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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Tempest #4 - Feb. 1997

Comics Weekend "Prophets & Kings: Dead in the Water" by Phil Jimenez and Keith Aiken.

This final issue of Tempest opens with Idyllists, locked in battle with Slizzath's undead army, finding themselves overwhelmed:
As the Idyllists are slaughtered, Tempest grabs a spear Tula is holding. He hurls it at Slizzath, but it is stopped when Slizzath moves Tempest's father's body in its path!

Tula attacks Garth, demanding to know why he's trying to hurt his own father, and her. Atlan, still imprisoned by Slizzath, uses his telepathic powers to communicate with Garth, telling him that Tula isn't real, merely a construct of Slizzath to mess with Garth's head.

But Garth won't listen, so he turns to Letifos, and tells her to use the ritual knife, whose mystical powers will be able to hurt Tula. As Atlan distracts Slizzath, Letifos snatches the knife:
Tula, now realizing what she really is, begs Garth to do something, anything, before she starts to "turn" again. Garth finds this unbearable, but when Tula begins to change back into Slizzath's puppet, Garth uses his powers to immolate Tula, which simultaneously restores his powers.

Garth, now all uncontrollable rage, attacks Slizzath, and uses the ritual knife to cut open a hole into Slizzath's home dimension, where he was trapped for so long. A whirlpool opens, and it starts to suck Slizzath into it:
After the hole swallows Slizzath up, it begins to close, until the hole is completely gone. There's a moment of silence, and the events hit Garth, causing him to retch, then cry.

Time passes, and the Idyllists begin to rebuild. They burn the mystic parchment, now stripped of its magical properties, and cast a spell that will keep Slizzath imprisoned forever.

Letifos asks Atlan where Garth has done, and he answers he has left to go bury Tula:
...The End.

The final page of the story features a dedication from Phil Jimenez to his late partner, Neal Pozner. Jimenez talks about Pozner at length in the letters page, even showing Neal's original blue costume design, and how he modeled Tempest's suit on Neal's new look for Aquaman. Its a touching tribute, surprising in its heartfelt directness--you normally didn't see anything so personal on a comic book letters page.

I said when I started these recaps of Tempest that I have never been a big fan of Garth; but this is about the best I've seen him presented--he's still very tortured and at times whiny, but this series was clearly Jimenez's attempt to close that chapter in the character's history and sort of hit the reset button.

It was probably a long shot that Tempest get his own book following this series (when of course Aquaman has had a hard enough time selling), but I definitely would have been up for seeing more of Jimenez's take on Tempest as a solo star.


Brent said...

I had only been out of the closet a short time when I remember reading Jimenez' tribute to Pozner. It really meant a lot to me, in a way integrating my acceptance of myself as a gay man with my lifelong love of comits, and Aquaman in specific. Very cool of DC to publish it.

Wings1295 said...

Was a good way to make the character his own, take him away a bit from being the "kid Aquaman" into a character of his own.

I just hope we get him back, sooner rather than later. Cause hey, like he said, if Superman can do it...

Orin's dad said...

I enjoyed this mini-series when it came out, mainly because of the Phil Jiminez art. I thought his work on it was fantastic. The story wasn't bad either; as you said rob!, I think they were trying to get Garth away from being whiny and fussy all the time. Never really expected a series out of it, but did always hope it would generate another mini-series...

Anonymous said...

Poor Garth. I feel like he's the purple-eyed stepchild of the DC Universe. Starting from his origin with his fear of fish, down to his own mentor trying to kill him, losing his girlfriend forever in a world where most people treat death like a revolving door, losing his wife and child, and then becoming a Black Lantern - poor Tempest needs a break. I loved this mini-series and I hope that Garth returns to the land of the living soon. Maybe via some timey-wimey hijinks in Flashpoint?

Tempest127 said...

I've read this series several times over the years and found that it became downright painful to read after I suffered a major loss in my own family. When I read it the first time, it was all about Garth finally facing his demons, while the second time it was about me facing my own. That's the power of a great character and a brilliant creative team in Phil Jimenez and John Stokes). It's no wonder that this series was nominated for an Eisner Award; it deserved it.

I've noted the comments about Garth being "whiny" and have to say that I've never seen that (and I've read his every appearance). Considering all of the hardships he's faced, the eleven years of isolation he suffered, the harsh treatment he's bravely endured and the losses he's faced, he'd have a right to turn into Roy Harper, but he never did. Sure, he's been angry and he spent years wallowing in sorrow, but he was always there when his mentor or his team called upon him to act. Even after the hurtful manner in which he finally meets the mother who abandoned him as an infant, he put his feelings aside and did what was best for his people. That's the kind of hero Garth is and it's a pity that the short-sighted, so-called "creative" honchos of today's DC Comics couldn't figure that out.

Few people can say that a wonderful series like this was written directly for their enjoyment, but that was the case here, for several of us fans knew that our input had been respected, honored and appreciated. Luckily for me, lightning struck twice, for something similar happened with the JLA/Titans mini-series. The "Tempest" series was an incredible event that I wouldn't have missed for the world, all thanks to Phil. (And thanks, Rob, for showcasing my favorite of all underwater adventures)!