|Perfect-bound comic, 38 pages|
Borrowed from the library
Read June 2011
Written by Neil Gaiman
Artwork by Michael D. Allred & Terry Austin, Mark Buckingham, John Totleben, Matt Wagner, Eric Shanower & Arthur Adams, Jim Aparo, Kevin Nowlan, Jason Little
Colored by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by Todd Klein
Action Comics Weekly sounds like the kind of thing I'd've liked, given my enjoyment of Wednesday Comics: an anthology title that came out weekly, with several stories advancing slowly issue to issue. But it was apparently a nightmare to pull together, and so it didn't even last a year. Legend of the Green Flame is the finale it never got, as Gaiman's script was dumped for someone else's, finally being illustrated and published some twelve years later. The story unites all of the characters-- the Blackhawk Squadron, the Green Lantern, Superman, Catwoman, the Phantom Stranger, Deadman, and a demon who totally isn't Etrigan, honest-- from Action Comics Weekly into one big story.
In this tale, Hal Jordan and Clark Kent find an old green lantern, originally found in some rubble in 1949, in a museum exhibit. When Hal uses it to charge his ring, the two of them end up flung into Hell itself. It's short, only a little longer than your typical single issue, so not a whole lot actually happens. What does happen is fun enough, I suppose, though I suspect it would have been funner had it actually been read as the conclusion to all of these characters' stories in Action Comics Weekly. I think my favorite random appearance was Deadman, who gets some funny material. I don't get why the Blackhawks find dead members of the Justice Society (including the Sandman, natch) in 1949, though.
As it is, it's nice to see Clark Kent and Hal Jordan hang out together. I don't know why Hal Jordan is so mopey here, or why the events of this story make him get over it, but Gaiman write a nice Clark/Superman. There's a fun bit where in the middle of a conversation, Clark flies off and gets a cat out of a tree, and the best scene in the book is probably when, upon their arrival in Hell, Superman is incapacitated by being able to hear the torment of every single being in Hell at once. Sometimes it sucks being Superman.
The resolution is a bit too easy, given all the buildup it gets, but that's a done-in-one story for you, I suppose. There are a number of different artists for some reason, but it's not as jarring as you might think, since each of them does a different chapter, and each chapter takes the story some place completely different. Oh, and the ending joke is fun, though it wasn't until just now that I finally got it. "The place is all yours," indeed, Neil.