“I believe I have the will to overcome anything”
“Zod’s Will” comes to an exciting conclusion in this week’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #41 as Hal Jordan goes toe to toe with General Zod. This one is not only cover to cover action, but Robert Venditti injects some political intrigue and personal reflection that makes this more than a simple brawl.
We know that ultimately Zod is going to maintain his position on Jekuul based on recent events in Action Comics where a time travelling Superman and Booster Gold have faced off against family Zod, so there is a degree of predictability that accompanies the conclusion. What we don’t know until now is that the Guardians are the reason why Zod is allowed to continue to construct his new base of operations. It’s here where this story gets more interesting.
Robert Venditti poses an interesting moral and political dilemma with Zod’s work on Jekuul and he creates a situation where the reader is challenged from multiple perspectives. From Zod’s point of view he really has done nothing wrong on the surface level and he has rights in this situation despite the physicality of his interactions with the Corps. There’s also the point of view that we know exactly the kind of person Zod is and based on past history it’s difficult to take him at face value. Therein lies the nature of the challenge laid before the Guardians who themselves are trying to change how they are perceived based on their own history. In the end the Guardians choose a diplomatic solution which tries (unsuccessfully) to help shape how the Kryptonians view the Corps. Unbeknownst to them, Zod walks away with more than just a moral victory thanks to the work that the Eradicator does to unlock information in Kyle Rayner’s power ring.
The battle between Hal and Zod make up the majority of the issue, and what a fight it is! For years Green Lantern fans have wanted to see a great fight between a member of the Corps and a Kryptonian and this proves to have been worth the wait. Robert Venditti and artist Brandon Peterson have really created an exciting conclusion as neither man pulls any punches. Sure Hal uses a lot of character derived constructs, but given the opponent I don’t think there’s really any room for criticism by thinking that Hal needs to play this fight by instinct and he’s naturally going to go to the well he’s most familiar with. It’s an exciting battle with an explosive conclusion which serves to make the arrival of the Guardians, and their decision, all the more unexpected.
I think if there’s one place where I found myself doing a little head scratching it’s in the final page as Hal and John Stewart share a brief moment and Hal does a call back to issue 31 and his mission to Earth where he and Superman dealt with Hector Hammond and the Kroloteans. Hal has taken lives in the past and we’ve never seen him question himself when the situation has arisen, but here he actually poses the thought to John about being more lethal with certain threats. I’ve never considered Hal someone who would take that approach and looked at situations in the past through the lens of going to those lengths when there’s no other options. So I felt like this was a little out of character, but I don’t think it’s done in a way that seeks to make Hal look less heroic. If anything it’s a moral debate that is something that has probably been internalized over the years and it’s certainly a timely subject. As Robert Venditti’s run approaches its end it will be interesting to see if this is a plot thread that gets any further attention, particularly once the Darkstars get their full introduction.
I think this is Brandon Peterson’s first issue on a Green Lantern book, and judging by the upcoming solicitations it looks to be the first of several efforts we’ll be seeing from him not only as an artist on this series, but as a variant cover artists for the Green Lanterns book in the coming months. Peterson’s work during the fight scenes is dynamic and exciting, however some of the character work is a little of, particularly Guy Gardner and some of his depictions of Hal’s face in the final quarter of the book. Despite that this is a great freshman effort.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #41 brings the latest chapter of this series to a close with one of the greatest battles since Hal Jordan defeated Sinestro at the start of the Rebirth era. Along the way Robert Venditti gives the reader pause to consider multiple perspectives of the conflict and brings it to a conclusion that both satisfies and leaves things open for potential use down the road. This is one of the best Zod stories in recent years and it was great fun to see him both sparring and going head to head against the Green Lantern Corps. Eight out of ten lanterns.