Saturday, September 10, 2005

Green Lantern Fun: Night of the Emerald Table

I have both King Arthur and Comic Books listed under my interests. I can attract bored fans of one of the other through my user profile. Upon realizing that some individuals will be fans of both, I said to myself: why not cater to this special random viewer with a beautiful fusion of the two interests?

DC Comics heroes and Arthurian Knights both have archetypical personalities that evolve as they are passed from writer to writer. Sometimes they fall in line with each other surprisingly well. It's a pleasant diversion this early in the morning when everyone else is sleeping.
Today we'll be playing with Green Lanterns, as I already made some initial parallels in a reply on the DCMB Green Lantern board. This mythos is a special challenge, because the characters all have the exact same power, and you actually have to differentiate between personalities to make parallels. Those of you unfamiliar with either set of characters may play with the links provided, or just muddle through and hope I don't make too many inside jokes.

And now, because I demanded it -- and you're obviously bored enough to be reading it:

The Knights of the Emerald Table!

King Arthur -- Alan Scott
Alan Scott, despite the ridiculous color scheme of his costume, is a character that oozes nobility and regality. In the DCU, he's the Alpha Hero of the JSA (in the retconned absence of any Golden Age Superman), representing all the ideals about the Golden Age. Kind of like King Arthur represents a Golden Age of Chivalry? I'm seen writers use both characters as a way to convey morality -- For example, Ron Marz's Alan Scott and TH White's King Arthur both had a very progressive view of the world compared to their respective generations.
Arthur and Alan have similar character evolution. Both begin as a typical warrior-hero with mystical help, both grew in power and prestige until they became so powerful and idealized that they had to be pushed to the background for most stories, and used as an example of how to properly behave -- to the point where, if it's unreasonable if they don't act, they are either quickly neutralized at the beginning of the story (King Arthur in the Sir Gawain story The Loathly Lady, Alan Scott in JSA storyline Injustice Be Done), or not there to begin with.

Sir Lancelot the Household Name -- Hal Jordan the Fan Favorite
Big Man at Court
Lancelot is the most famous of any knight, and I'm sorry, Kyle-fans, but Hal's the best-known name in the Mythos. He's widely considered The Green Lantern, the "Greatest of Them All" -- not just by fans, but in-story they describe him this way. He was company hot-shot in the old Corps and the old JLA. Lancelot is widely considered The Knight of the Round Table, company hotshot -- not just by readers watching his exploits, but in-story they constantly describe him this way. Interestingly enough, while both characters are considered by word of mouth to be basically Saints, both are plagued by excessive anger and guilt that cause them to fall short of their reputation at times.
Sir Lancelot's primary characteristics: Fearless, Passionate, Temper leads to physical violence, Tendancy to kill friends in berserker rage, Penitent
Hal Jordan's primary characteristics: Fearless, Passionate, Temper leads to physical violence, Tendancy to kill friends in corrupted state, Penitent
This was the easiest parallel.
Interesting Note: Lancelot's portrayal in Monty Python and the Holy Grail was pretty much the same as Sir Thomas Mallory's portrayal of the character in Le Morte D'Arthur.

Sir Gawain the Perfect Knight -- Kyle Rayner the Perfect Boyfriend (If you can cover the high insurance rates!)
Kyle's primary characteristic is that he's an artist. He thinks differently from the other Green Lanterns. Hal, Guy, and John are Alpha-male personalities, with a tendancy to be competitive. They had to learn cooperation, learn to follow orders because their personal pride told them they should be giving them. Kyle's pride isn't in his leadership ability. His pride is in his creations. Kyle, as shown most recently in Rebirth, has no problem with letting a more experienced person take the lead in a situation. He's a naturally cooperative person, rather than competitive -- this is probably why he, unlike John or Guy, got along so easily with Hal when they first met (in Emerald Knights, when Hal was himself).
He matches the Gawain we see in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Loathly Lady, and Chretien De Troyes' tales (Please ignore the character portrayed in Tristan's adventures, Pyle's adaptations, White's Once and Future King, and Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, as he was under the corruptive influence of some big yellow bug monster, and therefore not responsible for his actions), A courteous respectful young peacemaker who holds his own in highly competitive society.
Both characters also have character defining stories that are set up to show them resisting a specific temptation a better known colleague succumbed to, and thus surpassing them -- but still not getting credit for it. In Green Knight, we see Gawain (different from Kyle in that he has a romance track record like Hal's) get propositioned 3 times by married woman he is obviously attracted to, and turn her down because he is a guest in her husband's household, contrasting Lancelot's affair with Guinevere under Arthur's roof. In Power of Ion, Kyle becomes omnipotent, but does not go crazy and try to remake the universe and bring his dead girlfriend back to life, contrasting Hal's actions as Parallax (which were not retconned out by that time -- we all know the intent of this story!)

Sir Kay the Seneschal
-- Guy Gardner the Pig
If you'll look at any King Arthur stories from Chretien De Troyes onward, Sir Kay is extremely rude to everybody. I'm sure we've all seen Guy Gardner's defining trait. Interestingly enough, this is another character evolution parallel. Guy started out as a respectable person, just as Cei was respectable in the oldest Celtic tellings. As time went on, both characters were tapped by writers so they could demonstrate "The Wrong Way to Behave." Guy was never fully villified like Kay was in the Pereslvaus (A fun story, I'll admit, if you're in the mood for a lot of senseless gore and unintentionally humorous Christian propaganda!), but their usual function is the same. Chretean De Troyes and Keith Giffen both wanted to make the other heroes look good by comparison.
On the up side, what they lack in manners they make up for in strength of character: both are unflinchingly honest, trustworthy, and loyal.

Sir Tristan the Complete Jerk -- Abin Sur the Desceased
Because the best stories about both are their last -- Abin Sur because his death gives us Hal, and Tristan because he dies.

Sir Bedwyr Bedrydant (Bedivere of the Perfect Sinews sounds a lot better in Welsh) -- John Stewart of the Inconsistant Portrayal
John's been shafted on the personality end, no two ways about it. He's usually presented as another Octave of Hal Jordan, either less disciplined or more disciplined, depending on the writer. Your generic Green Lantern template.
Bedivere suffers the same problem. Your generic Knight template. I haven't seen any two writers portray either character consistantly.
I must say though, Background John makes me think of Background Bedivere more than any other Knight. Ever-present, never substantial or unique. Hopefully, as Geoff Johns gets more into Green Lantern, we'll see John with a definitive personality.

Sir Agravain the Overly Vain -- Sinestro the Especially Arrogant
Agravain, not Mordred, was Lancelot's Arch-Nemesis.
Nobody, but nobody, hated Lancelot more than Agravain. Agravain was selfish and jealous and glory-seeking at worst. At best, he was a staunch moralist seeking to re-establish the King's authority. He was a subtle enemy, though, spreading rumors about Lancelot's affair with the Queen and poisoning the court against the couple. In some adaptations, it got to the point that only Gawain the Sociable could talk the King out of killing Lancelot and the Queen. The feud was still so obvious, so bad that when Lancelot killed him, Agravain's own brother Gawain thought it was justified.
This hatred stemmed from two things: 1) He found the affair with the Queen insulting to his family (The King was his uncle), and 2) He thought Lancelot got attention that his older brother Gawain more rightly deserved.
Sinestro, with his subtle schemes, psychotic orderliness and unfortunate fixation on his former student, makes a good Agravain to Hal's Lancelot.

Sir Palemedes the Stranger -- Kilowog the Even Stranger
Both hold the unenviable position of "Alien Character." Palemedes is a Saracen from wherever Saracens came from. Both characters look distinctive from the rest of the Court (Palamides is the only black man at the Round Table, I beleive). Both are from foreign cultues, surrounded (At least, during the JLI era, when I got to know Kilowog) by people who think they are "just plain weird." Both are also highly intelligent, highly virtuous characters, despite being otherwise so different from their fellows. I do prefer the non-Propaganda Palemedes found in Gerald Morris' The Ballad of Sir Dinadin to the "I would like to be worthy of converting to Christianity" guy we see in Tristan stories. But most Tristan stories are in desperate need of a retcon anyway.

Sir Gareth Beaumains -- Arisia the Underaged
Gareth: Young knight infatuated with Lancelot (Hero worship to the point I question his sexuality)
Arisia: Young Green Lantern infatuated with Hal Jordan (No question about sexuality here)
The major difference here, apart from gender, is that while Gareth was killed by a berserker Lancelot, Arisia was spared Hal's rampage and killed later by Major Force.

Queen Guinevere -- Jennie Lynn Hayden-Scott (Jade)
This parallel is basically because of her relationship with Kyle. She played damsel in distress at at least one point in Marz's run, and in Marz's second run she was the unfaithful fiance`. Not very flattering, but as I've seen, neither lady has had a very flattering portrayal in a long time.

Sir Morded the Destroyer -- Todd Scott (Obsidian)
Not a Green Lantern, but still connected. I had to include Todd in this because his story so beautifully parallels Sir Thomas Malory's Morded. He begins as a good-natured idealistic hero (No joking, check out early Mordred appearances in Le Morte D'Arthur, from an unfortunate foster family -- Orkney was no paradise by most accounts, and the Rice family should have been under fire from Social Services. At some point, he meets a person who shatters these ideals -- Mordred met a hermit who prophesized that he'd killed his father, and then revealed that his father was actually his uncle! Todd met Ian Karkull. Then, he becomes a villain, and fights his father -- the man he blames for all of his difficulties.

Sir Dagonet, Court Jester -- G'Nort Esplanade G'Neesmacher
Enough said.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Fork in the Road (Comic Reviews for August 31)

I have come to a division in my path tonight. I can either clean my apartment or continue to fiddle around on the Internet. There are other choices, of course. I could play with my cat, but he is very busy staring into space. Either watching a ghost, or a bug. One would be as welcome as the other, I suppose. I could also sort my comic books, but that comes suspiciously close to cleaning. I could sleep, but I've found sleeping at 330 in the morning screws over my work schedule.

Blogging it is, then. I wonder if anyone will ever see this. I'm not normally this depressing, but there's melancholy music playing in the background. Maybe I need a little food. Low Blood Sugar is really depressing.

That's better, a little beef jerky and a switch from Simple Plan to Bruce Springsteen.

Might as well post the first comic reviews. There will be mild spoilers below.
NOTE: These reviews are specifically directed at my sister, because she has given up on Comic Books, and I want her to know what she's missing.

Week of August 31, 2005:

BPRD: The Black Flame #1
Roger's losing it. Big time. He was such a sweet, well-behaved homonculus before that Captain Zombie jerk got ahold of him. Now, he's gone from herbal man to wanna-be undead marine. Not cool.
On the other hand, it is always good to see Liz Sherman light up a bunch of amphibian demon-men.

Astro City: The Dark Age #3
That was it? That was the big crime of the Silver Agent? That? There's a little suspense at the end there, enough to get me to pick up the next book -- because I want to see what happened, but it's not like I can't wait to see what happens.
I am giving Buseik until the end of the actual story here, but so far I am deeply unimpressed. This Astro City's falling short of par.

Flash #225
This run was hard to top, but I think Johns ended it on a high note. It was what we predicted to happen, but he managed to make it entertaining and tie up a lot of loose plot threads. It was a very solid ending to a wonderful run.
I have to say that for Captain Boomerang II's mother, I was disappointed. I was sincerely hoping it would be Jenni Ognats. The lady they picked, I'm not ever sure how he got speed off of her. Oh well, Speed Force logic, I suppose. It's been screwy ever since Mark Waid created it. At least we have a Capt Boomerang who makes sense as a villain.
Also disappointed I didn't get to see Fiddler, Shade, and Thinker interact one last time in Johns' run, but that's what happens when you run out of time.
Oh, and Kimmy -- Piper is not evil. You can pick up Johns' trades in good conscience.

They are worth it for Professor Zoom! Finally! A fast villain that Wally can't just outrun!

Green Lantern #4
I was underwhelmed by the first 3 issues of this series. I think it was Geoff Johns workload that caused this, because no sooner than he drops the Flash than VOOM! Green Lantern lights on fire!
This issue was so much fun! Hal Jordan vs Kilowog -- In a mud pit! Hector Hammond: Pervert! Sonar in Chains! Blood and gore!

And Hal punches more people!

I love that.

The best part of Green Lantern: Rebirth was Hal hitting Batman (Oh, and Kyle not dying. I like Kyle, he needs to stick around!) I'd been waiting for that since the birth of the Batjerk personality in JLA: Tower of Babel. I think Hal should punch Batman again.

I think Hal should punch more people overall.

Write a whole one-shot about it. Hal Jordan Punches the DC Universe!
I can see it now! Batman! Supergirl! Wonder Girl! Batman! The Joker! Lex Luthor! Batman! Dark Seid! Lobo!
He just tours the whole DCU hitting people, until he gets to the JSA HQ -- where he swings at Alan Scott--
And finds his hand stopped in mid-air. "Hal, we have to talk."

That would be beautiful, just beautiful.

JLA: Classified #11
Ellis' Perry White in Issue #10 was the best portrayal of Perry White I've ever seen. A cross between Jameson from Marvel and Rourke from Transmet. So entertaining that I think Ellis should be contracted to just write the Daily Planet scenes in all of the Superman books.
That said, this issue was just blah. That's all, jsut blah. Nothing really happened, I was hoping for more Wonder Woman dialogue, what with her on the cover, but was sadly disappointed. I'll be picking up #12, though, in hopes of more Perry.

Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #4
My first thought upon finishing this comic was "I'd like to have Grant Morrison's baby."
Then I realized that would make me fat.
Seriously, though, this Seven Soldiers thing is that good.
Morrison throws a plot twist in there that I, as a major fan of King Arthur stories, have seen at least once (I believe more than twice, though) before, and I never saw it coming. Bt it makes perfect sense, and totally redefines how you consider the characters.
I liked Justin before, but was iffy if I wanted this new Shining Knight to replace the Golden Ager -- as I am not an advocate of killing off characters that were created before my parents, and killing off the Golden Age Sir Justin was likely if they had a replacement. And I liked seeing Sir Justin in Stars and STRIPE. He was pretty cool.
But after this twist is revealed, I say kill him, or freeze him in ice again, or drop him in the timestream. Push him to the sidelines again, because Morrison's revamp is the Shining Knight I want to see around.
I want to see Sir Justin in Wonder Woman! Right now! Kill Cassie or Donna (again) if you need to make room, but do so post-haste!

Wonder Woman #220
Was depressing. I love what Rucka has done with her, he's defined Diana so incredibly well. This series has actually been fun for me for the first time in years. (Speaking of which, Kim -- I've got the first trade of Rucka's run for you, btw, and will be sending it to you with copies of all of the issues of Shining Knight as soon as I am awake when the post office is open).
A heavy issue was appropriate after what happened in Wonder Woman #219. And it was very good that, after Wonder Woman #219, Rucka had her running around not killing villains to establuish that she wasn't turning into Diana the Punisher. But this issue, and I think it was probably the art, did not carry the same energy as Rucka's others at all. Batman's reaction was disappointing (If you're collecting Batman sightings, don't bother, he's just in a couple panels -- but she's narrating to him through the entire story), but understandable. This was the least of his Batjerkiness this year.
I still advise reading it, because a poor Rucka-written issue of Wonder Woman is still better than any issue since George Perez left the book! This was just below Rucka's usual standard, and I think it's the somber art. Next issue, we are promised an OMAC tie-in, which much fighting and blood, so the energy and action should be back then.

I love Rucka's action-oriented Wonder Woman. I love what the whole DC line is doing with female characters. 2005 should be called "Year of the Woman" or something, because their females have kicked into high gear lately! I hate to say it, but it was certainly worth losing Sue to the Refrigerator to get a decisive Diana in this crossover. I will be supremely unhappy if they kill Diana ("I don’t give a damn ’bout my reputation") and replace her with Donna ("Who can turn the world the world on with her smile!").

New Avengers #9
Notable for a really neat scene with Emma Frost. Emma's inside Sentry's mind, trying to find his false memories. It's very cool to see her at work. I hope Joss Whedon isn't really turning her evil again, but I scanned Astonishing X-Men and sadly, it looks like it. It's a shame. She's a really good character, and I've loved her as a complex heroine since her Generation X days. I was very sad to see this, and couldn't buy Astonishing X-Men because of it.
Then I found this article that talks about her during Morrison's run. Now I'm angry. How is it just as DC is making its goody-goody women more of a presence in their universe that Marvel decides to make one of its most decisive females evil again? How screwed up is that? Especially after the Scarlet Witch debacle!
Plus, it worries me that the writer doing this is set up to direct Wonder Woman. I've got my fingers crossed, though.

Powers #12
Bendis is losing me, I'm afraid. Overexposure, maybe? Or he could jsut be overworked. This is one of the last Marvel titles on my pull list. They keep being replaced by DC stuff. Today, I was in the store and saw House of M #6 was out, but that the clerk forgot to pull it for me. I was reading ti for potential Quicksilver sightings, but I went "nahh..." and just left it on the shelf, in the middle of the crossover! Didn't even scan it.

Guess I'm getting over my completist issues. That's good for my wallet.

Supreme Power #18
JMS drops a bombshell that doesn't really get any reaction out of me. Compared to DC right now, this book isn't impressing me anymore. Won't be picking up the spin-off miniseries, or the relaunch.

This is My Sister's Fault

My sister, Kim has been bothering my to create a blog or live-journal or something like that for several months now. She basically wants more links to her site.
Click here to make my sister happy

I resisted because I didn't want to share my thoughts online, but I've earned a lot of free time. You see, I'm a vampire. I don't drink blood, mind you, or have particularly sharp teeth -- and I have a sunburn on my shoulders. But I'm beginning to believe that I will burn up in direct sunlight.

I blame work. I am working on Mid-shift -- that's the Graveyard shift for you civilians, and so have not had the opportunity to see Amaterasu's face on a regular basis. I find myself slipping into bed as she's peering over the ridiculously low Midwest Horizon, and I'm usually in the bathroom as she bids us farewell in the evening. It's becoming disconcerting.

I used to be quite a social animal. I was never a drinker or a dancer, but I was out every night -- playing games, talking to my friends, watching TV at my ex's house, chatting it up at the comic book store, chatting it up at the New Age shops in town, volunteer work at the School of Metaphysics... *Sigh* That's pretty much petered off with my new schedule. Everyone else is going to bed when I hit my stride, and I don't get cable TV. So I find myself killing an inordinate amount of time on the internet.

Lately, I've gotten back into message board posting due to DC Crisis on Infinite Wallets crossover, and I got the itch to do my own reviews after Morrison's Shining Knight #4 (Which was unbelievably awesome!). So, here I am -- For all the Internet to see.

No, I am not going to take my top off.