“Beware my power…the F-Sharp Bell!”
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps has been a fun and adventurous book so far and with today’s ninth issue writer Robert Venditti continues the trend of combining science fiction adventure with super-heroics aplenty in another exciting chapter of DC Comic’s premiere Green Lantern title. Issue 9 has some great moments as well as a surprising guest appearance that no one could have seen coming.
This week’s installment balances the stories of the uneasy alliance between the Green Lanterns and the Sinestro Corps and Hal Jordan’s fate. Venditti keeps John and the Green Lanterns off balance and unable to gain their footing as they try to figure out how they’ve been imprisoned on Xudar while dealing with the injured Xudarians and those still under Starro’s influence….with one eye still over their shoulder making sure Soranik Natu’s allies don’t stab them in the back. John Stewart is faced with challenges coming from all directions and his ability to lead is tested in ways we haven’t seen before. Both John and Soranik struggle with the tension between their respective groups and find themselves at odds with each other initially, but once things calm down you can see them both begin to relax a little and look beyond the color of their uniforms to see the bigger picture. I think this humanizes both characters a little and is a very realistic depiction of how people in charge are affected by the stresses of leadership during times of duress.
As a long time reader I really appreciate when a writer mines the rich history of the Green Lantern Corps and polishes off a gem. This issue Venditti concocts a moment that lets one of the Corps most interesting members rise to the occasion. Rot Lop Fan, the Green Lantern of Sector 911, comes from a place devoid of light and his species evolved to allow them to perceive sound as a means of adaptation. Trained by Katma Tui, Rot Lop Fan uses his ring to create concepts based on how his race experiences sounds, making him a very unique member of the Green Lantern Corps, or as he calls it, the F-Sharp Bell Corps. He’s been a background character for a number of issues which makes his spotlight moment feel very organic to the story. Complete with his unique oath and a look that combines his classic design with that of the 2011 motion picture, Rot Lop Fan handily frees the Xudarians in one of the issue’s key moments.
While John and Soranik discover some of the details behind their state of captivity, Brainiac is no where to be found in this installment. But balancing out the action on Xudar is the revelation of that state of Hal Jordan as he finds himself somewhere called the “Emerald Space”. Hal’s understandably confused about his state, considering he’s been dead a couple of times before and where he finds himself is unlike anything we’ve seen. Perhaps most surprising is the person who greets him in this place for “those who sacrificed all in service of the Green Lantern Corps” and the fact that for such a place it seems pretty deserted.
Hal’s new companion should pose interesting if Venditti spends much time on him. I’m not all too sure that this isn’t just some creation of Hal’s subconscious, but I’m certainly intrigued by the notion of a special place for those who die in the line of service and how that could fit into the greater Green Lantern mythos. The other half of the plot revolves around Ganthet and Sayd who come to the realization of what Hal’s ring represents and their response involves the return of another character who’s been off the playing field for a while in the form of Kyle Rayner, who we’ve known was set to return for a specific purpose – helping bring Hal back to the land of the living.
Rafa Sandoval has really been a revelation for those who’ve not seen his work before and this issue is another stellar representation of his art. There are a couple of moments of brevity which rely on the visuals to deliver the punchline, most notably one where John Stewart doesn’t remember that Rot Lop Fan can’t see him when John extends his hand for a respectful acknowledgement of Fan’s efforts. It’s subtle but chuckle inducing which I appreciated. I also appreciate the expressive nature of the faces of the characters under Sandoval’s pencils. Tomar-Tu in particular was portrayed very well as Sandoval captures his concern for his people and his relief when he finds his mother exceptionally well. I’m still not a fan of his depiction of Soranik Natu, but that’s just my personal taste.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #9 is another excellent chapter in one of DC’s best series post-Rebirth. Robert Venditti’s script has a lot of action and great character moments which more than make up for the slight advancement of the overall plot, and Rafa Sandoval’s art is just the icing on the cake. Nine out of ten lanterns, er F-Sharp Bells!