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“You tell him my Albert sent you”

Writer Robert Venditti has given Sonar a timely revamp and turned the character from a somewhat laughable Silver Age creation to a modern avatar for terrorists, something which provides Hal Jordan with an adversary that’s very unlike the majority of the antagonists that he’s faced over the years.  In this week’s Green Lantern #48 Venditti continues to provide a very timely representation which provides a lot of information about him even though the character only appears in a few panels.

The opening sequence in the hospital allays the fears that Howard Jordan died during the terrorist attack in Coast City last month.  However the poor kid isn’t out of the woods at all and whether he ultimately survives is left up in the air.  The uncertainty gnaws at Hal who is having a difficult time handling the situation.  It’s one thing to see fellow Lanterns fall in the line of duty and it’s another thing to be helpless while the life of someone you love hangs in the balance and there’s nothing you can do even though you’re one of the most powerful beings on Earth.  Then, of course, there’s the added weight that you couldn’t prevent what happened despite that power.

Venditti does well to humanize Hal with his reaction to the situation and there’s a wonderful exchange in the emergency room between Hal and an elderly woman.  It’s a little comical to see Hal in full costume sitting there while an old lady tells him he’s scared, but Hal snaps back to reality when Sonar’s demands are aired on the television there.  That Sonar would target Coast City makes a great deal of sense considering the “City Without Fear” moniker.  I appreciate Venditti’s ability to take these events and make them seem real when one considers the fantastic universe where the tale takes place.

Hal’s visit to Gotham is brief considering the cover makes a big deal about Green Lantern and Batman butting heads.  The encounter isn’t without its moments and frankly the dynamic between Hal and Batman provides some of the lighter moments when Venditti channels Hal’s bravado.  That he chose to throw out the “bunny suit” name brought a smile to my face as did most of their initial conversation.

Batman’s main purpose in the issue is to provide exposition and we learn how Sonar rose through the ranks in the Modoran Separatist Army and earned his moniker.  The idea of Sonar developing bombs triggered by sonic waves is a really nice way to modernize the character’s main attribute and is a far cry better than Bito Wladon’s old sonic gun and more effective, too.  But Sonar’s greatest weapon may not be his ability to use sonics but the chilling devotion of his followers.  Hal finds out during a  rather gory encounter just how devoted Wladon’s followers are before losing his cool in a powerful display of what Krona’s gauntlet is capable of when the user doesn’t show restraint.

Hal let’s loose

Parallax also continues his trek across this universe to discover the remains of Oa which leads him to draw some conclusions about what he needs to do considering what he’s learned about this version of reality. The four page sequence reminds us of their pending encounter but at the same time the anticipation of Hal and Parallax meeting each other almost makes the rest of the issue feel more like a filler to take up space until we get to the eventual Green Lantern #50.

There is a conscious effort to evoke memories of Emerald Twilight in this issue which is both effective in echoing that infamous story and distracting at the same time.  While Hal’s reaction to the critical medical condition of Howard Jordan is very human it is also a little over played with Hal being uncharacteristically over wrought.  Likewise we see him gnash his teeth in the emergency room at the thought of going after Sonar and then later uncharacteristically snap following his encounter with the terrorists.  The panel of Hal on his knees after his emotional display is a direct visual callback to the opening image from Green Lantern #48 from 1994.  I respect the effort to make references back to that story, however at the same time as a reader I’m not terribly interested in revisiting the past.  My own theory is that the time wearing Krona’s gauntlet is wearing Hal down and the terrorist attack proves to be just enough to nudge Hal towards an emotional breaking point – making the upcoming confrontation with Parallax full of potential fireworks.

Parallax finds a universe too similar to the one he left behind

Martin Coccolo handles the majority of the art duties this month and he does a nice job particularly when it comes to representing emotion.  I’m not digging his version of Hal’s mask but otherwise the issue looks great.  Billy Tan handles the Parallax pages like he did last month and the differences in their styles works well as there is a natural split between their contributions.  Someone did fall asleep and David Sharpe’s mistake in forgetting the “a” in Coast City slipped through the editorial process.

Green Lantern #48 really does bring Hal Jordan down to Earth both literally and emotionally.  Robert Venditti’s script makes Sonar a relevant adversary for the 21st Century and effectively illustrates the difference between dealing with your typical villain and someone with the mindset of a terrorist.  Batman’s cameo adds some needed fun in an issue that is wrought with emotional turmoil.  Eight out of ten lanterns.

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