erasing clouds

by tonydoug wright

The Iron Ghost #1 (Image Comics 2005)

Writer: Chuck Dixon, Pencils/Inks: Sergio Cariello, Colors: Rick Hiltbrunner and Letters: Charles Pritchett

Things were not going well for Germany in 1945 because the American, British and Soviet forces were hammering them into submission. The Third Reich’s days were numbered, Berlin was being bombed mercilessly and it appeared that nothing was going right for the once feared German military. Writer Chuck Dixon (Nightwing and Robin) takes a 1945 setting in Berlin and adds another problem for the Germans, a gun wielding vigilante, in The Iron Ghost #1.

This is not your typical World War II story about American soldiers overcoming the odds to defeat the enemy. Dixon has created a murder mystery during the war where two German detectives are trying to solve a few unexplained murders of SS officers. The Iron Ghost is the prime suspect and the detectives have no idea who he is or where he will strike next.

The Iron Ghost #1 is an impressive debut for Image Comics thanks to Dixon’s writing and Sergio Cariello’s impressive artwork. In this first issue we are introduced to many characters such as Detectives Volz and Tannhauser, Billionaire industrialist Klaus, two aces of the SS and The Iron Ghost himself. This is only the first issue but Dixon has created an interesting storyline that has the makings of a fine comic book.

Green Lantern #1 (DC Comics 2005)

Writer: Geoff Johns, Penciller: Carlos Pacheco, Art: Ethan Van Sciver and Inker: Jesus Merino

Some fans are rejoicing while others are grimacing because Geoff Johns (The Flash) has resurrected the Hal Jordan version of the Green Lantern, the same Green Lantern who has spent his turbulent career as a hero, a villain and a ghost. Comic book fans adjusted to the Kyle Rayner and John Stewart versions of the Green Lantern and they also dealt with previous DC Comics attempts at bringing back Hal Jordan. Johns along with penciller Carlos Pacheco are definitely up to the challenge of a successful Hal Jordan comeback in Green Lantern #1.

Due to this being a #1 issue (titled Airborne), the reader is given the basics of character introductions and some miscellaneous background information. Those who are not familiar with the Green Lantern will not feel lost with this issue because it does a good job of presenting a basic history of Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern. Those who are familiar with Johns' work on The Flash know that he can write a good story with plenty of action and suspense but that is not quite the case with Green Lantern #1. Sure it may not be an action-packed edition but it lays the groundwork for what could be an exciting “must read” in the DC Universe.

Leap Years by Ian Bennett (Candle Light Press 2005)

High school was definitely an interesting time for all of us. It was an awkward period where we were thrown into the mix of social cliques, partying, dating, lousy jobs and sports. Sure it may be a time that some of us want to forget but we can revisit those days in Ian Bennett’s Leap Years.

The story deals with Jake, a high school freshman who considers himself an invisible presence at his school. Jake tries hard to fit in but his attempts fail leaving Jake more depressed and angry than when he started. It seems that Jake will spend his high school career a social leper but things turn around for him when Wilbur, a 5’11” frog that Jake can only see, helps him become a popular student.

Wilbur and Jake create a friendship that allows Wilbur to mold Jake into the student he has always dreamt of becoming. Jake soon embarks on a journey up the social ladder that places him in the unfamiliar territory of Saturday night keg-parties and girls. It seems that Wilbur has grand ideas for Jake but these ideas may not be what Jake desires.

Leap Years blends the humor of Calvin and Hobbes with the gawky high-school moments of Craig Thompson’s Blankets. There are the familiar high-school characters such as the crush, the bully, the idiot teacher and the principal. Leap Years slightly suffers from underdeveloped secondary characters and a somewhat slow pace but Ian Bennett’s writing and artwork reflects the turbulent teen-angst years we all face. Overall, Leap Years is yet another good publication from Candle Light Press which has been successful in releasing graphic novels that do not reflect the clichéd norms of the comic book industry.

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