Eighty years of emerald entertainment! Well, if you ignore the eight years or so between the last Golden Age appearance of original GL Alan Scott and Silver Age successor Hal Jordan… but why be picky, it’s 80 years since Alan debuted in All-American Comics #16, sparking a heroic legacy that shows no sign of ending?
It’s fitting that Alan gets the opening strip in this ten-feature anthology, though it’s a bit of a downer. A companion piece to ‘The Origin of Green Lantern’s Oath’ from 1962, which showed how Hal came up with the verse he uses while charging his ring, this sees Alan visiting the mother of a young man who died in the train explosion which began his GL journey.
It seems Doris gifted Jimmy a poet’s sensibility… Jimmy does appear in Alan Scott’s 1940 debut, but there the oath stems from a vision Alan has after encountering his magic lantern. Writer James Tynion IV also adds a layer of misery – Alan was trying to get ‘away from myself’ at the same time he was on the train testing the strength of a bridge he’d built. This not-entirely-straight guy is more New 52 do-over than original Alan Scott, which is a weird choice for a book that should be showcasing the original. Also, he calls cabbie pal Doiby Dickles, ‘Derby’…oi Tynion, why do you hate fun? And where is his trademark hat?
This is a well crafted strip – Tynion is talented, and paired with the always excellent Gary Frank, here coloured by Steve Oliff – but boy, it’s gloomy. Would a colourful, bonkers hero vs villain tale reflecting what original Alan Scott actually got up in the Golden Age have been so bad? You know, the type of thing that kicked off the whole Green Lantern business?
My favourite story, ‘Four’, by Robert Venditti, Rafo Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona, is set in the future and has Hal Jordan, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner reminiscing about their glory days.
It superbly points up the differences in character between DC’s foremost Green Lanterns – Guy Gardner is heavily featured – in a bittersweet celebration of teamwork and friendship. The only thing I don’t get is the boys’ weird toast about table legs and walls, and Kyle’s greasy look – come on, you were a heartbreaker, Kyle!
Another outstanding short is the reunion of writer Denny O’Neil and Mike Grell on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, ‘Time Alone’. It’s a tremendous encapsulation of the heroes’ time together, involving spirituality, a rubbish supervillain and one of ‘em punching the other. Grell’s handsome, Neal Adams-influenced illustrations look great paired with Lovern Kindzierski’s colours, while veteran letterer Clem Robins adds that final Seventies feel.
Denny died last week, so this may turn out to be his final published comic book script; if so, it’s a fine one to go out on. Rest in peace, sir. Never the End.
I got super-nostalgic reading the Kyle Rayner strip, ‘Legacy’ – the Nineties Green Lantern really earned his spurs and it’s sad he’s been so sidelined since DC brought back Hal as the DCU’s top GL.
Kyle’s creators, writer Ron Marz and artist Darryl Banks, make it feel like they’ve never been away – would someone please pair them on a Kyle solo series again? Extra points to letterer Josh Reed for putting the story title into Kyle’s old logo font.
The only story I didn’t like in this book is a Sinestro focus, ‘The Meaning of Fear’, mainly due to the ending. Cullen Bunn writes a perfect Geoff Johns-era Sinestro – frighteningly self-righteous, madly confident, basically Johns’ Black Adam – but this is meant to be a celebration of Green Lanterns, not a murdering rogue corpsman.
As with the Alan Scott entry, I won’t deny the craft – Cullen’s script is very readable, while Doug Mahnke is one of the best superhero artists around – but the tale left a nasty taste in my mouth.
Speaking of Geoff Johns, he gives us a Hal who believes he’s doomed, having been downed in parts unknown, his ring with power enough to send just three messages home. The story, which features gorgeous art by penciller Ivan Reis, inker Oclair Albert and colourist Alex Sinclair, is clever not just in the title, ‘Last Will’, but in execution.
I don’t think, though, that I was meant to spray out my breakfast cereal when I got to the part about Hal having been taught humility by Batman…
In ‘The Voice’, Mariko Tamaki does a better job than any previous writer of making me understand how it feels for Jessica Cruz to have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. Artist Mirka Andolfo brings Tamaki’s script to life with excellent body language. It’s a shame things get just a little too slicey-violent at the end, though.
Sometimes it’s the little things. Sina Grace writes a pretty good Simon Baz story with ‘Homegrown Hero’, focusing on family and culture and facing up to fear, but for the second time in a fortnight a DC superhero book tosses out ‘turds’. It’s not necessary. Did someone send out a memo?
As for the art, I like the way artist Ramon Villalobos and colourist Rico Renzi present Simon’s costume… that balaclava is still scary, though, taking the title Worst Green Lantern Headwear away from Kyle’s crab mask.
John Stewart co-stars with Hawkgirl in a thoroughly enjoyable tale involving a spat with Dr Polaris, one of my favourite GL villains. The Justice League Unlimited hero pairing in ‘Reverse the Polarity’ makes sense as this is written by Charlotte Fullerton, widow of late JLU legend Dwayne McDuffie, pencilled by ChrisCross and inked by Jordi Tarragona. ChrisCross worked on the Milestone comics imprint, along with McDuffie, which likely explains the maguffin being ‘Meilstonium’.
The remaining story, ‘Heart of the Corps’, a team-up between Guy Gardner and Kilowog, turns on a very familiar sitcom trope, but writer Peter J Tomasi is so good that I never saw it coming. The visuals from Fernando Pasarin and Wade von Grawbadger are dynamic, while the colouring of Gabe Eltaeb helps things pop, though Kilowog is an off-brand purple rather than his usual pink.
The book also offers a raft of pin-ups, with my favourites being Jamal Campbell’s Jo Mullein from the Far Sector series, and Joe Staton and Hi-Fi’s Guy Gardner.
Plus, we get Who’s Who entries for all 7,200 members of the Green Lantern Corps… kidding, but we do have a fair few on some nicely designed pages. Who knew there were so many ways in which Parallax Hal didn’t really kill his colleagues. And may we remind you, Arisia was really a lot older than Hal when they dated…
Has anyone ever heard that bit about Hal leaving ‘afterburners’ behind? That’s new to me.
Current Green Lantern artist Liam Sharp’s stunning cover tops off a better than average DC anniversary giant, which is edited by Andrew Marino, Marquis Draper and Brian Cunningham. If you’re a fan of at least a few of the characters and creators involved, I heartily recommend it.