Thursday, November 24, 2016

Trekking to the Oldies

Star Trek: Gold Key Archives Volume 1 (1967-69/ This edition 2014): written by Dick Wood; illustrated by Nevio Zeccara and Alberto Giolitti: Oh, those loopy Gold Key Star Trek comics of the 1960's and 1970's! The first six issues collected here were originally written and drawn by people who had never seen an episode of Star Trek and had been handed what seems to be the briefest of Show Bibles. 

The artists had photo references, but no idea how big the Enterprise was (a cutaway illustration makes it seem about as big as a B-52 bomber) or what James Doohan looked like (Scotty is unrecognizable). The stories themselves are generic space opera, albeit with a few clever moments. The first story is pretty much full-blown scifi horror, an area the real Trek delved into very infrequently. And as a piece of horror, and body horror, it's actually pretty effective, though unrecognizable as Trek

Subsequent stories gradually move closer to Trek, with a clever story about rogue machines endlessly building cities being the strongest, Trekkiest of the stories. Why Dark Horse devoted a fairly pricey Archive series to these books is a bit of a mystery: these things are best enjoyed on cheap paper, preferably in a massive, inexpensive collection. Recommended.

Godhead: New Gods/ Green Lantern (2015): written by Robert Vendetti, Charles Soule, Van Jensen, Cullen Bunn, Justin Jordan, and others; illustrated by Ethan Van Sciver, Billy Tan, Dale Eaglesham, and others: DC tried to reinvent Jack Kirby's iconic Fourth World characters for its post-Flashpoint, rebooted superhero universe of the 'New 52' in this crossover event with the Green Lantern books. It's pretty much a failure on every level, burdened with a plot that's mostly massive battle scenes and a lot of fussy, often confusingly laid-out art. And oh so many Lanterns! 

The leader of the 'good' forces of the 'New Gods,' Izaya the Inheritor, has gone from reflective philosopher-king to violent imperialist. So, too, such previously peaceful New Gods characters such as Lightray, who's now just another soldier in a Cosmic Cold War. Design-wise, nothing of Kirby's has been improved upon. Metron and his Mobius Chair are now a fussy, over-rendered mess. Orion now wears an outfit that makes him look like a bellhop when his helmet is removed. Izaya is just another guy in over-rendered armour.

The 'event' involves the New Gods, self-appointed defenders of the entire multiverse,  discovering the existence of Green Lantern rings, oh, about 5000 years into the existence of those Green Lantern rings. That's some nice universal monitoring, boys. Of course, this is the expanded universe of Green Lantern rings. Which is to say, there are also thousands upon thousands of humans and aliens flying around not only with Green Lantern rings, but with Red and Yellow and Orange and Blue and Indigo and Violet Lantern rings. And there are collector's item, one-of-a-kind White and Black Lantern rings as well. Plaid rings are surely on the horizon.

Izaya decides some combination of these rings will allow him to defeat cosmic menace Darkseid once and for all. Or maybe he just needs the White Lantern ring to do that. Whatever. Much fighting and blowing things up ensues. There's about enough plot here for maybe 50 pages of a comic book, extended to fill 300 increasingly interminable pages. Now that DC has executed a soft line-wide reboot again with the Rebirth event. one can only hope that this dismal bunch of Fourth-World wannabes has been consigned to the ash-heap of continuity resets. Not recommended.

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