“Hands of Fate”
Writer: Dave Gibbons
Artists: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado (p), Oclair Albert, Marc Campos, Michael Bair (i), Nathan Eyring, John Kalisz (colors)
Publisher: DC Comics
Kevin T. Brown
Anyone want a clinic on how to produce a badly written and plotted comic? Pick this one up. Oh, and if the story itself isn’t bad enough, then you can “enjoy” the obviously rushed artwork. The sad part is that the talent producing this book is very capable of doing far better than this.
Much has been said about a key part of the book involving Kyle Rayner and Jennie-Lynn Hayden (Note to DC: It's JENNIE, not JENNY), I'll leave my comments concerning that until later. Better to focus on the other elements of this story. The main plot of the story has our heroes investigating a mysterious hole in space, all the while Rann & Thanagar are still at war. And it’s an impressive line-up of heroes, too. From Hawkman to Adam Strange to many Green Lanterns to Donna Troy, there’s even a very brief appearance of Jemm, Son of Saturn and Ultra, The Multi-Alien if you look real close. The thing is, it’s overloaded. There’s far too much going on to give the reader a coherent story to follow. It feels like a series of “okay, now we do this, then we go do that.” It's not even by the numbers.
The one good thing about this story is that it does tie in well to Infinite Crisis. The bad thing is it feels as if they shoehorned it in. Which is odd, because this really is a key part of IC. It does, however, provide further explanation as to what Superboy-Prime was up to and as to what truly occurred to get this war started. The rest of the story was just an excuse to kill a character. That’s it. It was painfully obvious that every plotting trick you can think of to get two characters alone to battle the unknown menace was used in order to do so. There was nothing noble in how the death was done, it was just done.
The death, of course, was Jennie-Lynn’s…. Jade’s. She was unceremoniously sacrificed to give her power to Kyle, who is now no longer Green Lantern but Ion. Much has already been said on various message boards as to how it’s impossible for her power to transfer to Kyle in such a way, but that doesn’t matter. Who cares if her powers were genetic and not a “loan” from Kyle? Ion needs to be, so Jade must be sacrificed. Either way, it’s either shoddy writing or shoddy research.
As for the art, the cover by Gibbons & Bair is great. The first three pages are fantastic. After that, it all falls apart. What the hell happened?? This is not the kind of work I expect of either Reis or Prado. The work appears to be extremely rushed. Numerous errors abound, the least of which is having Alan Scott’s ring on the wrong hand. (Yeah, it’s a nitpick, but the guy’s been around for over 65 years. You’d think by now artists and/or editors would remember the ring is on his left hand!) I was very disappointed in this work. I think Ivan Reis is an excellent artist, and I know this work is not indicative of the gorgeous work he’s truly capable of doing, but this issue was just not good. Also, the coloring in many spots didn’t help matters much. As I said, it all appeared to be very rushed.
If you haven’t gathered by now, this issue disappointed me on many levels. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it didn’t feature a great number of my favorite characters done by quality creators. It pained me to read this book. It’s rare when I feel cheated, but in this case I do. All involved should be embarrassed by this issue.
Alex Luthor’s hands have appeared in the space rift from Rann-Thanagar War. Waves of energy pulsate from the hands, killing more and more people with every tide. Tigorr and Adam Strange find evidence that Superboy pushed Thanagar out of orbit. A united attack against the hands leads to the death of one hero and the transformation of another.
Several questions here: How can a Green Lantern ring know who Superboy-Prime is if his world was erased from history? If I’m not mistaken, the kid hasn’t been seen since the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. And what exactly did Kyle Rayner do for Jade? Give her some of his power? Restore her innate power with his own? And how can combining two types of green energy turn half of Kyle’s face into a star field? The biggest flaw in this story is the long history between Kyle and Jade that plays such an important role, but is never adequately explained.
The more I think about it, the more I believe this story could have been worked into the Infinite Crisis mini-series. The discovery of Superboy’s involvement, Kyle’s transformation, and the death could all have been told over the course of the last 4 issues. Hell, these events will be summarized and explained in IC #5! I really have to question why we need a separate, five dollar comic to tell this story.
We have two art teams, including two different colorists. If we had only one colorist, the different styles of the pencillers and inkers might have blended better. Both teams do a fine job. But their work is noticeably different. It’s a little jarring to see the change. I’d rather have seen Reis, Campos, and Eyring draw the entire book. Prado, Bair, and Kalisz have a simpler style, with Bair, (I think it’s Bair), giving scratchy inks. Not that the latter team is bad. I just don’t think their style is suited to this kind of story. A monthly superhero book, yes. A space epic with a cast of hundreds, no.
I suppose this book is necessary to the whole Infinite Crisis story. And Kyle fans (like myself) will like this newest change in the character. But from a semi-objective point of view, I really have to ask why this comic had to be published.
Donna Troy’s contingent of space heroes joins Adam Strange, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Kilowog at the mysterious rift near the warring planets of Rann and Thanagar. As two ethereal hands reach up from the void to push reality apart, Rann’s leaders make a shocking discovery—one which readers of Infinite Crisis #4 may well have guessed.
Much like the Day of Vengeance Special, the follow-up to Rann/Thanagar War is packed with action. Here, though, there are several shining character moments, as well. It may not register for many readers until it is actually addressed here, but two of Infinite Crisis's space heroes are ex-girlfriends of that smooth-talking Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. This makes for some touching moments as the former lovers put their feelings aside to work together, while also recognizing that their shared past helps them as a team. In many ways, this standalone is Kyle’s show; the miniseries features the Hawks and Adam Strange more prominently, but this one is very much a prelude to the upcoming Ion series, as Kyle assumes his godlike powers in a fashion befitting a warrior and an artist. It was good to see that the new Ion ties in to the old, though the method is unexpected, and the ramifications are ominously ambiguous.
Reis and Prado’s art looks stunning, particularly in the “hands” scenes. This classic Crisis motif is always inspiring, and the artists frequently give it two pages to breathe with each appearance. There are also several moments throughout the book notable for a neon beyond-the-constraints-of-your-mind vibe, last seen in the Prelude to the Rann/Thanagar War, also known as Pasqal Ferry’s Adam Strange.
Rann/Thanagar War Special has some honest-to-God surprises, something quite difficult to pull off these days. Worlds live, worlds die, but who pays the price? In the main Infinite Crisis series, readers have been treated to the return of legends, a hero’s betrayal, and third-string characters getting their heads punched off. But out here, away from the main narrative thrust of the event, there are wonders to behold, harrowing battles against unbeatable forces, and a good measure of tragedy. Excellent wrap-up to the miniseries and an intriguing segue to upcoming events.
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