Comics Ate My Brain

September 23, 2005

All Together Now: Rann-Thanagar War #s 1-5

Filed under: crisis — Tom Bondurant @ 4:40 pm
At long last, I’m down to Rann-Thanagar War (written by Dave Gibbons, pencilled by Ivan Reis and others, inked by Marc Campos and others). The slog through these miniseries was more difficult than I expected, and I can only hope it pays off in Infinite Crisis, if not in the various issues #6. Thankfully, RTW seems to be the most straightforward of the lead-ins, overlaying interplanetary war with the resurrection of an evil Thanagarian cult leader whose followers instigated the fighting.

As with the other miniseries, the events of RTW were themselves set up elsewhere; namely, in the excellent Adam Strange miniseries by Andy Diggle and Pasqual Ferry. However, RTW stands on its own, thanks to Adam Strange’s opening scenes of exposition with Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Basically, the planet Thanagar has fallen into a lower orbit around its sun, putting all its life-forms in danger of being burned up. Strange and his armies from Rann evacuated many of Thanagar’s people to Rann, but the two planets were never chummy to begin with and fighting began almost immediately. The presence of the Onimar Synn death-cult didn’t help any either. Thus, Strange teleports to Earth to fetch Hawkman and Hawkgirl, hoping they can help calm everyone down.

Unfortunately, though, the situation has only gotten worse, and Thanagarian hordes have spread to other planets. Soon, planetary leaders like Prince Gavyn (assisted by Tigorr of the Omega Men) and Queen Komand’r join up with the Rannians, and it becomes clear that the Synnites still want Zeta-beam devices so they can spread their evil across the galaxy. Meanwhile, as if all that weren’t enough, Green Lanterns Kyle Rayner and Kilowog run afoul of Synn’s followers while on an apparently unrelated mission. They meet up with Captain Comet, who eventually finds his way to Strange and the Hawks, but the GLs still haven’t interacted with anyone else.

Those are a lot of characters fighting on a lot of fronts, and for the most part Gibbons manages to keep everything orderly. It helps that the plot isn’t too complicated — just Rann and its allies fighting Thanagar and, eventually, the resurrected Onimar Synn himself. The problem is, Reis and Campos’ art is very busy. It tries hard to convey an epic scope, with thousands of soldiers exchanging laser fire in various sci-fi cityscapes, but it ends up being cluttered. The colors don’t help much either. The battlefields are lit by fire and explosions, and so take on an orange hue that overwhelms characters and backgrounds alike. Even the characters themselves blend into the armies at times, especially Adam Strange, whose outfit has only minor differences from every other Rannian soldier. At least the Hawks from Earth are distinct.

Still, on the whole I like RTW. I only know interstellar DC politics second-hand, but Gibbons has been good at using dialogue to convey backstory without it sounding like exposition. Characterization suffers a little, although there’s not much room for character moments when everyone is flying around, yelling, and shooting most of the time. Gibbons does have Kyle and Kilowog terraform the post-apocalyptic surface of Thanagar; and he also gives Hawkman and Hawkwoman a tender farewell. Even the hoary old “fake prisoner infiltration” scene gets a bit of a twist.

The resolution of this miniseries apparently depends on subduing the giant monster Onimar Synn has become, but I doubt the story will end there. For one thing, even without Synn, his followers must still be defeated. There is also the possibility that this miniseries will end on a cliffhanger, and Synn will be around to cause trouble in Infinite Crisis. I threw a hissyfit the other day over Day of Vengeance‘s ending, but this miniseries’ conclusion probably won’t provoke me as much. RTW never felt bloated or decompressed — if anything, it felt like it was trying to move too fast and cover too much ground.

One last thing which occurred to me this morning: what exactly is Hawkman’s pre-InfC timeline? He’s in JLA arguing for more mindwiping, he’s in RTW, and isn’t he supposed to be dead in his own book? Surely someone out there in Internet-land has the answer.

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5 Comments »

  1. One last thing which occurred to me this morning: what exactly is Hawkman’s pre-InfC timeline? He’s in JLA arguing for more mindwiping, he’s in RTW, and isn’t he supposed to be dead in his own book? Surely someone out there in Internet-land has the answerInfinite Crisis is the result of the DC Universe writers cracking under the strain of trying to tie an infinite number of comic books together…? Hawkman has amnesia, and thinks he’s Schroedinger’s Cat? :-)I’ve also been wondering about how Hawkman’s selective state of life. But I must say I like that the Hawkman book has, thus far, remained relatively uninvolved in the larger scheme of DCU happenings. So that’s the version I’m going with, that Carter is dead…for now. The other Carter running around the DCU, arguing for mindwipes is a Hawk-bot. Hey, Superman has robot-clones; why can’t there be a Hawk-bot? 🙂

    Comment by iamza — September 24, 2005 @ 9:04 am

  2. Better yet, isn’t Carter/Katar/Khufu’s schtick anyway that he keeps getting reincarnated? Maybe we’re just now seeing Carter 2.0.Kind of sad that no matter how hard DC tries, it can’t seem to avoid continuity issues with Hawkman….

    Comment by Tom Bondurant — September 24, 2005 @ 5:28 pm

  3. I wonder if the problem isn’t partly caused by the fact that Hawkman usually comes across as so unlikeable. So every new writer to the book has to find some new way to make the character accessible to the reader, which inevitably leads to rebooting fun galore.

    Comment by iamza — September 24, 2005 @ 6:48 pm

  4. Carter already got back on his book just on the last issue. Way I see Hawkman is really, really behind the other books in terms of timeline. It doesn’t ackowledge anything besides its own stories for a time, so there is not really no mention to that JSA Day of Vengeance tie-in, nor anything else. The worst is that the whole “Hawkman is dead” was just filler and only brought back a teen titans hero that no one liked was a villain.The problem is that even forgetting about the Hawkman comic, the rest of the timeline doesn’t work since the Omac Project and Rann-Thanagar war are supossedly happening at the same time. So either Rann-Thanagar War was over before the JLA arc or the Carter in Rann-Thanagar War is a doppelganger.By the way, nice review. I just think is too kind in regards to the pacing. Since they want the scope to be epic and the number of pages is limited, everything felt too rushed to me, and many things were told instead of show.

    Comment by Julio Oliveira — September 27, 2005 @ 12:59 am

  5. Thanks for the info, Julio, but please, no more duplicate Hawkmen! Makes my head hurt just thinking about it….

    Comment by Tom Bondurant — September 27, 2005 @ 5:43 pm


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