“Ever shake a beer and pop the top?”
This week’s Green Lantern #52 brings an end to an era of sorts with the series coming to a close, but the issue is less about endings as it is about transitioning things towards next month’s DC: Rebirth. Knowing that going into this issue may help shape your enjoyment, particularly if you go in with the expectation that writer Robert Venditti was going to provide a sense of finality. What it does accomplish is clearing the deck of sorts when it comes to some of the Hal Jordan’s support cast and reinforce that whatever’s going on with Hal might be a big deal.
Most of the issue is geared towards bringing about a resolution to the initial conflict between the Gray Agents and Hal. With neither side willing to stand down the standoff between Hal and the Grays escalates with Virgo’s life at the mercy of whoever flinches first. The action sequences are fun to watch unfold as Venditti has created foes unlike the ones Hal typically finds himself at odds with, and as the confrontation goes from verbal to physical Hal has to deal with an organized team with an unfamiliar gameplan.
Initially the Grays gain the upper hand and as Hal struggles with the mental onslaught from the Speechmaker and Venditti uses this as an opportunity to showcase that Hal’s raw willpower is just as formidable as Krona’s gauntlet. As the tension rises Hal’s strange transformation comes back into play and Hal is fortunate that Virgo is there to help center him before the conflict is renewed. The final resolution pushes against Hal’s values and challenges him to find a way out that doesn’t violate them.
With the Grays out of the way Hal and his crew part ways, although Venditti doesn’t reveal the fate of Darlene. Her story has been one of the most enjoyable components of this “Renegade” era and it is a shame that we don’t see her here at the end. That leads me to think that she and Hal will have their own goodbye in the future as Venditti wraps up the “Renegade” storyline either in the Rebirth issue for Hal’s new book or shortly into the new series’ run. I’m betting that in the end Hal will set Darlene free or she will at some point sacrifice herself for Hal in a demonstration of how her interactions with him have impacted her views on organic life.
That Hal still cannot find his way out of when he goes “all Ion” puts him at risk as he decides to strike out on his own, which is a creative way of inserting another layer of complexity into Hal’s life. We know very little about Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps beyond the title, so how this is dealt with will be very interesting. We know from the artwork that the trenchcoat look is going away, so the assumption is that this will wrapped up in pretty short order.
Throughout this run I’ve been critical of Billy Tan’s artwork but I have to say that this issue was probably his best effort in my opinion. Hal looks more “on model” than he has under Tan’s pencils and the action sequences which dominate this issue are visually engaging. The flipside is that all the attention has been given to the characters at the expense of giving any detail to the environment. This may have been an artistic choice on Tan’s part to keep the reader’s focus on the action and to be honest I didn’t even notice it during my initial read through.
Green Lantern #52 is a quick read given that the bulk of the issue is comprised of a prolonged action sequence. But sprinkled in are enough moments that show how Hal, Virgo and Trapper have changed during their time with Darlene and perhaps the one disappointment here is not seeing her anywhere in the issue. The series ends without a resolution of any of the main plot elements that have made up the “Renegade” phase of Hal’s career, so readers looking for a conclusion to the story may find themselves let down that this issue is more of a transitional piece rather than an ending. Eight out of ten lanterns.