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Terra #3

Posted: Saturday, December 6, 2008
By: Ray Tate

Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti (i), Paul Mounts (c)
DC Comics
I never cared about Geo-Force. I thought he was a big dumb slab of meat drawn extremely well by Jim Aparo. I really enjoyed the dusting Superman gave him in pre-Crisis Batman and the Outsiders. I mean I really, really enjoyed it. I also don't hate the guy like I hate Jimmy Olsen, Booster Gold and Hal Jordan.

I could have sworn Geo-Force was dead, killed off during Millennium, and I really didn't lose sleep over his death. I was sorry to see Halo and Katana go, but not Geo-Force. Apparently I was wrong, and for some reason, a Geo-Force resurrection happened while I wasn't looking. It's not as annoying as this unhealthy obsession the Powers That Be appear to have for Jason Todd, but I've seen Geo-Force way too many times in flip-throughs at the comic book shop. Making him a member of the Justice League? That's just sick.

Geo-Force is on the cover to the third issue of Terra. I did see this coming. He was taken over by a malevolent force in the previous issue. So, naturally there was going to be a big duke out pitting Geo-Force against Terra.

Terra is determined to protect Geo, exorcise the demon that possesses him and, for an encore tell him the truth about her, Terra and the other sister Terra. Once again, Gray and Palmiotti emphasize that Terra is intelligent, heroic and witty as well. Terra gets in some good verbal jabs in while fighting the creature manipulating Geo-Force, and she pretty much pastes the puppetmaster.

I still don't care about Geo-Force. Maybe if Gray and Palmiotti had him in a series drawn by Conner I would grudgingly fall for charms in the character . However, he doesn't actually do anything in the story that makes me find him lacking. He's tolerable and adequate, and that's the best I can really expect from Geo-Force.

In addition to the expected Terra versus villain portion of the program, readers will find out more about the Mistress of Marble, her world and its inhabitants. I haven't mentioned much about the subplot in these reviews, and that's mainly because Terra and Power Girl were the more interesting and scintillating cast members. Gray and Palmiotti really surprised me with the subplot and it deserves exploration. It seemed that with the subplot the authors were creating Terra's opposite number, but with the introduction of his girlfriend, they appeared to be taking a departure from the expected route. I firmly believed that the girlfriend with her designs for power would now become the villain of the piece, yet again the writers surprise me with a new twist.

No matter the turn in the story, Amanda Conner classes it up. There's a famous James Bond poster of For Your Eyes Only showing Bond girl Malena Havelock's legs spread out across the length of the poster and Bond aiming his Walther PPK between them. This poster is sometimes considered sexist, misogynistic, et cetera. Me? I think it's a neat poster emphasizing an exciting new Bond girl who uses a crossbow to assassinate bad guys. I'm simple that way. In any case, the arguments against have always failed to dent my interpretation because of the positioning. The Bond girl was being subjected to forced perspective. She wasn't in the inferior position. She loomed over 007. Bond looked calm and collected as he took aim. So he was not being undermined. The poster was sexy because Havelock's legs were bare and being juxtaposed against the crossbow, but it wasn't sexist or worse. It was memorable and for its time daring.

The first page of Terra opens with Conner doing a splash page that's similar to the poster. In Conner's art you can see a variation on the theme. The possessed Geo-Force is subjected to forced perspective. His legs are spread, and Terra is getting up off the ground between them, but unlike Havelock, Geo-Force's body is in silhouette and of course covered. The position is demanded by the story, but Conner de-emphasizes Geo-Force's perceived superiority, also symbolized by his fists balled on his hips. Conner casts the heroine in the light. So, we can see how she reacts to the force in Geo. You can judge by her expression. She's unimpressed and a little peeved. There's no sexuality in her actions or reactions. While the demon intends to dominate Terra, he fails in that pose because of Terra's attitude and the exploitation of shadow and light.

That's just for starters. Conner then proceeds to energize a fight that could have been dull from a stable artist, one that leans toward homogeneity. She then makes you feel for characters that seemed incidental in previous issues. When introducing different earthlings, such as a non-human doctor, she still makes them cute and implies gender without emphasizing the obvious. It is my hope that Conner never tires of illustrating heroes who actually take joy in what they do because these moments which should be prevalent are so rare outside of Conner's viewpoint. Conner makes the scenes in which we meet Terra's Dad just as important as the fight against Geo-Force, perhaps more so.

Terra is a terrific mini-series with great art and understated writing that reminds readers what a super-hero is supposed to be about. The star of the series has ties to former DCU players that are clearly explained, yet she stands as her own character: a happy, caring individual who is every ounce a kickass kind of gal.



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