Review: The Green Lantern #6

[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: Grant Morrison

Artist: Liam Sharp

Colors: Steve Oliff

Letters: Steve Wands

 

Summary

Hal Jordan has been given the ultimate final test before he can join the Blackstars: kill Adam Strange! Will Hal Jordan cave under the pressures of this new request, or will he go to the ultimate lengths in order to prove his new allegiance? Watch as the many faces of Hal Jordan we’ve come to see over the past five issues become one, and the man who can do the impossible is stretched to his limits in order to save the universe from an ultimate threat.

 

Positives

How does a man lost among numerous worlds find his identity?

Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern is a blast from the past, present and future. Hal Jordan’s many styles and personas from the Silver Age have been thrust into the modern age to create an entirely new realm of comics for our eyes to feast upon. Combining the classic western duels, the nigh unstoppable space vampire villains, and the operatic interplanetary drama, Hal Jordan brings a myriad of genres to the stars. Infiltrating the Blackstars, serving Controller Mu, a being with “diamond will” who will impose his order upon the universe, the Green Lantern has to carefully play both sides in order to enforce his oath and protect the universe. Controller Mu needs only one more piece of the puzzle before the ultimate weapon is created. The Venturan Luck Dial, the Heart of the Weaponeer, Evil Star’s Starband, and the Willpower from a Green Lantern Ring are the four components we’ve seen so far. Once complete, this weapon will be able to control probability, the secrets of an Anti-Matter Lantern, the raw power of the star-band, and the will power of a Green Lantern ring. Once the fifth item is obtained, there will be no stopping Controller Mu.

Hal Jordan commits further to the espionage, but the Blackstars are beginning to have doubts despite Hal’s unwavering confidence in the ultimate test of loyalty. Even after the death of a beloved friend, the Blackstars demand more from Hal, because this is Controller Mu’s vision. Mu is the controller, and Hal must be the controlled.

Sharp, backed by Steve Oliff, shows off incredible prowess as he continues to make this book unlike any other on the shelves today. The Green Lantern will be timeless, in part, because Sharp is incorporating art styles from comics across time in order to form an artistic masterpiece that will withstand the future. We begin in the middle of a Silver Age adventure that plays out as an operatic space western, but by the end of the final showdown, the book achieves the authoritative gravitas that only dark, powerful silence of a modern comic can create. While weaving through lenses in a kaleidoscope of EC comics filters and incorporating the likes of John Severin, Wally Wood, All Williamson, and Graham Ingals, Sharp makes particularly breathtaking use of facial expressions from Alanna’s perfect combinations of fear, sadness, worry, and hope, to the intimidating stares between Hal and the Blackstar scientist. Their large portraits display an incredibly powerful use of black to illuminate the loneliness that often comes with conviction. It’s just one of Sharps subtle moments that will impact each reader differently as they journey through this unique timeline of styles. Sharp’s weathered, Silver Age textures combine with his radiant, bright energy to form an art style that never ceases to astound. Oliff’s colors are able to accentuate all of these moments as they vary from the subtle, flatter background blues that bring out the faces staring back at the reader to the intricate shades of green that make up the world within Hals ring. By the end of the book, you’re unsure if the coloring brought out the textures or if the textures brought out the colors, but either way the final product creates a layered aura matched by none.

Wands’s lettering cannot be overstated as he’s able to bring put the full personalities of each character without overshadowing the art in any single panel even as he fills in for Orzechowski. The green, lantern-shaped word balloons fit right into the narrative without drawing any attention. In fact, they seem almost obvious, like the reader would think it strange if the issue didn’t include that stylized flare. That is precisely the mark of a phenomenal letterer like Wands. What seems obvious to the reader now was actually clever thinking but one of the best letterers in the business. He fading effects to imitate Countess Belzebeth whispering in little Aleea’s ear are unmatched and heighten the scene’s dramatic tension. The mechanical buzzing that cuts off Adam Strange as he’s ripped away from his family, while all contained within the word balloon itself, emphasizes the unnatural feeling of technology ripping a man apart from that which means the most to him. It may go unnoticed, but apart from those few mechanical noises contained within the world balloons of a single panel, there is no onomatopoeia in the rest of the issue. It shows the creators’ immense trust in their comic and its ability to completely immerse the reader in its world. It is up to us to imagine the sounds of Hal’s blaster, the Blackstar’s head exploding, or the U-bomb about to detonate. It all relies upon the reader’s sense of sound, and not some stylized words popping out of the page — a very intelligent decision by the creative team.

The issue carries an incredible amount of momentum that keeps the reader on their toes from start to finish. It is a full, well-paced issue without a single dull moment that is still able to be character-focused. Reader’s always wonder how villains could be so stupid, or how someone couldn’t see a trick, or smart plan coming. Controller Mu and the Blackstars aren’t your average villains. They see through Hal’s undercover operation, and the plot moves on almost in an instant. Even the readers were fooled as to who was in control here as Morrison is finally able to depict a Controller living up to their name. There’s at least half a dozen moments in this issue that will make the reader gasp in disbelief even thought they’re in on it. Many of us know the likely outcome of events similar to those in this issue, but that doesn’t make the moments of The Green Lantern #6 shine any less bright. This special run is able to bring together all of the standout qualities of the best Hal Jordan books in the past into a new, multi-layered, multi-faceted Hal Jordan that is able to entertain even those who prefer other Green Lanterns of the DCU. The run understands the limitless possibilities of a cosmic story and is tapping into as many as it can from a spaghetti space western to an entire world inside of a ring.

Every reader is going to pick up on or take away something profoundly different about this issue and arc so far. There are two specific, yet unusual comparisons that come to mind when looking at The Green Lantern #6. The first is the Wizard of Oz. It feels almost absurd when you start to think about how the two could possibly have similarities. But if you look at the journeys of self discovery contained within both titles, a sold foundation for comparison begins to appear. The intangible qualities sought after by the various characters Dorothy meets on her way to the Emerald City are not unlike Hal’s various identities he’s rediscovering after all this time. The Wicked Witch of the West and Controller Mu both maintain an incredibly watchful eye over those underneath them, and wield control as their primary weapon of power. The influence and similarities are undeniably there, showing how universal The Green Lantern truly is.

The other, more obvious comparison is to Star Wars. Hal Jordan is facing an army not unlike Emperor Palpatine’s. Countess Belzebeth bears a striking resemblance to Darth Vader in the original trilogy even down to the familial animosity. The operatic character moments and actions sequences such as Hal’s duel with Adam Strange, or the daring rescue after diffusing the U-bomb seem as though they’re lifted straight out of The Empire Strikes Back. There are countless references, influences, or similar titles that readers will be able to pick up on from this issue, and the greatest part is that none of them are wrong. The Green Lantern #6 struck a familiar chord to these two titles for one reader, but it may remind another reader of something totally different. That’s what’s so special about this series.

The brightest quality of the series is its ability to remain true to itself and to Hal Jordan amidst a brand new universe of toys to explore. Hal Jordan is still Hal even when he’s being called Blackstar Parallax. For once, they truly feel one and the same, and we see that when he leaps into action to defuse the U-bomb. He didn’t have time to switch mindsets or change facades. Blackstar Parallax is Hal Jordan, not something that Hal Jordan becomes. He’s great undercover, a quick thinker, and even quicker to act. He’s never afraid to stand up, stand out, and stand in protection of those who need it no matter what it takes. He has a determined and bold sense of masculinity that isn’t imposing or threatening, but rather something to be proud of. However cheesy it may be to stand tall and say the famous oath, its something that you know from reading this comic that Hal does with a sense of duty, honor, and pride.

Morrison, Sharp, Oliff, and Wands all understand the magical qualities they’re bring to Hal Jordan and this series, and they all seem proud to contribute towards this true, collective collaboration through moments both subtle and pronounced. Hal has finally seemed to recognize that the ability to change and embrace all of the faces and facets at his disposal is not something to shy away from. The book is one hundred percent committed to the journey, growth, and showcase of the character of Hal Jordan, and its a spectacular phenomenon to watch.

 

Negatives

No negatives here! The creative team puts together a spectacular mid-season finale for Hal Jordan’s current operatic odyssey that only leaves the reader wanting more.

 

Verdict

The Green Lantern #6 continues to astound as it creates a cosmic journey that stitches together all of Hal Jordan’s various personas into the multifaceted character we see before us. Through combining numerous influences from the past with modern language and storytelling, the creative team is able to thrust Hal Jordan into the future while paying homage to the Silver Age of comics. Whether it be a space western, space opera, space adventure, or all of the above, The Green Lantern is a run everybody needs to pay attention to.

 

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Ari Bard

I am currently a Sophomore at Case Western Reserve University studying mechanical engineering. I have been in love with DC since I saw the animated series and movies in the early 2000s. I started reading comics regularly at the start of Rebirth. My favorite character is Martian Manhunter.