Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Green Lantern's Light: The Last Lantern (Part 3 of 5)

“My name is Kyle Rayner. When I was a kid I never could decide what I wanted to be when I grew up. Now I know. I’m a Green Lantern. I’m a hero.”

-       Kyle Rayner, New Earth

     Green Lantern comics in 1990 were sadly becoming outdated. Though I would never blame the writers, they just had a difficult time coming up with “revolutionary” stories with the character. There could only be so many different space missions to so many different planets before people grew tired of those stories. When sales tremendously dropped, management ordered the GL creative team to spice things up, to reinvent aspects of the characters and the adventures they had. The plan was to create a big enough change to bump the sales. Not only did this plan work, it led into the Emerald Twilight saga.

     After the destruction of Hal Jordan’s home town Coast City occurred, at the hands of Mongul and Cyborg-Superman, Jordan became stricken with grief, frustration and ultimately fear. But revenge was the prominent emotion in his heart, revenge that inspired him to gain more power, enough to destroy those who destroyed everything he loved. Hal Jordan, once considered the greatest Green Lantern of all became the most feared and the most dangerous. This newfound power, stolen from Lanterns he had killed and other sources like the central power battery of the planet Oa, led him to become the tyrant called Parallax. Parallax challenged the most powerful heroes in the universe with his awesome might, including the Justice League, which occurred in the story arc titled Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, in 1994.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Green Lantern's Light: Birth of the Corps (Part 2 of 5)

“They say I’m fearless, but actually I’m very afraid. Of getting beat. Of backing down. Of chickening out. That fear just blows all the others away.”

- Hal Jordan, New Earth

           One of DC’s cancelled Golden Age heroes is revived through the eyes of editor Julius Schwartz. Having successfully reestablished the Flash in the form of Barry Allen, Schwartz was assigned the daunting task of recreating the Green Lantern for the Silver Age of comics.

         Hal Jordan, a young test pilot is the first earthling to be selected into the Green Lantern Corps (an army of “space cops”, each with an assigned sector of the universe to protect). The Corps was created by a race of immortal aliens called the Guardians of the Universe. The entire premise of the Green Lantern was redesigned by Schwartz and his creative crew, giving writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane a chance to expand, not only on the character of Hal Jordan, but on nearly 3000 other Lanterns. Story plots and villains took our hero above the stars and to new worlds with new alien races. Green Lantern now featured elements of fiction that you just couldn’t get from any other hero. Even Superman, an alien himself, was still, for the most part, earth-bound in his stories. Hal Jordan boldly went where no other hero in the Silver Age dared to go: the 3600 known sectors of the Universe and even a few unknown sectors as well.

        Hal’s popularity soon rivaled his superhero comrades, giving him his own comic-title, which soon resulted in making him a founding member of the original Justice League of America (again, created by Julius Schwartz). Jordan became very popular and arguably as recognizable a hero as Superman or Batman. In Green Lantern #59 of 1968, Guy Gardner was chosen as Jordan’s “backup” to protect sector 2814. Gardner was originally one of Abin Sur’s original choices for the ring, but since Jordan’s air force base was closer to Abin Sur’s crashed spaceship, Hal was chosen instead. Although Gardner is cocky and arrogant, and has an overconfidence that has gotten him into trouble on numerous occasions, the Guardians have found him to be one of the greatest and most trustworthy Lanterns.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Green Lantern's Light: All-American (Part 1 of 5)

“In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power, Green Lantern’s Light!”

-       Oath of the Green Lanterns

  The initial concept of the Green Lantern was created by Martin Nodell and Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman). His name was Alan Scott, the first Lantern, although at the time of his creation, he was considered the only Green Lantern. The character debuted in All-American Comics #16 in July of 1940, becoming one of the first Golden Age superheroes after Superman and Batman. Much like the Flash (another Golden Age creation) Alan Scott’s first superhero costume choice was a few details short of being “super”. While the Flash wore a long-sleeved shirt with a helmet resembling the god Hermes’ and wings on his boots, Alan Scott wore a green mask, with a green cape and a baggy, red shirt, yes, red. Needless to say the costume was poorly designed, but is still instantly recognizable as Scott’s suit nonetheless. The ring itself went through some alterations throughout the Lantern’s history. The ring we know today is powerless against the color yellow, the color of fear, while the ring of the Alan Scott was only useless against wood (for some reason).

 Alan Scott, a railroad engineer, comes across a green lantern after a train crash. Strange energy from the lantern tells him of his new powers and how he must use those powers to protect the planet. After becoming wildly successful in All-American Comics, Scott was awarded his very own comics-title. Not too long after that, Scott joined his fellow Golden Age heroes in the pages of All-Star Comics, home to the Justice Society of America, the very first superhero team of DC. Now starring in three, on-going titles, Green Lantern’s success boosted his popularity and became almost as recognizable as Superman and Batman, in America at least.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I Just Want a Good JLA Game!

​      I've recently discovered the iPad/iPhone app: Justice League by netmarble. A fun, interactive game that allows you playable access of the five main heroes: Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman, The Flash and Green Lantern, each equipped with three additional costumes and skill add-ons. The best part about this fun little game is the fact that you can run around in a closed off city, fighting henchmen and battling the villain at the end of each map. This may not seem so attractive to the fan who wants the complex, "thinking man's game", but it sure could act as a starting point. One game that accurately reflects the look, style and gameplay feel of the app was Justice League: Heroes, released a few years back. The premise was almost the same, but with slightly better graphics. I've enjoyed playing this app, unlocking costumes and upgrading my character's skills more then I should, which can only mean that this game got something right. 
​      The reason I'm going on about this little game is because I like the way it was made. After hearing about the release of Injustice:Gods Among Us, and after realizing the game would feel like DC vs. MC or street fighter, I was, least to say, very disappointed. It looks as though it has good graphics, could be enjoyable, but repetitive, even more so then the app. 
​      When I picture a game based around the Justice League or any other characters of the DCU, I picture an game epic, the likes of which would astound any fanboy who plays it. The creators of these games can learn from legendary superhero games like the Arkham's or even Lego Batman. The combination of level-based gameplay with open-world environments would be fun as any member of the League, and adding a good storyline (maybe even a classic from the comics like Crisis) and challenging villains would only increase it's popularity. Sure, for now I'm fine with the Street Fighter style, but I want a game that accurately captures what it's like to be a hero in the DCU. Oh, and I know of the existence of the DC Universe game for PS3 and computers, but I'm an Xbox guy myself, and I want me some new, innovative JLA action!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The New 52: Justice League

      It had to happen eventually. Over a year of released issues and I’m finally devoting an article to DC’s The New 52, and what better comic series to begin with then Justice League. Written by the legendary Geoff Johns (Green Lantern, Flashpoint) and illustrated by the equally legendary Jim Lee (Batman: Hush), Justice League kicked off the New 52 with a bang! (Minor spoilers follow).

      So basically, The New 52 is set in a universe that is made up of three separate universes, which were accidentally fused together during the Flashpoint mini-series. The New 52 has replaced all other previous series, starting all the DC comics back at #1 and changing some elements of the characters themselves. I can go on and on about the specific changes made throughout the relaunch, but ill just stick with Justice League for now. The first story arc called “Origin” takes place “five years ago”, where only heroes like Batman and Flash have been operating as “heroes” for some time. The story revolves around the meeting of these characters. Superman, Wonderwoman and Green Lantern have only just started out as crime fighters and Cyborg’s origin is revealed in this arc. After getting into disputes amongst each other, they soon have to put aside their differences to stop an alien invasion from Darkseid and his minions from Apokolpis (told you it started out with a bang).

      Each of the League’s characters have their own titles in the relaunch, except for Cyborg, where their full origins are displayed in further detail. JL kept it simple, fast-paced, and easy on the eyes thanks to terrific artwork by Mr. Lee. Lee was also responsible for the many character design changes such as Cyborg resembling “a walking tank”, or Superman no longer in red tights, to Batman and pretty much every other characters wearing more detailed costumes, almost resembling armor. I must say that I was very impressed with the look of the heroes and the series in general. After a year of publishing it is clear that JL is one of the more popular and dominant of the New 52, thanks to Lee and Johns.

      Justice League Vol.1: Origin is now available in hardcover, collecting the first six issues of the series, and JL # 13 will hit the stands on October 17th. I know you’re all just as excited as I am.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Future of Superhero Gaming

       From the Spiderman Atari 2600 videogame released in 1982 all the way to Batman: Arkham City and beyond. Superhero games have been around almost as long as Pong itself, evolving into what is an entertainment phenomenon today. Hundreds of millions of people, of all ages, play superhero videogames everyday and the total number will only increase as these games become more dominant and engaging and more reflective of their comic book counterparts. There have been a few misfires in recent years including: Green Lantern Rise of the Manhunters, Captain America, and Thor God of Thunder. Fortunately for hardcore fans, there have been even more games that have truly captured the essence of the characters its representing, making us forget all about those bad ones.
Within the last year we’ve seen the release of Lego Batman 2, a fun, comedic take on classic heroes and villains playable and enjoyable for children and adults. The Amazing Spiderman, a nicely developed “sequel” to the film truly capturing what it means to “do whatever a spider can.” And of course, Batman Arkham City, my personal favorite and the most realistic representation of the caped crusader ever. Never before have you been able to feel this much like the real vigilante. The key to a good superhero game involves staying true to the characters and doing what works. As the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” When the design and gameplay of a game works and sells, don’t alter it for the sake of altering it. We enjoyed it before and we’ll enjoy it again. Having said that, the right change in this business comes around quite rarely. The near future of superhero videogames depends on:

The Avengers: Battle For Earth (October 30th, 2012)
       Being released for the Wii and Xbox 360, Battle For Earth will mark the first anticipated superhero game for the Kinect. I’m not too sure how this game will do in the reviews or whether it will be fun, but I do know that even acting out the powers of superheroes and having them appear on the screen in front of you could be kind of cool. The game does allow you to play as heroes and villains, not just from the Avengers’ universe, but also from the entire Marvel universe.
What to do: If you liked the Avengers and are a fan of fighting games and are interested in how they will apply the powers of the characters, then you should get this game.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Smallville: Top 5 of Season Four

      Clark Kent’s last year of high school, the meeting of his future love, a teaser into his greatest ability, and an all too familiar disaster for the people of Smallville. Season Four may be the greatest season of them all. It’s sad to believe that the memorable “high school” moments and storylines disappear after this year, unfortunately declining the likeness of the show. This season produced so many great episodes that I had trouble narrowing it down to only five. These may not be your favorite shows of the season, but they are mine and hopefully my little analysis of each will change your mind. (Spoilers of episodes follow)

5. Transference
    Most comic book shows feature an episode that involves the hero and the villain transferring minds. It gives us a break from all the seriousness of usual storylines and allows the writers to have some creative fun, showing us what each character would do in the other’s body if they had their life, or in Clark’s case, their powers! While Lionel transfers into Clark’s body, Clark is left in prison in Lionel’s “shoes”. It was interesting to see each actor act like the other’s character, but when it was all over I was glad to see everyone back to normal. Not an overly important episode to the story arc of the season, but a much-needed break from serious stories previously told before it.
Favorite Moment: Jonathan asks Clark (Lionel) to lift a tractor above his head in order for Jonathan to fix it. Lionel appears amazed at his newfound strength, along with the shock that Clark Kent is no ordinary farm boy.

4. Crusade
      Kryptonian crystals have been scattered around the world and are said to have unlimited power when combined together. Lex is already on the hunt while his father sits in a jail cell after his arrest last season; an overly large cell, even if he’s rich. Clark meets Lois Lane in an awkward moment out in a cornfield. After three months of “fulfilling his destiny” for Jor-el, Clark returns home, but as Kal-el, an emotionless, heartless person with only the hunt for the crystals on his mind. It is in this form when Clark, or Kal-el. Flies for the very first time of the series in a spectacular scene that just sends chills down any true Superman fan’s spine every time they watch it. The season premiere also guest stars Margot Kidder as well as black kryptonite.
Favorite Moment: After declaring that Clark Kent is dead, Kal-el shoves his adoptive earth mother to the ground as he slowly builds force beneath his feet, lifting him up into the sky, flying at incredible speeds. Unfortunately this is something we would not see again until the last season.

3. Onyx
      You ever notice how it’s sometimes hard to tell whether Lex is telling the truth or not? Is his plan for good or for evil? Is he being a good friend or is he just benefiting himself? Well in Onyx, black kryptonite returns and separates Lex into two people, a good, descent friend and an evil mastermind bent on complete control of anything he wants. This episode gives us the very first, official Clark vs. Lex showdown. Lex also discovers Clark’s origins and his weakness, almost killing him with a kryptonite ring. Luckily Clark gets aid from the “good” Lex and eventually the two are put back together again. Clark fears he may never trust Lex again after seeing what he truly is deep down.
Favorite Moment: Wearing a classic kryptonite ring, Lex defeats Clark, threatens the Kent family and declares his main objective of control, the world!