With just one more issue before the much anticipated Green Lantern Annual which will reportedly shake up the Green Lantern universe, Green Lantern #11 does something you might not expect - it take a breather from the action and takes a pause long enough to set the characters up for the next big push. While the issue is long on character development and narrative and short on action, Geoff Johns continues to impress with his handling of Sinestro, Hal Jordan and, ever so creepily, Black Hand. Plus we get something we've come to expect from Johns - a new vision of the future to get everyone's speculation blood pumping.
The Story -
On Nok Sinestro finds himself returning to consciousness, being allowed to be returned as a Green Lantern thanks to Hal Jordan's words of support in issue ten. Prophetically Sinestro relives a memory of he and Jordan fighting Manhunters, telling his protege, "And once the ring selects you, you are forever a Green Lantern. Until the day you die." Finding himself released in Hal's custody and no longer exempt from Hal's ring, Sinestro is disgusted with Jordan for putting Sinestro ahead of retrieving Black Hand. When the two investigate the spot where Hand dove to his "death", Hal immediately recognizes the black ooze associated with Black Lanterns and both men instantly understand the ramifications of Hand being back from the dead.
|Hand is back in the Black|
Speaking of Black Hand, he on a jaunt through the old homestead, stopping by a Chinese take out restaurant to get some food and putting everyone in the place out of their misery whether they were in misery or not. Stopping by the cemetery Hand raises his family from the ground and returns home with them to share a family meal.
On Oa the Guardians detect Sinestro's ring along with Hal's, although they assume it's another Green Lantern. Their location can't quite be pinpointed since their location seems to be masked, perhaps by Nok's defenses or some other protection put in place to prevent the Guardians from learning the location of the Indigo Tribe's homeworld. Before the Guardians can dwell on it the signal abruptly disappears, reappearing nearly instantaneously on Korugar thanks to Indigo-1. The woman who killed Abin Sur's daughter tells Hal that they will forge more rings and await further contact from the two Green Lanterns.
As they make their way to Sinestro's base of operations Hal and Sinestro begin their verbal sparing anew, this time the subject of whether the Guardians or Black Hand can be saved from themselves. Hand is enjoying his family meal, however either the voices in his head or the inaudible thoughts of the dead carry on a surreal conversation complete with some bickering between William and David Hand. Seemingly no longer affiliated with Nekron nor interested in creating more Black Lanterns, Hand is content to simply kill everyone and raise them from the dead so that he will for once in his life be surrounded by people who are just like him.
|" They're creepy and they're kooky, Mysterious and spooky...."!|
Hal and Sinestro arrive at the "Sinestro cave" the Korugarian destroys an image of his wedding day to Arin Sur on his way to retrieving the Book of the Black. Upon opening the book we see a two-page spread showing Hal and Sinestro surrounded by black energy and then we see a vision of the future just as the two Green Lanterns emerge from the book and find themselves crashing the Hand family dinner and bringing the issue to a close.
You might think that an issue where there was no real action might be a bit of a boring read, but not so with this issue. Johns keeps the scenes moving and each one propels the overall narrative along while providing good dialogue that keeps the interest level high. The moments when the Guardians' potentially discover the location of Nok and Black Hand's scenes creates a lot of interest, and with Black Hand being at perhaps his most macabre ever you are so engaged in the story that you really don't miss the lack of a big fight scene.
Something that Johns has done very well since revitalizing the Green Lantern universe is elevate the villains to a stature that they just didn't have in the "old days". Granted that his run has spent more time building the universe with new elements than revisiting Hal's rogue's gallery, but those characters who have been given page time like Black Hand are so much better for their treatment in this current era. Hand is no longer a nearly laughable threat and I know I for one could see him as a potential big screen threat although I think that we'd never get to see a cinematic version of Black Hand as twisted as we see here.
Sinestro and Hal's evolving relationship continues to stand center stage in this issue, and if there was any notion that Sinestro was even close to considering Hal worthy to stand at his side is almost assuredly called into question now. In fact it almost seems like Sinestro is a little bit hurt that Hal didn't do what he would have done and made Black Hand the priority, as though he thought that he failed in teaching Hal anything since they've been working together again. While I think Hal has certainly benefited from his time with Sinestro it's certainly not in the ways Sinestro would like it to be and there's a sense that this causes Sinestro to regress a little himself.
|Things as they will be, or as they might be?|
The vision is of course something very interesting, packed with intriguing visual clues as to what might be coming down the road. I say might simply because the future isn't necessarily written and these visions could be more symbolic than literal. History has shown them to be literal, that's for sure, but the fact that there are several that haven't seemed to play out could mean that the knowledge of the potential future created a situation where the future changed, or it could simply be that we haven't gotten there yet.
Among the visuals we see two hooded men, John Stewart being zapped by the Guardians, Atrocitus leading a squad of Manhunters, Kyle Rayner as a Red Lantern, Guy Gardner looking worse of wear behind a primitive set of bars, a mysterious White Lantern ring wearing right hand, the new Green Lantern of Earth, Baz, and the green energy oozing Green Lantern symbol. There's a lot there and certainly some of these images could mean a number of things besides what they immediately appear to be.
John, for example, looks like he might be getting his sentence for the death of Kirrt, but he might also be getting mind altered like Ganthet was. Kyle could either be turning into a Red Lantern, but it's more likely he's in the process of mastering the emotion on his journey to be the master of the emotional spectrum. As for the hooded figures my own opinion at this point is that Hal and Sinestro have gone underground after they are presumed dead, paving the way for Baz's anointment as the new Green Lantern and allowing them to rally the Indigo Tribe.
But with this being Geoff Johns - heck, all these images could mean other things entirely but it's certainly great fun speculating!
The Art -
Doug Mahnke is really at his best this issue and his work along with the inkers and colorists really support Johns' script for this issue. Particular moments that stood out for me were pretty much every panel where Black Hand appears. While the backgrounds might seem minimal I think the art choices made were to intentionally omit those kinds of details so that the important details could stand out without the distractions. The panel where Hand is sharing his plan his face is seemingly devoid of emotion and represents a calm that makes the whole sequence reek with creepiness.
What Do I Think?
The Revenge of Black Hand Part 1 is a trip to the darker corners of the Green Lantern universe and, like Blackest Night, shows how diverse the Green Lantern universe is by combining both science fiction elements with gothic horror and resulting in a satisfying fun book. While it might seem like nothing might have been going on in this issue, Green Lantern #11 positions the characters in this series for what might is going to be a very, very interesting year. Four out of five lanterns.