Green Lantern, Vol.1 – “No Fear” (DC)

GreenLantern-Vol.1-NoFearWriter: Geoff Johns | Artist: Carlos Pacheco (#1-3), Ethan van Sciver (#4-5), Simone Bianchi (#6) | Inks: Jesus Merino (#1-3), Prentis Rollins (#5) | Colors: Moose Baumann (#1-5), Nathan Eyring (#6)

Hal Jordan is back from the dead – now watch as he re-establishes his life as a pilot. Standing in his way, though, is one of the deadly Manhunter androids followed by the Shark.

Collects: Green Lantern #1-6

After reading Blackest Night, its prequel Agent Orange, and Green Lantern: Rebirth, I’ve finally got around to reading the first collection of Geoff Johns’s pre-New 52 run on Green Lantern proper. And I was… well, not exactly bowled over, but nor was I exactly disappointed. It’s a fun book, and I’m sure it would be a good buy if you’re a fan of the character, but haven’t managed to read that much of his back-story or pre-New 52 adventures.

The first four pages of the book are a blitz-through of the story of how Abin Sur selected of Hal Jordan to be his successor. There’s a mention of the yellow impurity, which was properly explained in Green Lantern: Rebirth. The main story begins, as Jordan is trying to get a new job, back in the US Air Force. He’s struggling a bit, given that the guy he clocked to get his initial discharge is now heading up the program and division he would have to join to get re-upped. Awkward, for sure…

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The next two chapters focus on a rogue “Manhunter 2.0” and Hal’s attempt to put it down. As it turns out, Manhunters are not so keen on humans…

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The book is a little uneven beyond this, as we’re informed that an entire, new Green Lantern Corps is being called up, after the ravages of Parallax, which at least means they don’t know what Jordan became and what he did when he was possessed. Very strangely, at the start of one chapter (#4), what appears to be an alien, a gray, stepped out for a cigarette and is hit by a military jeep…

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There’s a lot of cryptic information and nuggets throughout this book, but it didn’t really feel like it was going anywhere. Jordan goes to see Hector Hammond. Who has a huge head… I wasn’t entirely familiar with the character, but he features in the rest of the book.

In Chapter 5, we get… SHARKS!! Big, f**k-off evil ones. In another example of characters evolving “millions of years” in one go by an apparent freak accident… It gets to the point when it feels a bit like a narrative crutch. Thankfully, we do get an explanation for all this rampant evolution. And also a huge fight against a shark-beast that Jordan apparently has clashed with in the past.

Also, while reading this book, I was initially very confused about the creepy little German-speaking gremlins that kept cropping up at seemingly random moments…

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In the final chapter, everything is finally tied up, and the German-speaking gremlins are explained. This was really weird. Quirky, not necessarily in a bad way, though. They appear to be experiment-obsessed aliens who like to dick around with others species’ genetics, technology, and evolutionary stage.

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The artwork throughout is strong, as you can see from the samples included here. It’s not particularly stand-out, but it serves its purpose well – Johns’s story is well-realised. It was not, however, anything I felt particularly strongly about.

“No Fear” is not a bad book, overall, nor is it a bad start to a newly re-booted series. It’s a little bit unfocused, but at the same time it is starting to show signs of the quality I’ve seen in later books and the New 52 Green Lantern (which is the reason I decided to pick this up in the first place). At this point, pre-New 52 Green Lantern isn’t nearly as strong as the first two volumes of the New 52 re-boot. I’m not sure it’s as good for new readers, either. That’s a lot of dissembling after I said it was a good book… But, in view of the series at large, “No Fear” just isn’t as strong as other collected editions or story-arcs. It’s rather quirky, though.

Will I read volume two and beyond? Absolutely. I’m just not in as much of a rush to do so as I was after reading Blackest Night and the New 52 Green Lantern.

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“Green Lantern: Rebirth” (DC)

GreenLantern-Rebirth-TPBGeoff Johns re-boots the Green Lantern series

Writer: Geoff Johns | Artist: Ethan van Sciver | Colors: Moose Baumann | Inks: Prentis Rollins (#2-6) & Mick Gray (#5-6), Marlo Alquiza (#6)

Hal Jordan was considered the greatest Green Lantern of them all. But Jordan lost control, allowed himself to be corrupted and transformed into the villainous Parallax. Later, Jordan reappeared and made the ultimate sacrifice – a sacrifice that allowed him to become the Spectre, the Wrath of God. After several years of activity on Earth, The Spectre became restless and sought a way to prove himself worthy of that noble reputation. See how a man born without fear and seeking to rebuild his life, puts cosmic forces into motion that will have repercussions not only on Earth but across the universe.

Green Lantern: Rebirth is the book that re-booted the franchise and character pre-New 52. Penned by Geoff Johns (who is fast becoming one of my favourite comic authors), it explains how Hal Jordan, who killed himself while possessed by the malevolent entity Parallax, comes back to life. As super-heroes are so very wont to do. It’s not a bad place to start, but this could be because I’ve read other Green Lantern books and series, not to mention later chapters in Johns’s run (don’t ask why, but I’m reading it entirely out of order).

So, as this book begins, there’s a lot of new and weird shit going on. First off, Hal Jordan is no longer the being Parallax. Instead, he appears to have become the Spectre, an incredibly powerful being created (maybe by a god) to go around the DC Universe meting out justice. Secondly, one of Earth’s other Lanterns (there are four), Guy Gardner is some kind of alien-shape-changer-hybrid, and no longer in the Green Lantern Corps. He is still on good terms with another Earth Lantern, John Stewart. Kyle Rayner, the fourth, final, and youngest human Lantern, who we meet in the first pages as he crash-lands back on on Earth, is oddly absent for a lot of this book.

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The first chapter is very focused on scene setting, for which I was grateful. The Justice League make an appearance, as they try to figure out what’s going on: Gardner appears to have gone biologically nova – he unwittingly unleashed a massive power blast that destroys a Green Lantern-themed bar (a bit tacky, but there we go), and seems to have lost control of his shape-changing abilities. It’s a big mess. There are signs of Jordan returning, and not in a good way, as many of his former colleagues in the Lantern Corps and also the Justice League only see him now as the Spectre. Batman, on the other hand, is highly suspicious. As he is wont to be.

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We learn more of Hal’s powers as the Spectre, when the Justice League confront him after he fixes the old, dilapidated airfield where he learned to fly, where his dad died, and where he met Carol. But then the other Lanterns start going nuts – Stewart attacks the Justice League members, and then Guy Gardner gets his ring back and then he, too, goes mental and starts attacking everybody.

The third chapter finally gives me the catch-up I’d been waiting for; as we get a very good history of Parallax, the Guardians’ battle with him (it?), and also the nature and cause of the “yellow impurity” that has a strange, detrimental impact on the Corps: they have a weakness against the color yellow… (This made me snort. I think it’s daft, and I can’t see how they managed to get this past the editors way back when. At least now, though, they have a decent explanation…)

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Then, of course, everything come to a gigantic battle-crazy climax, as revelations are had and surprises dealt out. Sinestro enters the mix, and things get even crazier and more brutal. I think I preferred the second half of this book, but I do see why Johns took the approach he did. I have a feeling that, had I read this issue-by-issue as released, rather than in one go, I may not have continued with it all the way. So yes, the final half of Green Lantern: Rebirth saves the book from leaving me completely lost and disappointed. It was still more all-star than I would like (why does the Justice League have to appear all the damned time?). I enjoyed the portrayal of Batman, as a suspicious… well, dickhead. And the pathetic fallacy of having him portrayed as always deep in-shadow was nicely done.

If you want to delve back into the pre-New 52 relaunch, then this is a book that could help. But, at the same time, maybe starting with Volume 1, “No Fear”, would be enough?

(I have already read “No Fear”, and I can say that both would have worked as starting points for me – with, again, the caveat that I’m not entirely new to the setting and characters.)

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