Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #4

A Parallax infused Sinestro is now the face that runs the place (congratulations to AJ Styles), and his Corps are running amok instilling fear into a Universe believed to be without Green Lanterns. That is until they ran into a Green Lantern and captured him to bring him to face Sinestro. From this point on, I’m giving SPOILERS, read at your own risk. We good? Ok. Hal Jordan was last seen battling a plethora of Yellow Lanterns in his attempt to stop them from kidnapping children because the Sinestro Corps are also Monsters Inc. Hal is overwhelmed by the Yellow constructs and isn’t able to save them. Meanwhile, Green Lantern leader has sent Guy Gardner on a recon mission while the GLC tries to patch themselves up from hjglc_cv4_dsjumping Universes. Last time Gardner was seen, he was getting his ass handed to him and not going down quietly. When Sinestro is brought a Green Lantern, expecting the greatest of them all, he instead gets a big bow of loud bastard Guy Gardner.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #4 is still hitting very strong points throughout its story. While it makes Hal the protagonist of this story, Robert Venditti is putting everyone in the spotlight and giving them their well-deserved characterization. A small speech from Jon Stewart sets him to be the leader a broken Green Lantern Corps desperately need, and my favorite asshole Lantern Guy Gardner getting his due to be face to face with Hal’s former mentor, and still metaphorically flipping him off. It’s as if Vince McMahon had planned to kidnap The Rock and instead he got Steve Austin ready to drop a Stunner on him. I’ve been watching a lot of wrestling, guys.

Venditti is showing off his chops and the fact that he hasn’t skipped a beat since taking over Green Lantern duties. He shows a clear difference in characters when writing a big team book like GLC and has a tight grip on who is who in this Universe. Only four issues in, he has set a clear goal for each one of the Lanterns formerly belonging to Sector 2814, now what’s left is seeing Venditti dipping his toes back into writing other Lanterns like Kilowog, Arisia, or Salaak, and maybe even a returning Kyle Rayner? Wishful thinking. Either way with a current short supply of Green Lanterns, Venditti has plenty to pull from and keep the focus, and putting Hal on the bench helps him do that.

Ethan Van Sciver is one of those artists who will be known to be ‘the’ Green Lantern artist. Well versed in what they’re capable, tested through a fantastic Geoff Johns run and accustomed to the range in characters and the different types of Lanterns who create various styles of constructs depending on their personalities, Van Sciver alongside Jason Wright on colors continue to deliver gorgeous looking pages that you stop and admire. Showcasing in great half-page panels the entire might of Sinestro’s power now that it contains the Parallax fear entity in him, a costume that shows him to be well above his corps and Warworld with its Fear Engine that is Frank Quietly inspired with Van Sciver’s very own style injected into it. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps is a much-needed continuation of what’s been Venditti’s great run, and necessary to a lackluster companion comic.

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Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #4 Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Ethan Van Sciver Colorist: Jason Wright Publisher: DC Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital


Valiant, CGC and Geppi’s Entertainment Museum Celebrate 1,000,000th Copy of X-O MANOWAR

Today, representatives of Valiant Entertainment, the Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), and Geppi's Entertainment Museum are joining together at the Cadmus publishing plant in Richmond, VA to celebrate the 1,000,000th copy of X-O MANOWAR sold since the series' 2012 debut. The 1,000,000th copy will be removed directly from the presses today at Cadmus by Valiant representatives during the printing of the upcoming X-O MANOWAR #49 and subsequently entrusted to CGC's renowned team of preservation experts for grading and encapsulation. The one-of-a-kind, 1,000,000th copy – totaling all copies of X-O MANOWAR sold across print and digital in the United States and abroad since 2012 – will then be placed on display at Baltimore Comic Con 2016 before entering the permanent collection of the Geppi's Entertainment Museum in Baltimore, MD alongside the world's rarest and most valuable comic books. Valiant will also be offering fans at Baltimore Comic-Con 2016 the chance to join in the celebration of X-O MANOWAR’s 1,000,000th copy sold with the X-O MANOWAR 1,000,000th COPY COMMEMORATIVE SEAL. Fans who purchase or provide copies of X-O MANOWAR #49 (any cover) at the Valiant booth (#2008) will be afforded the opportunity to have their copy embossed with an official Valiant 1,000,000th copy seal – designed in honor of X-O Manowar’s legendary achievement and forever commemorating a new milestone in Valiant history – free !


"Valiant is privileged to enjoy a storied history with many millions of comics sold, legions of fans around the globe, and tremendous successes spanning nearly three decades. We're excited and proud to be adding to that legacy with today's milestone. This achievement, in particular, is noteworthy because it affirms the success that comes with a commitment to storytelling," said Valiant CEO & Chief Creative Officer Dinesh Shamdasani.

“Since the first issue hit stands in 2012, we had always envisioned X-O MANOWAR as an epic, long-term, 50-issue story for our signature hero. Today, as we stand on the cusp of that achievement, we are able to reflect on a title that has not only been one of the best-selling and best-reviewed books in comics every month since its launch, but one that is also about to print its 1,000,000th copy. That is simply incredible, and we owe a huge congratulations to Robert Venditti and all the artists and creators who have contributed along the way. Their work on X-O MANOWAR stands as a massive feat of long-form narrative and creative vision that is virtually unrivaled by any other series in recent memory.

As the launch series of "THE SUMMER OF VALIANT" initiative that defined the Valiant Universe for a new generation, X-O MANOWAR #1 by New York Times best-selling writer Robert Venditti (Green Lantern) and Eisner Award-winning artist Cary Nord (Conan) debuted as the most successful independent series of 2012 and went onto to produce four sold-out printings of its first issue, as well as a myriad of year-end awards, nominations and "best of" citations from the industry’s most prestigious outlets. As the impetus for best-selling storylines like "ENTER: NINJAK" and "PLANET DEATH" and major crossover events UNITY and ARMOR HUNTERS, X-O MANOWAR continued to anchor the backbone of Valiant's award-winning publishing line over the course of writer Robert Venditti's unprecedented 56-issue run and set the tone and scale for the rest of Valiant's acclaimed series that would follow in its wake.

Now, Robert Venditti’s epic tenure is set to conclude with the 64-page X-O MANOWAR #50 series finale on September 28th and, with time, the title that forged the Valiant Universe anew has distinguished itself as one of the longest running and most renowned superhero series of the modern era.

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Born into battle, Aric of Dacia – heir to the throne of the Visigoth Empire – never knew peace. Raised under the oppressive thumb of the Roman Empire in fifth-century Europe, Aric’s entire existence was spent fighting a never-ending insurgency against history’s most brutal empire…until a far more terrifying enemy revealed itself and changed his destiny forever.

Abducted by a brutal race of extraterrestrials known as the Vine, Aric was forced into slavery on an alien world. Torn from his family, his people and his nation, he spent years plotting his escape…until the day came that he was able to seize a weapon of incalculable destruction – a sentient suit of alien armor – and become X-O Manowar!

Returning to Earth only to find that 1,600 years have passed during his journey across the stars, the world’s most primitive man now wields the universe’s most powerful weapon. Working in concert with Earth’s governments and other super-powered heroes like himself, Aric has defended the planet, brokered peace amongst the powerful, and even rebuilt his kingdom from the ashes of history.

But now he faces an unthinkable new foe far more terrible than any that have come before… They are The Torment – and their name means death. Thought to be a legend by the Vine, they have now become Earth’s violent reality. As old as the universe itself, they have traveled for eons to reach us…in search of Aric of Dacia and the unstoppable X-O Manowar armor. Can Aric challenge a seemingly omnipotent threat with motives beyond the comprehension of mortal men? Will the armor truly be our world’s salvation, just as the Vine’s myths foretold? And is this the beginning of the end for X-O Manowar – or the beginning of something even bigger?

Join the history-making celebration live as it happens today on all of Valiant's official social media accounts (Twitter | Facebook | Instagram) as Valiant's staff travels from New York, NY to Richmond, VA to pick the 1,000,000th copy right off of the publishing line alongside special guest Robert Venditti and representatives from CGC and Geppi's Entertainment Museum. Use the hashtag #XOONEMILLION to follow the 1,000,00th copy of Robert Venditti’s X-O MANOWAR sold on its journey from the printing press and into the annals of comic book history!

Finally, X-O Manowar’s march into the history books continues on September 28th in X-O MANOWAR #50 – the final issue of "LONG LIVE THE KING" and a blockbuster tribute to the series that set the Valiant Universe in motion from longtime scribe Robert Venditti and extraordinary artists Joe Bennett(52) and Roberto de la Torre (Daredevil)! Plus: Don't miss special guest appearances by Cary Nord,Doug Braithwaite (ARMOR HUNTERS), Diego Bernard (NINJAK), Rafa Sandoval (Green Lantern), and Robert Gill (BOOK OF DEATH), Jody Houser (FAITH) & Javier Pulido (Amazing Spider-Man),Matt Kindt (DIVINITY II) & Tomas Giorello (4001 A.D.: WAR MOTHER), Philip Tan (Suicide Squad), and more along the way!

Also running through each issue of “LONG LIVE THE KING," Valiant is marking the road toward X-O Manowar’s landmark issue #50 finale with the X-O MANOWAR #50 COUNTDOWN GIVEAWAY, running through each issue of “LONG LIVE THE KING“! For no extra cost, each issue of “LONG LIVE THE KING” comes bagged with one of 50 exclusive, 4-by-6 inch “micro-prints” featuring the one and only X-O Manowar as realized by a sensational cast of comics’ biggest talents – or full-blown, beautifully rendered original artwork randomly inserted in each issue!

Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #1

The cosmos are gearing up for the gladiator match of the eon. In the green corner, we have Hal Jordan, now a pure agent of unharnessed Will, out to discover the truth behind the disappearance of the Green Lantern Corps. In the yellow corner, we have Sinestro, leader of the Sinestro Corps/Yellow Lanterns and the supreme face of fear throughout the universe. Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so too. Don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily complaining about GL fighting his most awesome villain - I'm just wondering if perhaps it's come too soon? To recap: Hal Jordan has returned from his celestial form of pure Will. He's scouring random sectors of the cosmos for any information he can gather on the whereabouts of the Green Lanterns and the cause for their disappearance. Simultaneously in Sector Zero, former location of the Planet Oa and home to the Guardians of the Universe, a withered Sinestro looks out from his terrace on newly christened War World. He has won the day: the Green Lanterns are lost, the Guardians are no more and the Sinestro Corps has been accepted by the people as a force for good in the universe. The only thing left to do is to snuff out the final glimmering remnant of hope from a now extinct corps: Hal Jordan.

HJFLC_Cv1_dsThis was a very slow-moving issue; in fact, it felt a lot like the premiere Rebirth title, only inverted. Whereas the first one-shot was all about Hal Jordan and his awesome ability to harness and control pure unfiltered Will, here the focus is all on Sinestro and his ability to do the exact same thing, only with Fear. He absorbs the Parallax Entity in nearly the identical way as Hal Jordan, thus illustrating the dichotomous split between the two former allies: one as a force for good, the other for evil (yes, an oversimplification but it works). It leaves an all too familiar taste in the reader's mouth, almost as if this was just a straight continuation from the Rebirth one-shot. It's not bad, just kind of boring.

The art is a completely different topic altogether; it's good, real good. After seeing Ethan Van Sciver's efforts in the initial Hal Jordan & The Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth,  I thought the artistic bar was way out of reach; enter Jordi Tarragona & Rafa Sandoval. Their combined work is breathtaking, inspired even. Green Lantern is a unique character in the DC Universe because his rendering has to be immaculate; the impressionistic approach just doesn't work for him. More so, it takes a very special kind of artist to really bring GL to life. Someone who is the perfect balance of skill, imagination and attention to detail. It's rare to find a single artist who possesses all of these merits in sync; to have two is nothing short of excellence.

It's obvious that Venditti is building towards what will inevitably be an awesome showdown between Hal Jordan and Sinestro. I would have hoped for a little bit more plot progression since the issue so closely mirrors the Rebirth one-shot but that can be forgiven, it is only the first issue after all. A lot of questions were raised without answer: how will a now rejuvenated Sinestro conduct himself and the Yellow Lanterns? Will Hal Jordan be able to control and contain the sheer power of his newly forged ring? And perhaps most importantly, when he struck the hammer to the anvil, did anyone else in the universe hear it?

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Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #1
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99
Release Date: 7/27/16



Review: X-O Manowar #48

Last issue saw a great deal of action and a new, unstoppable villain in The Torment. This issue, on the other hand, we have a whole series of uneventful events.  Aric sulks that he could do nothing to stop The Torment.  He rips Ninjak a new one for doing nothing when the Torment tore up the Visigoths.  While donning the X-O helmet, Aric has a vision of the Torment that reveals a little something to him, but not much to the audience.  A whole panel is dedicated to Gin-gr admiring a flock of seagulls.  And in the last two pages, the action hits.

I know the anticipation lies in the buildup to the big fiftieth issue, but this issue feels like such a placeholder that I wonder how the master storyteller Robert Venditti allowed this banal issue to slip XO_048_COVER-A_KANOby.  Don’t get me wrong: X-O, even at its lowest point (like this issue) far exceeds in quality over 95% of the books on the shelves.  But I know Venditti can do better than what happened in issue 48.

We, the readers, felt the dread and despair in the wake of the Torment’s attack last issue.  We did not need a whole chapter of X-O dedicated to Aric and the others sitting around and crying that they just got their asses handed to them.  For 47 issues Aric rose above the most insurmountable odds with a never-surrender attitude.  This version of the Visigoth king feels like a brooding and whiney individual.  If this is intentional for the sake of the upcoming events, then I applaud Venditti for developing a deeper side to Aric’s character and making him the modern equivalent to Odysseus lamenting over the need to go off and adventure.  Hell, Venditti is a great writer, and I will more than likely be eating my words.  For now, I just don’t get the point of X-O #48.

Because this book is so much better than so many comics out there, I have no basis for comparison of judgment, save for other issues in this series.  Therefore, compared to other X-O chapters, issue 48 struggles from lack of any action that propels the plot or explores character.

Achieving one issue of a comic is a milestone.  Getting to number fifty deserves accolades, especially when the book redefines the action comic genre.  But I will not let Venditti off the hook when he offers a placeholder episode like this.  Work up to a big story milestone, like you have done before, Mr. Venditti.  Do not temper your pacing with such a lull prior to the big moment.  Build action with action.  You have achieved it so well before, don’t let us down now.

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X-O Manowar #48 Writer: Robert Venditti Artist: Joe Bennett Publisher: Valiant Comics Price: $3.99 Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital


Review: Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #9

Valiant loves to have the opening of a comic end on a two-page splash with the credits and some kind of iconic imagery. It’s formula writing for sure, but this is not complaint about it. Because when the formula works and is used to its fullest each time, you shouldn’t have anything to complain about. The reason this is being brought up is because of “The Axe is coming for you.” The only dialogue on the two-page splash with the rest of the imagery being shattered glass. Granted it’s a bit different from the ending of the last issue, it’s as if the story has been backed up a few panels and re-written, but that’s okay. Because it’s cool as ice. Don’t get your hopes up just yet for this story arc. Robert Venditti (Writer) has set a trap for us. It’s not explicitly mentioned, but if you’ve been paying attention it’s likely a spoiler for you so consider this your only warning. Gilad must die again. Yeah, not much of a spoiler, but here it comes, to save his son. Again, it’s hinted at with the visuals mostly, but his first born son has left paradise and after seeing what Gilad goes through to be reborn again… his son doesn’t stand much of a chance. That’s all from three panels of this comic by the way.

WRATH_009_COVER-B_PEREZThe rest of the story is Gilad showing that he’s not some dumbass from the past. That he has learned and continues to learn over the years. As he says, “I won’t be killed the same way twice.” You’d think that our villain would be shitting his or her pants, but instead they’re just waiting. They’re waiting for Gilad to arrive and that should make you nervous because in a fight Gilad wins. So what does our villain have up their sleeve that’s left them so calm or is it that they don’t fear death, much like Gilad?

Venditti is writing a defining Eternal Warrior. The character has never been quite this good since showing up in the new Valiant Universe, but the amazing thing is that Venditti has used what all the writer’s on the character before have created and somehow included it in this ultimate version of the character.

The art team continues to deliver on the action, the gore and the heart. That opening splash page is one of the best that of the series. The scene in which Gilad fights twenty dudes just shows how badass he is, but then the Rambo moment at the end was just too good. That and the guy that catches a six-shooter in the face… hilarious and awesome. All of this is tied together by the coloring which makes use of specific hues for specific scenes. It’s well balanced and gives the book a sci-fi feel to it. As much as Venditti delivers on the story, the art team matches or passes him.

We never know what’s going to happen until next issue, but with some strong writing and a lot of breadcrumbs we can get a glimpse. This issue sets the stage for a very interesting tenth issue which may or may not wrap the arc. Whatever happens though, Venditti will likely continue showcasing why the Eternal Warrior is one of Valiant’s most beloved characters.

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Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #9
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artists: Raúl Allén & Patricia Martín, David Astruga
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Price: $3.99
Format: Ongoing; Print/Digital