Fiction: “The Green Lantern Chronicles, Volume I” by John Broome/Gil Kane

So I have a long, torrid history with The Green Lantern. Okay, not very long — maybe about eight years long. And not torrid, either. Actually, everything I just said was a lie. Maybe what I should have said just there was that I’ve always had a fascination with The Green Lantern.

It all started one night at Franklin Pierce College. I had gone down for the weekend to hang out, and we had been drinking (as college kids are wont to do), and Justice League comes on Adult Swim or whatever. And we end up watching it. And it’s the episode where Aquaman gets his hand chopped off, and when he comes back at the end of the episode with A HOOK FOR A HAND, all five of us in the room at the time yell, in unison, “Daaaaaamn, Aquaman!”

That led to a discussion of which member of the Justice League was the lamest. Considering the original members of the Justice League are: Aquaman, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter, and the Flash, we had some choice. And we ended up choosing the Green Lantern as the winner. Or, rather (and more appropriately), the loser.

In fact, ever since that fateful night, we have been unable to mention the Green Lantern without proclaiming that he is the bitch of the Justice League. Not that he’s bitchy; just that he’s the Justice League’s bitch. Because while Superman and Batman are out having fun, fighting over Wonder Woman, and generally saving the world, Green Lantern’s stuck doing the housework at headquarters. They send him out to pick up the dry cleaning. He follows Aquaman around with a mop. Y’know, that kind of bitchery.

When I was younger and in even lower low-level management, I proclaimed myself the Green Lantern of the department leadership, because they had made me their bitch. It’s gotten better since then, though I have not yet progressed far enough to determine who my Green Lantern is. My potential Green Lanterns keep getting taken away from me.

So this leads me to the movie about Green Lantern coming out. And I fully intend to see it at some point — though, after the short clip they played on Conan the other night, I’m most likely going to wait until it comes out in Redbox format, because it looks super cheesy. Like, Twilight-level of cheese. Which means that if I go to see it in the theatre, I will be sneaking in a flask of some form of alcohol.

Now, all of this blathering does nothing to describe the collection of comics I just finished reading. See, I had decided at the beginning of the summer that one of my Summer Improvement Projects was to find the archives of Green Lantern comics and read from the beginning. I mean, you can do that with Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four, and I’m still working my way through the Fables series (who the hell in the Portland area has Volume 12 of that!?), why couldn’t I do that with Green Lantern? And here’s where I could digress into a discussion of why I picked the Chronicles to read rather than the Showcase editions (number one reason: they’re in color), but I’m not going to.

There’s not a lot of plot involved in these comics. I see a brief glimpse of the epic storytelling that would soon come to dominate comics, both DC and Marvel, but for the most part, the storeis are all one-shots. The main character is Hal Jordan, an ace test pilot for Ferris Aircraft Company. Mr. Ferris has recently taken a two-year-long tour of the world, leaving his daughter Carol in charge of the company. Prior to her father’s leave, Carol had been encouraging Hal in his affections for her; but now that she’s the boss, there will be no fraternization.

And then Hal becomes the Green Lantern. Some dude in a spaceship crash-lands on our planet and searches for a fearless, honest man to take over the work of a Guardian, as the space-dude is dying. He finds Hal, Hal takes the Power Battery (“it looks like a green lantern!”) and the dead man’s clothes, I mean come on, he couldn’t have made his own Super Suit? (And now I’m imagining Edna Mode getting into an argument with Hal over his HOBO SUIT and that there will be absolutely NO CAPES, and that would have IMMEDIATELY raised the rating on this to 10 stars.)

For Hal, the major complication isn’t that he now leads a secret life as the Green Lantern; it’s not even the fact that he has to recharge his Power Ring every 24 hours (what? 24 hours? You don’t have a better battery backup than that?!); and it’s not even the fact that the Green Lantern’s powers are unable to work on anything yellow (don’t get me started); it’s the fact that Carol Ferris has fallen in love with the Green Lantern and wants to marry him, yet keep Hal on the side as a friend.

At this point, I’ve discussed all the plot points I can. So I turn to what I’ve been looking forward to since I began reading this: pictorial evidence of His Lameness.

Let’s begin with this point: apparently, Coast City (the home of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern) is in British Columbia. Why? Well, based on this evidence, the Green Lantern must be Canadian:


There are more pictures, but I don’t want to tie up all your bandwidth, ‘eh?’ [Oh, speaking of: I have a point to make. How do you write the Canadian ‘eh’? It’s ‘eh,’ correct? Not ‘ay’? I’m right. I have to be right.]

Here’s a screenshot of Hal and Carol in Carol’s office, with Hal trying to ask her on a date and failing miserably on more than one level:

And as if he weren’t enough of a hound-dog, how about this view into his thoughts?:


But enough about his bordering-on-assault tendencies (it was the early Sixties, after all — have you guys seen Mad Men? Kinda par for the course). How about this: he’s so lame, he lives at the hangar:


In all two hundred or so pages I read, nowhere does it show Hal in his ‘apartment’ — it’s always “his private dressing room in the hangar.” It’s so sad!

And let’s talk about the lamest of the lame: the fact that he has no power over anything yellow.


I can’t — I can’t even. YELLOW? Not, like, something made out of adamantium or a meteor. No, just everyday, ordinary yellow. And to make things worse, the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott, in the 1940s) was defeatable by wood. Which, in the words of Raj Koothrapalli, that means that both Green Lanterns can be taken out by a #2 Pencil.

Here’s a fun sequence about yellow:


WHY DON’T YOU JUST PICK THE THING UP, DUMBASS? It’s just a yellow dome over your lamp — I BET YOU COULD LIFT IT IF YOU TRIED.

Penultimately, I would be remiss if I didn’t show you this last shot:


THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID.

And finally, a word from one of our sponsors:

“Oh, Waldorf, don’t look so surprised. Your precious Green Lantern is no match for me, Chuck Bass. As you can see, I can pull off a green suit the likes of which Jordan couldn’t begin to imagine. And in addition to my sartorial finesse, I don’t have any weaknesses. And if I were to have failings, they wouldn’t be as horrifyingly dull as ‘yellow.’ I mean, come on; I look amazing in yellow. Now darling, I must send you back to this season’s prince or whatever; I have important feats of daring-do to attend to, without help from a ring or Guardians of Oa. Nay, my most important task is to rescue us from that most devastating of evil villains: mediocrity.”

Grade for The Green Lantern Chronicles, Volume I: 1 star

Fiction: “Boomsday” by Christopher Buckley

“Can’t tonight. Gotta go back and blog.”

“‘Gotta go back and blog.'” Terry shook his head. “I’m offering martinis and mentoring. But if you want to go home and blog …” He looked at Cass with his “kind uncle” expression. “Excuse me for asking, but do you by any chance have a life?” [7]

It’s like Terry is talking to me.

Boomsday takes place in a currently-fictionalized-but-could-become-true version of the United States in a modern-day time frame. In this alternate universe, Social Security is due to run out oh, about now. Cassandra Devine (the aforementioned Cass) is a publicist-cum-blogger who is really pissed off at the idea that the Boomer Generation which is currently running the country is passing the Social Security responsibility onto her generation, Generation Whatever. So she blogs, and in a fit of pique, she comes up with an idea: grant tax cuts to Boomers who kill themselves at the age of 70, thereby saving their Social Security benefits and making the program financially solvent. She calls it “Voluntary Transitioning.” She is good friends with a Senator from Massachusetts and he takes it to the Hill where it becomes a bill and then it becomes a talking point for the President and there’s some whole big family drama between Cass and her estranged father and look, it’s BORING.

Maybe it was the plot (which sounded a lot better on the backflap), or maybe it’s the fact that I bought a Nintendo DS three days ago and I became completely addicted within two hours, but it took me way too long to finish this book. And more than that, I became disillusioned with the book. Like, it was promising to be this riveting tome about something that somewhat concerns me – the debts associated with our country and the fact that much of the debt the country is currently sitting on will become our responsibility (“our” meaning, not to quote Pete Townsend, “my generation”), but somewhere along the way the plot got away from Voluntary Transitioning and turned into How Someone Runs for the Presidency, with a side-jaunt into Oh Those Wacky Priests, Ordering from a Russian Escort Service.

I think I was so disappointed because it had the promise to be so much better. And don’t get me started on the ending – for all of its faults, and considering how long it took me to get through it, the ending felt rushed, flat, and cheap.

Not only that, but — well, here’s an example. I was reading on my lunch break at work, and I apparently skipped a page. The only reason I found out that I had skipped a page was because I flipped backwards, thinking I had forgotten something that was mentioned. If I hadn’t forgotten about that (minor) plot point, I would never have read pps. 202-203, and it wouldn’t have mattered, because skipping those two pages did not diminish the cohesion and coherency of the plot.

Not to say there wasn’t anything amusing about this book. Unfortunately, the humor only served to remind me of other things:

“This boy is done with suffering! This boy is going to party down and howl at the moon and get laid! I am going to know women! I’m going to know them every which way from Sunday!” [216]

This reminded me of the clip from Arrested Development‘s episode “Beef Consomme” where Buster decided he wanted to become a man. (skip ahead to the 5:00 mark.):

I mean, there is so much in life that I have not experienced! And now that I’m away from Mom, I feel like this is my chance to live. I want to dance! I want to make love to a woman! I want to get a checking account! I want to know what it feels like to get my face socked in! [Buster, “Beef Consomme,” Arrested Development]

The Senator who supports Voluntary Transitioning and ends up running for president also happens to be an amputee:

[The Senator], Cass, and Terry had a heated discussion about whether it was “presidential” to wave artificial limbs over one’s head during speeches. Cass and Terry finally said they’d resign if he did. Randy backed down. After he left the room, Terry said to Cass, “I’m going to Super Glue that thing to his stump for the duration of this campaign.” [263-264]

This rings completely true:

What a country, America. A lunatic asylum, without enough attendants or tranquilizers. [269]

And finally, something that is only funny to me (I’m sure), from a third Presidential candidate:

“That is normally when they hold the presidential debates [in the fall], is it not? Though I imagine we’ll be bumping into each other in New Hampshire and Iowa before then. I imagine it’s very cold in New Hampshire in February. Not my favorite climate. No, no. I am a creature of the South … I suppose I will need one of those puffy parka things from that Yankee store — what’s it called — L.L. Bean? Good day to you again, sir.” [263]

*sniff* Yankee store. Y’know, that kind of offends me like the entire Nancy Whatever plotline from 30 Rock last year. Julianne Moore’s Nancy character was so horrible that it turned me off of 30 Rock almost completely. As if the bad Boston accent wasn’t enough, just painting Boston as completely Irish Catholic and Red Sox-oriented pissed me off.

So, yeah, I didn’t like it. Guess who else didn’t like it?

“So what you’re saying is, you’ve been playing Ratify the Bill with your boy-toy pedagogue who tried to Chappaquiddick you in a minefield, and now you’re miffed because he’s not taking your grand idea seriously enough? Darling, you should concern yourself more with your follow-through and conviction and less with how to curb his premature exposition. Now if you’ll excuse me; my scarf and I have important political matters to attend to.”

Grade for Boomsday: 1 star

Fiction: “Bound and Determined” by Shayla Black

It should not take someone a month to read Midwestern Philosophy. Midwestern Philosophy should not be so boring. And I’m sorry, but this one was. Horrifically boring. And look, Midwestern Philosophy plots are supposed to be ludicrous. In fact, here on loan from the American Midwestern Philosophical Society is an Actual Scientist with the Actual Scientific Formula for Midwestern Philosophy:

Man + Woman
———————-    x   Close Quarters = Sex every other chapter
Crazy Plot

(yes, it’s an actual formula. created by scientists. or, philosophers. whatever.)

And going hand in hand with ludicrous plots is the idea that you are to read Midwestern Philosophy at Ludicrous Speed. One should not be spending a month trying to get through the Ludicrous Plot to get to (or through) The Good Stuff.

Here’s the gist: Kerry’s brother, Mark, has been framed for embezzlement at his job at this bank. There’s this supersmart and superhott (yes, with two t’s) computer geek named Rafe, and Kerry tries to call him and ask him to help her brother out, and it’s convenient, because he’s coming to Tampa anyway (seriously? what great romance ever happened in Tampa?) to help with security measures at That Same Bank. But when he refuses, rudely, instead of giving up and going on with her life and hoping for a miracle, she KIDNAPS HIM FROM THE AIRPORT. She takes her to her adopted uncle’s Love Shack on the Beach (because of course one exists) and when Rafe realizes that he hates the idea of bullying her into leaving, he agrees to broker a deal: he’ll help her try to prove her brother innocent, and he gets to have sex with her for the entire weekend.

Surprisingly, no one’s Virgin Alarm went off (TM – it’s programmed to go off before you do!). Surprising, because Kerry is a virgin. Usually in Midwestern Philosophy, that card has already been played. But, whatever, because even though he was rude on the phone (horrors!), Kerry is Very Attracted to Rafe, and totally agrees with no pressure.

And … *sigh* The ‘mystery,’ if you dare to call it that, is predictable. The story sets up three people who could be the embezzeler, and of course only two of them have a real motive (and one of them is supposedly ‘in Love’ with Kerry, which Kerry doesn’t believe), and it turns out it’s the third. But she wasn’t just doing this for the money; she was doing it for a shitload of money!

In the end, as tends to happen, love conquers all and all that crap. And apparently, for a virgin, she gives great helmet. (sorry – I couldn’t resist.)

I wasn’t going to do this, because really, I don’t want to degrade the value of the label on something like this, but I really feel that this book deserves a Chuck Bass Stamp of Disapproval:

Look at him. He’s totally saying, “Why Shayla Black, you can’t possibly comprehend the magnitude of what you’ve done. Not only have you bored the upper Northeastern version of Blair Waldorf to tears, but you have managed to earn my disapproval. My cardigan has more sexual appeal than that escapade in Chapter Five. Frankly, your sex scenes lack imagination, and I can’t be bothered to assist you in that arena at the moment. My sister, however, is probably available, and Lord knows she’ll sleep with anything. She slept with Humphrey. Also, I’d like to point out that my cardigan has sharks on it. I’m surprised you didn’t throw in a shark attack; you did set your story in Florida. Oh, goodness, look at the time. I must be off; I have important, wealthy things to go succeed at, because I’m Chuck Bass. My final word of advice: be more like me; be more evil. For evil will always triumph because good is dumb.”

Grade for Bound and Determined: Twilight stars

Fiction: “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

Dudes, I tried. I seem to have vague memories of reading the abridged version back when I was a kid, and wanted to revisit that when I began reading this, oh, over a month ago, but … I do not remember Little Women being so preachy.

Maybe I shouldn’t have read the introduction, where it is revealed that Ms. Alcott wrote the book specifically as a moralizing tome for young, impressionable ladies. I’m not impressionable anymore (thank God), so it just wore on me.

Where was the sweet romance between Jo and Laurie that people keep talking about? Why is everyone so nice to each other? Even Amy apologizes to Jo after her temper tantrum.

I got to where Jo cut off her hair so Marmee could go to Washington. I can’t read anymore. It wears on me, heavily, and I don’t have the energy to force myself to read a book I’m not enjoying just because it’s ‘classic American literature.’

So. I quit. Next up: Christopher Moore’s Fool, a retelling of King Lear from the Fool’s point of view.

Grade for Little Women: No stars ( + Chuck Bass Disapproves, because, really? Chuck Bass is the antithesis of Little Women)

Fiction: “I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason” by Susan Kandel

perry masonI didn’t actually finish reading I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason. The narrator, Cece Caruso (yes, the second ‘Ce’ is not capitalized) is a very bland narrator – she’s a biographer of the creator of the Perry Mason mysteries, and she’s somewhat trying to investigate a crime that Earle Stanley Gardner (the creator) didn’t solve and left behind in his files, but she doesn’t really investigate it with any intense need. It’s more like, “Well, while I’m doing research for my book, I guess I’ll investigate this. But oh, wait, my daughter needs marital advice, though she shouldn’t get it from me, for my relationships all suck.”

It’s very bland, and boring – above all, mysteries should not be boring.

This book gets the Chuck Bass Stamp of Disapproval.

GOSSIP GIRL

Look at him (and pretend that Blair Waldorf is this book) – all disapproving, as if the book were mixing patterns in a less artful manner as Le Bass and wearing off-season footwear. Shame on you, book.