RANN THANAGAR HOLY WAR #1 (OF 8)
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or, Superheroes. In. SPAAAACCCE!
With a Crisis in the DC Universe there inevitably comes a return to Rann and Thanagar. Thus, for all of us who enjoy a bit of the good old science fiction, all of our space heroes come together to deal with some cosmic threat that somehow always ends up focusing on Rann and/or Thanagar.
So the first entry in DC’s Final Crisis turns out to be the Rann-Thanagar Holy War, and it looks as if Jim Starlin, writer of this series, has a definite issue with religion.
As a religious person myself, I was immediately intrigued by the dialogue throughout this story. I was not offended, as it offered an entirely justifiable opinion of much of today’s religion; heavy handed and unnecessarily harsh. Adam Strange – a man who clings to science like a drowning man to a life-raft – is baffled by the Rannians turn away from science to a religion that, in addition to be flimsy, is focusing on the evil of Lady Styx (see below).
Possibly one of the best lines that I’ve seen in comics for a good long while comes from Animal Man, towards the end of this issue, as he sits down with Kory and Adam Strange. “You planning on zeta-beaming a bunch of Jehovah’s Witnesses to Rann or something?” Priceless! It’s what I’d do!
The cast of this book is definitely going to make for interesting storytelling. Obviously Adam Strange, Kory (aka, Starfire) and Animal Man are going to star, after their long journey home after the last Crisis (check 52 if you missed it). Joining them are names like Tygor, Hawkman (Carter Hall), Comet (though not for long), Starman, Bizarro (who isn’t as villainous as one would immediately imagine), and a host of villains including Find and Seek, Lady Styx (I think) and some other dude I’ve been unable to identify.
Summarizing this issue won’t be easy, so I won’t really try. Following in the footsteps of 52 (and other Crisis events) it follows a multitude of events and characters rather than one. But there does seem to be an overarching anti-religious tone, as I mentioned at the top. Both Thanagar and Rann are experiencing religious revivals, the former bowing to a name called ‘The Profit’ (spelt correctly btw) or ‘The Nameless One,’ and the latter somehow turning their religious fervor to Lady Styx.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Rann has suffered mightily at the hands of Lady Styx previously, after she forced them all to worship her through some sort of virus. Well it looks as if the Rannians have been left with some latent need to have faith in someone or something, and they’ve turned their attention to back Lady Styx.
Another storyline focuses on Hardcore Station, one of those interstellar mining outposts that in any story they appear in always inevitably turn in to a breeding ground for “questionable deals and smuggling.” Captain Comet, now just Comet, has just returned from briefing the JLA and is being contacted by Adam Strange. However a pair of villains I’ve never heard of (the afore mentioned Seek and Find) have turned up on Hardcore to work for some priestly alien looking dude. It’s all connected, I think!
The only other storyline worth mentioning is Starman’s, protector of Throneworld, who encounters Bizarro. Now, sure, Bizarro takes out most of the Throneworld imperial guard before meeting Starman, however it appears that he’s just lost and hungry. So instead of just running in and fighting, Starman has to turn to “somewhere between my royal ears” for the answer, and takes Bizarro inside for something to eat (MEAT!).
There is one last amusing note to make, and that is Comet’s briefing of the JLA. It’s oh so very political, and targeted at the US government (Starlin’s writing, not Comet’s briefing), as Comet announces that “no invasions [of Earth] are planned because no one feels they’re needed.” Why don’t any of the alien groups out “there” feel that they are needed? Because of Earth’s “pollution, especially in the greenhouse gas department, nuclear proliferation, regional wars and [our] out-of-control overpopulation.” Subtle. Very subtle.
Ron Lim’s pencils and Rob Hunter’s inks are really quite nice in this issue, and make up for a bit of a confusing and preparatory storyline. Adam Strange and Hawkman’s early interactions are really well drawn, with hard lines for hard men. Starman also is really well drawn, as the top half of his face is hidden beneath a mask, his mouth is left to do the expressions normally accounted for by mouth and eyes and eyebrows, something that Lim manages perfectly.
The story for this get’s a 4, as I am now immensely curious as to how the rest of this eight part series will fall out. The art gets a 4 as well, detracting points mainly for Kory and Robin’s depictions in the Titans Tower scenes half way through the book, not to mention Red Arrow’s buzz-cut. Either way, this is definitely a Final Crisis book you’ll want to get your hands on!
Art: 4 - Very Good