“I ALWAYS make things difficult”
With Convergence concluded the main Green Lantern series sets off in a new direction as writer Robert Venditti opens a new chapter in Hal Jordan’s life, a life where he is on the run and wanted by every law enforcement agency in the universe. This week’s Green Lantern #41 establishes a few things about Hal’s new life and reminds us about the things he’s left behind in order to save the Green Lantern Corps’ good name. What he doesn’t know is that the Green Lanterns have disappeared from the universe and this new life will make finding them very, very difficult.
Hal isn’t alone on his journey thanks to Darlene, his ship’s spunky artificial intelligence. The Green Lantern: The Animated Series fan in me can’t help but hear Grey Griffin as Aya whenever Darlene “speaks” and I’m sure I’m not the only one who’ll wrestle with that. But Darlene is her own woman AI with a character all her own who will surely be providing Hal with some of the companionship that he’s lacking living as one of the universe’s Most Wanted.
Obviously some time has passed since Hal stole Krona’s gauntlet in issue 40 judging by the length of Hal’s locks and what events that sent the Green Lantern Corps to parts unknown are in the past. With the opening of this issue we see Hal saving the neck of a high value member of alien aristocracy from certain death and we begin to see some of the potential of Hal’s new fashion accessory. As the issue unfolds we learn that the gauntlet’s less refined nature can lead to it acting on its own as it isn’t able to have as close of a connection to the user’s thought patterns. This opens the door to some interesting ideas as to how the gauntlet will not only be vital to Hal’s survival but could also create additional risks due to its unpredictable nature.
The assumption here is that Hal is a gun for hire, taking jobs that utilize his talents in order to sustain himself. As this new renegade story unfolds one of the challenges Hal faces is being able to provide for himself while trying to keep his whereabouts under wraps and it is easy to see how this more stealthy approach will force him to adapt his normal “in your face” style to keep out of the reach of the law. A lot has been said online about Hal’s new look and, as Venditti pointed out when we recently interviewed him, Hal has to try to keep a low profile and what better way to keep from being noticed than to change your appearance. So bye-bye superhero uniform and say hello to a more Spartan, utilitarian outfit that will serve Hal well for this chapter of his life.
The rescue leads to Hal hearing a rumor about the disappearance of the Corps which, of course, leads to him taking Darlene on a detour to see for himself. The issue’s closing image provides Hal with the confirmation that his plan to take the heat for the Corps was all for naught and now, if he’s going to find what has happened to his missing comrades, being a wanted man is going to serve as a major complication.
Billy Tan provides some great visuals this issue, particularly during the action sequences and the opening alien fight club moments. Tan excels at designing great aliens which is going to be a definite strength as Hal’s journeys will likely take us to places we’ve never seen before. Likewise the design of Darlene evokes a certain bounty hunter / space rogue vibe which is perfect for where Robert Venditti is taking us. I know that there’s this voice in the back of my head wishing it looked like the Interceptor, but that’s too clean for the type of life that Hal is living these days. I’m okay with Hal’s new hairstyle but I still have the same issue with Tan’s work on Hal’s face as I’ve had for some time now. Despite that the book looks really great.
I think a lot of fans might be concerned about this new direction, but for me it’s a welcome change that I think will lead to more exploration of Hal as a character. One criticism often leveled at the Geoff Johns run is that Hal the person was often lost to a repeated series of ever increasing stakes which placed major emphasis on plot over character development. While I don’t agree with the sentiment I fully admit that it will be a nice change of pace to see Hal in some science fiction action adventure stories where he is squarely standing on the center stage anchoring his own title. There is a feeling of unpredictability I get when I think about the stories that Venditti is going to tell now freed from being tied so closely to other books in the Green Lantern family and this breath of fresh air has a lot of potential to lead to some great stories as we join Hal on his journey.
Green Lantern #41 is a fun action packed adventure that serves as a great way to introduce the new status quo for Hal Jordan for the immediate future. Billy Tan creates a visually engaging science fiction adventure canvas which helps being Robert Venditti’s script to life. With the Corps gone Hal Jordan is even more alone in the universe than he thought, and with only Darlene as his company this new chapter in Hal’s life is going to be an exciting ride. Eight out of ten lanterns.