Monday, January 16, 2012

Crisis Update: Rann-Thanagar War

Crisis Update
Volume 1, Entry 4

Rann-Thanagar War
David Gibbons - Writer
Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Joe Bennett - Pencils

With the four mini-series leading up to the titular Infinite Crisis, DC gave it's readers four distinctly different stories, all under different genres. The O.M.A.C. Project does it's best at 'spy thriller' and espionage narrative, Day of Vengeance is for the magic-lovers, Villains United! chronicles a rebellion, of sorts, and Rann-Thanagar War weaves a science fiction tale about a massive war that breaks out against the planets of Rann and Thanagar, two peoples who've been at odds for centuries. Much like Day of Vengeance, David Gibbons stuffs a multitude of narrative into six issues, not even counting pages of Adam Strange that depict Rann, a highly-technological utopia, being transported to the Polaris galaxy, inadvertently causing Thanagar (home planet of several iterations of Hawkman, Hawkgirl and Hawkwoman) to rotate off it's axis and travel lethally close to their sun.

And this is where Rann-Thanagar War begins, right in the thick of the action. After Thanagar's evacuation, the Rannians reluctantly allow Thanagarian refugees safe haven on their planet. An uneasy truce exists between the two peoples based on a mutual agreement that a rogue player was responsible for the teleporting Rann. If it sounds complicated, it is. Rann-Thanagar is the type of title that can't be read lightly. Nearly every page has integral information or plot-advancing events that are necessary to understand any of the characters' actions as you go forward.

Fortunately, the story is pretty awesome! A secret sect of Thanagarians swearing fealty to Thanagar's ancient evil gods of the Seven Hells plots to overthrow the reigning Thanagrian government and declare war on Rann. Before reason can take hold, the Rannians and Thanagarians are in all-out war. As Rann and Thanagar are both highly influential societies, they command many allies who all begin arriving to add their strength and firepower to the brawl, resulting in an even bigger war. The Seven Hells sect successfully reanimates Onimar Synn, the Eater of Souls and the most powerful of the Seven Devils, on the charred surface of Thanagar. Long(ish) story short, Synn and his followers travel to Rann and Synn proceeds to devour a lot of souls.

The heroes in this saga are numerous, including Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Jade (daughter of Alan Scott), Green Lantern Kilowog, Captain Comet, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Hawkwoman, Hawkbaby (just kidding), Adam Strange, the Omega Men, Donna Troy, L.E.G.I.O.N., to name a few. One of the main drawbacks to Rann-Thanagar is the multitude of characters. Without having read extensive amounts of DC back issues, many readers can easily become lost in subtle references to the past, nuanced relationships and a general sense of familiarity between characters who haven't shared any panel-time in recent history.

And while the story rarely ever lets up, in terms of action, the very end of issue six leaves a lot to be desired. Of course, Rann-Thanagar, along with the other three lead-up series, exists specifically to do just that: lead-up. Meaning, it made sense to let them all finish up on cliffhangers or unresolved plots because Infinite Crisis would take care of the rest. But Rann-Thanagar simply ends by revealing the rip in space and time. It sounds really cool, but this quantum singularity is given a single panel before the issue closes.

Grade: B-

No comments:

Post a Comment