“I’ll NEVER get to play with d-dead stuff again”
Black Hand was re-introduced to a new generation of readers on the pages of Green Lantern: Rebirth and in the eleven years since has become one of the most prominent members of Green Lantern’s rogue gallery. He’s become an even greater threat during Robert Venditti’s tenure and now, with the source wall merged with his abilities, the universe is in a perilous situation. Enter Hal Jordan in this week’s Green Lantern #45 as he tries to prevent Hand from reaching Earth and destroying it with his “Medusa Touch”.
Black Hand was already a broken character from a mental state and Venditti’s work with the character takes him from being macabre to downright demented. I actually find William Hand almost a sympathetic character at this point as he’s gone from being a psychopath to being someone who simply doesn’t understand what’s wrong with him and who just wants to find someplace to be at peace. At this point it seems that Black Hand is someone who’s become too much of a danger to the universe to continue to exist and by the issue’s end it appears that Hal Jordan has come to think this way as well.
While Hal tries to take the peaceful way out, Hand’s mental state rejects any rationale that Green Lantern can come up with to get Hand to journey to the Source Wall and the situation quickly devolves into a physical conflict. Hal’s confrontation with Hand is taken up a notch now that the “Medusa Touch” spreads to Hal’s constructs, turning them to stone as well. Should the effects of Hand’s touch teach back to Hal’s gauntlet he’s likely done for and as their fight escalates Hal is put on the defensive having to keep Hand literally at an arms length. As a reader I enjoyed Hal having to approach the situation differently and constantly evolve his strategy to deal with Hand’s zealous desire to literally put an end to their relationship and putting Hal between a rock and a hard place.
Running parallel to the fight is Darlene, Trapper and Virgo who are “on vacation” at Hal’s order. The moments leading up to their going their separate ways with Hal are good character moments, particularly with Virgo presenting Hal with his perspective on the dichotomy between the rogue image Jordan is trying to project and the nobility his actions convey. With what Hal’s under there’s some solace in knowing that there is someone who might see the reality in the situation, and Hal’s promise to bare the truth to Virgo is a nice moment – although I wonder if it’s really a good idea to let anyone get that close.
Venditti’s script does a nice job of balancing the tense nature of the Hal / Hand fight with the humor of Darlene taking the crew somewhere so they can stop and smell the roses only for them to find themselves bored to sleep. That Hal allowed Darlene to be in charge and potentially free of servitude may be a subtle evolution of their dynamic, however she may not see it that way once Hal returns to the ship and she finds her freedom short lived. I do think that Hal is impacting Darlene in some capacity given how his words influenced her choice of destination when given a golden opportunity to express her own free will.Visually this issue is what we’ve become used to with Billy Tan and while it’s certainly better than what we got in last week’s annual, there’s still something lacking particularly when it comes to Hal’s appearance. Tan’s Black Hand is certainly creepy, but like the characters mental state his physicality has taken on a more ravaged look. The fight scene itself was certainly not lacking in energy and Tan’s work really did a nice job of conveying the tenseness of their confrontation.
Green Lantern #45 is a bit of a quick read but it contains a nice balance of action, humor and character interaction which made the issue a fun read. Black Hand has become the clown prince of death which is forcing Hal Jordan to have to employ a whole new set of tactics, making this issue entertaining both in terms of Robert Venditti’s script and Billy Tan’s artwork. Eight out of ten lanterns.