Comic Book Review – The Rann-Thanagar War

The Rann-Thanagar War
Reprints The Rann-Thanagar War #1-6, Special
Written by Dave Gibbons
Art by Ivan Reis

This probably the least related to the core Infinite Crisis than any of the four Countdown mini-series. It’s a continuation of storylines from the Green Lantern reboot that had just rolled out and an Adam Strange mini-series. As a result, it only has one strong connection that happens in the third act and sort of scuttles the main story, sidetracking into the Infinite Crisis event. This is also one of the least new reader friendly books in the Countdown with plot threads that go back into Geoff Johns’ JSA run involving Hawkman and even further back into Tim Truman’s Hawkworld series of the 1980s. DC Comics can be notoriously dense with its long histories, but here it becomes almost impenetrable.

The series opens with the events of Adam Strange: Planet Heist playing out, Thanagar’s orbit is destabilized by the sudden teleportation of Rann into its path. Thanagar eventually crashes into the sun as its people evacuate and begin to plan for war against whom they see as invaders. The dark god Onimarr Synn is manipulating events through his Thanagarian lieutenants, and it becomes clear Hawkman & Adam Strange will need to gather groups of heroes to keep things from overflowing into the greater galaxy. The series gives spotlights to the newly reformed Green Lantern Corps, Kilowog and Kyle Rayner specifically, as well as obscure figures like Tigorr of the Omega Men and Silver Age relic Captain Comet.

As a DC fanboy, I admit it’s fun to see obscure characters show up that I always enjoyed and never really got a fair shake. However, there’s so many angles and subplots that never get explored to any meaningful extent. A bunch of players amasses in the center of the universe so that can be present for the lead into Infinite Crisis. The more interesting aspects of this story, the backdoor politicking, the efforts and failures to provide humanitarian aid by other cultures and planets, the religious zealotry that bubbles up in the face of great crises, are never developed and made interesting. You have something akin to Game of Thrones in terms of the number of players and conflicts, but because this comic exists in service to feed into a more significant event moment, everything fizzles when we hit issue six.

The plots touched on in these six issues are the involvement of LEGION in the war, Lady Blackfire’s attempts to manipulate the situation, battles happening on Throneworld with Prince Gavyn/Starman, Adam Strange’s attempt to save his family, and so on. All of these could be great stories, but none of them gets the time needed to develop them and make us care about what’s happening. Every three pages we’re jumping to another locale to follow characters most readers are likely confused about.

I’m not exactly sure why Dave Gibbons was put on this book as the writer because Geoff Johns and Andy Diggle wrote the stories that led to this one. I could understand Johns being busy at the time, but Diggle did a fantastic job with Adam Strange, and this is essentially the continuation of that story. The Rann-Thanagar War gets continued post-Infinite Crisis but by writer Jim Starlin who goes of on his typical cosmic tangent, divorced from the rest of continuity, for better or worse. Dave Gibbons is best known as an artist, most notably Watchmen with Alan Moore, so the decision to put him in the driver’s seat is deeply confusing. The final product bears out that confusion because this is not a well-written book.

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