Spotlight Sunday 12.9.18

Spotlight Sundays

Another week of playing catch-up means that there are spoilers ahead for…

The Green Lantern #2
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Cover: Liam Sharp
Rated T+

Before we get started, I can announce the selection of a winner of the first (and only) OpenDoor Comics Peer Pressure Prize Sweepstakes. Congratulations to Seed of Bismuth! Thanks to everyone who participated, even though the prizes were enough to keep almost everyone else away. Will there be other prize giveaways in the future? Based on the "success" of this one...well, we'll see.

“Nurse, I’d call a doctor if I were you. But tell them this man killed 2.5 billion people. Tell them there’s no need to hurry.”

Given that most people who consume genre fiction in which a role can be passed along tend to favor the character who held the role when they first started consuming said genre fiction as “their” version of the character, Hal Jordan should be “my” Green Lantern.

While there were other Green Lanterns – and I don’t just mean the other members of the Corps; I mean people who were the main focus of the series – for brief periods, when I started reading comics, Hal was the Green Lantern living on Earth – on Earth-One, anyway –  and the star of the titular series.

I liked him well enough, I suppose, and there was a period during which I really liked the series* – it was at that same time that I came to really appreciate John Stewart, who, thanks to the DC Animated Universe, is a Green Lantern that an entire generation of fans view as “theirs” – but eventually I, and apparently many others, grew to find Hal a bit…tiresome. Bland. Boring.

It probably didn’t help that DC kept removing one of the corps core aspects of the character that made him interesting: the fact that he was part of something much larger, an entire corps of Green Lanterns spread out across the universe. The existence of the larger Green Lantern Corps provided a lot of narrative possibilities, but, sadly, those possibilities were rarely explored, and the stories tended to focus on the earthbound, generic adventures of Hal Jordan, to the extent that the larger Corps was thrown into disarray, and then, ultimately, ended, leaving just a handful of active GLs.

(I always found it amusing/revealing that the Green Lantern Corps persisted for uncounted millennia right up until a human became a member, at which point the whole thing just fell apart.)

Still, I wasn’t a fan of a the heel turn that Hal eventually took, but that did lead to the Green Lantern that I do think of as mine: Kyle Rayner.

As with Wally West – who is my Flash – I liked Kyle because I was there from, more or less, the start, able to watch him grow into the role, and to earn the name. (Also, Wally was a lot less bland than Barry Allen.) With Kyle, there was the additional aspect of working not only to live up to the role he found himself in, but to redeem it in the wake of his predecessor’s actions.

I honestly liked Hal more in his role as The Spectre in the series by J.M. DeMatteis and the late Norm Breyfogle. I thought it was a much better redemptive arc for the character than what came later with his return to ring-slinging.

In any case, Hal has been the Green Lantern again for a while, even if he is one amongst many, but I haven’t read any Green Lantern titles in quite some time, so I’m not really that up on the state of things.

That doesn’t appear to be necessary for enjoying The Green Lantern, however, as writer Grant Morrison is clearly doing his own thing with the title, with said “thing” being borrowing from different parts of the characters’ history, but leaning very heavily on the science fiction aspects of the Silver Age.

He’s also leaning into the whole “space cop” idea, which, from my most recent readings seems to be a popular approach, structuring the story as something of a police procedural, except in space.

Last issue – which is one I had intended to write about, but it was sold out by the time I got to the comic shop, and by the time I did pick it up there was something else that got my focus – we found an earthbound Hal on suspension. However, circumstances were such that he ended up being called back to active duty to investigate an assault on the member of the Corps that stemmed from an unsuccessful attempt by space pirates to steal a “Luck Dial” from the Luck Lords of Ventura.

The sponsors of the heist – a group of Blackstars, who are a sort of more extreme version of the Green Lantern Corps, run by the Controllers, who are related to the Guardians who run the Corps – referred to the dial as “Component One,” though what it’s meant to be a component of is not yet clear.

However, this issue opens with some Blackstars busting the villainous Evil Star out of his Guardian-imposed imprisonment.

Back on Oa, Hal is interrogating a captured space pirate to get to the bottom of what’s going on, not yet aware that there is any connection to another case being worked by the Corps that involves missing planets.

The pieces of the puzzle start coming together later, however, after Hal gets the pirate to talk, and we see the Blackstars take Evil Star’s “Star-Band” weapon – Component Three – from him, and leave him adrift in space somewhere near Earth.

The Blackstars, we learn, are using the Star-Band as the basis for a mass-produced weapon that can be incorporated into their battlesuits, and we see the Controller behind it offering the services of the Blackstars to the the Dhorian Slavers (the most famous of whom is Kanjar Ro) to provide security while the Dhorian’s go about their business.

Said business being stealing planets. Why are the Blackstars, who are more inclined to punish evil than abet it, helping them out? We’ll find out, though the Controller assures them that one day their time will come.

With the Blackstars’ backing, the Dhorians set about their latest planetary heist as Hal heads home after visiting the dessicated and decrepit Evil Star in a hospital and learning about the partnership between the Blackstars and the Dhorians.

Which, uh, which planet do you suppose the Dhorians decided to steal?

Green Lantern, particularly an incarnation that is in a more cosmic setting, is a good fit for Grant Morrison, who, for good and ill, is known for some of his more “out there” concepts. So far, the plot is considerably more straightforward than is typical for Morrison. His imagination seems to be running with the characters and the settings more than with the narrative.

(I am kind of amused by having Earth being stolen be part of the story so close on the heels of a similar event happening in the current Bendis run on Action Superman.)

That cosmic focus is a good idea when you’re working with someone who is, frankly, as unappealing as Hal Jordan is often presented, as it draws attention away from his strange combination of skeeviness and blandness.

I have to wonder if DC, aware that there is a vast untapped potential with GL, is hoping that Morrison can build some real excitement and enthusiasm for the character that can translate into a cinematic effort that can undo some of the damage of the 2011 offering.

While I am excited by the prospect of what Morrison will do with Green Lantern – irrespective of the motivation – what really stands out so far is the amazing, meticulously-rendered artwork of Liam Sharp.

Just look at this:

Sharp also stands out in his character design, going wild with some of the alien Lanterns, such as Lantern Volk, who has a frickin’ volcano for a head.

It will be interesting to see when two immense talents who both have an obvious affection for the Silver Age will go with such a quintessentially Silver Age character and set of concepts. So far, we’re off to a promising start.

As always, special thanks go out to my comic shop, Comic Logic Books & Artwork. Please remember to support your local comic shop, and if you need to find one, click here.

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*Those runs are, unfortunately, marred by recent developments involving the writer. It's possible, sometimes, to separate the art from the artist, but...damn.
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