Your Guide to Infinite Crisis:

The Rann-Thanagar War Concludes

Earlier, we looked at The Rann-Thanagar War #1-4. We now return to that series to cover its conclusion.

The Rann-Thanagar War #5: ”Betrayed”

Dave Gibbons script; Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Joe Bennett pencils; Marc Campos, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, & Jack Jadson inks; Ivan Reis and Marc Campos cover; cover-dated November 2005

The fifth issue begins with Komand’r being transferred as a prisoner by two Thanagar guards. The careful reader will recall that she was never shown captured and was last seen with Adam Strange and the Hawks. And one of the guards transferring her is a woman who has the metal wings of most Thanagarians. The other is a male who has, though no one notices, organic wings…

We cut to the Abyxian Wastes of Rann, where the Thanagarians have apparently found Sardath’s contingent, including Adam Strange’s family. An all-out melee is underway. Adam’s wife Alanna is firing a gun and refuses to surrender, telling Sardath and her crying daughter Aleea to fire too. The Thanagarians apparently have orders to take the three Rannian principals alive.

Their battle is joined, first by a contingent of heavily-armed Khundians and then by Tigorr, who’s stowed a ride with them (after teleporting back to Rann last issue). The rest of the Rannians seem to be dead, and Sardath tells Tigorr that they were heading toMount Ebalon, which houses a refuge where Adam Strange has agreed to meet them. Tigorr says he’ll tell the Khundians to “kick up plenty o’ dust” to distract the Thanagarians while the four of them make their departure.

Back on Thanagar, Kyle Rayner, Kilowog, and Captain Comet are almost done saving the Thanagarians kept in suspended animation to nourish Onimar Synn. Kyle’s constructed a dome around the many survivors, who are already at work building shelters. Kilowog uses his ring to begin terraforming the land within the dome, mutating simple organisms into plants that produce oxygen. Captain Comet, seeing the two Green Lanterns have everything well in hand, flies off for Rann where he might be of use. Kilowog tells Kyle that it’s not their war, then implies that they should terraform the rest of the planet instead.

In Ranagar City prison, the two Thanagarian guards transporting Komand’r are revealed to be Hawkman and Hawkwoman Shayera Thal in stolen uniforms. Blocked by reanimated Thanagarian corpses, the two Hawks and Komand’r open hostilities and enter the captured Grand Mor’s cell. Talking with the Grand Mor, it seems that Shayera Thal was undercover in the death cult under his orders when captured (in the first issue).

It’s then that Komand’r reveals her treason, saying Shayera can’t be trusted and blasting Hakman. She wants to join the Grand Mor and rule a combined Thanagarian and Tamaranean empire together. When Shayera intervenes, Koand’r blasts her. As Komand’r escapes with the Grand Mor, a wounded Hawkman holds Shayera as she dies. It’s worth recalling that in his current incarnation, Hawkman Carter Hall retains the memories of Katar Hol, the former Hawkman who worked alongside Shayera. With guards approaching, Shayera dies, speaking with assurance that they’ll meet again and love in a future life.

At night on Mount Ebalon, Sardath and company finish their trek. No one has followed them. Sardath activates the entrance to Rann’s cache of its Zeta Beam devices. He says that he had it built by robots and that no one knows of its existence except for him and his family. He plans to destroy it rather than let it fall into Omimar Synn’s hands.

In Ranagar City, Denoth updates Onimar Synn on the Rannian commanders’ escape, but he says that they’re scanning for traces of Zeta Beam radiation and, like a good henchman, promises success. As earlier, however, they’re being spied upon — now by Adam Strange and Hawkgirl. They don’t know that Hawkman has failed, and they’re still awaiting the Grand Mor being freed and siding with Sardath against Onimar Synn. But they’re getting worried. As they talk, an alarm sounds, noting an explosion at the military prison.

At the prison, Hawkman is doing his best to fight his way out, carrying Hawkwoman’s body to prevent it from being reanimated as part of Synn’s army. Adam Strange and Hawkgirl arrive, and Carter tells them of Shayera’s death and Komand’r's betrayal. But the enormous Onimar Synn pops out of the ground beneath them. Just as he’s about to squash the heroes, Captain Comet pulls them away in a telekinetic force bubble. Adam Strange and Captain Comet know each other by reputation, and identify as the only Earthmen of the bunch. The whole group heads off under Captain Comet’s power to head for the sole safe point Adam Strange knows.

We cut to Mount Ebalon, where the group has already joined Sardath and company. Hawkman mourns, and Captain Comet says he used his telekinesis off-panel to send Hawkwoman’s body into the sun Polaris, traditional Thanagarian resting place for heroes.

Then Sardath gets the computer’s viewscreens to work, just as Tigorr hears a heavy rumbling. Outside is the Thanagaran army, with Onimar Synn on a massive floating throne. Denoth even says he’s figured out the location of the entrance to the base. Onimar Synn, sensing that those inside Mount Ebalon can see and hear, declares victory.

It’s a fun issue, largely because of a sense that things are finally coming to a head. Komand’r's treachery isn’t unexpected, and Hawkwoman’s death shouldn’t surprise, given her disposability compared to the other characters and the need to include at least one death in the series. But they are dramatic. What’s more, we now have all the heroes united, except for Kyle Rayner and Kilowog, and at their lowest point. The stage is set for the final issue.

The Rann-Thanagar War #6: ”Seven Hells”

Dave Gibbons script; Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Joe Bennett pencils; Marc Campos, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, & Jack Jadson inks; Ivan Reis and Marc Campos cover; cover-dated December 2005

As the final issue begins, thinks look bleak. With the Thanagarian army around him, the giant Onimar Synn unleashes on Mount Ebalon, tearing it apart to try to get at the heroes and the cache of Zeta Beams within.

Inside, Adam Strange wonders how they could have been discovered. Captain Comet wonders if the Thanagarians traced residual Zeta Beam radiation, but Adam Strange says the beam he used to bring in Hawkman and Hawkgirl (in the first issue) was low in radiation. Tigorr mentions his teleportation from Throneworld, and Sardath puts it together: Throneworld’s was an old Zeta Beam model, and Tigorr is all but glowing with Zeta Beam radiation.

Adam’s daughter Aleea asks why they don’t just teleport away, but Adam says they have to stay and fight. Everyone seems to agree, and Tigorr points out they have the have the Zeta Beams on their side — which gives Adam Strange an idea.

Suddenly, Adam Strange, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Captain Comet, Tigorr, and even Alanna teleport outside and start blasting away at Synn’s zombies. Synn himself slaps Hawkgirl, prompting Adam and Alanna to start blasting him.

Inside, Sardath and Aleea stand by the computers. Outside, Tigorr has apparently climbed Onimar Synn’s body and puts a device on the villain’s neck. Adam, Alanna, Hawkman, Hawkgirl, and Captain Comet each quickly follow suit, with Comet attaching two devices. The observant reader will notice that the devices are attached to different parts of Synn’s body. Suddenly, Onimar Synn is gripped with pain as the Zeta Beams target these seven parts. And then he’s gone. Inside, Sardath explains to Aleea that he’s teleported Onimar Synn into seven different stars: Aldebaran, Arcturus, Deneb, Polaris, Rigel, Sol, and Vega. He finds it appropriate, given the Thanagarian belief in seven hells.

Just like that, Onimar Synn is defeated in the first 14 pages. The next eight, one would expect, would show the peace and give us a few character-driven epilogues.

Outside, the zombies are falling apart without Onimar Synn’s power. Hawkman appeals to the two thousand or so living Thanagarians left in Synn’s army, telling them it’s time for peace.

He’s interrupted, however, by the sudden appearance of a massive rift in the sky, one sending out energy tendrils like lightning bolts. No one knows what it is. Sardath says it’s “some force… rupturing the fabric of space-time!

This isn’t good. Aleea’s scared, and Alanna’s sick of her father’s secrets. She teleports inside to care for her daughter and hears Sardath planning war maneuvers with his allies the Dominators and the Coluans. Alanna denounces war, seeing an opportunity for peace with Thanagar. If the Dominion and Colu arrive, more war will be inevitable. But Sardath says that the Thanagarians and the Tamaraneans have conquered Polara, Rann’s new neighbor in the Polaris system, while everyone was focused on Onimar Synn.

Kyle Rayner and Kilowog arrive, telling the Thanagarians that the planet Thanagar has been terraformed and its orbit stabilized; it is now inhabitable again. The Green Lanterns promise to investigate the nearby space disturbance and urge cooperation.

His old-style Zeta Beam radiation wearing off, Tigorr disappears back to Throneworld, promising to bring its prince (the former Starman) and the rest of the Omega Man. Captain Comet says he’s contacted Vril Dox and that a L.E.G.I.O.N. ship is on the way to investigate the anomaly in space.

Over Polara, Komand’r is telling the Grand Mor that the rift in space is Sardath’s work — not implausible, given how Sardath’s technology led to Thanagar’s destruction. She sees Onimar Synn’s removal as an opportunity and enourages war. She talks of his power in contrast with Sardath’s impotence. The Grand Mor is convinced. He sends orders to all Thanagarians, ordering no mercy for the Rannians.

The plot thus twists irreversibly. On Rann, the heroes react in horror that all their efforts were for nothing. They’re now facing battle with the two thousand or so Thanagarians around them. Asked what side the Green Lanterns are on, Kilowog only says that they’re on the side of “the Guardians… [and] the whole universe!

The issue ends with a shot of the rift in space, its surrounding swirls filling most of the solar system. Ships of various races are all gathering, ominously over Rann and the newly terraformed Thanagar. The captions warn of the possibility that the renewed war’s victors will “become the victims of a far greater crisis” and it tells us that the story will be “continued in Infinite Crisis #1.”

It’s an exciting final issue, certainly confounding expectations. However unsatisfying the conclusion in certain respects, the sixth issue is also a quick read full of twists and turns.

Certainly, no one speculating about how the series would interact with Infinite Crisis guessed a rift would open in space. We may not know yet what this rift represents, and such unexplained rifts are a sort of science fiction cliché, but its appearance was certainly unexpected.

Of course, the great surprise is also the great disappointment of the series. Just as The Rann-Thanagar Waropens with that war already getting underway, effectively spinning out of events in the Adam Strange mini-series,The Rann-Thanagar War closes with that war only entering a new, even hotter stage. The final issue both offers resolution and denies it: Onimar Synn is destroyed (at least for now), but the war itself has only just begun — and now continues, adding to the sense of insanity, in the wake of a massive unexplained space rift that ought to be everyone’s immediate concern. While certainly unexpected, this change instead of resolution might well be criticized — though it’s worth pointing out that the shift might not so much as invalidate the title of The Rann-Thanagar War as much as place it as the early stage in a larger interstellar war, occurring in the context of Identity Crisis.

The defeat of Onimar Synn can equally be interpreted positively or negatively. The method used is totally logical, though has to wonder why those versed in the Zeta Beam didn’t think of it earlier. After five issues, it seems to happen right quickly — but this too only adds to the sense of surprise.

Artistically, Ivan Reis was joined by yet more artists for this and the previous issue, though the artistic fissures are a bit more visible here than in issue #5. Reis’s artwork is wonderful as earlier, but the other artists aren’t bad by any means. It’s not Reis who illustrates the concluding pages, adding an artistic level to the sense of shock at the series’s direction. It’s all too easy to depict space rifts as a swirling cliché, not unlike the anti-matter waves in Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the artists fall into this trap. Then again, Infinite Crisis has much in tone with Crisis on Infinite Earths.

All in all, then, the issue and the series are mixed successes, though the good outweighs the bad for those liking fantastic science fiction stories of expansive scope. The cast of characters, from individuals to the various alien species, can be dauntingly large but also provocatively interesting. Gibbons does a decent job of balancing elements, though he does occasionally jump forward in time or give a bit of transition in dialogue instead of showing us what’s happened. Reis handles the artwork masterfully, and the other artists are quite capable even if overshadowed by the signature style Reis imposes.

It’s the kind of story that might have been told in a Buck Rogers or Dan Dare serial, an ambitious tale of large scope and cast, rendered in realistic detail but not without a certain amount of style and flair. And like most of those classic serials, it ends by leading into the next chapter…

Read the Rest

“Your Guide to Infinite Crisis” attempts to spell out and outline the whole of this sprawling, complicated crossover. It has several other installments, organized by the narrative thread under discussion:

The OMAC Project

Day of Vengeance

Villains United

The Rann-Thanagar War

The Return of Donna Troy

Crisis of Conscience

PowerTrip

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

In 1996, while still an undergraduate, Dr. Julian Darius founded what would become Sequart Organization. After graduating magna cum laude from Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin), he obtained his M.A. in English, authoring a thesis on John Milton and utopianism. In 2002, he moved to Waikiki, teaching college while obtaining an M.A. in French (high honors) and a Ph.D. in English. In 2011, he founded Martian Lit, which publishes creative work, including his comic book Martian Comics. He currently lives in Illinois.

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