The Story –
Baz arrives in the Dead Zone having been sucked into Black Hand’s ring in last month’s issue
. Dazed and confused, Baz finds himself the center of a new quarrel between Sinestro and Hal Jordan until Hal points out that Simon cannot be dead since his Green Lantern ring is still on his finger. The light goes on in Sinestro’s head and in short order both Hal and Baz find themselves on the ground as Sinestro makes his play to get the ring.
While Baz finds himself ill equipped to take on the Korugarian with his own power ring, his pistol proves more than adequate in shutting Sinestro down. With Sinestro’s fate unknown the scene shifts back to the Chamber of Shadows where the recently freed Hidden Ones interrogate Black Hand. B’Dg rises to the occaison and not only subdues Hand but solemnly promises to fish Baz from Hand’s ring no matter the cost.
|B’Dg reveals himself to be a squirrel of great conviction and determination
Back in the Dead Zone we learn from Tomar-Re that since he and Hal still have a connection to the outside universe and they have the will to live that Sinestro cannot truly die while they are trapped. Tomar-Re goes on to reveal what he knows about Volthoom’s history, adding a little bit to our own understanding about what happened to him after he arrived on Oa. Where some cosmic threats might be easier to get rid of, Tomar-Re points out that while Volthoom poses dire consquences should he succeed in gaining full power, if he is killed the consquences are just as bad considering he is somehow still linked to the power that created the universe.
Baz offers Hal the ring, however Hal smartly tells Simon to keep it not knowing if taking if off would trigger the ring to leave them all behind in search of a new bearer. Suddenly a green light appears, grabbing ahold of Baz as B’Dg and Simon calls to Hal as the power ring begins to duplicate itself. Before the ring can fly to Hal’s hand Sinestro is on him in a desparate bid to escape. Sinestro uses Hal’s love for Carol to get him off of his game, allowing Sinestro to join Baz when the portal closes.
|Sinestro remains resolved to showing his true colors.
Black Hand finds himself pulled into the Dead Zone himself to join Hal. With the gateway closes Tomar-Re points out that Sinestro will not succeed in defeating the First Lantern alone and that Hal has no way out now. When Tomar-Re mentions that no one else has ever left the Dead Zone except for during Blackest Night. Hal connects the dots and realizes that Black Hand’s ring might be his way out but is zapped when he tries to pick it up.
As the issue comes to a close Hal learns that he cannot control the Black Lantern ring while he still has a connection to life, leading Hal to wonder about whether or not he could if he were really dead.
The Writing –
It’s clear at this point that Hal’s destiny is to fulfill the prophecy that he will be the greatest Black Lantern, but what will be interesting is how Geoff Johns will write Hal’s journey to that point. Here’s a character so driven by his will to live that it will not be so easy to surrender to the notion of death. To me this is the exciting part of Hal’s piece of this story as Johns prepares to hand these characters off to the new creative teams.
|Hal’s way out will come with a steep price tag
Johns has helped to declutter the character and really burn off the years of poor creative decisions aaway to return him to his former luster. But he’s also grown from the guy who has no regard for anyone else and in that evolution comes the internal conflict between Hal the man he is and Hal the man he could become. Watching him learn to put aside an integral part of himself in order to serve the greater good, to embrace that there is more to him than his strength of will, could be a very compelling story if it’s executed the way that I suspect Johns will.
We also see that Sinestro is the one who has faltered and succumbed to his own weakness. In fact it was very telling to me that the ring never made an attempt to go to him, signalling to me that it no longer deemed him worthy. While Sinestro used fear to gain the upper hand he himself was motivated by fear and hubris. It’s worth noting that Sinestro is no where to be found in the June solicitations
and there’s a lot of fan conjecture that in the end he will redeem himself in a fashion that will lead to his departure. I’m not sure I agree as Sinestro has proven himself perhaps a little too valuable to the Green Lantern franchise to be taken off the table for any real length of time.
Johns also revealed some interesting tidbits about the events that transpired after Volthoom’s arrival and I’m really hoping we get this replayed in greater detail in the next couple of issues. If Volthoom has somehow merged with the white light of creation I’m left wondering how that impacts the white entity, but perhaps I’m putting too much thought into it.
At any rate this issue is well paced and I loved seeing B’Dg’s determination as he completely dedicates himself to rescuing Simon Baz. The Hal and Sinestro dynamic was something I’ve missed since they disappeared so I was really pleased to see them return to the center stage for the bulk of the issue.
The Art –
Doug Mahnke takes a breather this issue and the art chores are shared by Ardian Syaf and Szymon Kudranski. I really liked the different art styles for the Dead Zone and the living world and in particular the use of negative space. Hal looked a bit off model for my tastes but other than that I thought the issue looked great.
What Do I Think?
Green Lantern #18 does a great job of positioning Sinestro and Hal Jordan for their final run in the Johns era. Hal is put in a unique position that should really challenge him as a character over the next couple of issues. This issue has a little bit of everything to offer the reader and gets four out of five lanterns.