Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Read: Rann-Thanagar War

Issue: Rann-Thanagar War #1-6 (Collected in Rann-Thanagar War TPB)
Published Date: Jul 05-Dec 05
Generation: Modern Carter
Retcon Status: In Continuity

Summary: A rogue Rannian uses an advanced Zeta Beam to transport the entire planet of Rann into orbit around Polaris, in the same solar system as Thanagar.  The gravitational changes caused by Rann's new presence alters Thanagar's orbit, turning the planet into an inhsopitable hell.  Despite efforts by the Rannians to rescue the citizens of Thanagar, war soon breaks out between the rival planets, drawing various allies and mercenaries into the fray as well.  Rannian hero Adam Strange rides a Zeta Beam to Earth and retrieves Hawkman and Hawkgirl from St. Roch to help ut an end to the conflict.  But there is a greater threat on the horizon: the Thanagarian Cult Of The Seven Devils has resurrected the evil god Onimar Synn, a towering force of terror with a body composed of Nth metal who feeds on death.  The growing crisis also draws the attention of the Guardians of Oa, who dispatch Green Lantern Kyle Raynor to the sector.

The already intense battle quickly escalates.  Onimar Synn uses his vast powers to animate an army of dead Thanagarians, sending them throughout the galaxy to get ahold of a Zeta Beam.  Tamaranian Queen Komand'r (Blackfire) forges an alliance with the essentially deposed Thanagarian government as a power-grab, and the "traitor" Shayera Thal (Hawkwoman) escapes execution to help our heroes.  Synn intends to use the Zeta Beam to transport himself anywhere in the galaxy, spreading his cult and increasing his power off the charts.  In the end, Adam Strange, Alanna, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Captain Comet, and Tiggor of the Omega Men use miniature Zeta Beam devices to teleport parts of Synn to the centers of seven different suns.  The price, however, is great, as Hawkwoman is killed in the line of duty.

The threat of Synn is overcome, but the galaxy is still in peril: Komand'r now controls the Thanagarian battle fleet, and a mysterious tear in the fabric of space has appeared...

Review: I am tempted to call this DC's answer to Marvel's Annihilation, except this series sorta came first.  Still, the stories are pretty similar, with lots of characters and planets being juggled around as a modern space opera.  Dave Gibbon's story has lots going on -- this easily could have been twelve issues -- and is written in a condensed style which does lead to some flipping back and forth to remind yourself of certain elements.  Still, it's a grand tale of war, alliances, and betrayl, helped out tremendously by Ivan Reis' meticulously detailed pencils and the bold coloring choices of John Kalisz, which illustrate the conflict in strong shades of reds, oranges, and yellows.  

The main downfall is the unfinished nature of the story.  Between the cliffhanger with Komand'r, and then the 500-pound gorilla of Infinite Crisis, the result is like the ending of a big popcorn movie being spoikled by the setup for the sequel.  And while Thanagar and its culture play a main role, the Hawks themselves are primarily supporting characters.  This is an Adam Strange story (appropriate, as this series is predicated on the Planet Heist series) featuring Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Hawkwoman.  Still, even with these faults, Rann-Thanagar War is a fun sci-fi book.  Not really all that deep, but if you like the characters involved, you will probably be satisfied with the read.

(Silver Age fans will no doubt recognize that the idea of Rann being teleported into a different solar system and threatening a planet is a reference to the classic Hawkman-Adam Strange team-up in Mystery In Space #90 , "Planets In Peril," which featured Rann's presence around Sol threatening both it and Earth.)

Image: Rann-Thanagar War TPB, 2005, Ivan Reis.  


Anonymous said...

Man, sounds like an action packed story, although one with it's share of problems. The multiple Hawk-ladies sounds a bit odd. I suppose that is what happens when the character's continuity is as much of a morass as Hawkman's. Anyway, thanks for the review, and welcome back Luke!

Luke said...

Believe it or not, Kendra and Shayera barely even interact! We also get helped out by the fact that Kendra wears the classic helmet while Shayera wears the Hawkworld style, Honor Wings helmet, along with her Wingman uniform.

For an action book, I enjoyed this series. It's not as good as Annihilation, which is very similar, but also had a lot more issues to tell it's story (Annihilation had a Prologue, 12 issues of set-up miniserieses, the 6 issue event, and then a trio of epilogues). There's not much time for characterization in 6 issues amongst all the explosions!