Amalgam (Marvel; June, 1997)“Showdown At Stark Aircraft!” WRITER: Kurt Busiek PENCILER: Paul Smith INKERS: Al Williamson, Andrew Pepoy, (?) Adams, Bob McLeod, Tom Palmer, Al Milgrom, & Paul Smith COLORS: Christie Scheele & Digital Chameleon LETTERING: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne ASSISTANT EDITOR: Glenn Greenberg EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
Iron Lantern is bringing H.E.C.T.O.R. to the Oa, The Living Planet, for detention, and arrives just in time to save Pepper Ferris from crashing when a new plane is sabotaged. Although Pepper’s dad demonstrates later at a party in the senator’s honor that he’s against her flying because she’s a woman, which runs her off and she has a run-in with a crystal that turns her into Madame Sapphire. Then she releases the giant robot shark Great White to wreak havoc. Iron Lantern (secretly Hal Stark, owner of Stark Aircraft) takes care of him as we saw in last night’s Friday Night Fight while one of his substitutes, Kyle O’Brien, steals the power battery, hoping to reclaim his glory time as the Green Guardsman. While Iron Lantern just barely defeats Great White, he drains his reserve battery and as he falls to Earth and is mistaken as falling meteor, Madame Sapphire kidnaps Pepper’s dad, deciding the sexist needs to be taught a lesson. This is all falling according to plan…a play by Mandarinestro!
What they got right: I like when the Amalgam stories are more than simply merging two ideas and form their own stories. That’s what we get here. I like the concept of the armor and how Hal got his powers. There are some good villains here.
What they got wrong: But if I’m going to fault one writer for too many plot lines I can’t let another get away with it, even one I actually like. First you have Madame Sapphire and Great White, which I’m counting as one since Great White is used to distract Iron Lantern. I like this one. But then you have the subplot with someone wanting the power for himself which wasn’t bad but I didn’t think was necessary (this is admittedly personal preference and not a critical negative), and then you throw in Mandarinestro, who does nothing other than be a Mandarin/Sinestro fusion as the archenemies of Iron Man and Green Lantern respectively. But I’ll get to him in the amalgamation reviews shortly.
- Iron Lantern (Iron Man/Green Lantern): There’s this part of me disappointed that it’s Hal, who was already gone in favor of Kyle (more on him coming up as well), again taking center stage. Yes, the way they got rid of Hal was a bad move, but Kyle is a great character tossed aside too often and you’d think a cartoonist would be great fodder for comic creators. (I’ll keep being bitter about that every time I see it.) That said, Hal and Tony do make for a good amalgamation, but I do wonder if he’s connected to Tony Stark from Bruce Wayne: Agents Of SHIELD. In this version, Abin Sur’s counterpart dies before Hal can learn about whatever passes for Green Lanterns in this universe and, damages when his test plane crashes, Hal uses the power battery and parts of the ship to create armor to save his life. He doesn’t need it to live but he’s a superhero and my favorite of the Amalgam heroes. (Which really shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me.)
- Madame Sapphire (Madame Masque/Star Saphire)/Pepper Ferris (Pepper Pots/Carol Ferris): This is a most interesting amalgamation. Thanks to Pepper, Carol actually finds herself in Hal Jordan’s position and vice versa when it comes to their relationship. She’s also the test pilot in this version and with a feisty attitude to match daddy’s sexist position. Then you have Madame Masque (which was Whitney Frost and a few successors and usurpers) merging with Star Sapphire, which adds a new wrinkle. While I’ve complained about triple fusions in the past (for example Doctor Strangefate), here you couldn’t merge Masque and Sapphire any other way. I really wanted to see where that story ended, unlike the other two.
- Mandarinestro (Mandarin/Sinestro): Okay, this amalgamation is a given considering both parts’ position in their respective hero’s lives but that’s the only reason he’s here. (Also interesting that whoever drew that panel put in him in the pose Hal had on the cover where he stole all the power rings.) He’s manipulating everything but why? The Madame Sapphire plot was enough for me and this just felt tacked on. Why not make HIM the main villain instead if you really want to use him?
- Kyle O’Brien (Kyle Rayner/Kevin O’Brien): And here’s where I possibly read too much into things. Okay, Kyle is Hal’s successor as Green Lantern, so in theory I understand merging him with another former Iron Man. However, O’Brien (as I recall) was a former Iron Man who try to permanently take over for Tony, which is where Kyle O’Brien gets his subplot. It could just be that Kyle took over for Hal (and was STILL the only Green Lantern at the time) leading to the amalgamation but (and here’s that reading too much part) Busiek upset that Hal was replaced, which seems to pop up so much in Kyle’s history that it’s no surprise he never caught on. He wasn’t allowed to. And again this character and the subplot was unnecessary, serving only to handicap Iron Lantern’s battle with Great White and not much else. Regardless of what Busiek’s actual intent was with this amalgamation I hate the character for what he represents to me if nothing else.
- Great White (Ultimo/Shark): Well, that’s an interesting choice. I guess Ultimo doesn’t have a DC counterpart but Shark seems like an odd fit when there are evil DC robots. Why not the Manhunters, who are connected to the Green Lantern Corps’ history? That said, the idea of a giant, bipedal, shark robot just makes me too happy to care. Somebody do this again!
- H.E.C.T.O.R. (M.O.D.O.K.)/Hector Hammond): We don’t get to see what he can do because he’s only there to complete a “previous” adventure, but otherwise he shares Mandarinestro’s obligatory amalgamation.
- Oa The Living Planet (Oa/Ego The Living Planet): Okay, you’d think that if they were going to merge Ego with anyone in the DCU it would be Mogo, another living planet that is also a Green Lantern. I’m not bothered by what we got though, and Oa is a nicer planet than Ego, even if he keeps calling Iron Lantern his servant (which annoys Hal to no end). Considering he has the face of a Guardian and part Ego he could have been a lot worse. (They don’t call him “Ego” for nothing. 😀 )
- Rhomann Sur (Rhomann Dey/Abin Sur): The Nova Corp is Marvel’s version of the Green Lantern Corp, in practice if not intent. I like to think of this as a nod to that.
- Stuart Rhodes (John Stewart/Jim “Rhodey” Rhodes) & Happy Kalmaku (Happy Hogan/Tom Kalmaku): We already had a Rhodey amalgamation in Bullets And Bracelets but I like this one better. The only reason I like that they’re here is that I like when superheroes have civilian allies and that’s the only role they serve. That and Happy is still hitting on Pepper although Ferris and Kalmaku as I recall were never romantically connected. Otherwise, they don’t add to the story but I’m still glad they’re here.
Would I buy the series: Heck yeah! This is actually my favorite of the Amalgam comics and I would love to see where this story goes. We never will, obviously, but I’d still like to find out.
Recommendation: Like I said, this is my favorite Amalgam comic so naturally I would recommend checking it out. Dude in armor that creates solid light constructs fighting a giant robot shark in space. What’s not to love here?