Friday, December 15, 2017

Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special #1 (2011)

Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special #1 (February, 2011)
"Orange You Glad it's Christmas?!"
Writer - Geoff Johns
Artist - Brett Booth
Colorist - Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer - Nick J. Napolitano
Editors - Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99

Welcome to the Second Day of Christmas on Infinite Earths!  Today Santa Chris is going to chat up the Larfleeze Christmas Special from ye old 2011.  Hell, that was several realities ago by this point!

This discussion comes with a ***WARNING***, however... this might not be the post (or book) you read with your young children.  Nothing raunchy... but, let's just say the content is a bit "mature".  Get it?


We open on Christmas Eve with Larfleeze admiring his ramshackle Christmas Tree.  There's a lot of neat detail on the tree... it's full of things he'd "acquired"... mailboxes, mannequin parts, a jack-o-lantern, remote controls, a toilet seat... toilet paper, everything (including) the kitchen sink!  We shift scenes to the next morning... and Larfleeze realizes that it's Christmas.. and the great guardian Santa Claus will have visited and brought him everything on his list!

And so, he grabs Glomulus and heads downstairs to find... nothing?!  Not a single gift under the tree... and what's worse, the Christmas Cookies (recipe below) he'd left for the Jolly Guardian were left uneaten.  This must mean that Santa never showed up! 

As he paces and rages, Glomulus directs his attention to the television... where they can see Santa Claus taking part in a parade.  Next stop... some city!

He grabs Santa in his orange energy beam-thingie, only to learn that this man... is an impostor!  He looks to the ground and sees yet another Santa... heading into Dee Cee's Department Store.  Larfleeze gives chase only to find... many, many Santa Clauses?!

A smart-mouthed child informs Larfleeze that none of these fellas are the real deal.  Everyone knows the real Santa Claus lives at the North Pole!  Turns out though, we gotta help our man get there by navigating a maze.

Upon arrival way up north, Larfleeze finds... nothing.  He then threatens to melt the North Pole if Santa refuses to show his rosy face.  This (finally) brings Hal Jordan into the story.  I guess terrorizing an entire city was fair-game.  I guess Hal knows a thing or two about that, so we'll allow it.  Larfleeze spills the beans on his Santa-search... to which Hal says something that sticks in my craw a bit.  Again... I put a WARNING up top... don't read this one with your young children, because:

Really, Hal?  I could swear you've met him a time or two!  We'll allow it as it facilitates the direction the story is going... I guess.  Hal brings Larfleeze back to his junkyard to try and explain the "Christmas Spirit".  He looks among the refuse... and tells 'fleeze that he sees plenty of gifts he could give to those in need.

And so, Larfleeze and Hal pretend they are Santa Claus... giving gifts to boys and girls in need.  After they're done, our man realizes "Eh, maybe Christmas just ain't for me."  Job well done, Hal!

We wrap up with Hal telling Larfleeze to take a look at his list... and ask himself "Do I really need this?", which leads us to our rather heartbreaking ending... one of the items Larfleeze wanted Santa to bring was... his family.


Wow, talk about a bummer ending!

Let's start by addressing the elephant in the room... at least for me.  Where was Santa Claus?  Isn't it like a Chekhov's Gun of Christmas stories, where if in Act I somebody says "there's no such thing as Santa Claus", that means Santa will most definitely be appearing during Act III?  We unfortunately don't get that here.  That's certainly not the way I would've written it.

I figure if I'm not planning on having Santa show up, I'm steering clear of the "reality" of it.  Sure, maybe have some skepticism, but don't outright say anything.  I think I'd have ended this with Santa popping his head into Larfleeze's house, seeing the list, then quietly slipping out... or, maybe having Santa thank Hal for convincing Larfleeze that he's not real... because there's no way he'd be able to get him everything he wants?  I dunno.

I get that this is more of a "Christmas Spirit" endeavor, and not necessarily about the Big Guy... but I always worry when I read or watch something that might cause little kids to second-guess Santa.  That magical time in our lives is already so short... why risk shortening it even more by reading something that plainly says it.

Anyhoo... despite that sticking point (and it is a sticking point), I really quite enjoyed my time with this.  Larfleeze first showed up during my extended unemployment, so I missed out on many of his early appearances the first time around.  In fact, when I saw this on the racks I thought "Wow, there's a turn I never expected G'nort to take!", so I really wasn't hip to his character beats.  This is probably as comprehensive a look at him (minus the fighting) as we're going to get... he's greedy... doesn't understand what "giving" is, and sure doesn't derive satisfaction from it... and he misses his family.  He also has a dynamite recipe for Christmas Cookies (see below)... so there's that too.

Speaking of the cookies... I dug that they included a few "activity" pages here.  It made the issue feel like an old-time special... really pulled me into the book.  Also... the art here was fantastic!  This is a gorgeous book... so often "Holiday Specials" have a phoned-in feeling... this one most definitely did not.

Overall... despite Hal being a killjoy, and the lack of Santa made it feel like I was holding in a sneeze... this was a great little special.  I'd recommend it (to folks old enough to be "unburdened" by childhood wonder).  It's available digitally.


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On the Second Day of Christmas on Infinite Earths, I give to you Green Lantern: Larfleeze Christmas Special, and a Red Hood and the Outsiders Annual #2 Review.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2 (2015)

Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2 (February, 2015)
"... Yule be Dead for Christmas!"
Writer - Scott Lobdell
Penciller - Tom Derenick
Inkers - Wayne Faucher & Walden Wong
Colorists - Richard & Tanya Horie, Peter Pantazis & Wes Dzioba
Letterer - Travis Lanham
Associate Editor - Harvey Richards
Editor - Frank Pittarese
Group Editor - Brian Cunningham
Cover Price: $4.99

If my math is right (and it wasn't last year...) today marks the First Day of Christmas on Infinite Earths!

What better way to get into the Holiday Spirit than reading some old DC comic books with your ol' pal Santa Chris?  Well, there are probably tons of better ways... but, this is all I've got!

Today we're going to start by checking in with our friends Jason Toddler, Kid'iandr, and Boy Harper!


We open on a fairy adorable scene in which the (young) Outlaws are huddled in a stairway watching Santa Claus put presents under the Wayne Manor Christmas Tree.  I think this bit here is one so many of us can relate to... having to wait atop the stairs until it was actually "time" to rush to the tree.

What (hopefully) most of us can't relate to is the surprise Jay, Kori, and Roy find at the bottom of the stairs... this ain't no ordinary Santa... it's Suzie Su!

The tots fall back to reconnoiter... and arm themselves to the teeth.  They then rush the Faux Santa... and, well... eviscerate her will ammo.  She vanishes, leaving behind a candy cane... which Jason snags.

Just as they get snagged, by Batman.  To punish them for being naughty... and, ya know... murdering Suzie Su, he throws them into the Batcave.  I'm not sure how something like this could ever be considered a "punishment", but we'll allow it.

They decide to break out to see if Suzie Su left Santa's sleigh behind.  Jason (somehow) brings the dinosaur trophy to life... and they bust their way to the Manor grounds.  The dino then vanishes... leaving behind another candy cane.

And wouldn'tcha know it, Santa's sleigh is there too!  They hop in and fiddle with the controls until Batman bursts back on the scene.  With all hope lost, Roy simply asks the sleigh to take off... and it does!  He asks it to take them "home"... as in the sleigh's home.

Along the way, Jason begins to suffer with a headache.  He's beginning to feel like all of this isn't quite right.  After all, they're kids, for one... also, he and the gang didn't even know each other as kids.

Anyhoo... no time to worry about silly stuff like that, we're just now arriving to the North Pole!  From the looks of it, things aren't all that Merry.

The kids land at the sleigh-pad... which is basically a helipad with an "S" on it instead of an "H".  They take inventory of all the carnage, and decide their first stop will be the reindeer stables.  Looks like Dasher and Donner have gotten into the Alka-Seltzer.

Jason decides they might want to kill the lights before engaging in wholesale stag slaughter... and so, we get a page of silhouettes doing violent things to rabid reindeer.  This ends with the dead-deer vanishing, leaving behind yet another candy cane.

Next stop, Santa's Bunker... which is behind a bank vault door.  Inside, they follow an icy path which splits three ways.  Jason decides it might be best if they split up... which, is probably the worst idea ever, anytime it's suggested... but they do anyway!

We first follow Roy as he finds himself surrounded by a platoon (is "platoon" the right word?) of Wooden Soldiers .  We get some monologue from Jason... where everything begins to come together.  This isn't really Roy... just a Roy that he manifested in his mind.  With that understood, "Roy" disappears.

Next, we meet up with Starfire as she is battling a giant gingerbread lady that calls herself "Mrs. Claus".  Just as with Roy, Jason realizes that this Kori ain't the real deal... and she fades out too.

Finally, we reunite with Jason... who has tracked down Santa Claus!  He takes aim with his twin pistols and tries to get some answers.  Surprisingly, Santa responds by begging Jason to shoot him!  Well, if you're gonna ask for it... you're definitely not gonna get it... yet.

At this point the Yuletide vision wears off.  What we find is not Santa Claus, but a lizardman called Plytus!  Who?  I'm glad you asked... he was apparently in charge of experimenting on Starfire while she was in captivity.  He, of course, failed... and was sentenced to Earth for an eternity of suffering by Helspont.

The "candy cane" trail was his way of bringing Jason to him... so he Plytus could be put out of his misery.  Jason, amiable guy that he is, grants the lizardman's Christmas wish.

He then turns to a security camera and threatens to kill Helspont should he ever come a'callin'.  We wrap up with... hey, lookit that, Helspont!  He's with Kori's sister Blackfire, and has just found a reason to become interested in these Outlaws.


Not gonna mince words here... I loved this!

This was such a fun comic... and such a neat way for me to finally acquaint myself with this team.  Red Hood and the Outlaws has been one of those titles I've consistently bought (because Scott Lobdell always gets a "buy" from me... I mean, he wrote Uncanny X-Men #308 after all), but haven't made the time to properly get around to.  I'm sure I flipped through an issue or three, but never quite hankered down with it.  Lemme tell ya, I'm glad I finally did!

This was fun from beginning to end... and, unlike many Annuals from the Big Two of late, this actually appears to feed into the next storyarc.  Tom Derenick provides some adorably wonderful art here... depicting the Outlaws as children... and actually making them look like kids (as opposed to just smaller adults).

I will normally complain when a book is filled with full-page and double-page spreads... because decompression is a thing, and eating up whole pages without much in the way of substance is one of my bigger pet-peeves.  For this issue, however, I really dug it!  We don't get stories like this all that often... and it's cool to see that Derenick was really able to flex his muscle here, drawing things we don't ordinarily get to see.  I mean, how often does Santa's sleigh get hijacked by Jason Toddler, Kid'iandr, and Boy Harper?  Really just too much fun here.

The story itself was a neat one as well.  I thought Jason coldly "mercy" killing the lizardman was cool.  We can look at it a few different ways... did he truly kill him to put him out of his misery... or did he kill him because he's Jason Todd... and that's just what Jason Todd does?

The Helspont bit was also cool.  Going back to early WildC.A.T.S, I always dug this character's design and since The New-52! began, felt he was a neat addition to DC's pantheon of bad-dudes.

If I had a single complaint it would be... well, the same complaint I have about all Annuals... the price point.  I'm not sure when we all agreed that Annuals would default to five-dollars... I must've missed that meeting.  It's scarily rare that I feel like I got five-dollars worth of story in a single-issue (not floppy) comic book... and as much as I loved this issue, it still feels like it's about a buck too expensive.  Luckily, if you wanna grab this one digitally it is currently available for a buck less than cover price.  I'd say it's well worth it.  You'll have a great time with it!

That's all for today... tomorrow, I'm thinking we'll get a bit greedy.


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On the first day of Christmas on Infinite Earths, I gave to you a Red Hood and the Outlaws Annual #2 Review.

"12 Days Tree" 2016:


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Green Lantern (vol.5) #41 (2015)

Green Lantern (vol.5) #41 (August, 2015)
"At Odds"
Writer - Robert Venditti
Penciller - Billy Tan
Inker - Mark Irwin
Colorists - Alex Sinclair & Tony Avila
Letterer - Dave Sharpe
Assistant Editor - Andrew Merino
Group Editors - Eddie Berganza & Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $3.99

We took a look at some DCYOU Superman not too long ago... and I lamented the fact that the initiative felt kinda doomed from the get-go.  Too many big changes all at once made it feel as though nothing much mattered.

I'm sure there's a word for it... it's like a bell-curve of engagement... you start off disengaged... then add some stimuli, and engagement rises... however, you reach a point where you get overloaded... and you just stop caring altogether.  That's how DCYOU made me feel.

It's kinda like when I'm looking at my "to read" pile... as it grows, it feels kinda urgent, like I gotta make time to get around to it... but then it hits that "tipping point", and I wind up just filing them all away.

Anyhoo... let's get to it!


We open at the Gaming Dens of Y'Gaal, somewhere in Sector 3087.  A well-dressed blue alien stands in the arena... ready to face off against a beast referred to as a "Kreeak", very likely because that's the sound it makes.  The creature lunges, only to find itself impaled by an emerald construct sword.  The fix is in!

Or is it?  Well, the bloodthirsty crowd seems to think so, and I suppose that's all that really matters at this point.  Feeling as though the "house" scammed the gamblers, a riot breaks out... and the blue-skinned alien is returned to his cell.  Later, he is joined by the man who put that sword in his hand... the Renegade Green Lantern, Hal Jordan.  Hal looks quite a bit different than he used to... longer hair, longer coat... and a gauntlet in place of his ring.

Hal breaks this alien (named Virgo) out of his cell... the escape route, however, is blocked by a trio of guards led by a Darth Maul-looking fella named Trap.  Despite the new-look, he immediately recognizes Hal... and a fight is on.

Hal eventually gets the better of things, however by this point the rioting patrons have begun to storm the pens.  Hal headbutts Trap, and takes him hostage as he and Virgo attempt to make their escape.

To hasten their egress, Hal uses his gauntlet to open all of the creature cages... allowing them to run free among the rioters.  Hal and the gang then hop on a construct aero-bike, and head off...

... Arriving some time later at Hal's Class III Light Cruiser, Darlene!  This is one sassy ship, who doesn't shy away from talking back to Mr. Jordan.  On board, we see that Hal has locked Trap away in a cell... and learn that he rescued Virgo in order to get payyyyyyed.

They're heading to Ketleth Prime to return the blue prince, however are taking the scenic route through Sector Zero... where we see that the Green Lantern Corps have... vanished!


Ya know... as overwhelmed as I am by DC's current bi-weekly shipping model, I gotta say, I think I'm a bit spoiled by it.

In reading this issue I just feel like we didn't get quite enough.  Knowing that we had to wait an entire month for the follow-up... I dunno.  It's weird, I never thought about stuff like that before Rebirth.  Once a month comics were always enough... it's just the way it's always been, so I didn't think much of it.  Even as concepts like decompressed storytelling were introduced... and the entirety of the Bendis Avengers, I never felt like the these books needed to be anything more than monthly.

Nowadays when I think of DC's "monthlies", they almost seem like afterthoughts.  Like, their stories don't matter as much as the "flagship" titles... they're a buck more expensive... and it's almost as though they're on-deck for cancellation.

It's interesting to go back... even just a couple of years, and think about what it was like to wait for an entire month.  This isn't Green Lantern-specific or anything, just some thoughts that popped into my head while reading.  Can't really hold them against the book itself... but worth mentioning, if only to get it out of my head.  Oh yeah, one more thing... this is a four-dollar book.  For the amount of story we get... I gotta say, I'm really glad DC decided to "draw the line" one more time.

For the issue itself, it was really quite good.  I actually dig the new-look Hal Jordan here.  Feel like the longer hair and coat suits him... it's different enough to stand out (could even get its own action figure), but not so alien as to look weird.  Plus, seeing Hal in a hood takes me back to his days as the Spectre... which is a neat touch.

Renegade Lantern Hal Jordan rescues a rich alien... and takes a bad alien hostage, setting up an interesting Odd Couple... er, Triad (?) going forward.  Outside of our cliffhanger, that's really about all that goes down.

Now... speaking of the cliffhanger, this is one I was pretty excited for.  Over the past decade-plus, I've grown a bit weary of constant Corps stories.  I came in to the franchise during the Kyle days, where there was no Corps... and the stories were mostly Earth-based.  I miss stories like that... where we're not spending a quarter of each issue "checking in" on Oa, or Mogo... or wherever the hell the Corps is hanging out.

I think that might be one of the highlights of this DCYOU era of Green Lantern... the Corps were off doing their own thing, and Hal got to spend a bit of time on Earth.  Of course, the eventual clash with Parallax was... a bit underwhelming.  Okay, it was really quite awful... but that's a discussion for another day.

Overall, an interesting "first chapter" for this (sadly) short-lived Renegade Green Lantern arc.  Definitely worth checking out.  Venditti gives us many questions... and thankfully, they're all ones I want(ed) to stick around to get the answers for.  Billy Tan's artwork here is really good... despite the "new look", Hal still looks like Hal.


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