Review: Ion Volume 2: The Dying Flame trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, April 03, 2008

So here's the good, the bad, and the ugly on the second volume of Ion: The Dying Flame. The good is that if you're a fan of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner as written by Ron Marz, this is pages and pages of Kyle Rayner written by Ron Marz, and the nostalgia factor is cause enough for celebration and worth the price of admission alone.

The bad, however, is that this collection (and the whole miniseries, really) is just blatantly fodder of any of a number of crossovers, not in the least of which are Countdown, Final Crisis itself, and Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War, at least. And the ugly is that this is just a sad, sad story with an emotional ending -- maybe that means it's good, because the story is moving -- but fans of Kyle Rayner won't finish this book thinking it was a "feel good" tale.

Ron Marz knows Kyle Rayner, but one wonders if he knows Kyle Rayner just a little too well. That is, Marz knows Kyle warts and all (in fact, he wrote most of those warts), and there's an underlying examination in both the Ion volumes of Kyle's difficult relationships -- with Alex DeWitt, with Donna Troy, with Jade -- all of which ended (at least temporarily) with his loved ones' deaths.

Marz's emphasis on this seems to border nearly on the extreme. Kyle's never been happy-go-lucky, but neither has his character ever been doom-and-gloom; there are important story reasons (that is, Sinestro Corps) why Marz writes Kyle this way, but still the dark tone of this volume surprised me. Now, there is a certain amount of good irony in Kyle having the powerful Green Lantern ring but not being able to solve his own personal problems, in a Peter-Parker-granted-spider-powers kind of way, and that's appealing in a super-hero tale. In this case, Kyle's problems ultimately outweigh any joy that comes from being a Green Lantern.

As I mentioned in my review of Brave and the Bold: The Lords of Luck, I'm actually enjoying very much the burgeoning hints of Final Crisis found in this Ion volume and elsewhere. Certainly I know less about Final Crisis than I did about Infinite Crisis around the same time, and part of my enjoyment might be basic surprise. But it also feels like there's a greater sense of a shared universe in this run-up to Final Crisis; it was a thrill when Donna Troy talks in this volume about events taking place in Nightwing: Love and War and Supergirl: Identity that I just read -- these are three very different trades, but it's fun to see how they're all connected.

I read the first Tangent Universe trade paperback before I read the second Ion volume, since I knew some of the characters from the former would end up in the latter; Ron Marz, I should note, actually participated in the original Tangent event. I was disappointed to find that the characterization of the Tangent Flash and Atom didn't really match up with the first volume of Tangent; the entire sequence, where Kyle is somewhat dazed, was confusing overall. Marz keeps the look and tone of the Tangent Green Lantern, but that's about it.

For Kyle Rayner fans or Green Lantern completists, this is not a bad trade, though certainly one hopes for sunnier days for Kyle Rayner soon.

[Contains full covers.]

The Green patrol doesn't stop, with a review of Green Arrow: Road to Jericho on the way.
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2 comments:

  1. Man, I found this volume boring...nothing good to recommend it...well, some decent artwork, but that's about it...

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  2. Well, I understand why you felt that way. I think one really has to be in to one of the mini-series that Ion serves, or really be nostalgic for Marz writing Kyle Rayner; on it's own two feet, Ion's not an entirely fulfilling mini-series.

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