DC Retroactive: Green Lantern – The ’70s 1 (September 2011)

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Let me see if I can summarize the dumbest thing about this issue. DC hired Denny O’Neil to write a flashback to seventies Green Lantern—back when it was Green Lantern/Green Arrow, they let O’Neil turn in a script mostly about Green Arrow, then they hired Mike Grell to illustrate it—Grell being known as a Arrow, not Lantern, artist—and then they didn’t put Green Arrow in the title?

And I’m not just calling it dumb because the Green Arrow stuff is well-written—the Green Lantern stuff is so awful anything would be better (O’Neil doesn’t even maintain his points of view)—or because Grell’s art is better on the Green Arrow part (again, it’s unfair… Grell’s Green Lantern is hideous).

It’s a terrible comic book. I’ve never been a Grell fan, but his Lantern half is borderline incompetent. But… still… DC should have titled it appropriately.

CREDITS

Nightmare Planet; writer, Dennis O’Neil; artist, Mike Grell; colorist, Allen Passalaqua; letterer, Carlos M. Mangual; editor, Ben Abernathy; publisher, DC Comics.

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Secret Agent Corrigan, The Stone Expedition (February-May 1968)

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Phil’s off to the Arabian desert this story, which does give Williamson a chance to draw some fantastic scenery and action scenes. Goodwin plots a lot of action into the same relatively short period, but it works out since Phil’s character development has taken another break.

Goodwin gets in an opening action scene with Phil in the States, discovering the arms smuggling going on in the fictional Middle Eastern country (they have oil, of course). Then he fends off some assassins once he gets there, has a chase sequence, a fist fight, a gun fight and then another gun fight. Goodwin also gets in some backstory on the villains. It’s a lot of stuff.

The great art helps the story pass smoothly, even when Goodwin gets a little too goofy with the bad guys. He never makes them believable (though his take on Arab politics is more thoughtful than not).

CREDITS

Writer, Archie Goodwin; artist, Al Williamson; publisher, King Features.

DC Retroactive: Wonder Woman – The ’70s 1 (September 2011)

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I’ve never read Denny O’Neil’s seventies Wonder Woman, so I can’t compare this flashback to it. I know the seventies didn’t have J. Bone—imagine Darwyn Cooke if he was incompetent—so the art must have been better. As for O’Neil’s plot, it seems like something out of “Xena: Warrior Princess” after a while… only with Diana Prince in a pant suit.

Some of the problem is just O’Neil’s writing, not even his plotting. His narration from Diana is awful. There’s not a lot of it, actually—no verbose expository thought balloons, which is better than the alternative. Bone’s art is so loose and unfinished, I’m scared to think what it’d look like if he actually had to incorporate a lot of text balloons.

The plot’s dumb too; it doesn’t fit Bone’s style at all. I wonder if O’Neil knew the style the art would be….

Terrible in every department.

CREDITS

Savage Ritual; writer, Denny O’Neil; artist, J. Bone; colorist, Kevin Couden; letterer, Dezi Sienty; editors, Chynna Clugston Flores and Kwanza Johnson; publisher, DC Comics.

Secret Agent Corrigan, Far Orient Import-Export (December 1967-February 1968)

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Thank goodness China went communist because what Asians would Americans have had to demonize once World War II was over….

The villain this issue is a Chinese spy (he looks like a fat Fu Manchu), but also appears to employ a Japanese karate expert. Goodwin never struck me as a dumb writer; he must have known he was being completely inaccurate.

Details aside, Goodwin has a strong (if melodramatic) plot going.

The story’s simple—a woman’s husband is held prisoner until she betrays the U.S. government, Phil finds out about it and helps her. There’s not much action until the finale. It’s mostly these taut scenes with the wife miserable and hesitant to ask Phil for help. Williamson’s better at these “people in crisis” panels than he is at action panels and Williamson’s very good at action panels. Regardless of cultural insensitivity and casual racism, it’s a beautifully drawn story.

CREDITS

Writer, Archie Goodwin; artist, Al Williamson; publisher, King Features.

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