By Andy Frisk
August 17, 2010 - 21:29
Hank Henshaw, The Cyborg Superman, has a long history in the DCU. He first rose to prominence as a character during the classic Reign of the Supermen storyline back in the early to mid 1990s. Cyborg Superman was one of the four characters who arose in an attempt to take the place of the true Superman while he was incapacitated after his battle with Doomsday and was presumed dead. Superboy/Connor Kent and Steel/John Henry Irons were among the others, and all three characters have stuck around more or less unchanged in the DCU since. They really helped to flush out and keep Superman’s supporting cast fresh over the years (much like Mon-El, Nightwing, and Flamebird did during New Krypton, but were unfortunately discarded when New Krypton ended much to the detriment of the Superman cast). Cyborg Superman has persisted as a sort of tragic character and villain who’s done battle with a number of DCU heroes, most recently as a member of the Sinestro Corps.
Cyborg Superman was thought killed at the end of Sinestro Corps War, but as we discover in Green Lantern #50, a good villain is just too hard to keep down. Henshaw/Cyborg Superman is notoriously hard to kill given his unique techno-organic physiology. The fact that he wishes for nothing other than death (since his wife and all his loved ones are dead), but can’t achieve it is the tragedy of his existence. (Yeah, there’s something tragically existential in his story, but that’s pretty obvious and not worth diving into here…). He was reanimated during Blackest Night by The Manhunters, who are old Green Lantern foes and Henshaw’s previous lackeys. Without a heart though, literally and figuratively, Henshaw was ignored by Nekron and his Black Lanterns, and therefore once again was unable to achieve his most desired goal: a lasting death.
Henshaw might have found a way out though. He’s been tipped off by what appears to be an unidentified Guardian of the Universe that The Alpha Lanterns, although techno-organic organisms like Henshaw, can be killed. Henshaw needs former Guardian and current Sector Zero Green Lantern Ganthet to accomplish his goal involving the Alpha Lanterns, but as Lanterns Stewart, Rayner, and Natu discover, there is more to Henshaw’s plans than at first revealed…
Cyborg Superman’s manipulation and control of the Alpha Lanterns with their robotic tendencies really seems like a no-brainer of a plot. Henshaw/Cyborg Superman has the ability (along with Kryptonian and other various cyborg tech abilities) to control any robotic life form. So the Alpha Lanterns make the perfect prey. Not terribly original as a story idea on Bedard’s part, but Henshaw is always good for a smack down drag out battle. What will be interesting to see is what the fate of the Alpha Lanterns will be once Henshaw is defeated. Will they be decommissioned or reverted to their original fully organic status? They’ve been more of a liability than a boon to the Corps thus far, so decommissioning them doesn’t seem like a bad idea after this debacle.
For a landmark issue of a very popular title in a family of vary popular titles (which recently grew by one with the release of Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors), Green Lantern Corps #50 doesn’t really live up to the landmark issue status unlike the superb Supergirl #50 did. As was the case with Green Lantern #50 (wonder when that title will be returned to legacy numbering?), Green Lantern Corps #50 drops in the middle of an ongoing tale and really doesn’t serve as any sort of jumping on point for readers. Many of which might be wanting to get on the bandwagon with the Green Lantern movie hype beginning to swell. More importantly though: the story in this issue doesn’t really do much to inform or remind the reader of the long and glorious history of the Corps. There is no retrospective or anything special by way of extra features which would have been nice. Instead, we’re treated to a retelling of Henshaw/Cyborg Superman’s origin tale.
The lackluster (but not boring) storytelling is propped up with some great artwork by series artist Ardian Syaf. His tough and gritty looking renditions of Lanterns Stewart and Rayner, along with his strong anatomical and choreographic work remind me (as I’ve stated before) of Jim Lee’s work. While Syaf isn’t necessarily a Jim Lee clone, he’s definitely a product of the Jim Lee school of art. There’s nothing wrong with that. Being compared to Jim Lee is a good thing, even if the comparison detracts from labeling Syaf’s artwork as original.
While not poorly written or drawn by any considerable means, Green Lantern Corps #50 is a bit of a letdown. Maybe I just expect too much from landmark issues these days. It can be done though. Superman #700, Wonder Woman #600, and Supergirl #50 were all great books. Maybe when Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps get around to being re-numbered or reach issue #600 or #700, we’ll get some great landmark issues out of these series too.
Rating: 6 /10