Review: Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Admittedly, in the long wait for the Blackest Night collections and uncharacteristically lackluster Green Lantern: Agent Orange, I'd begun to feel just the slightest bit of event fatigue for Blackest Night before I'd even read the series. However, as the next in a string of great collections, writer Peter Tomasi's Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse is nothing short of outstanding, possibly the best trade paperback I've read all year, and if this book reflects the quality of Blackest Night to come, I'm excited all over again.

[Contains spoilers]

From the beginning of the second chapter, when Daxamite Green Lantern Sodam Yat confronts the xenophobic mother who nearly exiled him from his home planet, Tomasi places Emerald Eclipse a cut above the rest. There's plenty of cosmic action in this book (and that's great, too) but largely the conflicts are between individual characters, and it brings a unique richness to the story. Yat, for instance, has been so far something of a cypher for me, but when Tomasi lets Yat's pent-up anger boil up to the surface in the face of his mother's racism, it's so powerful as to forever define the character. The Daxamites brainwashed Yat and murdered his alien friend, but they're now asking him to save their lives, and the moments when Yat weighs his rage versus his duty as a Green Lantern are simply electric.

Similarly, at the end of the book we find Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner planting themselves squarely between some of their worst enemies and a firing squad, trying to prevent the Guardians and Alpha Lanterns from committing mass murder. This scene brings to a head some of the most interesting aspects of the new Green Lantern mythos -- the Lanterns have had to consider if they can still be effective without using lethal force in the face of murderous enemies, and now the Guardians have taken this to the extreme, executing even captured foes. Tomasi does well tying this to real-world issues -- if we murder our prisoners, Kyle asks, what will our enemies do to us? -- and creates palpable tension as the Alpha Lanterns pick off well-known bad guys one-by-one before the reader.

There's a number of these great moments in Emerald Eclipse, whether quiet ones like the verbal sparring between Lantern Soranik Natu and Sinestro, Natu's burgeoning relationship with Kyle Rayner, and the interactions between Rayner and Gardner or Natu and her Lantern partner Princess Iolande; or giant, loud ones like the knock-down fight between Mongul and Arkillo for control of the Sinestro Corps; or the massive, I-can't-believe-this-wasn't-its-own-crossover jailbreak of the Sinestro Corps from the Oan Sciencells, and kudos to artist Patrick Gleason for clear cosmic art in scenes of both type. That Sciencell battle, too, helped define the Red Lantern Corps for me; I wasn't entirely clear on their powers from Green Lantern: Rage of the Red Lanterns, but now I see the threat they pose (especially, that their spit can melt Green Lantern constructs!).

I remain only mildly confused by the end of Emerald Eclipse, but I suspect that confusion is on purpose. Yat released the power of Ion to turn Daxam's sun yellow -- did this kill Yat, or does he now exist for some reason, as the last scene suggests, in the sun (or is Yat's image meant to be Arisia's fond remembrance)? And with all the pushing and pulling that the Guardian Scar did to make the shield over the planet Oa explode (yet another fantastic, could-have-been-its-own-event moment), I was surprised to see all the Black Lantern Corps rings explode out of ... a little meteor. This final page felt anti-climactic to me after a book full of wonders, but I can most certainly forgive this after everything else in this book.

Constant Collected Editions readers will remember I was none too pleased that DC Comics switched Green Lantern Corps from paperback to hardcover with this volume, in a way that suggested to me trying to unfairly capitalize on the excitement over Blackest Night. Green Lantern Corps has only been in paperback before, but now if a reader wants to be caught up for Blackest Night, they have to read the Emerald Eclipse hardcover or else wait until November to get the paperback. Well, I didn't want to wait and delay reading Blackest Night, and was lucky enough to find someone willing to lend me their Emerald Eclipse hardcover, but it doesn't change my feelings on the situation -- I think this was a bad time for Green Lantern Corps to go hardcover, and if it remains that way after Blackest Night, I'll be waiting for the paperback then, too.

That said ... Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have done themselves remarkably proud with Green Lantern: Emerald Eclipse. It's a shame Tomasi won't be staying on this book much longer, but he's won himself a fan and I'll be eager for his other Green Lantern work.

[Contains full and variant covers]

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6 comments:

  1. Lucky you. I'm still not planning on buying it. As you said, the sudden price jump is a bit much, and while I found Tomasi's run so far to be fairly solid, I didn't think it was worth paying US$24.99 for (convert to Malaysian money and it's like 85 bucks, ugh). Incidentally, the Amazon links you put up go to the paperback version.

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  2. Well, given that I'm advocating Green Lantern Corps remaining in paper, it seemed only right to link as such.

    85 ringgits (?) for a hardcover? Wow. Help me to understand: something that's $85 US would be considered (in my opinion) getting toward a luxury item -- that is, one might spend $5 for a burger and fries every day, but not $85; that's close to my entire monthly comics budget as is. Is there a difference in "unit value" (i.e., what we think of in the US as $25 is what they think of in Malaysia as 85 ringgits) or would a hardcover really be considered a luxury item?

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  3. Oh yeah, it'd definitely be considered a sorta luxury item to most people. (A can of Coke here would be about just under two ringgit, for instance.) Which is why I pretty much scaled back my comics purchases as soon as I moved back to Malaysia from Australia. And why that Absolute All-Star Superman is going to hurt...

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  4. CE- have you decided how much of Blackest Night you'll be getting in HC? I'm in the same boat you are - don't want GLC in HC, but was planning on getting Blackest Night in HC in July.

    I'm not sure what to do about the BN GLC book, or the tie-ins . . .

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  5. Ultimately I'll decide when I'm looking right at them on the shelf (full or empty wallet in hand), but right now I'm leaning toward picking all of them up.

    Even as I don't think the "Prelude to Blackest Night"-bannered GLC: Emerald Eclipse should have been bumped to hardcover, I'm entirely OK with Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps being hardcover -- one warrants it, in my opinion, and one doesn't. My hope is that Green Lantern Corps then reverts to paperback after Blackest Night, but I'm guessing not -- probably both Green Lantern and GLC will be hardcover, and any other new Green Lantern spin-offs, and possibly Brightest Day, too.

    I'm just one customer, but bottom line DC has to decide either fewer hardcovers, more affordable hardcovers, or I (and maybe other customers) am forced to buy fewer books. That's the trade-off (let's intend the pun) as I see it.

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  6. I read Batman and related titles in monthlies, everything else in trade. If the Blackest Night: Batman mini is indicative of the rest, I'll probably get the two Black Lantern Corps trades in pb.

    I hope Brightest Day and Generation Lost aren't in HC. My 'weekly format' shelf is pb only!

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