Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Retroactive - The 90's Part 2

As DC Comics are celebrating the creators that made an impact in the 70's, 80's and 90's, I thought I'd wander through the same decades and pull out my favourite comic of each year.

And here we are, finally in the 90's.


GREEN LANTERN #51 - Changing The Guard, written by Ron Marz with art by Darryl Banks and Romeo Tanghal.

One minute Gerard Jones was writing what seemed like half a dozen Green Lantern titles a week with Hal Jordan Earth's primo Lantern and the next some upstart called Kyle Rayner was flying around in adventures written by Ron Marz.

If I remember right (and feel free to tell me I'm wrong) DC editorial didn't like Jones's plans for Hal Jordan and instead suggested, nay insisted that he be replaced with someone new. Jones refused and walked off the title (or maybe he was pushed) and Ron Marz had the unenviable task of writing the downfall of one of DC's premier heroes and replacing him with this guy:

Alex, Kyle's girlfriend, voiced the reaction of many long time readers but, honestly, I kinda warmed to the guy pretty much from the get-go. Jordan had long been a favourite of mine and I liked the stuff that Jones had done by and large but I was happy to embrace something new from Marz. Rayner's brash attitude and unwillingness to take this new role a step at a time quickly came to the fore:

The whole learning the job on the fly was a nice touch as well but Marz and artist Darryl Banks had to do something different to set Rayner apart from Jordan visually as well hence:

That mask came in for a lot of angry comments at the time and it took a while for the look to really gel but it served its purpose and helped mark a definite change in Green Lantern's history.


GREEN ARROW #101 - Run of The Arrow, written by Chuck Dixon with art by Rodolfo Damaggio and Robert Campanella.

A year later, it was all change again for the other half of DC's Green team as long time Green Arrow Oliver Queen died and was replaced by his son Conner Hawke. I always thought it sort of odd that a big game changing scene happened in the first two pages of #101 - why not in the big anniversary issue #100?

Still, Ollie dies on page 2, his hand holding a dead man's switch on a bomb aboard a plane. He dies despite Superman standing three feet away from him, armed with X-ray and heat vision, able to see the construction of the bomb and understand it in milliseconds and surely able to disarm it as quickly without having to either amputate Ollie's arm holding the switch or stand by and let Ollie activate it deliberately.

Which is what he does. Not Superman's finest moment if you ask me.

Nor is Ollie's wake anything to really brag about:

Way to go, Superman: mention Hal Jordan who, by this time, had done the whole Parallax end of the universe thing in Zero Hour. Like that's not going to make people feel awkward.

Thankfully Zatanna steps up to the plate:

And after everyone else has wandered off, Superman and Guy Gardner end up on the roof where a pertinent question gets raised:

Seriously? Green Arrow dies and no-one, not even Superman, thinks to let Black Canary know? At least Conner Hawke does the right thing by going to tell her:

Canary's summing up of Ollie is pretty spot on - while a damn good guy, he is a complete arsehole at times.


HITMAN #1 - A Rage In Arkham, Part One, written by Garth Ennis with art by John McCrea.

How far can you get away from the usual run of the mill heroes and yet still be found playing in the same DC Universe that they inhabit?

I'd be willing to bet that Gotham City - one of the archetypal comic civilisations - wouldn't be high on the list of places: it is, after all, home to arguably one of if not the most recognisable characters ever.

And yet it's here that Tommy Monaghan, sometimes known as Hitman, managed to carve out his own particular corner of the DCU. Even if you'd read of his exploits in The Demon, the very first page of this first issue let you know you were in for something a little unusual from a mainstream DCU title:

A first page splash of the title character not only shooting someone in the face but stating that he kills people for money? Yeah, that's not the sort of thing you expected, even in the mid-90's. And that's just the start of it - within the first six pages, Hitman's killed eight gangsters and six cheap supervillains:

The rest of the issue is just as good - we get an introduction to Tommy's friends, the groundwork is laid for the first major story arc and Tommy begins a relationship which stores up trouble for years to come.

And then Batman turns up.

Which leads to one of the funniest things I'd ever read in a comic up to that point:

Just . . . perfect!

Hitman was one of my favourite series month in, month out and things would only get better as we'll see next week as we end the 90's retrospective.

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