #1
Author: Greg Pak
Artist: Mirko Colak
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Source: Dark Horse DRC
If westerns have taught us anything, it’s that a gunslinger can’t ever really leave their past behind. Kingsway Law, a Chinese gunslinger that fought in the war between the Chinese and Mexicans, tried to make a new life for himself, but it was only a matter of time before the past intruded on his life.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #3
Authors: Robert Venditti
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Publisher: DC Comics
The Green Lantern Corps as a concept always offers something of a challenge to writers. Since Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver’s Green Lantern Rebirth, writers have struggled how exactly to balance the human parts of the series with what’s most appealing about the team, the diverse cast of aliens, robots, and more who protect a galaxy while dealing with their own struggles. Johns’ tenure on the franchise from 2004 through 2012, the pendulum focused the franchise around the perspective of Hal Jordan, a decision that grounded the cosmic stories in a single character but also sidelined many of the franchise’s most interesting alien characters and the series’ biggest cosmic concepts.
After his run on Green Lantern that focused on Hal’s failings as a leader and his eventual rejection of the crown, Robert Venditti is writing Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps as ostensibly a return to the freewheeling cosmic police force the series was known for in the ‘80s. The problem is in focus.
Venditti’s clearly trying to balance two main story threads and he can’t quite keep either of them up in this week’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #3. Here, we get one scene of John Stewart opining his place of leadership, one panel of Guy Gardner in what appears to be a gladiatorial ring, and 20 pages of Hal fighting Sinestro Corps goons.
I’ll be the first to admit that some of this comes down to personal preference. We’ve been subjected to more than a decade of stories of Hal Jordan fighting against all odds and, frankly, I was as sick of it 5 years ago as I am now.
Hal’s always been the least compelling character of the franchise, a square-jawed dramatic sinkhole who lacks the character depth and motivation of even the least exciting members of the Corps. I understand devoting time to bringing him back into the fold and showing him at his most capable but, my god, if you have any interest in this series, you’ve read this exact fight about one hundred times already.
That’s not to besmirch Rafa Sandoval who does much of the heavy-lifting in this issue. He infuses Hal’s fight with appropriate, over-the-top bits of flashy-cosmic energy, and heroic derring-do. It’s Sandoval imitating Van Sciver as best he can, which isn’t a bad thing by any means but it gives the whole issue a sinking feeling of been-there-done-that.
More than most of DC’s properties, Green Lantern has taken a back-to-basics approach in the wake of DC Rebirth and that’s understandable but it still needs to find a way to tell compelling story with its characters and it’s just not doing that. I’m as up for a smackdown between the Sinestro Corps and a bunch of poozers as anybody but Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #3 feels like an issue I already read a decade ago, done fresher and better then.
Authors: Hope Larson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: DC Comics
I don’t envy Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque. Following up Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and Babs Tarr’s monumentally successful run on Batgirl is a challenge that can’t be overstated but they’ve managed to focus on some of the less often explored aspects of Barbara Gordon in their new run on the character.
I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t excited when DC announced the new run on Batgirl would focus on Barbara taking a tour of Asia. However, Larson and Albuquerque have avoided white savior tropes, cultural critique, and cliche journeys of self discovery by focusing on Barbara instead of Batgirl.
Batgirl #2 shows a sharply aware vision of the character, with Babs struggling with her feelings for former childhood buddy turned boyfriend Kai. She’s torn between a chance to find companionship and knowing that this fling won’t and can’t last. It’s an issue that’s light on super heroics and heavy on heart, which really works in the story’s favor.
The action here though is wonderful. Albuquerque’s mostly known for his darker, stylistic takes on violence and horror in comics like Batman or American Vampire but he walks a fine line here, casting a series of martial artists and kick boxers as potent fighters as well as keeping Babs as a sweet and sassy twenty-something instead of the super-sexualized character she could have easily been in this story.
Batgirl #2 feels like a worthy successor to Stewart, Fletcher, and Tarr’s run on the character while blazing its own path. It’s still a familiar take on Barbara Gordon but by grounding her in a new setting and recognizable emotional beats, Larson and Albuquerque make the character feel human and well realized, even when she’s trading blows with school-girl themed ninjas and busting superhero obsessed peeping toms.