Legend of the Green Flame

Posted: Friday, November 17
By: Craig Lemon
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Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artists: Friends

Publisher: DC

Plot: Superman and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) team up to, er, die.

Sorry. DC have really fumbled the ball on this one. This is the long-lost Neil Gaiman story, from 1987 or thereabouts, originally intended to wrap up Action Comics Weekly, but eventually rejected due to Hal Jordan knowing Clark Kent was Superman.

So, the writer is Neil Gaiman, but that's the comics-virgin Neil Gaiman (almost), of more than 10 years ago. Who are the "Friends" who drew this? A pretty impressive roster of: Eddie Campbell, Mike Allred, Terry Austin, Mark Buckingham, John Totleben, Matt Wagner, Eric Shanowar, Arthur Adams, Jim Aparo, Kevin Nowlan and Jason Little.

And this is a prestige format book, so that's $5.95 for 48 pages of classic Gaiman, right? Nope. Well, let's allow covers, 44 pages of classic Gaiman? Nope. Er, 40 pages? Nope - try 38 pages of story, and you're on the nose. The rest is taken up with an introduction from Gaiman, afterword from Mark Waid, and some intro and contents pages.

What about the presentation of the story itself? Bit poor, I'm afraid. A production cockup has left off the headings off of Chapter One and the Epilogue, it would've been nice to have the art teams acknowledged at the start of their chapters rather than just at the front, and the wild fluctuations in art styles throughout the story really interferes with the pacing of the story.

Oh, some individual pages are very nice indeed - the two page spread on 14/15 showing Supes and GL getting blasted by the Green Flame is very effective, the scenes by John Totleben are typical - Totleben, but that just means they are very fine indeed, and the Phantom Stranger pieces are very moody and atmospheric, but the rest is too variable.

Now for the writing, and the story. Well. It's a bit weak. Sorry. A Green Lantern is found in a German bunker in Berlin in 1949 - guess whose it was? - and somehow ends up in a museum in the modern day. Superman and Green Lantern look into it to try and find out what it is and where it comes from...and it kills them. So they end up in Alan Moore's hell from Swamp Thing and things rapidly go downhill from there.

Maybe at the time it was extraordinary, but now, after so much other quality work, it stinks. Maybe it should've been updated for the 21st Century. Maybe it should've been given to one artist to run with for the whole issue. Maybe it should've been expanded to the full 48 pages and turned into an Elseworlds. But it should not have been issued in its current format, it's just not worth the money.

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