Random Retrospective #27 – Secret Society of Super-Villains Vol 1

The crazy, crazy 70s. This was a time when someone in DC thought a good idea would be to have a bunch of villains band together and plot to take down the JLA and then take over the world. Or something like that, anyway. I never had the original issues of this series, though I was aware that after its cancellation, a lot of the hanging plot threads were picked up by Gerry Conway and finished during his run on JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA. When this trade paperback came out, I was intrigued enough to pick it up. As an aside, as far as I’m aware the second volume was never released as a paperback – I bought a digital copy as the hardback was stupidly expensive.

Anyway, as it’s a collection, there’s no deep dive here, just a handful of panels that caught my eye, like the reason the team get together:

That’s right – what else would motivate villains like Manhunter (who’s only pretending to be a bad guy) Star Sapphire, Gorilla Grodd and others if not the chance to have their very own butler!

And we all remember when Sinestro wore an earring, right?

And then there was the long-running plot line involving Funky Flashman, DC’s take on Stan Lee:

They may have taken the mick with this character but here we are 50 years later and who from DC’s hallowed halls is as well known to the general public as Stan Lee? Not this guy, I’ll tell you that.

Random Retrospective #23 – Green Lantern Corps #17

Let’s all head back to the crazy days of 2007 when the Green Lantern Corps were facing their biggest threat so far in the form of the Sinestro Corps. Over in the main title, Geoff Johns was laying the seeds of what, a couple of years down the line, would become BLACKEST NIGHT but for now, the whole of the Corps was up against the rogue Lantern and his band of merciless killers as they attempt to take over Earth due to its position at the centre of the multiverse. So what do the Guardians do? They give the go ahead to allow lethal force to be used by the GLC for the first time ever.

Thrown into the mix is one of the new Lanterns, someone who first appeared in the Blackest Night prophecy as first mentioned by Alan Moore:

Yet another seed being planted, making sure that everything Moore mentioned gets put in place before the big event.

After a whole host of individual fights between the GLC and the Sinestro Corps, everyone gets a message to head to New York where the big, final showdown is going to take place. When the GLC get there, they find not only Sinestro but as Arisia puts it . . .

The Anti-Monitor appears in the role of Guardian to Sinestro’s Corps, being brought back a few issues earlier for the first time, if memory serves, since Crisis had happened.

Being the impetuous rookie he is, Sodam Yat attacked the Anti-Monitor head on and is swatted away but, as he’s a Daxamite and on Earth has the same powers as Superman, he’s quickly back up on his feet. And then the Guardians arrive and give him the power of Ion, the Will Entity, that Kyle Rayner had, until recently, been using, which gives Yat even more power.

Which is just as well as the issue ends with the arrival of the other big bad guy at the time:

Yep, Superman-Prime because at this time, DC were trying to prevent paying out to the creators of Superboy so had aged this guy up . . . or something like that; it boiled down to them trying to avoid giving creators money, as per usual.

Legal shenanigans aside, this was a high point for the Green Lantern titles – the Sinestro Corps War and the subsequent introduction of the other Corps, the War of Light leading into BLACKEST NIGHT were all action packed stories that I remember enjoying.

Random Retrospective #22 – Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II #2

After the somewhat ignominious end of the GREEN LANTERN series post-Crisis, Hal Jordan and the handful of other Lanterns found themselves sharing the pages of the anthology series ACTION COMICS WEEKLY. Christopher Priest (writing as Jim Owsley) did some sterling work putting Hal Jordan back on his feet and with Keith Giffen and Gerard Jones, delivered a new origin for Green Lantern in GREEN LANTERN: EMERALD DAWN which saw Jordan grow up and take responsibility for his reckless actions, including a drink driving charge. But the 90 days jail time overlapped the time he became a Lantern and so this sequel by Giffen and Jones covered his time in jail when he would be simultaneously trained by Sinestro during the nights, while serving time in the day.

Jordan accompanies Sinestro to a meeting between the Khunds, Dominators, and Citadel who are considering an alliance (that will later come to fruition in INVASION!) which the Guardians object to. Despite Sinestro’s attempts at politics, the threat of interference by the GL Corps ends in a predictable fashion.

The alliance is disrupted and despite Jordan saving Sinestro’s life, the senior Lantern is irritated with his student and the disorder he brings. Discounting Jordan’s contributions to the negotiations, Sinestro dismisses him back to Earth and the prison, planning to continue their training the next night. Trouble is, during the time he was away, a new cellmate has been assigned to Jordan.

And that’s going to bring trouble in later issues.

EMERALD DAWN II worked to explain how Jordan, stuck in prison for the first 90 days of his Green Lantern career, became so proficient with the ring and a good Lantern, but it also did a pretty good job of turning Sinestro from a one-dimensional bad guy into someone who thought he was doing the right thing, but ultimately couldn’t see how wrong he was. It doesn’t give him the full back story that Geoff Johns would later develop for him, but the root of it is there, the idea that he wasn’t always just a villain.

As years went by, though, the idea of having one of their major heroes wandering around with a DUI in their history didn’t really work for DC, and the origin was eventually changed again, removing this whole storyline. At the time, though, it was a decent enough story, and the original EMERALD DAWN went on to give us a new, revitalised Green Lantern series as it headed into the 90s.

Random Retrospective #19 – Green Lantern #33

There’s no denying Geoff Johns revitalised GREEN LANTERN in the early 00s. With GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH, he took Hal Jordan from out of the cowl of the Spectre and gave him a power ring back, at the same time introducing the concept of Parallax the Fear Entity, explaining away Jordan’s madness in ZERO HOUR and elsewhere as possession by that entity. All of which led to this latest series where Johns waits the best part of two years before retelling Jordan’s origins.

But it’s not just Jordan here – Hector Hammond is given a slightly new origin and attacks before Jordan’s Corps teacher, Sinestro appears and makes taking Hammond out look easy.

With Hammond dealt with, Jordan and Sinestro fly out to the grave of Abin Sur where a message, a warning, is triggered for Sinestro. Abin Sur reveals the history of the Manhunters, the robotic precursors to the Green Lanterns, and the massacre of sector 666, all of which had been hidden by the Guardians.

Abin Sur gets a retcon as well – it wasn’t a random yellow meteorite or his ship running out of fuel that caused him to crash on Earth; instead he was transporting Artrocitus as a prisoner, and his escape caused the crash. Unlike Sinestro, Atrocitus absolutely believes the prophecy mentioned by Abin Sur and has tracked down the one he thinks will give him what he needs.

Sinestro and Jordan arrive only to find Atrocitus’s weapon drains their rings, leading to a big fight next issue.

Though it wasn’t realised at the time, this was all laying the foundation for the epic BLACKEST NIGHT event that would happen the following year, so full marks to Johns for setting things up well in advance.

I’ve said it before, Johns was usually good value for money, at least up until FOREVER EVIL, and I have fond memories, by and large, of his run on GREEN LANTERN.