by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)
Cosplay was everywhere this year at San Diego Comic-Con 2016, and a good deal of it a loving if not terribly sad tribute to those we’ve lost recently. David Bowie as the Goblin King, Alan Rickman as Severus Snape and, of course, Leonard Nimoy in arguably his most iconic role as Spock, to name just a few, were proudly displayed like living tributes to pop-culture gods.
DC Comics dominated this year, particularly everyone’s favorite psycho couple of Joker and Harley, in reference to Suicide Squad, which comes out in theaters very soon. But, there was also plenty of cheerful genderbent cosplay, anime tributes, steampunk recreations and original costumes, all of them ready to strike a pose for your camera. The International Cosplay Corps, those tireless do-gooders who run around all of Comic-Con doing free cosplay repair on the go, were finally honored for their good works by multiple online outlets, the Costume Designers Guild and the Union Tribune newspaper as well.
Here are just a small gathering of the many cosplay enthusiasts your roving reporter Alicia Glass managed to corral at San Diego Comic-Con 2016!
We start with a flashback to when Rip Hunter first attempts to recruit the team back in 2016 … and what happens afterward. Last episode, Professor Stein sent Jax back in time to 2016 to cure his accelerated aging issues, and when he lands, he seeks out the Professor Stein of 2016, who had not left yet. It reminds me a bit of Marty McFly meeting an earlier version of Doc Brown, and like Marty, Jax needs to get back … to the future!
In the future, Rip, Ray, Kendra, Carter, and Rory have been taken prisoner by the Time Masters, who are in league with Vandal Savage himself. Sara and Snart are the only ones who manage to evade capture by hiding in a floor compartment panel of their ship, just like Han Solo. Aboard the Waverider, Sara and Snart ponder what to do, and Snart has a crisis of faith and decides the best bet is to just run and leave the team behind. Sara, however, was having none of it and they have a standoff. Luckily, Gideon intervenes just in time with a plan.
Meanwhile, at the Vanishing Point prison, Rip has been shown a vision of the past and future by the Time Masters, using a device called the Oculus that not only sees the past and future, but lets them control the timestream too. Everything that’s happened so far, including the murder of Rip’s family by Randal Savage, was plotted out in advance by the Time Masters using the Oculus. They needed Savage to unite the world against an invasion from the Thanagarians, a future scenario they see in their digital crystal ball.
Jax, back in 2016, gets Professor Stein to help him jump back to the distant future. Sara and Snart decide to free their captive teammates. They hatch a plan to destroy the Oculus, and regain their free will. In the end, a sacrifice must be made. I won’t tell you how it goes, but it’s one of the most pulse-pounding episodes of the series, so far.
Tonight, we reach the electrifying finale. Don’t miss it!
Out of time and out of luck, the crew of the Waverider have no choice but to find Vandal Savage at the one place and time they know he’ll be; in London in 2166, three days before he murders Captain Hunter’s wife and child.
In this post-apocalyptic future, we see Vandal Savage already ruling what’s left of the world, after the Armageddon Virus wiped out billions of people. The team sneaks into a rally where Savage is speaking in front of his jack-booted troops. At the end, they all raise one arm to salute him, because if there’s a shorthand for evil, it’s Nazi imagery.
Among Savage’s followers is a mysterious woman who happens to be wearing a bracelet that used to belong to Kendra’s Egyptian self when she was first murdered by Savage. Any object that was present when Kendra died can be used to kill Savage, so it’s up to the team to steal the bracelet from the woman. It turns out, the woman is Cassandra Savage, Vandal Savage’s daughter. After a disastrous first attempt at attacking Vandal Savage after his rally, the team regroups and encounters the small band of people opposing Savage, a ragtag group of refugees and rebels.
Kendra tells the team she needs that bracelet, so Snart and Rory manage to steal it … by abducting its owner, Cassandra Savage! They are remarkably efficient in this, and Cassandra ends up a prisoner aboard the Waverider. Kendra finds out how weaponize a bracelet as they reach a showdown with Savage, perhaps maybe even the last one? On the Waverider, Snart slyly gets Cassandra to give up the evil side and join the good guys.
Meanhile, Ray fights one of Savage’s weapons, a giant robot. He himself turns into a giant, using his Atom tech with some techno-babble. It’s moments like that that make this show worth watching. We’re nearing the end, so keep watching!
Remember the ethical conundrum of going back in time and killing baby Hitler? Well, it’s an ethical dilemma for good guys. But what if bad guys had the power to go back in time and kill their enemies as babies, wouldn’t they be doing that all the time? We explore that theme in the latest episode of Legends of Tomorrow.
Last episode, we were ominously introduced to The Pilgrim, a rather sexy-but-evil time-traveling assassin the Time Masters employ to eliminate troublesome people when they were defenseless children, because the Time Masters are jerks. She has a cool black coat, so I’m giving her points for style, even if she is a meanie. We first see her in the introduction, going back in time, presumably to baby-murder a man judged to be guilty of “time piracy in the first degree” (seriously, what IS that?) by the Time Masters. We don’t see her do it, but we do see him writhe in pain and disappear from reality in a puff in the future. Nasty.
Then, the Time Masters give her a hit list of our favorite heroes, except Kendra (who can reincarnate) and Captain Hunter (who is too important to the timestream to be removed from history). The first person who gets attacked is Rory, during a fire at his home when he was a child (that litle pyromaniac). Teen Rory is saved by Ray, and then is abducted onto the Waverider. Next on the list is Sara, who was also targeted as a teenager, but also saved, by her future self, and put on the Waverider. At that point, the team decides to be pro-active and abduct all of their selves as babies to ensure the Pilgrim never has a chance to target any of them. They are successful at this, and watching the Pilgrim fail over and over at killing makes her seem less badass than she was made out to be.
Still, the point of the episode wasn’t so much the confrontation with the Pilgrim; it’s the characters confronting people from their pasts (including their younger selves). Time travelers get a unique opportunity to make peace with their past demons, and to fix past regrets. For Jax, it was getting a chance to talk to a father he never knew, because he was killed in action right after Jax was born. For Rory, it was to tell his younger self that burning down the house was a dumb thing to do, but he was just a kid. And finally, putting all these kids in a safe place was Rip Hunter, whose younger self and foster mother we also meet. We then learn young Rip isn’t as helpless as we thought he was, and shines a new light on his character.
I expected more of a Terminator-like episode (the movie is even quoted by Ray), where our heroes have to stop a relentless and efficient time-traveling killer, but they only got the relentless part right: The Pilgrim isn’t at all efficient. The episode, however, wasn’t about her, it was about the main characters. We get to know them a bit more, and thus we love them a bit more.
Chronos has attacked the Waverider, and it’s disappeared through time! Sarah, Kendra, and Ray arrive at the ship, but do not get to board it before it winks out of time after Chronos kidnaps Snart — curiously, just him. The Waverider spirals out of control in the time warp, as it was sabotaged by Chronos, and it’s going to be a bumpy ride through time before Captain Hunter can stabilize the ship and find their friends again.
Meanwhile, as Captain Hunter and the remaining crewmembers try and regain control of the ship, Sarah, Kendra and Ray wait in vain for the return of their comrades. Ray proposes that they only need to wait a few minutes for their friends to arrive, because they have a time machine and can land precisely when they left. When the Waverider doesn’t arrive, Sara is the first to suggest the crew is dead and they need to just live out the rest of their days in the ’50s. The trio rent an apartment in Hub City, and though Ray continues to try and contact the Waverider via homemade homing beacons, a frustrated Sara gives up and heads off to join the League of Assassins.
Two years later, Ray is a professor and Kendra is a librarian, and they’ve built a life together as a happy couple. Just as Ray was about to propose to Kendra after a romantic picnic, the Waverider shows up again to rescue them, homing in on Ray’s beacon. Kendra is estatic but Ray isn’t happy, as he is quite fond of his new life. However, there are more pressing issues at hand; they need to find Sara. Luckily, the Waverider computer has records of the names of every single member of the League of Assassins since the invention of writing. Gideon pulls up a list of names and dates written in Arabic. The computer finds a record of “Ta-er Al-Sahfer” which was Sara’s name in the League. As an aside, the entry indicated on the computer is just a random jumble of disconnected Arabic letters (real Arabic words are written by connecting the letters) and it doesn’t even remotely spell “Ta-er Al-Sahfer,” although the date 1958 is written correctly in Arabic numerals. Honestly, they couldn’t afford a language consultant?
So, now the team has to go get Sara back from the League of Assassins: Right in the secret base of Ra’s Al-Ghul! They set a course for Nanda Parbat and sneak into Ra’s Al-Ghul’s palace, only to find Sara totally devoted to the cause and getting her friends captured. The penalty for trespassing is execution, and Sara doesn’t seem to care at all. Captain Hunter says being stranded in a foreign time causes one’s mind to go astray, and it’s up to the team to get her to snap out of it before it all ends badly.
On the Waverider, Snart finds himself being confronted by Chronos, and a shocking revelation awaits him as he sits bound by handcuffs to a metal railing. Chronos tracks the rest of the team to Tibet, and when he leaves Snart on the ship to capture them, Snart frees himself by grabbing his nearby freeze gun, freezing his hand and actually shattering it to pieces! That’s brave, buddy, but couldn’t you have frozen the railing instead?
The final confrontation is one epic showdown in the lair of Ra’s Al-Ghul, and it’s our team versus ninjas versus Chronos, and by the end of the episode the show’s characters have a brand new dynamic. We’ll see where that goes in the following weeks. Stay tuned!
In a small town called Harmony Falls in 1958, four teenagers race their hot rods down a deserted forest road, as 1950s teens are wont to do, at least according to pop culture. After one of their cars crash, they happen to come across a mysterious glowing meteor; and Vandal Savage right beside it!
And, thus, we join our team of plucky heroes, now without Mick Rory, arriving in 1958. We aren’t shown Rory’s fate from the previous episode, we are meant to think Snart killed him, so the team is somewhat upset by this. However, their goal is finding Savage, whom their intel predicts is in the neighborhood. They put together an undercover team, consisting of a pretend-married couple of Ray and Kendra, who actually have a budding relationship going on.
Ray and Kendra rent a house in town, and their (fake) marriage front starts offending the bigoted small town residents who don’t like the idea of an interracial couple. As a cover, it’s pretty terrible; they draw attention to themselves and Savage would recognize Kendra the minute he saw her, so I’m not sure who thought that would be a good idea. And, by sheer coincidence, Savage lives just across the road from their new rented home, and even brings a housewarming gift of tuna casserole. Awkward. Does Savage recognize Kendra? He isn’t really letting on, and they continue their little charades.
Meanwhile, Jax, Stein, and Sara go about town to investigate the murders and disapperances of locals. Stein and Sara go undercover in a mental hospital as a doctor and a nurse, while Jax plays a new kid in town. Before long, in another totally unconvincing coincidence, they happen across one of the racing teens from the cold open. She is the girlfriend of the boy whose car crashed. Jax decides to flirt with her, a white girl, and raises more eyebrows in the small town.
Snart and Hunter also go undercover in town, dressed as government spooks, asking local law enforcement for the case files on local missing people. Their efforts all lead to Vandal Savage; he works at the mental hospital Stein and Sara had infiltrated, performing experiments on the inmates in a mysterious wing. The experiments turn out to be people who have been turned into bird monsters, using the power of the meteorite. The monsters are genuinely creepy, and this part of the episode plays out very well, thanks in part to this installment being directed by Joe Dante of Gremlins fame.
It all leads to yet another failed showdown with Savage in the end, since you can’t kill the big bad without ending the series. Throughout the episode, we are presented with ’50s small town America through the eyes of our heroes, who have 2016 sensibilities. There is a small subplot of Sara and one of the female nurses in the hospital falling for each other, and this was a no-no back in 1958. The episode often not-too-subtly addresses the sexism, racism, and homophobia of the era, providing a commentary on how far we’ve come (and yet, these problems still persist today).
Although they fail to kill Savage, our heroes did learn a thing or two about teamwork and about themselves. That cliffhanger at the end though, will half the team be stranded in 1958? We await next week’s episode to find out!
Our heroes have jumped through time yet again, this time to 1986. The information they need to find Vandal Savage lies in the Pentagon, which they must break into to recover. They fabricate disguises for the team, and with some clever keycard (and wallet) swiping from Snart, Sara and Kendra attempt to sneak into the records room while Rory provides a distraction in the form of an arm-wrestling match — which seems unconvincing as a distraction really; I’d imagine the Pentagon isn’t like an army barracks with everyone off-duty. Firestorm was supposed to cut the power to let Sara and Kendra escape, but after he screws up, the alarms are triggered and the ladies have to karate their way out, as usual. However, Kendra goes full winged-psycho, murder-angel and tries to rip off a man’s face. Firestorm pulls her away and flies back to the ship, and the others retreat as well.
Back on the ship, the team fights … again. Professor Stein blames Jax, and Sara blames Kendra, saying, “Everything would’ve been fine if big bird over here hadn’t freaked out.” Captain Hunter tries to control his team like a stressed-out high school principal who’s sick of his job. The team, as usual, isn’t functioning very well, yet. I laughed at “big bird” though. I like Sara. She’s funny.
The good news is, they did get the file they needed, and the intel points to the Soviet Union; Vandal Savage is building a weapon there. Using their timeship to fly unseen to the USSR, Captain Hunter finds that he is being tracked by Chronos in another invisible timeship. After a very fun aerial battle which involves cloaking tricks, a Soviet MIG-21, and a Top Gun quote, Captain Hunter loses his pursuers, but crash lands the ship. Miraculously, the ship survives, as well as its entire crew. The Pentagon file on Savage indicates that he’s working on a “Project Svarog,” and employs a Soviet scientist named Valentina Vostok to build his weapon. The intelligence file on Vostok shows she’s a fan of the ballet; Snart and Ray try to charm their way into getting information on where she works from her by intercepting her at a show. Although Ray tries his best to get acquainted with Vostok, it’s Snart who manages to steal her attention (and her keycard, along with her wallet).
Meanwhile, Captain Hunter finds that he hasn’t lost the Time Masters after all, and they offer him a deal of amnesty … or do they? There’s a side plot where Captain Hunter and the gang meet the Time Masters in the woods, and Hunter contemplates just giving up his quest. Luckily, it turns out pretty quickly to be a bogus offer, and they have a showdown with the Time Masters. They succeed in escaping, but Jax is injured in the battle. Jax recovers in the med bay while Sara and Kendra train fighting each other to control their violent impulses. The rest of the gang focus on the mission: to break into Vostok’s lab and find out what they’re working on. Snart, Rory, Ray, and Professor Stein sneak inside using Vostok’s keycard, and find that Vandal Savage is trying to recreate the technology used by Professor Stein to create Firestorm. Since Jax is sitting out the mission, it is up to Professor Stein to steal the technology before the Soviets can make a breakthrough. However, it all goes wrong yet again, as Professor Stein, Ray, and Rory are taken captive and only Snart escapes, albeit with the tech.
The episode ends with Stein thrown into a gulag, and forced to complete the research while the others are being kept alive as leverage. What will Captain Hunter and the rest of the team do to rescue them? Find out next week, as this week ends with a cliffhanger!
Despite being a fan of superhero comics-related shows, I’ve never gotten into the Arrow-verse. When I heard of the CW’s take on Green Arrow, having already been bored by Smallville‘s long-winded run, I decided to pass on it. However, the universe of Arrow expanded to include other DC characters, including the Flash who got his own spinoff show, I began to regret not following it from the beginning. Since Legends of Tomorrow started, I was encouraged by my colleague Pandora to check it out, and so I did and I was hooked. Don’t get me wrong, this show is cheesy as heck, but it’s the fun kind of cheesy I can get behind.
When we last left our heroes, they were in 1975 and Professor Aldus Boardman had just died on board Captain Hunter’s timeship, but not before giving some clues on the whereabouts of their arch-nemesis Vandal Savage. Turns out Savage is about to sell nukes to international criminals at an international criminal weapons auction (that’s a thing, apparently). A haphazard team of Mick Rory (Heat Wave), Leonard Snart (Captain Cold), Professor Martin Stein, Ray Palmer (the Atom), and Sara Lance (White Canary), decide to go after Savage, despite Captain Hunter’s protestations that they should do things his way. They infiltrate the auction only to blow their cover, get into a fight with all the bad guys, and with Carter Hall (Hawkman), Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl) and Jax Jackson joining the fray and having to stop a nuclear explosion that Savage tried to set off as he made his escape. To make things worse, some bits of Atom’s suit broke off in the battle, and found their way into the hands of Savage.
Back at the ship, Captain Hunter is pissed, and rightfully so; the tech that found its way into Savage’s hands will be reverse-engineered to create deadly weapons which wipe out Central City in the future. However, the future isn’t set in stone yet: just in some “wet cement,” as Captain Hunter puts it. They still have time to put things right before Vandal Savage goes all Biff Tannen with his proverbial sports almanac.
To get the piece back, Palmer suggests they use an alpha-particle tracker to find his tech. They don’t have an alpha-particle tracker, but Professor Stein suggests they steal one from a younger version of himself in 1975. In real life, alpha particles are just high-energy bundles of two protons and two neutrons, identical to a Helium nucleus, created from any source of alpha decay. Therefore an “alpha particle tracker” is just a fancy Geiger counter; perhaps Professor Stein’s device works from long distances, hence the novelty. Anyway, you have to give the hokey “science” a handwave here, as this show is as comic book-y as they come. The stealing of the alpha particle tracker lends us some funny scenes where Sara flirts with the younger Professor Stein, much to his chagrin, and they all find out what a smug, pot-smoking asshole he was when he was younger.
Meanwhile, in the Hall of Justice Time Ship, Carter and Kendra do their sexy mind-meld thing to uncover knowledge from their past lives about how to kill the immortal Vandal Savage. Turns out there’s an ancient dagger that can do it, and it happens to belong to some rich Russian dude, and Captain Cold and Heat Wave volunteer to steal it. Palmer tags along, and they break into the Russian dude’s house, only for it to go all wrong again when the alarms are triggered and the “Russian dude” turns out to be Vandal Savage (what a coincidence).
After a showdown at the end, Savage escapes, but not all of the team members survive; the goofy, rag-tag team at odds with one another are suddenly brought together solemnly as they process this. They decide to stick together as a team as they join up Captain Hunter’s cause in earnest.
The premise of this show is fun enough for me to stick around and watch how it goes; a team of second-string superheroes travel through time to fight crime, that’s kind of a unique combo we haven’t quite seen before on television on a comic book show. Stay tuned for more hijinks and DC comics cameos in the weeks to come!
by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)
Based on a comic book series by Sam Keith, the cartoon series, The Maxx, tells a complicated story of a serial rapist, his chosen supreme victim, and the homeless self-proclaimed superhero determined to protect her at all costs!
See now, that’s a very simplified telling of the many overlaying plots The Maxx has to offer. As Mr. Gone, the serial-raping murderer-villain of our story, explains in the intro to the cartoon, most of us inhabit two worlds: the real world, where we’re at the mercy of circumstance, and the unconscious, the world within, where we can escape.
Julie Winters, the freelance social worker who was raped somewhere in her past and now kills that image of herself by escaping into her unconscious, the Outback, where she is the Jungle Queen, is the only one who seems to care for our hero, Maxx. And what of our purple-clad homeless hero? He’s stuck in the mask and the telepathic link to Julie that forces him into the Outback all unwitting, trapping all three of our characters together in a strange, macabre dance to the death of whoever gets there first!
So Julie, while dressing like a hooker as some kind of armor against the unfeeling world that enrages her, lets Maxx sleep on her couch after repeatedly getting picked up by the cops for beating up bad guys he encounters in alleyways. This is the first step on the hunt for Mr. Gone, the black wizard who likes to go around attacking girls with the help of dark Isz, creatures from the Outback who turn cannibalistic when brought to the “real” world.
Troubled teen Sarah is brought to Julie by her mother for counseling, only to discover roundabout-ly that Sarah’s mixed up in this mess too – she’s Mr. Gone’s daughter. Mr. Gone himself, indulging in his villainous ways as only he can, decides the best way to get to Julie is to go through Maxx first, so we get treated to some very funny scenes with dark Isz (looking like whatever you dress them up as, so imagine a carload of grannies with sharp teeth) chasing our purple hero down! Gone sends other assassins after Maxx, too, but our bumbling and well-meaning superhero usually downs them with ease, either here or in the Outback.
The Outback itself, for all its sprawling wonders and many strange creatures, is beginning to change. As Julie of the “real” world absorbs more misery and bitterness, so does the Outback warp, killing the Jungle Queen’s leopard, and leaving her vulnerable both there and back here in the “real” world. Even Maxx, at his most powerful, flowing-maned, killing best in the Outback, can’t hold against the crushing cruelty that is Julie’s own mind turning against her. It’s a race against time, for Mr. Gone has power both there and here, and will stop at nothing to bring his own darkling brand of evil down into everyone’s hearts!
The show focuses strongly on the concept of spirit animals, similar to the animal totems of Native American or Aboriginal (since it is the Outback) tribes. Each person’s spirit animal is linked to them during a pivotal moment in their life, usually some sort of traumatic experience. Sarah’s animal is a horse, and while she is gratified to learn this, the manner in which she is granted such a revelation, and from whom, is absolutely crushing in its vitriol. When she was little, Julie had a horrid experience with a rabbit and after much dark, circular explanation, realizes this is precisely why Maxx is afraid that if he ever took off his mask, he might underneath have the head of a rabbit himself.
The cartoon, which was featured on MTV’s Oddities, and acquired quite a cult following, is still one of my personal favorites. Highly unique in story and tone and drawing style, the entire cartoon looks like it was lifted right from the pages of the comic book, like Keith’s work suddenly started moving out of the frames all its own, with little effort. Most of the dialogue is exactly the same too; that is incredibly rare. The many concepts explored – alternate realities, telepathic powers and magic, the concept of our strengths and weaknesses being one and the same, how our very outlook colors our own reality and can bleed onto others, as well – are all thought-provoking and yet presented in a fun, horrifically surreal, moving comic-book-y way that you just don’t see today. When was the last time you visited your Outback?
by Agent Captain Logan (a.k.a. Agent Captain Logan)
Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War #1
Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: Agnel Hernandez
Publisher: IDW/DC Comics
It’s hard to deny the novelty of an unlikely-but-fitting crossover story between two fan-favorite properties. When I was a kid, my head exploded when introduced to the notion, with stories like Frank Miller’s Spawn/Batman (which, sadly, doesn’t hold up even a little bit) and the epic, once-thought-impossible (and now probably would be) Marvel/DC: Amalgam. It’s a thing that’s a lot easier to pull off in comics, both monetarily and in procuring licenses, than it’s ever been in television or movies. Who Framed Roger Rabbit made history by putting the two most recognizable cartoon rival mascots on screen together– Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny — when Spider-Man and Superman had already met in comics over a decade earlier. And while few of them have been even a football field closer to brilliance, one of the most popular franchises to hop over into somebody else’s sandbox these days is Star Trek, thanks to its comic license being controlled by a publisher that collects movie and TV licenses like they’re Pokemon.
IDW has unclogged a lot of fans’ dream pipes and made the meet-ups we couldn’t help but imagine come true in the last several years; Kirk has met Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes and Picard has met the Doctor, Rory and Amy. And DC even teamed up with IDW once before this so that Kirk could rendezvous with the Legion of Superheroes. We Trekkies have been a little spoiled when it comes to seeing other great space adventures mix it up with Captains of the Enterprise. Now, if only Paramount and Disney could come up with some sort of agreement to allow IDW and Marvel to send the Millennium Falcon to the Alpha Quadrant…
There’s a certain logic to creating so many stories that see the Enterprise investigating strange beings from other trademarks because that series is all about exploration. It’s very easy, with or without some sort of alternate universe conceit, to see a Federation starship simply fly up to something totally recognizable by anyone that’s ever turned on a television but which its crew is totally baffled by. Kirk and crew are going where no man has gone before and stumble upon Mork from Orc or Alf or a Predator or those ultra-generic aliens from Independence Day, and boom, you’ve got a story.
The frustration I’ve had reading a lot of these crossovers is an un-economical use of real estate. Why spend pages and pages trying to develop an overly-scientific, technobabble reason two sets of people from different dimensions are able to exist in the same universe? It’s just a plot device to get the ball rolling in the first place — isn’t the fun part seeing what happens after characters you never thought you’d see in the same room get there? If someone’s from another reality, à laStar Trek in the episode “Mirror, Mirror,” obviously his main objective is going to be figuring out how to get home, so yes, you have to devise some sort of plot device for how he got there in the first place. But while he’s trying to accomplish that, you have to come up with reasons to let him (and your audience) play in that playground. Crossovers also tend to spend too much time recapping, with flashbacks, important events from one or both of the properties’ past that inform this story, so that anyone who picked up the story for one side but isn’t familiar with the other won’t be lost. What ends up happening is that everybody’s bored waiting for the novelty to pay off. If you have to recap, do it in text in the inside cover and get on with the story you want to tell.
Star Trek/Green Lantern avoids both of these pitfalls with grace and ease, making it easily the best first issue to a crossover I’ve read with IDW’s logo on it, and perhaps ever. It’s the first of six issues and does exactly what it needs to in order to catch the reader’s attention, regardless of which of the properties is his favorite, to instantly break status quo and set things up so the story can hit the ground running next issue, and to get the reader’s mouth watering for more. Despite involving two very different worlds, they immediately feel like they co-exist in the same universe. There’s no talk about interdimensional vortices or tears in the fabric of reality — that stuff might be coming later, but we’re not bogging down the introduction to this awesome situation with scientific gobbledygook. The story is simple, straight-forward, and easily accessible to anyone familiar with either of these properties, or dare I say, even someone who has only passively heard of each (although I can’t imagine why that person would be reading this). I’ll describe it without mentioning Star Trek or Green Lantern. Imagine you didn’t know either was involved and see if you can follow this:
A strange creature carrying a multi-colored assortment of powerful, glowing rings dies on a strange planet. A starship flying through space in the name of exploration happens upon the equally dead world this creature is decaying on and a team is sent to investigate. They bring him and his rings aboard ship and begin studying them. Meanwhile, an enemy vessel fires on the ship and it’s outmatched, until one of the rings mysteriously super-charges it and makes it invulnerable to the enemy ship’s attack. And several of the other rings suddenly fly around and start choosing crew members to bond with.
Naturally, I won’t give away the ending, but you get the idea. If you weren’t familiar with Star Trek, the fact that the enemy vessel is Captained by none other than the Klingon Shakespeare nut with a bolted-on eye patch, General Chang, would mean nothing to you. And, if you weren’t familiar with Green Lantern, you’d be as lost as the crew of the Enterprise as to why the heck rings were lighting up and shooting all over the place. Not to mention, the big reveal on the final page would simply be an introduction to some new character you’d expect to learn more about next issue. But it’s a simple science fiction mystery story that’s easy to follow. It doesn’t matter how much you already understand about these worlds — they’re both simply presented, in a confident, non-hand-holding way, and the reader is given enough to credit to just read and let it all sink in without it all being spelled out to him, just like an average issue or episode of either of these things might be told. If you’re reading this for Star Trek, the dead Guardian is the alien of the week and his rings are the mysterious artifact that might lead to a morality play about ultimate power and that Kirk may or may not be forced to try to destroy. If you’re a Green Lantern fan, it’s a little more complicated, as this is cemented squarely in the world of Trek — and according to the first page, all of the Lanterns are supposedly dead — but it reads as an alternate future in which something terrible has happened to our heroes and now some humans are trying to get to the bottom of it.
Straight away, it’s a 50/50 split between the two and they, somewhat surprisingly, fit like a glove. I might never have thought to put these two things together, but there’s definitely a certain logic to it. The Lanterns are space police who patrol the galaxy and try to keep the peace, while recruiting new members when they discover new sectors, and the Federation is similar, except with an emphasis on exploration over being a military force. But both are about protecting people rather than conquering. As fictional properties, while Green Lantern is generally more in the science fantasy department, there’s certainly a quirkiness to both, they’re both bright and colorful, and with each, there’s often an emphasis on humanity’s role in the greater universe. While I haven’t loved a lot of the Abrams-verse stories IDW has published, using that version mixes well with Green Lantern because of the action/adventure emphasis, and Hernandez does a superb job of blending both styles to create something that somehow, on every page, looks like Blackest Night and the IDW Star Trek book simultaneously.
There’s not a lot of character stuff yet, as this issue pretty much just gets the situation set up, but I like Kirk and Spock’s banter. At one point, Kirk points out to Spock that he doesn’t have to lecture him on the Prime Directive again because they’re on a dead planet investigating a dead person — there’s no possible way they can affect the natural course of any species’ cultural evolution. And Spock simply tells him that he had opened his mouth to agree on that point.
It’s a mercifully quick read without a ton of internal monologue or sleep-inducing Captain’s logs that go on for pages to explain things I can easily see with my eyes. It’s cinematic and reads like well-plotted storyboards. It’s a delightful read and with five more whole issues left, I’m expecting Johnson and Hernandez to explore the full potential of this premise. Star Trek characters get rings from all the corps. Now I’ve seen everything. So much fun.
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