Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Green Lama returns

Way back in early December, in a fit of nostalgia, I wrote a short piece about "Green" heroes in comic book history. Yesterday, much to my surprise, while browsing through Comic Store Guy's new selection of comics, I came across a comic featuring the unmistakable artwork of Alex Ross, and a VERY familiar figure -- the Green Lama!

Yes, the world's first Buddhist superhero is back, in VERY fine form, along with a whole, exciting slew of Golden Age heroes who have long since fallen into public domain. Dynamite Entertainment has finally released the long-promised first issue of Project Superpowers (Issue #0), and it is well worth picking up. Ross doesn't illustrate the entire issue (he and Jim Krueger share the writing duties), but the interior artwork served up by Stephen Sadowski, Doug Klauba, and Captain Moreno is gorgeous.

Ross fans will notice parallels between Project Superpowers and his other works, particularly in the aged protagonist being manipulated by spirits a la Kingdom Come. Project Superpowers #0 also makes use of two tried-and-true chestnuts of superhero plotting -- "Hitler Is Obsessed With The Occult," and, "Let's Throw Obscure Golden-Age Heroes Into A Modern/Future Setting." HOWEVER, Project Superpowers takes these familiar plot devices and essentially turns them on their ears. There are some very interesting twists in the proceedings.

The main protagonist of this first issue is the Fighting Yank (Yankee), who is now aged and struggling with the sins of his past -- and being plagued by two spirits with completely different agendas. Green Lama serves as a philosophical counterpoint to the Fighting Yank, and is also somewhat feared by the Fighting Yank, for a very good reason. Green Lama also views the occult issues at work with a healthy dose of skepticism as he teams up with the Fighting Yank and other superhero colleagues to battle the evils of World War II.

I won't go into more detail, especially since Issue #0 presents only the setup. But it's a GREAT setup, and it definitely promises even greater things to come.

My only complaint is that I wish the creative team had taken time to explain who all of these Golden Age characters are up front, since most readers aren't likely to be familiar with heroes like the Mighty Samson or the original Daredevil (now called "Death-Defying Devil"). Still, the comic is a great read with plenty of action and fabulous art, and my guess is the series will get around to filling in the information gaps in very short order. Definitely a must-have issue, and a title worth watching, in my opinion.

Now, if only someone would bring back Green Turtle ...


SallyP said...

I saw the mention of the Green Lama, and immediately thought of your article. I'm SO proud of myself.

I can't stop sniggering at the picture of the Fighting Yank however. I can live with the tricorne, and even a domino mask, but a skin-tight shirt with an American flag...a MODERN American flag just looks ridiculous, especially combined with knee breeches and buckled shoes. Shouldn't he at least be wearing boots? A few ruffles? A cravat?

I guess I'm just easily distracted.

Sea_of_Green said...

Yeah, the Fighting Yank didn't exactly have good wardrobe sense. Still, his constume isn't nearly as bad as Alan Scott's. That, and believe it or not, the Fighting Yank was one of THE most popular comic book heroes in the 1940s, right up there with Captain Marvel and Superman. Pretty impressive!

Green Lama's gonna kick his ass in the next issue, though. Just wait!

SallyP said...

Alan's costume is one of those designs that shouldn't work at all. Green and red and purple for God's sake? On anyone other than Alan, it would look completely ridiculous.

Yet somehow, he manages to carry it off. Alan rocks.