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‘The Green Lantern #1’ (review)

Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Liam Sharp 
Published by DC Comics

 

“I don’t do scared.”

 

He’s back.

He’s been out of the limelight for a while.

Gone to ground, left to roam the lands of his younger days, restless, discontent, malcontent even, like a prize bull rattling the pen, impatient to return to the fight.

Trying to shoe-horn himself into an ordinary life that can no longer really hold him, one eye constantly on the north stars of his imagination, an inner world populated with the mysteries and wonders of a universe most will never see, and few could encompass.

A man whose dedication to the Law is equaled only by a passionate obstinance that compels him to go his own way, no matter the cost.

Even if it ends up grounding him, only for a little while, the magical creative willpower that drives his greatest flights, left to slowly ebb away with time and disuse.

Just counting down the days until he finally gets the call, or fate intervenes, and it’s back to work. Back where he belongs.

Oh. And there’s that Grant Morrison fellow, too.

Welcome to the premiere issue of The Green Lantern, and the glorious renewal of one of DC’s greatest heroes, and one of its greatest franchises.

I have to admit, when I first heard that the grandmaster was returning to the DCU to write the adventures of our favorite emerald officer of the peace, and then read the promos and interviews that told us this series would be an opportunity to focus on the sort of gritty, science fiction/noir stories that only Hal Jordan’s role as a space-cop could afford, I was a little… disappointed.

I mean, sure, I thought, that sounds fun.

There’s a whole universe of trouble for GL to get into, after all. No reason Grant Morrison should slave himself to the sort of groundbreaking, foundational, revisionist sagas he’s built his reputation on. The kind that sweeps our most popular characters into multi-dimensional workings of destiny designed to temper their character and their spirit, the kind that mines their legacy for rich veins of storytelling upon which to recreate whole swaths of their mythology.

OK, said I. Too bad. But I’m sure he’ll do just as well with short, tightly written, one-off stories of deep space… police work.

But, oh no. Oh, wait. Then I read this month’s opening issue… And all my fears were laid to rest.

Like I should have worried.

Don’t get me wrong. The noir is there. And the policework. And so is all the wild and the wondrous and the weirdly alien.

It’s a good look for this book. One that’s taken up with jubilant exuberance by artist Liam Sharp whose imaginative range, and earthy, textured detail give this book the sort of old-school space epic-and-Heavy Metal comic book feel, this project deserves. Add the variously-hued instincts of colorist Steve Oliff, and this book fairly pops and sizzles.

Sharp’s no stranger to Green Lantern stories of course, but it’s clear out of the gates that his collaboration with Grant Morrison is bound for greatness, with all of the alien locales, races, and fantastic oddities he’ll be asked to realize. Appropriate.

Heck just the opening lead page of this issue alone is worth the entire price, with a take on the Guardians of Oa and the Central Power Battery that perfectly captures the classic glory-days feel of the franchise – and presumably, the entire run to come.

And Morrison? Well, after just this first issue, I think it’s fair to say his plans for Hal Jordan are anything but penny-ante.

Indeed, the opening set-up for the major arc of the series has all the signs of a saga that will likely give equal play to a great host of interstellar strangeness, the internal machinations of the Green Lantern Corps, important elements of Hal Jordan’s personal and professional life, maybe a cosmic demonic horror or two thrown in for spice, and a plot that draws on the breadth of Corp history, old and new.

Just to recap, it appears that the Guardians’ old foes the Controllers are still very much in play since their recent Darkstar bid for universal domination in the recent, final arc of Robert Venditti’s run on Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.

Or, one Controller in particular is anyway. A mysterious new player, Controller Mu, who appears to have set in motion a plan to build a powerful new weapon. Something he’s calling an ‘Anti-Matter Lantern’.

Which sounds bad. Like something meant to counter everything that the Oan Central Power Lantern is meant to embody.

The forging of this dark weapon, we learn, requires certain power sources. Like a probability-warping Luck Dial from the Venturan Luck Lords. And also, a certain powerful source of anti-matter, that has no right walking around freely in our own universe.

(I mean, really, Qwardians are the worst. Or they were…)

As ordinary luck would have it, the strands of destiny surrounding Controller Mu’s fateful operation cross lines with the story of Hal Jordan, plucking him right out of an enforced absence-of-leave on Earth, and reinstating him to his place on the Corps just in time to be thrust into the heart of a dark, mysterious peril that goes far beyond the mere pedestrian plans of Contoller Mu.

It seems a long-recorded prophecy has foretold the end of the Guardians and the Corps, the one source of information the Guardians have about it has been tampered with, and there is a traitor in the ranks of the Green Lantern Corps. One that Corpsman Hal Jordan apparently, is ideally suited to track down…

So much for minor story arcs. Well played gentlemen and lady, well played.

But these are broad strokes.

The true joy of Morrison’s work, as his best work always is, lies in his attention to detail and the sheer vigor of his storytelling. There’s more fantastic and fanciful in this issue than you can shake a stick at. And all of it couched squarely in DC canon.

And his characterization of Hal is just spot on. Cocksure and restive, Jordan is a jumble of opposing forces: at once incredibly competent and professional, insurgent and unreliable, he is both chock-full of the acumen of his job, and a mess of rough-and-tumble instincts that simply won’t be happy without some worthwhile, immediate purpose upon which to focus all that passion and indomitable determination he’s got roiling around behind the mask.

Sounds like the man for the job. And I couldn’t be happier.

We’re off! Back in the saddle.

And may the multiverse never be the same.

Next Issue: A little good, old-fashioned police work.

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