“Would it be weird if I hugged this tree?”
With the Green Lanterns and the Sinestro Corps still trapped in a bottle, this week’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #11 gives the spotlight to John Stewart as he strategizes his way out of the Larfleeze’s collection. Meanwhile Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner reunite and go in search of answers to why the Corps has once again gone missing.
Robert Venditti has been doing a great job balancing the cast of this series, providing characters with key moments to take the focus of the book without ignoring anyone. The Green Lantern fan base can be very divisive and not everyone is happy when their favorite ring bearer isn’t in the spotlight but one thing he can’t be accused of is not giving each of the Earth lanterns their due. This issue keys in on one of John’s greatest assets, his ability to think and plan his out a situation. With the revelation that the lanterns and the Xudarians are in the possession of Larfleeze it doesn’t take long for John to come up with a strategy that uses the Orange Lantern’s weakness against him. With the build up in friction between John and Soranik Natu their eventual fight seems very organic, however knowing that John had a plan could make what follows a bit obvious for some readers. The strategy is nonetheless effective enough against an avarice blinded Larfleeze and he pops the bottle.
I’ve always struggled with how Brainiac’s container works and I’m still scratching my head after this issue. Obviously the contents expand when exposed to the air, but did the Xudarians and their city pop back into existence where they belong? That’s the way I read it but then the lanterns didn’t go back with them so somehow they stay on Okaara. I’m not faulting the story at all as this is something I’ve debated over and over in my head since I was a kid.
I don’t want to pass over this part of the book without commenting on the dialog between Tomar-Tu and his mother. It’s interesting to see Tomar-Re’s widow talk about his sacrifice for the Corps and the cost that’s paid by the loved ones left behind. Her feelings are pretty spot on I think for people who lose someone who falls in the line of duty as she questions whether the cost is worth the pain. I don’t know why that moment is there other than knowing Venditti is a longform writer and I’m hoping this is a seed that’s being planted for a future issue. Perhaps Tomar-Tu may be evaluating whether or not being a Green Lantern is his best destiny.
The other side of the issue’s script focuses on the return of Hal Jordan thanks to the involvement of Kyle Rayner. The topic of Carol Ferris is neatly ignored as there are more pressing matters at hand. From a character perspective I like how Venditti has Hal outwardly disappointed that he was not successful in find the Green Lanterns, and then pivoting that moment to one of outright elation when he learns that they have already returned. Hal’s exuberance when he lands on Mogo is humorous and Venditti does something subtle that’s worth pointing out. By having Hal instinctively calling out for Kilowog Venditti reminds us of Hal and Kilowog’s last interaction back in Green Lantern #40 where their friendship is tested as Kilowog forces Hal to go through him to take Krona’s gauntlet. Given their relationship and how the two parted ways it’s very human of Hal to be looking for the Bolovaxian right away.
Kyle and Hal aren’t alone in their return to Mogo as Ganthet and Sayd decide to finally reveal themselves to the universe at large. “Bottled Light” hasn’t been a universe shattering cosmic crisis, for which I’m glad, but having the two Guardians back in an active capacity is definitely an important turn of events. Somewhere out there the Templar Guardians are still running about and they seem to be a plot point that’s been overlooked for some time. The thought of Ganthet and Sayd emerging as new leaders for the new Guardians of the Universe is a pleasant one but whether or not they stick around with the Green Lanterns, serve a reformed Blue Lantern Corps or do something else is unknown. Either way it’s great to see those characters dusted off and given some sort of meaningful purpose again.
Rafa Sandoval is once again providing the pencil work and as usual it all looks pretty darn spectacular. Sandoval does a great job all the way around, from capturing the facial expressions which help underscore Venditti’s script to cutting loose with the action scenes which keep the pace moving. Colorist Tomeu Morey also turns in another great effort and he does a wonderful job of making sure all the technicolor action looks vibrant but not overpowering.
“Bottled Light” heads towards its conclusion next issue and this issue does all the right things to set Larfleeze and the lanterns on a collision course that I’m really looking forward to. Venditti’s latest story is a great reminder of the kind of action packed space adventure that has long been a hallmark of the lantern books. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #11 is another brilliant chapter that’s enjoyable from cover to cover. Nine out of ten lanterns.