If there's a tiger cover at the head of this column, I'm still celebrating the start of the "Year of the Tiger" and embracing the motto of those born in said year: "I win!"
Okay, technically, I was born in the "Year of the Rabbit," but I claim the right to embrace this motto because my Marvel nickname was Tony "the Tiger" Isabella. 'Nuff said!
With no particular plan in place for today's column, I'll dive into the ginormous "things I want to write about" pile of stuff on my desk. It's like the TOT version of Jenga.
Galactus himself would choke on the back stories in Green Lantern Corps. However, in issues #33-39 [DC; #2.99], and to his credit, writer Peter J. Tomasi had included enough of said back stories in his scripts that I was relatively "in the loop" by the third of these issues.
These seven issues are cover-blurbed as a "Prelude to Blackest Night," the DCU's latest universe-spanning event. Green Lantern Corps itself strikes me as an intergalactic soap opera. You've got your secret forbidden loves, your family/parent issues, even a kidnapping. Again, kudos to Tomasi for bouncing back and forth between the various stories-within-the-stories to keep my interest in at least some of those stories: Kyle Rayner's new romance, his special project, the xenophobia that afflicts Daxam, and a look at Sinestro's complicated familial relationships. On the other hand, I continue to loathe the Guardians and the smug superiority complex that imperils the universe again and again. Me, I'd replace them all with a drum-beating rabbit.
Penciller Patrick Gleason's art keeps up with the stories in both the big action and space scenes and the smaller more personal moments. The storytelling was a little dicey in the initial pages of this run of issues, but it can't be easy drawing a lump like Mongul and trying to make him interesting. Some villains are way past their expiration dates.
Like the several Green Lantern "prelude to Blackest Night" issues I reviewed yesterday, Green Lantern Corps #33-39 aren't essential to your reading of Blackest Night. Both runs conclude with supposedly scary nods to the event, though some of the fallen in both titles will doubtless be returning as Black Lantern zombies in other spinoffs or tie-ins. Indeed, gazing into my crystal ball, I suspect many of the Blackest Night spinoffs and tie-ins will prove to be not essential to the event. It's the way of these things.
Green Lantern Corps #33-39 pick up a respectable three out of five Tonys. Watch for more Blackest Night reviews as I make my way through the event.
A comic-book reader is teaching the next generation of crime fighters. This according to a story by Jim Carney in the February 14th edition of the Akron Beacon Journal.
Assistant professor David A. Licate is lead faculty and also the director of the Criminal Justice Technology program at the University of Akron. He's a fan of super-hero comic books and he teaches "people who have the same aspirations for ridding the world of crime."
Asked how comics influenced his interest, he said:
"I am a big X-Men fan. The idea of social justice and selflessness permeates the X-Men books. They still choose to be the good guys in a world that hates and misunderstands them for being different.
"The ultimate crime fighter is Batman. He has no superhuman powers. He developed his incredible detective skills and physical abilities through sheer determination. Also, he could have been a playboy but chose to help people.
"Spider-Man's 'with great power comes great responsibility' message spoke to me, and Peter Parker was just an average guy making good choices in extreme circumstances. Iron Man is a favorite...
"The characters live for something greater than themselves and use their talents to help others."
Every year since I started listing my mailing address in the columns I write for online and print, I have received a handful of letters from convicts. It really picked up back in the days when Comics Buyer's Guide was a weekly newspaper and I wrote of a friend of mine who was doing time in a local women's correctional facility and who I visited several times.
Though I'm a big believer in redemption, I don't write back to the convicts, male and female, who write me. Even when the letters weren't obvious attempts to get money or free comics out of me, I was very aware I didn't know who they "really" were or what crimes had landed them behind bars.
However, in recent years, many state justice departments and prison systems have put a great deal of information online. Which has allowed me to know, at least, what crimes my would-be pen pals have been convicted of.
The most recent convict to contact me was originally convicted of indecency with a minor and then with failing to register as a sex offender. He is not scheduled for release at this time and his earliest scheduled release date would be September 2012. He hopes to attend Comic-Con International in San Diego after his release. It is an ambition that, frankly, concerns me.
If I've a point to make here, and I'm not sure I do, it's the frightening realization that our justice and prison systems are not as good as they should be. We incarcerate way too many people in this country at enormous expense to taxpayers. We release violent prisoners while confining non-violent ones. We have way too many prosecutors who are more concerned with the win than with justice. We have judges hamstrung by mandatory sentencing laws that prevent them from using the good judgment that presumably earned them their positions. And, of course, we have bad judges who, when they have leeway, make decisions based on their political agendas and, sadly, their prejudices.
Most troubling, for all these clear flaws in the systems, the politicians know that voter fear of criminals, dangerous or not, is a good path to election. I am so bone-weary of fear as a political tool and ashamed so many of my fellow citizens fall for it time and time again.
That's all I got today. Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back on Monday with more stuff.
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
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