Monday, April 22, 2013

Pre-Crisis Primer: The Neophyte League

Justice League of America 241-243
“Battle Cry”

JLA: gotta catch 'em all!
There's a new, hip, young team of Justice Leaguers on the block, and how are they doing? Well, they've been training hard, which has consisted of being yelled at by Aquaman (that can't be good), as well as trying to get to know each other on a personal level. Hard to fight together if you don't care about each other, right? When Aquaman abandons the team to find and reconcile with his estranged and missing wife, what's the worst that can happen? A psychotic robot can punch the hell out of everyone. These are the consequences to actions in superhero comics.

For the first time in, humble opinion here, what is a criminally low number of appearances, Amazo, the amazing robot makes a JLA-shredding appearance. Alright, alright, he's an android, not a robot. Robots are chumps anyway.

Why is it a bad thing that Amazo shows up so infrequently? He's an android in a yamaka with a striped vest and gold pendant who has all the powers of the Justice League. What's that? While enemies are too busy laughing at the android's mismatched clothes, he's running with the speed of the Flash, hitting opponents with Green Lantern's energy blast, and then punching them into orbit with Superman's strength. And yes, he can also talk to fish. What do you have to say about that Aquaman?

The amazing Amazo. I forgot to mention the elf-ears in his design.
Apparently nothing, because he's not around to help his teammates against this long-time, oft-thought-destroyed-but-never-actually-destroyed menace. Amazo was created by the mad Professor Ivo, a scientist obsessed with finding the secrets to immortal life as well as the ability to grant life. Unlike most mad scientists in the DC pantheon, Ivo eventually did accomplish both of his goals: a serum did transform him into a deformed creature, albeit an immortal creature, and he did create life in a way with Amazo. While Amazo probably doesn't directly fit the definition of sentient life, he has a simple bit of programming, his purpose: destroy the Justice League; but he is well-designed enough to come up with plans of his own device to carry out this lofty, if not single-minded, goal. Not as well-known, but as far as super-villains, specifically mad scientists, are concerned, I'm going to say that Prof. Ivo is definitely more successful than some of his more popular and well-known counterparts like Lex Luthor or Sinestro. No super-villain is as successful as The Joker though, who admittedly only has the broad goal of 'making Batman's life hell.' Forget The Joker though, this is Ivo's time to shine.

The JLA fuck up a bear's day. This is their time to shine.
Ivo does not show up here at all though, this is really Amazo's show. Although Amazo get's an 'upgrade' in he sense that it's not an upgrade at all. In the stupidest bit of comic-book science a drunken Alaskan (because Alaska is not random enough I suppose) stumbles upon the frozen, left-in-the-tundra form of Amazo (way to be responsible with your killer-android foes, JLA), who then absorbs and adapts the personality of the inebriated stock character. Of course this process kills the hapless Alaskan, but it results in what amounts to a drunk and surly Amazo.

This chili is so thick, gravity can't force it from the bowl.
What follows is an entirely boring and pedestrian three issues. The story is so rote and inconsequential and the plot so predictable that there's not a lot of excitement to wring from the reading experience. Amazon appears, there's the requisite difference in his personality in an attempt to spice up a long-standing villain, but the end result is the same it's ever been: Amazo goes on a rampage, after sufficient property damage, the JLA catches wind of this and investigates the damage, splitting off in to teams of two in the process. Each team is then ambushed by the villain and left for dead. By story's conclusion the JLA comes together as one and is able to defeat the villain not through any clever trick but just by hitting the bad guy enough times until he falls. Oh, Aquaman shows up at the least minute to deliver the final blow. 
Aquaman's sub-plot is the most interesting aspect of this story. He split from, but never divorced, his wife Mera (an inter-dimensional sorceress with the ability to control water, only in comics is this not very odd) after their infant son, Arthur Jr., was killed by undersea terrorist Black Manta. These incidents were also the impetus for Aquaman to assemble a new, full-time Justice League squad and throw himself into the job of training them. Watching Aquaman finally start to acknowledge his son's death and also come to terms with the fact that he'd been ignoring his wife's feelings by selfishly turning away from her and pushing away anything that could remind him of his lost son is the only narrative push worth paying attention. Too bad it's approximately six pages of a sixty-page story.

Even an Aquaman can cry.
By the end, Aquaman resignes from the JLA to spend time with Mera and mourn their loss; it falls on veterans Martian Manhunter and Zatanna to take on training the neophyte members. They won't have much time either, not with the impending Crisis and yet another cosmic menace right around the corner.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Pre-Crisis Primer: Superheroes Don't Always Win

The New Teen Titans 1-5
“Terror of Trigon”

This is Trigon, he hates you.
Raven's constantly struggled against the power of her demon father Trigon. This sub-plot has pointed out what I thought was obvious but have now proven: having an all-powerful demon father is kind of a pain in the ass. Missing for a while, Raven is about to return to the Titans and they are going to not be happy about this reunion.

Five issues makes for a giant story, especially considering how long this particular sub-plot has been brewing, so it's slightly surprising that not much happens in terms of actual plot points, although the story is a strong one. Much of the current sub-plots in Titans, Deathstroke hunting the Titans, Donna's impending marriage, and Cyborg's longing to be human have been wrapped up in satisfying bows. It's apt then that the start of a brand new series (reboots of existing titles are not a new comics fad!) should begin by wrapping up the lone hanging sub-plot before spinning off into all new adventures for the DC Universe's premier teen heroes. Because this review will be fairly positive, I'll throw a pinch of negativity in right here: the series is never as good after this story. Yeah, I said it. But that's for reviews and articles that will be written in the years to come. For now, we bask in the Titans greatest victory.

Raven is unhappy.
Raven, missing for months, now wanders the lost dimension of Azar, which now lies in ruins (this sentence is interminably dorky). Her powers going haywire and her increasingly incessant lust for blood all pointing to one end: her father Trigon had escaped whatever prison had been built for him. Luckily for Raven, she finds he mother, Arella, imprisoned at the heart of the ruined dimension, but unluckily, Trigon finally appears, in all his bad-ass multi-eyed, red-skinned, devil-looking glory, and manages to possess his daughter. In case you haven't figure it out by now, this is extremely bad news for the poor slobs who call Earth home. Raven puts on her Trigon Jr. costume and sets out to raise some hell. Classic hero-gone-bad trope, something that superhero comics are no stranger to exploiting. 

Raven is unhappy and evil now.
Newly evil and suddenly-the-greatest-daughter-on-the-planet, Raven accompanies her father to Earth where they flat-out conquer New York City. Yup, they win: New York City becomes a demon's playground, twisted to fit Trigon's idea of paradise. The citizens are left to relive their fears over and over again as demons run a muck raising all general kinds of hell. Streets, buildings, everything is transformed to broken stone resembling Trigon's home dimension. No different from the citizens, the Titans are easily beaten and left to force their own worst desires in the form of doppelgangers. Nightwing's fear of forever being in the shadow of Batman manifests itself as does Wonder Girl's fear of accidentally killing her new husband or outliving him due to her immortality and Cyborg's fear of being trapped forever in his metal chassis. The Titans are easily trounced by their own fears leaving no one to stand in the way of Trigon's domination of the planet. Sure there's always Superman or the Justice League, but apparently There's a magical dome enacasing the city both maintaining the demons' presence on our plane as well as keeping the rest of the world out. The dome is expanding to cover the planet. 

The gentrification of Brooklyn continues.
As the Titans fall, it's Lilith and Arella who save the day. Lilith, being a psychic sensitive is able to channel the spirit of Azar, the creator of the dimension that birthed Raven and which Trigon destroyed. Now, before the Earth is consumed is when Azar's gambit plays off and Raven is her weapon. Channeled by Lilith as her entry into our dimension, Azar is able to cleanse Raven's soul of Trigon's influence and in a bout of deus-ex-machina, end the evil of Trigon forever by destroying his very essence. The only price in this transaction: Raven's soul. When all is said and done, New York City and its citizens are returned to normal, the Titans released from their self-made prison and Trigon is destroyed forever. Raven is also missing though; the victory of The Devil is not a clean one. 

Titans in Hell.
This is the end of the golden age of the Teen Titans and they don't really go out with a bang. I like this story, it's suitably epic and large-scale, but the Titans play a small part in the events that comprise the tale. On the good side, I do enjoy how the Titans are so out of their goddamn element, messing around on this metaphysical plane of gods and demons and then completely failing to save the day. Their fat is pulled out of a fire by a god who literally comes out of nowhere. The Titans don't really belong in the world of gods and this story is hammers that point home.

In fact, the team also fails to save their friend. Raven dies. She spent most of her time with the team tortured by her role as Trigon's daughter, constantly fighting his influence only to succumb in the end and pay with her life. Superheroics aren't always fun and games and there are real consequences to dressing up in a costume and trying to right the wrongs of the world. With the death of Terra recently, this is a lesson the Titans are learning far too often.

Bye, Trigon.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

An Oracle

While the Post-Crisis PostScript is on a bit of a hiatus here (blame work and my need to not be in front of the computer at home as much), we will be returning soon. Titans fighting the Devil, Batman fighting a calendar and the long-awaited Crisis. Finally. Promise. But in the time being, I figured I can throw up an image heavy gallery. People like this, right?

Anyway, we're a couple years off from these stories, but enjoy this glimpse into the future. One of the aspects of the Post-Crisis DCU I enjoy so much is the heroic legacy, that there is change and forward-momentum and the superhero name may outlive the superhero. SO here's a tease with some new versions of favorite heroes.


You can see into the future, delight your friends! I'm looking forward to both reading and sharing these stories.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Pre-Crisis Primer: This is Why the Crisis Needed to Happen

Flash 347-350
“Trial of the Flash Part 6”

Not really a jury of his peers. Moustache man can impale the Flash.
The Trial is over! Behold the verdict for the Scarlet Speedster. Spoiler, he's guilty! How can he be guilty of the Reverse Flash isn't dead?! Prepare your head for some spinning.

Sorry for the overuse of exclamation points there but this final chapter to 'The Trial of the Flash' completely loses its shit. Any semblance of realism in the story disappears (not that here was much to begin with, but when the conceit is a superhero finally being put on trial for taking the law into their own hands, that's an interesting attempt at realism) and transference of souls, time-travel and resurrection are the plot points we're bombarded with.

Despite the best efforts of Flash's formerly-antagonist-lawyer-now-turned-best-pal, the jury returns a verdict on Flash's complicity in the murder of the Reverse-Flash: guilty. Flash, being the hero that he is agrees to go to jail, even though there's nothing stopping him from just flat-out running off and finding a new life elsewhere that doesn't include running fast. No, society has spoken and Flash will be a hero until the end and accept the punishment meted out. One disappointing aspect of the end of this story has been the lack of a lot of involvement from Flash's friends in the Justice League. The JLA shows up once, to admonish the Flash, basically and Green Lantern (the Hal version), Barry's best friend, shows up to offer some salient advice, but other than that they don't do much. You'd think any of them would deign it worth their time to show up at the trial, maybe play as a character witness, or at least visit the poor schlep in jail, at the very least give him hell for how he treated his wife-to-be. Sure, he saved her life, but left her to languish in a mental hospital. Nope, we don't get to see them at all. Perfect point for some inter-title continuity, but instead Flash is in a world all his own.

Screw you guys, I'm outta here.
Also, just an aside because I've spent so much time on this part of the story: after Fiona Webb's relapse in court during the previous part of this story she does not show up at all in this story again nor in the entirety of Post-Crisis continuity. That's it, Fiona's story ends with a mental breakdown. She deserves a lot more than the Flash.

I'm also going to throw out that Flash deserves a better ending than what's presented here. To skip ahead a bit: Flash 350, the final chapter in this story is always the final issue of the series. Considering that 'The Trial of the Flash' has been going on for almost 2 years right now, it's safe to assume this story was not planned to end the series, it's just the way things shook out. The way events quickly devolve from any kind of rational method of story-telling into the crazy shit I'll type out in the next paragraph has to do with the writer struggling to give the entirety of the Flash's superhero career some kind of closure.

Let's do this: Flash's guilty verdict is the result of jury manipulation, obviously. Or, given the events that lead up to it, not so obviously. While the jury had come to a not-guilty verdict on their own, there is one verdict, a portly bald accountant by the name of Newbury who has access to advanced technology and claims that, if the jury deadlocked or came back with a guilty verdict, would ensure that a not-guilty verdict would be missed. So how did this mysterious man fail so miserably? That would be the mysteriously returned Reverse Flash who takes the identity of one of the jurors and is able to use similarly advanced technology to what Newbury possesses and force a guilty verdict. Where does this deluge of jury-verdict-changing technology come from?

A whole lot of jury-tampering brought us to this moment.
What the fuck is going on? Reverse Flash is still dead, a newly-introduced villain to this story by the name of Abra Cadabra is to blame and has been donning the identity of the deceased banana-colored villain. Abra hails from the 64th century where' he's a failed magician and entertainer who eventually travels back to the 20th century to find audience, passing off advanced technology as real magic. At some point he becomes a criminal and is punched by the Flash several times which leads to this plot to ensure a guilty verdict for the Flash. But who is Newbury? Newbury is also from the future, attempting to thwart Abra Cadabra by making sure the not-guilty verdict recorded by history in the 64th century comes to pass. Flash should be exonerated! Newbury is a resident of Central City 20th century possessed by the should of Barry Allen's murdered first wife Iris West. I know, I know, get this: Iris was never killed in our time: at the moment of her death West's relatives from the future snatched her soul to the future and placed it in a new body. Later, when Barry needs her help during the trial, West's soul is sent back to the past to inhabit the body of Newbury. With this revelation, Flash's body is whisked to the 64th century where he's reunited with his first wife and lives happily every after. To the people of the 20th century, Flash was found not-guilty and simply disappeared.

With these revelations, he should have stayed in jail.
  Yeah bu-whu?

That's how it ends? With this future soul-stealing mumbo-jumbo and two main characters introduced into the end of a 25-part series? What a disappointing ending. Screw it, what a crap ending. A ton of new elements are introduced at the end that take the focus away from the trial, abandon established characters like Fiona Webb or Flash's lawyer and shoe-horns in a convoluted attempt at a happy ending tied in a bow. I don't buy it and this is the kind of crap that leads to superhero comics being maligned as mediums for decent story-telling. Don't worry, Crisis is coming to clean this up and hopefully wipe it away.

At least the public knows he's not guilty even though getting there was  a hell of a trip.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pre-Crisis Primer: I Can't Wait Until Wonder Woman Appears

Batman 376-381, Detective Comics 543-547
“Who Rules the Night?”

I like his new pajama costume. Why isn't this an action figure?
An 11-part story. Welcome to what will eventually be the first of many Batman epics. I'll through some spoilers up and say that this story delivers both wrapping up every sub-plot, most importantly those regarding Jason Todd's status as Robin as well as the recent assassination attempts on Sgt. Harvey Bullock. We're also treated to the return of Batman's goth girlfriend further complicated his already fucked-up personal relationships.

Jason Todd, 12-year-old boy, has yet to be formally adopted by Bruce Wayne and it looks like he won't ever be as civil services has found what they believe to be evidence of possible abuse and neglect so they've taken custody of the boy. Bad news for Robin. In the meantime, Bruce is so desperate to prove himself a suitable father to the boy that he's directed the Wayne Foundation's significant legal power as well as much as it takes of his own personal fortune to winning custody. It's well-known knowledge that Bruce Wayne has infinite money though, so it's not really much of a sacrifice; the sacrifice comes that he's taken to ignoring his duties as Batman only scowling at the sight of the Bat-Signal and not striking fear in criminal hearts.

Amidst all the soap opera, there is still some axe-based action.
While Batman and Robin are caught up in the days of their own lives, crime runs rampant in fair Gotham City! Mayor Hill, proving himself to be a terrible fictional-city mayor and possibly the most corrupt mayor conceived, continues his vendetta against Sgt. Harvey Bullock for what literally is the imagined slight of him supporting Commissioner Gordon instead of not. This is so worth your freedom and mayoral job, dude. Hill slides even further into incompetence when, armed with the knowledge that Dr. Fang's goons, hired to kill Bullock, failed miserably, decides the best course of action is to spring Fang himself from prison and have him carry out the deadly deed personally. Because Fang is a winner.

With one loss to the Batman under her belt, Nocturna decides it's time to return to fair Gotham City with the goal of winning a man. Seeing as how her dalliance with the Thief of Night came to a violent end, she needs a sugar daddy. This is her plan: win custody of the wayward Jason Todd as a means of living a life for which Bruce Wayne foots the bill. Amid all of this, Alfred's daughter Julia is doing her best to win Wayne's attention because she loves him for some reason, and finally Vicki Vale is attempting to move on from Wayne (because he's a dick to her) but this results in her going to the gym to work out in a bid to, you guess it: impress Bruce Wayne. And Wayne is content to literally whine about what woman he should love. He can't make up his mind. And really, he's more concerned about Jason Todd at this point.

Oh yeah, at one point Mad Hatter shows up to put hats on people. He's so nice.
While this story ultimately is a good, fun story that does a good job of wrapping up a lot of the sub-plots that have been simmering for a while now, one distinct failure is its portrayal of the female characters, Vale in particular. In the earlier articles of this blog, Vale was a much stronger character: her and Wayne's relationship was already on the rocks and she ended it with him, not content to be second-string to whatever it was he spent his time doing (be Batman). She kicked him to the curb and started her own business, but as soon as she hired Julia Pennyworth and learned Julia loved Wayne, she's been a one-note 'jealous ex' ever since. Disappointing. There's really no reason or precedence for her to put up with this shit and I'm not even sure why she claims to love him. It's confusing and kind of aggravating. I hate when superhero comics live up to the stereotype and accusation of second-rate and poorly written female characters. Batman in the 1980s is full of them. Just wait until Catwoman shows up. It should be awesome, but is just disappointing. 

This kind of navel-gazing is most of the hot action in this story.
And potential femme fatale Nocturna is just turned into both a victim in that the Thief of Night now hates her and turned himself into the Night-Slayer because he kills people now and has made it his mission to kill Nocturna as well as just one more non-character only seeking Bruce Wayne/Batman's romantic attention. This is literally her purpose and thus the main conflict in this story.

In the end Dr. Fang is killed by the Night-Slayer (big surprise), Mayor Hill is carted off to prison, and both Nocturna and the Night-Slayer disappear to lick their wounds. On the happy-ending front Jason Todd is returned to Bruce Wayne based on the fact that Nocturna is Nocturna and she's a bad dude. 

Thinking about how he'll be a dick to his ladies next.
Batman and Robin will never die!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Pre-Crisis Primer: Calm Before The Storm

Tales of the Teen Titans 56-58
'Victor Victorious'

Heroes, heels, and Cyborg caught in the middle. Plus six members in the Fearsome Five.
The last few Teen Titans stories, while full of nice character development and surprising turn of events have been very short on action. This is not criticism, mind you, because they've been top-notch stories, but the dearth of superhero fisticuffs comes to end with this tale, steeped as it is in hot good-guy on bad-guy violence. All this and we finally get to catch up on what Raven has been up to since her mysterious disappearance.

Let's deal with the ancillary bouts before moving on to the main event. Of most significance with these issues is Raven's return to the title. As dear readers no doubt remember (because everyone loves minutia, right?) Raven has been battling the evil influence of her demon-lord father Trigon (ah, comics) and losing. After almost murdering teammates and enemy alike during the Titans final battle with the H.I.V.E. In the aftermath of Terra's betrayal, she's been missing, afraid to put her friends in any more danger. Hiding in another dimension, she seeks out her mother who sacrificed her freedom to keep Trigon imprisoned for all time. 'All time' apparently being until she tired of the whole ordeal because the plan has fallen apart. This is just the beginning of a long streak of bad luck for Raven. 

The greatest day of Gar's life to this point.
On the sub-plot flip side, Cyborg (real secret origin name, Victor Stone!) gets his time in the spotlight. Never a fan of the mechanical limbs and apparatus that saved his life after an accident in a lab (caused by his father no less), Cyborg is contacted by Dr. Jenet Klyburn (an associate of Cyborg's father) from STAR (I'm not typing the periods after each letter) Labs about replacing his mechanical parts with plastic prosthesis designed to mimic human form. As close as he can get, Victor can look human again; something he's lamented since becoming Cyborg. As things start to finally go Victor Stone's way, let's check back on what the rest of the team's up to as all this is occurring.

Cyborg lives in plastic form!
The rest of the team? Nightwing, Lilith, Changeling, Starfire, Jericho and Wonder Girl? They straight-up kick a lot of ass. This is the Titans time to shine. The Fearsome Five, a qunitent of diabolical, dastardly villains led by Dr. Light has suddenly become actually diabolical and dastardly, in addition to devious, because they've divested themselves of Dr. Light and his inane leadership. Now only having four members, and not letting such a travesty stand, the remaining team members first seek to recruit a fifth. The team consists of Psimon, a telepathic psychopath with the unfortunate physical condition of a fishbowl for a skull and his brain visible for all to see; Mammoth, a big, dumb brute character who throws shit at people; his sister, Shimmer, a woman with the power to transmute any element into another and the unfortunate physical contribution of a Jeri-churl Afro hairstyle; Gizmo, a bearded dwarf with the ability to create shit for evil purposes; and finally new member Jinx, a sorceress with immense power as long as she has contact with the ground, lift her up and she's powerless. 

Fighting! Nightwing's arsenal of karate kicks is enough to turn the tide.
The Five assembled again, they put forth their great plan to...recruit a sixth member (Sinister Six?). No mention is made of the name change that should occur once nuclear-powered asshole Neutron is freed from imprisonment. Individual he may be, The Five's plan for Neutron is to ransom New York City for a shit-ton of money or have Neutron just blow himself and the city away. I don't know why they just don't have Shimmer transmute a lot of lead into gold but that's just me. Naturally the Titans won't let this go without a fight, so fight they do! One of those issue-long superhero slobber-knockers full of drama, teamwork and untold amounts of property damage.Psimon manages to escape the long arm of the law though by being kidnapped by none other than the mysterious Monitor! Seems he needs Psimon's help to avert a coming Crisis....

This is why The Monitor had stayed hidden this whole time....
Linking sub-plot to main plot some of the property damage happens to be Cyborg's new plastic limbs as the aforementioned Neutron, being a living fission reactor, was being held at STAR Labs when the Fearsome Five freed him a result of which was the melting of Cyborg's new form before he could show his new found humanity to his friends. Sad face. Luckily for Victor, that his original metal chassis was still retained. After a one-issue absence, Cyborg returns! At least he learns a lesson from all this, I'm sure.

The Cyborg we know and love.
With the bad-guys thoroughly beaten up and humiliated, and the team mostly reunited, they decide it's finally time to look for their missing friend, Raven. I'm pretty sure they will absolutely hate what they find.

I love action comics.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pre-Crisis Primer: HOLY CRAP

Green Lantern 190 – 193

Welcome to a nice, well-deserved vacation Stewart and Katma. Be glad you're not Hal Jordan.
Who is The Predator? I've been enjoying his constant mockery of Hal Jordan as well as his penchant for hitting on for Jordan's long-time girlfriend Carol Ferris, but is there a reason behind his menace besides being some macho dick? I'm going to settle with an answer of: sort-of. It's a long convoluted answer, steeped in somewhat boring GL-lore; welcome to the hell that is the 'continuity-issue.'

Continuity-issues can be cool, especially for geeks like me (and presumably you, if you're reading this blog), but most of the time they're an antithesis to forward momentum in a story and a slog to actually read. A continuity-issue is a term coined by moi to account for any comic that spends the majority of its page real-estate recapping past events in a comic series and tie them together, sometimes with small changes made to the actual events as depicted in previous stories, in an effort to explain mysterious and odd events happening in the current stories of the series. The subject this time being Predator, Carol, and an old foe called The Star Sapphire.

Carol is sick of Hal's whining too. And she dislikes his skills as an umpire.
Finally bringing to a head the long-running Predator sub-plot which first surfaced back when Hal was wearing the GL-costume and continually getting his ass kicked by olympic-level javelin-throwers and construction workers who happened to have the dumb luck to both have yellow weapons in their possession, Hal Jordan again takes center stage in the title for the first time since giving up his secret identity to spend time with Ferris. John Stewart, receiving a bit of a break for delivering some top-notch stories and entertainment for the reading audience gets to sit most of this story out, becoming closer to new lady love, veteran Green Lantern Katma Tui, as the two of them spend much of the story training in usage of the GL ring in space.

Hal is still nursing wounds to both body and pride after a recent run-in with The Predator. Trying to enjoy life as a retired superhero, Jordan finds himself more and more wrapped up in the need for conflict. He resents Ferris for putting him in a position to give up the GL power ring and being a weaker man because of it. Hal Jordan is weaker than the Green Lantern. With all this emasculated navel-gazing, Jordan fails to prevent the bothersome Predator from making off with Ferris, finally having stopped waiting for her to come around on her own.

He still took your girl, man.
Hal's only solution to this turn of events, not calling on any of his friends like Batman or Superman, but to continue to try to be the superhero himself by dressing up in an absurd amount of padded armor and winning back his woman. A quick aside: I think this scene really points out Hal's deficency as a hero, outside of the costume he has no life or purpose and only feelings of inadequacy; John Stewart on the other hand, especially by ditching the mask and secret identity is able to mesh both who he is as an individual as well as part of the Green Lantern Corps. He's a more pragmatic, sensible, less emotional-driven character. I'd argue that's greater strength of character as well.

But Stewart is out having space sex (which is fine, of course) and this is mostly Jordan's story. Facing and fighting (and kind of losing to) The Predator, the villains identity and obsession with Ferris is finally revealed: once Predator and Ferris reveal their love for each other (!) they merge and create one being THE STAR SAPPHIRE! 

So, with this revelation, does this count as domestic abuse? Can we get Hal arrested?
This is when confusion sets in. I know I had no idea what was going on. Hence a whole issue dedicated to explaining what the fuck, which I'll now simplify as best I can.

The Guardians of the Universe, the tiny blue-skinned immortal aliens who gave up a fraction of their power to create the power rings of the Green Lantern Corps were not always a selection of asexual males. The female portion of the race, known as the Zamarons, left the Guardians long ago, feeling that their suppression of emotions went against the very nature of being a sentient being. Literally believing in the power of love, they settled their own planet. Hal Jordan, as Green Lantern, had encountered these beings in the past. They had used Carol Ferris' love for Jordan as a catalyst to turn her into the menacing Star Sapphire, who would use purple energy, powered by love, as a counter-weapon to the emerald energy of the Lanterns, which is powered by willpower. At this point, Ferris and Jordan believe Star Sapphire to be a thing of the past, long defeated.

Well, Ferris never believed that.

In the meantime, Stewart and Katma fight a villain named Replikon who literally will only be seen once more.
The thing is, and here's the retcon, and the crazy part (wait, now it gets crazy?) Ferris never stopped being Star Sapphire, it was just her love for Jordan that helped reconcile the disparate personalities, Ferris and Sapphire, into one being again, no longer separate. When Jordan was gone for a year, Carol found herself becoming more and more unglued, the power and need for conquest of the Star Sapphire taking over her personality, and body, split again, this time into Carol Ferris and...THE PREDATOR?!?! The Predator is Carol Ferris. At least her masculine side: power, business acumen, and aggression. When they merged again, Ferris finally embraced her destiny to be the Star Sapphire. Revelations aside, she abandons Hal on Earth and returns to Zamaron to rule the Zamarons as their queen.

Well...holy crap. Quite a pickle Jordan, in hindsight I'm glad Stewart was able to sit out this debacle.

Guy Gardner, pre bowl-cut.
Waiting in the wings of this new conflict, put on hold for the time being, we are witness to two small events that will bear bitter fruit: a man by the name of Guy Gardner, once fill-in Green Lantern for Hal Jordan (this guy quits his job often) awakes from a coma with nothing but the burning desire to reclaim his ring and the Guardians sense a presence, something powerful and evil from the Anti-matter universe (a mirror universe of ours, which is made of positive matter apparently) that they dismiss as an error in their instruments and not the beginning of.... A CRISIS!

I'm loving the caps lock today.