“I was never one for cautious”
Traditionally one shot tie-in books for a major comic event are barely worth a look, but Justice League: The Darkseid War: Green Lantern #1 is not one of those books. Laughably long title aside writer Tom King and artist Doc Shaner deliver what is in my opinion the Green Lantern story of the year. This book delivers a powerfully emotional and personal story that poses philosophical and metaphysical questions for anyone who’s ever questioned their place in the universe despite only having twenty-two pages to tell a complete story.
On the pages of the current Justice League event Green Lantern and the “Mobified” Batman have been travelling together with Hal questioning the idea of Batman’s godly status. Here Hal faces the dilemma of having to chose between the death of the Green Lantern Corps and Godhood. Along the way King juxtaposes that internal struggle by counterpointing it against a young Hal Jordan struggling with what he sees as God’s passivity and the death of his father.
I felt at times while reading this book that King was writing it just for me, not in an egotistical way but in that his script really spoke to me on a deeply personal level. As a person who’s had more than my fair share of medical struggles, close calls and painful losses I’ve walked in those shoes and had those circular debates of will and faith. At age 51 I’m nowhere near coming to a place where I am at peace with myself about any of it and so for me some of the themes of the book hit home very hard.
What makes the book all the more great is that fact that Tom King flat out gets Hal Jordan. Building on what Geoff Johns and Darwyn Cooke have done with Hal’s past King takes it to the next level. The criticism often leveled at Jordan is that readers don’t see the underlying psychology of the character because it’s not just told to them. With Hal Jordan understanding the character comes from reading between the panels to reach an understanding of why he is the way he is and why he does what he does. With this issue King fills in those blanks with his interpretation of some of what he thinks makes Hal tick – and he completely nails it. When Robert Venditti inevitably leaves the Green Lantern series DC absolutely needs to consider King as his heir apparent.
It’s still hard to gauge how continuity fits into the post-Convergence DCU and the schism continues with the huge gap between what’s going on in the Justice League and the current status of the Green Lantern universe. For those who feel the need to parse the two I continue to operate under the differences being a matter of where they fall in the timeline with the question being which comes first. Sure Oa is gone in the current Green Lantern timeline, but has it returned along with the rest of the Corps before jumping to the Justice League events, or is it the other way around? For me I’ve just decided to not let that kind of headache prevent me from enjoying the story.
King’s resolution to Hal’s choice is perfectly in character and at the point at which he embraces unlimited power the tale takes on another level as the mystery of young Hal’s sounding board takes on a cosmic Twilight Zone feel. How and why Hal is able to be separated from his Mother Ring brings the narrative full circle, providing a nice bow on a great story. While I’m not exactly sure what happens to the Mother Box the issue dovetails nicely back into the main event with Hal on his way back to Earth to deal with Batman.
Much will likely be said about the religious nature of Jordan’s parents, something which hasn’t really been front and center in comics before. Martin Jordan’s point of view about the need for depending on God and how that perspective informs Hal’s own belief system again provides the reader with information that was always there, but underneath the hood of his psyche.
This book is also one of the prettiest issues I’ve seen in awhile thanks to the fantastic work of Doc Shaner. One look at this book and you’re reminded of the classic pencils of the Golden and Silver ages but with the sensibilities of the Modern Age. Francis Manapul’s brilliant costume design for the God of Light is perfectly executed by Shaner with all the right tributes to Jack Kirby and Darwyn Cooke. This book is beautiful and it only makes me wish Shaner had more chances to delve into the Lantern universe.
Tom King and Doc Shaner completely nail Justice League: The Darkseid War: Green Lantern #1 with a tale wonderfully crafted and perfectly executed. Hal Jordan is portrayed better than he has been for some quite some time in a powerfully written script. Hail to the King, baby! Ten out of ten lanterns.