The Green Lantern #4 review

Last issue ended with Hal killing an intergalactic slave trader, claiming it was self-defence; it wasn’t. This month the book opens on a hypnotically beautiful alien world, where an insectoid being is trying to negotiate survival with a female humanoid. She wants entrance to a vault the native creatures jealousy guard. She also has a rather large bargaining chip.

The scene changes and we find this is a tale being told to a space cowboy by a member of intergalactic group the Blackstars. The four-armed stranger wants to join the organisation, brutal rivals to the Green Lantern Corps.

The cowboy has a narrative or his own… what happened when three Lanterns arrived in sector 2814 to tackle the Sun Eaters. Their leader, Hal Jordan, had a plan…

If you’ve read this issue, no further recap is needed; if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? This is one of the best Green Lantern issues I’ve ever read. Writer Grant Morrison uses the decades-long mythology of the DC Universe – the Sun Eaters from the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Darkstars, Adam Strange and probably more (Easter eggs include the Legion’s Sun Boy and Justice League 3001’s Lois Lane in a bar scene*). The cover-featured villain herself is, it seems, the child of an obscure Justice League villain of the early Seventies – by the end of the book she’s using his tech but seeming far, far scarier, courtesy of the astonishing art from illustrator Liam Sharp and colourist Steve Oliff.

From a first page that wouldn’t shame a Seventies concept album – likely deliberate, given the story title being a nod to an Incredible String Band album – to the sly final panel, this is a work of wonder. Sharp’s designs and storytelling combine to bring the best out of a typically dense Morrison script, while Oliff’s colours are pure comics cosmic. Fellow comics veteran Tom Orzechowski’s great-looking fonts complete the classy look.

And speaking of veterans, Morrison’s Hal shows what his years of experience mean – inspirational leadership and clever planning amid a massive crisis. Much as I like Kilowog, Kyle, John and co, Hal really is The Green Lantern.

It’s nice to see the under-appreciated Tom Raney invited to produce a variant cover; the result, with colourist Alex Sinclair, might have benefitted from one last pass. The face looks off, unless Raney is visually punning on Green Lantern/lantern-jawed. The interior art team’s regular cover, though, is gorgeous – powerful composition, compelling colours.

I’d like to say a wee ‘thank you’ to editors Jessica Chen and Brian Cunningham – not too long ago, a creative team of this quality would be saved for a graphic novel – we’re privileged to be getting this work on a ‘regular book’.

* That one spotted by Anj of the brilliant Supergirl Comic Box Commentary – cheers, doctor!

3 thoughts on “The Green Lantern #4 review

  1. Just posted my own (little) review of this and agree wholeheartedly, Martin – this was one of the best GREEN LANTERN stories I’ve read in years. I was a little wary of Morrison taking over – he’s great with the big ideas but, to my mind, isn’t so good at wrapping them up – but so far this is excellent. I wonder what he’s going to do with Starbreaker? I’m assuming we get to see Belzebeth’s dad at some point?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So far these have all read like done-in-ones, each with its own flavor and a resolution of sorts by the end. At the same time, there are threads carrying over through all the issues, and short scenes in earlier issues just left dangling until they come back into view later. I’m glad I reread all four issues this weekend, to help me keep a bit more of the big picture in sight; I’ll probably give that another try with issue 6 or 7, to see how things have come together by then.

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