“Ain’t no nut tougher than me.”
We get a double dose of Green Lantern books this week and to kick things off is Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #4 and the continuation of Sinestro’s Law. If things didn’t look bad enough for the Green Lanterns this week’s installment takes our protagonists out of the proverbial frying pan and into the fear-fueled fire.
Writer Robert Venditti continues to serve up the best Green Lantern scripts of his run, doing a wonderful job of keeping the reader engaged with the story as he juggles the large cast while building towards something grand in scale. While the Corps themselves serve as the C plot at the moment, Guy Gardner and, to a lesser degree, Hal Jordan serve as the A and B plots. This issue really puts the emphasis on Guy and Venditti captures Guy’s voice perfectly. While we haven’t seen Venditti write much with Guy before it’s very clear that he’s done his homework as evidenced by Guy’s comments about Hal, his feelings of inferiority and his characteristic over the top behavior.
Venditti has a lot of fun with Guy this issue, from making him the booby prize that Sinestro didn’t want to literally revealing that Guy goes commando – a scene which plays out rather humorously as Sinestro is totally caught off guard. Guy’s rebellious hero streak is also apparent as he stands up to Sinestro and Administer Lash despite having no leverage in the situation whatsoever.
As for Hal well let’s just say that he’s now a pawn in a family struggle that’s be deliciously building since the series began. Soranik Natu has Hal in a peculiar situation as he goes under the knife and while there’s an obvious attempt to make the reader question her motives it’s clear that she means no real harm to her former comrade. What remains to be seen is whether her surgical procedure took something out of Hal’s body or put something there, and why. The operation takes Hal off the table for now as the focus shifts to Guy and the Corps, but the mystery of why Natu cut Hal open has my curiosity piqued.
Venditti has set Soranik Natu and Sinestro on a collision course of sorts, and while there are certainly ways that Natu can explain her actions to her father there is no way he will look at her the same way again. Despite the grandiose story telling their relationship is a core element of this first arc which helps ground the plot on an emotional level. Venditti is building up to something here and I’m looking forward to the dramatic moment when Natu and her father come to the tipping point which will take what has been built up so far and flip it completely on its head. Sinestro finally has exactly what he wants and even though, as this issue graphically depicts, he rules with an expectation of absolute fealty he may soon realize that the having isn’t necessarily better than the wanting.
Ethan Van Sciver returns for a couple of issues and once again dazzles us with a feast for the eyes. Ethan knows these characters inside and out which comes across clearly on every page of this issue. His version of Sinestro so perfectly captures the essence of the character from his piercing eyes to making sure he’s always in a dominant position as he hovers above those who are clearly lesser beings in his mind. Likewise Guy Gardner is such a fully realized character driven by pure stubbornness. This issue has plenty of skin showing which provides Van Sciver with the challenge of keeping the book rated teen which he does, but it also allows him to showcase his ability to depict the human form in it’s most raw state and he captures both Hal and Guy’s physicality successfully.
Ethan brings something extra to this series given his pedigree with the Green Lantern universe. In this issue he takes a scene where Guy crushes a beer can to illustrate a point and, rather than just follow the script and have Guy crush the can with his hand, Ethan shifts the visual to Guy doing something else which is not only more in character, but elevates a key moment in Robert Venditti’s script to a different level. Van Sciver’s pencils are really complimented by Jason Wright’s color work and the two turn in a stellar effort this month. There is real quality on every page, including this issue’s spectacular cover image complete with a re-coloring of the Green Lantern Corps logo to reflect the universe’s shift in power.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #4 is another spectacular chapter in one of the best books DC is publishing right now. This series continues to build on itself towards what feels like a major event in the history of the Corps. The book is blessed with one of the best art teams around and this time around it’s Ethan Van Sciver providing some glorious eye candy. Nine out of ten lanterns.