Saturday, July 9, 2011

Mini-Views - Flashpoint: Abin Sur Green Lantern

Flashpoint: Abin Sur: Green Lantern #1 of 3

Written by Adam Schlagman Illustrations and cover by Felipe Massafera

One of the great things about an alternate reality story like Flashpoint is the chance to take a character or concept and tweak it. With the recent release of the Green Lantern film, most pop culture fans are aware that before Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 was an alien named Abin Sur. In the traditional DC universe Sur crash-lands on Earth and, mortally wounded, has his ring seek out a potential successor. Enter Mr. Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Earth and all-around badass.

This universe is most definitely not the traditional DCU, and here we find that the cosmic side of Flashpoint is just as messed up as the Earth, if not more so. Black Lanterns (undead servitors of Nekron, an avatar of Death itself) are running rampant, devouring entire space sectors and reanimating the dead to add to their ravening hordes. The Manhunters (robotic forerunners of the Green Lanterns who rebelled against the Guardians of the Universe when they decided Order was preferable to Justice) have quite logically reached the conclusion that emotions cause chaos, therefore the best thing to do to avert chaos is to kill any living thing capable of emotion. The Green Lantern Corps is stretched to the limit, just barely managing to hold their own against this war on two fronts. Abin Sur is a dedicated peackeeper with a feverent need to protect life in all it's forms, but even he's feeling the strain. It doesn't help that his entire world was wiped out in an as yet untold cataclysm either.

Sur journeys to Oa, headquarters of the Corps, and is given a task by the Guardians: journey to the primitive backwater world of Earth and retrieve the Life Entity, a being that embodies the essence of life much as Nekron does death. It was hidden on Earth in the hopes no one would look there, but with that world in a state of utter chaos (see my previous reviews for a sampling), the Guardians want it retrieved and brought to Oa for safekeeping. Abin Sur is glad to do it, and offers that while he's there, he'll save the Earth as well. To which the Guardians clearly inform him the retrieval of the entity is paramount and to let the planet die.

(. . .brrr. . .it just get chilly in here, or is that just me. . .?)

Being the badass he is, Abin Sur tells the Guardians where they can take that suggestion and rockets to Earth in a spaceship, the better with which to transport the entity across space. Unfortunately, his vessel is attacked and brought down near Coast City, California, in a sequence that is eerily familiar. Our comic Ends with Sinestro seeking information from a character familiar to recent GL readership, as he wants to learn more about the prophecy of. . .the Flashpoint!

This series is starting off with a lot of potential, but there were a few things here and there that give me pause. We'll start with the pros and work our way to the cons:

The Pros: Abin Sur is a total badass, but in a way that makes him relatable and (dare I say) human. He's a protector of life, but isn't afraid to knock heads together to see justice done. Given that in other series we've only ever seen Abin near the end of his career or at his death in the Jordan origin story it's nice to get to know this guy. He's a mixture of a knight errant and wandering penitent and I dig that.

- The art is engaging, the story moving at a brisk pace and it makes for a fun read that leaves you wanting more. I like this version of the Corps, one that has to work a lot harder to get half of what the 'real' GLC already has.

-Thaal Sinestro's characterization from the film carries over here, and I like that. In the movie (up until the baffling to me end credits cookie) he's a harried guy, but you understand where he's coming from. The best villains don't see themselves as such, and you can understand why this guy might well snap from all the strain he and his fellow GLs are under.

The Cons: Hey, did you guys know there's a Green Lantern movie out? 'Cause this book in no way resembles the designs for the characters and settings of the movie. Not at all. Why would you ask?

-All right, kidding aside I get it. I do. You want to tie in the GL movie that just came out to a series that might attract the casual reader that might be a bit daunted by the continuity of the regular Green Lantern comics. I understand that. But in that case, why incorporate stuff like Black Lanterns, or Manhunters, or the fellow on the last page reveal? Stuff that would require someone who hasn't read the comics and only seen the movie to do homework? If you wanted a continuity-light, moviegoer friendly series, go for that. If you want something that requires knowledge of Green Lantern lore and has the reader playing 'spot the differences', do that. Trying to blend them both is a bit clumsy here. Not a deal-breaker, but still.

-The whole'The Guardians of the Universe Are Dicks Who Are Always Wrong About Everything' thing has got. To. Stop. Look, I get it. In the Buddy Cop Movie archetype that is the Green Lantern Corps, they're the mean Lieutenant that read our heroes the riot act. But seriously, is that the only way you can portray them? Unconcerned about the fate of the cosmos and blase at the potential loss of life? Not mournful that Earth has to be sacrificed if all are to be saved? No? You want to go with the Dick thing again? I guess if it ain't broke, but still. . .a little conflict within the ranks, some debate between the Hawks and the Doves of the Guardians would've been nice to see. Again, not a deal breaker but you have to admit this trope is wearing a bit thin.

-Okay, this advertising thing is getting out of hand. I'll accept ads for the Green Lantern movie, the Flashpoint storyline overview and what's happening next in what issue, other books I might like to buy etc, etc, but you're really going to derail my enjoyment of the story with a 12-page comics tie-in to J.J Abrams' Super 8 in the middle of my comicbook reading? I don't care about Super 8. I don't want to see it. If you wanted to do a tie in, do a tie in somewhere else and give me those twelve pages as part of the issue itself. As it stands I read a twenty page story that could have been thirty-two if not for this informercial slapped into the middle of it.

On the whole I liked the book despite the odd qualm or two. I want to see where this story is going. Recommended.


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