Our story opens in California with the last Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, streaking through the sky and reflecting on his career. He stumbles upon a massive wreck on the interstate involving multiple cars and an overturned tanker truck. Kyle rushes to work prying people from the mangled remains of their vehicles when suddenly the flamable material in the tanker truck spills out and ignites, causing a massive explosion.
So just WHO is this mystery Green Lantern who just saved Kyles bacon? Is it Hal? (At this point, it's important to realize that Hal Jordan is back in the picture. It's an innocent past version of Hal that hasn't yet destroyed the Corps or taken on the mantle of Parallax. It's complicated.) When the smoke clears we see that it isn't Hal Jordan but his predecessor Abin Sur! But Abins dead! How can this be?
Abin explains to Kyle that he knows he is supposed to be dead and that he has no idea why he his back but he knows that others who have passed are "returning from the afterlife here on Earth." Kyle immediately thinks back to Alex DeWitt, his first girlfriend who was brutally murdered by Major Force and stuffed into a refrigerator when Kyle first took on the mantle of Green Lantern. As he tries to take off to check on her, Abin stops him and tells him he must set aside his personal feelings and try and find the source of the resurrections. Abins ghost fades away and Kyle takes off towards his apartment to charge up before heading out into space.
After his recharge, Kyle zips out of the Galaxy towards the energy that his ring is sensing. As he gets closer and closer to the source, suddenly the space around him lights up in emerald energy and Kyle erects a shield to protect himself. When the light fades, Kyle is suddenly face to face with the resurrected Green Lantern Mogo, a "living" planet. Kyle touches down on Mogo's reconstituted surface and begins checking the place out. He isn't there long when suddenly the ground begins to split open.
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That's right kiddos, Nekron "Lord of the Unliving" makes his presence known to Kyle for the first time. You see, Nekron once went up against Hal and the Corps a long time ago using Krona and a few undead souls as his patsy's. But Kyle hasn't heard that story so he flies head first through the rift in space and into Nekrons dimension. Big mistake. Confronting the master of the dead on his home turf is definitely not a good idea but thankfully Nekron is in a talkative mood as he decides to tell Kyle of his first encounter with the Corps (the story I just mentioned). This gives Kyle enough time to focus his energy and break out of Nekrons grasp and back into the "real world". Kyle suddenly realizes the only thing keeping the rift in space open to Nekrons dimension is the reanimated Green Lanterns. Kyle musters his resolve and does what he must, slaughter all of the reanimated Green Lanterns, constantly reminding himself that they're already dead. All of the fighting culminates into one grand epic battle with Kilowog as he slams himself and Kyle down into the surface of Mogo. The size of their battle destabilizes the planet and Kyle decides to let the planet collapse in on itself with himself and Kilowog within the surface. Kilowog comes to his senses long enough to thank Kyle for doing what needs to be done and Mogo explodes...again.
That poor planet. First he died, then he was brought back for this annual only to be destroyed again. Then he was brought back again...only to be destroyed by John Stewart during the 'War of the Green Lanterns'. This poor planet can't catch a freakin break. Anyways, Kyle flies out of the debris of Mogo to see Nekrons rift rapidly closing as Nekron claims, "I merely seized the opportunity! Some OTHER power revived the Green Lanterns, creating the anomaly!" Unfortunately we'll have to wait for the Justice League 'Ghosts' annual to see what power he is talking about. Kyle zips back to earth to the grave site of Alex and resolves to start living his life to the fullest like she would have and be the best person he can be, not being held back by his past or doubting himself. And that's where things end.
All in all this book was a solid entry in the 'Ghosts' annual event. The tone of the book didn't really differ all that much from the tone of the regular ongoing series Kyle was in at the time so it fit seamlessly into the storyline as Kyles book focused on the time displaced Hal Jordan for a few issues. It made a nice side story to explain where Kyle was during all of the Hal stuff.
For this blog cross over though I decided it wouldn't be fair of me to request all of my blogger friends to participate if I wasn't going to go above and beyond the request myself. So I reached out to a few friends of mine for some special content to contribute.
First I reached out to my friend Mike Gallagher. Mike is a comic artist who has recently done work on quite a few books. Mike stepped up to the plate and brought to me this beautiful rendition of Zombie Dara! Check it out! Be sure to see some of Mikes work with 'Annabelle Avery: Steampunk Girl' or visit his deviant art page!
'The Lanterncast!'. For those of you not aware, I co-host a podcast dedicated to Green Lantern called 'The Lanterncast!'. You can follow the link above or look us up on iTunes or Stitcher to listen in! We've been going strong for nearly four years and have interviewed plenty of people. One of those individuals we've had the fortune of speaking with is the artist responsible for the design of Parallax, the design of Kyle Rayner and so many other things in the Kyle Rayner run, Darryl Banks. Darryl was gracious enough to throw his hat into the ring and submitted a gorgeous commission of zombie Abin! If you'd like to see more of Darryl's work, be sure to check out his gallery on 'Comic Art Fans' or check him out at Akron Comic Con on Saturday, November 10th in the Akron University Student Union Ballroom in Akron, Ohio!
Thanks to both guys for the AMAZING submissions! I'm proud to be acquainted with such amazing people in this industry that I'm so fond of! Not to mention people who are just genuinely excited about the work and happy to share their love of the medium!
But that's not all dear reader! I didn't just stop there for my entry in this blog cross over insanity. No sir! This past weekend happened to be Wizard World Austin Comic Con here in my hometown of Austin, Texas. The Wizard World team was gracious enough to grant me a press pass to the event for the second year in a row and I got a ton of interviews for the podcast. One interview however, won't be making it's way onto the air and will ONLY be here!
I interviewed legendary comics creator/artist Bernie Wrightson! Bernie is credited with a great many things an has worked in the comics industry for years. For the purposes of this blog cross over, Bernie is responsible for each and every one of the covers for the 'Ghosts' annual series. Bernie took the time out to speak with me for awhile and what follows is the entirely of that conversation. Enjoy!
Corps Conjecture: Hi Bernie, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today. Getting right into it, how did you get into comics in the first place?
Bernie Wrightson: Well first I went up to the offices at Marvel with a bunch of samples. I talked to someone up there, I can't really remember who, and showed them a few samples of my work and everything. They were very nice but they told me to go home and draw some of their characters which I wasn't really interested in doing, so I never followed up on that. About a year later, I went to a convention in New York and met Jeff Jones and Mike Kaluta and all of us got together and went to meet Carmine Infantino, Dick Giordano and Joe Orlando and all of us showed them our work. They were very nice and very encouraging. I went home and a month or two later I got a call from Kaluta who told me that Carmine Infantino and Joe Orlando were trying to reach me to talk to me about work. Just based on that thin thread I moved to New York and went up to DC and started working on comics and then really got started with Joe Orlando on 'House of Mystery'.
CC: With things like 'House of Mystery' and Swamp Thing on your credits you seem to have a passion for drawing the creepy and the monsters. Did you have a love for horror when you were growing up?
BW: Yeah I was always attracted to that. I grew up watching old Universal monster movies on TV or reading EC Comics with 'Tales from the Crypt' or 'The Haunt of Fear'. I just loved horror stories. I love scary stories.
CC: I would imagine that as a kid you had a chance to read the original EC books before the Senate Subcommittee Trials on Juvenile Delinquency or something like the Comics Code came into effect.
BW: I did. I was right there in the early to mid 50s buying the stuff right off the newsstands.
CC: Did that particular moment in comics history effect your “fandom”? Or were you old enough to notice the change and see the effects in the books you were reading?
BW: Not really. For me they were just comic books and I was only a kid. I never really thought about it, I just figured they'd always be there. Then suddenly they disappeared and you just couldn’t find them anymore. I already had a taste of that and it led me to Edgar Allen Poe and H.P. Lovecraft and I still kept on going to the movies all those great science fiction movies of the 1950's.
CC: You are credited with co-creating Swamp Thing. Is that correct?
BW: Yes, with Len Wein. Len was the writer, it was Lens idea and it was his creation and I visualized it. We were just partners and collaborators on that.
CC: With just that one characters ongoing history, with Alan Moores later involvement and his treatment in DC's New 52 by Scott Snyder, what does it feel like to be such a contributing factor to such a huge part of comics history?
BW: Oh boy who would have thought you know? It surprised me and it really took on a life of it's own. I never really followed it much after I left the series. I saw some of what Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben and all those guys were doing with it. It was terrific stuff, it was great. They took it in a whole new direction, stuff that I would have never thought off.
CC: I've spoken to creators in the past who stopped reading a book they were directly involved with after they left the title because, in their mind, they've already done the version of the character that they visualize and anything else is just not how they “see the character”. Did you actively not read Swamp Thing?
BW: It was never anything like that with me. By that time I was just too busy drawing comics to have time to read them. It wasn't just that I stopped reading Swamp Thing, I just stopped reading comics altogether. I would look at them occasionally but it wasn't like before I was involved professionally.
CC: After you left DC you went to Warren Publishing. Why the change?
BW: The big reason I went to Warren was that he was paying better than anyone else. When I left DC I was making $65 a page which wasn't bad, it was actually pretty good money. Warren came along and offered me $110 a page and told me I could keep my originals. That was a big deal. None of the other publishers were letting artists keep their originals, that was just part of the deal at that time. I liked the work I was doing and I really hated to give up the originals and that had been bothering me for a couple of years. So when Warren came along it was a really good deal and I went to work for him.
CC: Let's fast forward a good few years. Eventually you made your way back to DC, mostly as a cover artist. That's when this job came about in 1998 when they did the 'Ghosts' annual crossover theme and they had you back to do the covers for each annual issue. How did that job come about?
BW: That was basically just a job you know? They told me that these were compilations of ghost stories involving all of these different characters. I guess I had the reputation of being the supernatural artist or whatever you want to call it. So they offered and I took the job. I never had an interest in drawing superheroes. It sounds kinda funny but I never really believed in superheroes. I had a really hard time believing in people with superpowers or mutants or people shooting rays out of their eyes. It all seemed kind of silly to me. But I never had a problem believing in vampires, werewolves and the walking dead and such.
CC: So when they approached you this was it. The only time you would ever probably feel comfortable drawing superheroes would be if they were going up against zombies or ghosts or some sort of other supernatural creature.
BW: Basically yeah. I had done some superhero stuff in the past. In the 80's I did a mini-series called 'The Cult' with Jim Starlin which was a Batman story. I always liked Batman. I think its because Batman didn't have any super powers. He was just a guy. If someone beat him up, he'd get cuts and bruises. He wasn't invulnerable like Superman. Superman is a great character but he just isn't real to me.
CC: Out of the 'Ghosts' series, were any of those character covers your favorite?
BW: I don’t really have any favorites. To be honest, they all kind of melt together for me. Nothing in that particular series really stands out.
CC: As a Green Lantern fan I do enjoy that particular one. I love seeing this new Green Lantern in the form of Kyle Rayner go up against the classic silver age zombie Green Lanterns, particularly Tomar-Re. That was quite a treat.
BW: Green Lantern was one of those characters I never really followed that much. The only time I ever read it was when Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil were doing them in the 70's with Green Arrow. I kinda got caught up in that because I've always been such a fan of Neal. Also the stories were great. They were really ground breaking and daring for their time and it was just drawn so realistically.
CC: I may be young but I’m a big lover of comics history and those stories are very humanizing you know? A lot of those issue that Green Lantern and Green Arrow faced couldn't be overcome with superpowers.
BW: That’s what drew me to that. It was just these guys with all these powers just questioning their own place in the world and that was a very intriguing idea. Just seeing these guys be just as helpless as the rest of us in dealing with these issues you know?
CC: Definitely. I re-read it once or twice a year for that reason alone. I love that series.
BW: It's great stuff. I guess it started with Marvel and Spider-man. So much of that early stuff concentrated on Peter Parker and his day to day life and how does he reconcile being a kid who’s still going to school and trying to find a job and who is still trying to be a superhero at the same time? Then Green Lantern and Green Arrow came along and took that idea and really launched it into the stratosphere. How does a superhero fit into the real world? What can Green Lantern really do to make the lives of minorities and poor people better? They cant really use their powers.
CC: Before I let you go I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you for what you've contributed to this industry that myself and fans all over love so much. With not just your contributions to DC or this particular 1998 series crossover but with everything you did for the industry as a whole. I just wanted to thank you for your contribution to all of this history.
BW: That’s very nice of you to say. I've been very very lucky. I’ve had a really terrific career and mostly just had so much fun doing this stuff. Maybe it sounds kinda selfish but I'm doing all of this stuff first and foremost for myself just because I love the work so much. Its really kind of magical to me that so many other people seem to enjoy it.
So there you have it folks. A review, some special art submissions and an exclusive interview with Bernie Wrightson! Hopefully you enjoyed this particular post. It sure was lengthy and alot of work, but it was ALOT of fun. As always, don't forget to subscribe to Corps Conjecture and comment on the post! And DON'T FORGET to check out the other blogs participating in the cross over! Happy Halloween!!!