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‘The Green Lantern Annual #1’ (review)

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli
and Trevor Scott
Published by DC Comics

I’m not a superhero kid. Now and again, I hang around with superheroes. I’m a policeman.”

Grant Morrison’s first annual for his run on The Green Lantern is quite a bit different in tone and style from the rest of the run so far, in large part because of guest artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Trevor Scott.

Where regular series artist Liam Sharp is heavily textured and stylized, Camuncoli and Scott sport clean lines and layouts with plenty of space and balance. The result is a far more straightforward and ‘pretty’ visual presentation, one that might prove to be more accessible to many readers simply because it focuses less on the strange and the striking. More like Hallmark Theater or a Prime Time family drama. Indeed, compared to Sharp, Camuncoli and Scott come across as positively PG.

Call it family-friendly.

That suits the majority of the story, which in fact features the extended Jordan family – and the sort of dangerous, over-the-top craziness that happens a lot, when one of your family members happens to be a super-powered space-cop. Or has the last name of Jordan.

This is actually the sort of thing that Morrison is known for doing well. Drawing on decades of GL stories, and the extended soap opera cast of the dysfunctional Jordan clan, our story jumps head-first into an adventure that presumes the reader is already fully up to speed with that cast, even though that is unlikely in the last two decades of post-Parallax era GL stories.

Take Air Wave – the hero with radio wave powers! Who also happens to be Hal’s teenage cousin, Hal Jr.

We haven’t seen Hal Jr. or his alter ego since Infinite Crisis (where he died), or maybe Blackest Night (in which he was resurrected), yet here he is once more, alive, well, and a teenager again.

There is no effort is made to catch the reader up on who he is, or how he came by his powers. (inherited from his parents – the original AirWave was a member of the first JSA), only that Hal Jr. really wants to up his street cred. And that Hal Jordan really does not want a kid sidekick, thanks very much.

Thankfully for the Green Lantern of Sector 2814, Air Wave’s powers happen to be just the ticket to take on a menace from an unseen landscape of higher wavelengths and the beings who live there, the Wireless Ones.

If only that didn’t cut both ways..

Seems the proliferation of wireless cell technology on our planet is a problem for those who reside in those frequencies… or an opportunity for those who would take advantage of the bleeding between two worlds.

Morrison takes every opportunity to make clever commentary on the unintended consequences of our over-reliance on these technologies in our modern lives. That, and the power of family dysfunction to overcome the new promises – or perils – of our hyper-connected world.

It’s all very clever, and neat, but in the end perhaps a little too clever. Something about the story doesn’t quite land. It’s not like Morrison has never delivered a story that is crafted almost entirely to showcase certain obscure trivia and references from the annals of comic-dom. And it is certainly smart to write a modern story that puts so many of Hal’s relatives back on the page. Piece by piece, Morrison is recreating all the essential details of Hal Jordan’s life as a hero, as a man, all with the additional emphasis now on Hal’s role as a Keeper of the Peace.

It is smart, and it’s appreciated. Somehow though it’s hard to take the threat of the Wireless Ones entirely seriously. Maybe it’s because they look like little blue electric Sonic Pokemon creatures. Maybe because all the meta-commentary seems to overshadow the threat itself. Maybe because of all those hangovers.

Whatever the reason, while this is a fine addition to the overall patchwork tapestry Grant Morrison is creating for the modern legacy of Hal Jordan, it remains somewhat under the standards of the rest of the series so far.

But only just.

Next Issue: I don’t know, but with all these nods to Hal’s past and current life on earth, I’m still waiting for Carol Ferris to show up again in these pages. Maybe in next year’s Annual?


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