[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colors: Steve Oliff
Letters: Tom Orzechowski
The Great Void is attacked and a dangerous prisoner escapes! Plus, Hal Jordan must interrogate a young member of the Spider Guild for info on the most recent criminal activities around the universe.
In The Green Lantern #2, Morrison and Sharp delicately balance multiple cosmic happenings, big and small, around the universe in order to create one contained story that fits into a larger scheme. It is not an easy task, but this fantastic creative team certainly rose to the challenge. Last issue took the time to zoom in on Hal Jordan for a bit and give a slight peek into his psyche. This issue takes place on a much grander scale, made evident from the very beginning, which opens in the Great Void.
We begin with what I can only describe as “sound speak,” a series of commentaries about “A-clamor,” “cold volume,” and “grand radio emission sources.” In the distance there are stars, galaxies, or maybe visual portrayals of sound. Right now, however, our attention is on the black. There is only one character who warrants this discussion, and that is Rot Lop Fan, an original creation by Morrison, and a marvelous one at that. Rot Lop Fan is an alien that cannot comprehend light. In fact, even when light is mentioned, by the prisoner, it cannot be translated or understood. Its a genius creation, but unfortunately, there is a prison break on Rot Lop Fan’s watched, and the prisoner is revealed to be none other than Evil Star, an old villain created by Gardner Fox during his Green Lantern run in the 60s. Its moments like this that show one of Morrison’s greatest strengths: his ability to pull from an reference numerous works before him while simultaneously maintaining a complete sense of originality. Its like Evil Star never left but was also born anew at the same time. Some more fabulous skills of Rot Lop Fan are put on display, like constructs made of sounds and his wielding of “the F-Sharp Bell,” which can only be described as the sound translation of a Green Lantern Ring, but unfortunately, Fan is overwhelmed by blackstars, and Evil Star escapes.
It is here that the police procedural elements begin, as Volk and Xax, two very old Green Lanterns from different runs, show up for the debrief. I am glad Volk is back, because the presence of a living creature of lava really fits with the sci-fi atmosphere this comic is going for. The message is then relayed to New Oa, which we get to see in all its glory. The scene is a true thing of beauty, a masterpiece of art, drawn in enormous detail by Liam Sharp with great colors from Steve Oliff. Hal is briefed and assigned to the case, and then the interrogation scene begins, and wow is it glorious. Morrison and Sharp are able to seamlessly transition from the cosmic scale and the personal one, and its great to read. The issue issue is so enthralling that it isn’t until half-way through the textbook police interrogation scene that you realize the style change and are like, “wait, how did we get here?”
It is very underplayed how funny this book is, but the entire interrogation scene allows the humor to really shine through. It turns out the Spider-Pirates hate humans as much as humans hate spiders, who knew? The Spider-Pirate is a spoiled, runaway, teenager with a sassy attitude as shown numerous times in any number of crime dramas, while Hal Jordan and Lantern Tru entertain themselves with a littler good cop bad cop. As always, things get a little too real, and its up in the air as to who is who. It is an amazing scene because it truly is another day at the office interrogating a “perp” in a police procedural. This scene is also the most personality we get out of Hal this issue with fantastic lines like, “I ever tell you how much I hate giant spiders? It’s a thing.”
We move to the Blackstar Flagship where Evil Star is getting to know his rescuers, who can’t quite figure out the meaning behind Evil Star’s name. Its a hilarious bit, as the Blackstars know what is coming the whole time before Evil Star meets his untimely fate. Unfortunately for him, all the Blackstars needed was the star-band. It is here where the art team is on full display as panels are constructed from the space vampire’s body herself, fantastic onomatopoeia is lettered by Orzechowski, and Oliff’s colors fit in just perfectly.
The interrogation scene is wrapped nicely and in a manner as comical as how it began before the lanterns learn of Evil Star’s fate. It is only fitting that he is taken to the planet Hippocrates, a genius name after the “Father of Medicine.” Hal learns what he can before we are transitioned back to Controller Mu and the Blackstars. We get some fantastic close-ups from Sharp and Oliff of Controller Mu and Vulgar Zo, a Dhorian hired for a “planetary abduction process.” As Hal Jordan heads back to Earth as part of the investigation, we again see Sharp and Oliff’s masterful use of black and white. We have Hal Jordan, a small green bubble zipping across a white background, juxtaposed with him floating in the black void of where the Earth used to be. I say used to be because we are left with the ultimate cliff-hanger, “Grand Theft Planet.”
Overall, this issue much more concerned with themes, storytelling, and scale than it is with characterization, so we get very little insight into Hal here except for some humorous bits for personality. That being said, the themes and scale are very important. This is a stand-alone issue that masterfully fits inside a larger plan, and the theme of justice is put on full display here. There are many characters with different views of justice and they show it through some of their phrasing and actions. The Green Lanterns want to uphold the laws of the universe, but justly, and its a delicate balance for how to do that. Even Hal Jordan may struggle to balance justice sometimes as he cuts a deal for the Spider-Pirate but still makes her do plenty of time. He recommends getting a doctor for Evil Star, but tells the nurse, “there’s no need to hurry.” The space vampiress doesn’t think this level of justice is enough as she kills Evil Star after saying, “The Lanterns are way to lenient with genocidal monsters like you.” Finally, Controller Mu has a fascistic view of justice and believes everyone will be judge eventually. Its a great theme to bring to the forefront in this issue, and I am sure it will be a recurring one.
The minimal characterization in this issue could be seen as a negative for those who are more drawn to more character-driven stories. I think that for now, the negative impact is minimal, but if the story doesn’t zoom back in on Hal, some importance might be lost. The book also jumps around a lot which can be easy to follow for some, but for many could make the story a bit difficult to keep up with, especially in combination with trying to figure out which previous issue this and that character were from. Morrison is just setting the stage here. Time for him to show us what he’s got.
A fantastic issue that is somehow able to balance a grand scale heist story with a close-up police procedural. There are also plenty of great additions to the DC cosmic universe in both the writing and the art.