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“I don’t DO fear”

With a newly forged ring Hal Jordan is off in search his lost comrades in this week’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #1, and while Hal’s causing some trouble in Sector 563 Sinestro takes a giant step forward in returning to his former glory.  Writer Robert Venditti’s re-positioning of the key elements of the Green Lantern franchise serves as the focus this issue, which also marks the debut of artist Rafa Sandoval on the series.

While Hal might have ditched Krona’s gauntlet in the series’ Rebirth issue there’s still something amiss with Jordan which rears its head while interrogating smugglers.  Tied to Sinestro’s actions on Warworld the implication is that Hal’s prolonged exposure to the gauntlet has left him somehow tied to the emotional spectrum in some way and sensitive enough to feel significant shifts in power levels.  I don’t in particular want to see some sort of new “power” develop from this but it makes sense that for the time being there are some lasting ramifications rather than quickly sweeping things under the rug.

Left frail and diminishing at an accelerated rate as fallout from his battle with the Paling, Sinestro is seemingly approaching his final days.  However the man who is ever the tactician once again shows how he always has a plan by re-employing an old strategy to restore and boost his power level.  Granted it’s not an original idea it serves the purpose of rejuvenating the Korugarian and restoring him to a position of power.  It seems in the end the master manipulator has made use of his daughter’s better nature and now that she’s helped him position the Sinestro Corps as the force of order in the universe her days at the helm may very well be numbered.  I think this sets the stage for an interesting power struggle as I don’t see Soranik Natu just letting her father resume control without a conflict.

Everything old is new again

This issue actually gives Sinestro a bit more of the panel time which I think is intentional on Venditti’s part.  This is the Sinestro Corps War spun on its head and now it’s the Green Lanterns who are the rebel forces striking against the Yellow Lantern establishment.  The scales are tipped heavily in one direction and the focus of the book is a literal representation of the new status quo.  Like the Rebirth issue before it, the series debut is mainly setup with Venditti needing some time to transition all the elements to where he wants them while still establishing the main thrust of his first arc.  It’s a balancing act which succeeds while providing a fair amount of action and several highlight moments.

Sinestro’s triumph is cemented with his return and Venditti uses both Sinestro’s revitalization and call to order to full effect, injecting a great deal of energy into the issue which does a great job of making this first regular issue meaningful.  But perhaps the greatest moment of the issue comes in the final pages as we catch up with the Green Lantern Corps.  Combined with the Sinestro and Hal moments this issue illustrates the effect of Rebirth on the Green Lantern franchise.  There’s a sense that this series is going to be filled with storytelling on a grand scale which leaves me feeling very optimistic about this title.  If there’s a downside it may be in the realization that Sinestro, in finally getting what he’s always wanted, doesn’t seem to know how to handle the new status quo and falls back to simply spreading fear as his mandate.

We catch up with the Corps, too

Rafa Sandoval is a great addition to the Green Lantern family and in this first issue he establishes himself nicely.  The book is a pleasure to look at between his pencils and the great coloring work by Tomeu Morey.  Venditti’s script gives Sandoval a lot to play with and he visually underscores the high points really well, elevating the book and creating a sense of excitement for the reader.

Sandoval creates some new Sinestro Corps members right out of the gates which Robert Venditti has commented that he will be building characters around.  Sandoval gives Isamot Kol a makeover clearly inspired by the 2011 Green Lantern movie which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but the trick will be in the continuity between himself and Ethan Van Sciver to keep the look of the characters consistent.  As much as I like the bulk of the book I have to say I’m not a big fan of Sandoval’s versions of Arisia and Soranik Natu, particularly with their hair styles.

There are also a couple of bumps in the road when it comes to the status of Arkillo.  The last time we saw him he was serving as the Yellow Lantern of Earth alongside Saint Walker, whether he’s just visiting Warworld for a meeting or not is unclear, although I can’t imagine he’s still patrolling Sector 2814 with the Red Lanterns building a Hell Tower on Earth over the Green Lanterns series.  There’s also that issue with his left hand being a construct that is overlooked here.  That Hal Jordan has a new ring design is missed as well, but I’ll chalk that up to the production timeline and what was stated as a late decision not being able to be accommodated for by Sandoval.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #1 is typical for a first issue in terms of setting the tone and direction for the series’ first arc.  With a nice blend of character moments, action and atmosphere Robert Venditti has set the stage for an epic struggle on a grand cosmic scale.  With arguably one of the best art teams DC comics has on board this series there’s a lot to be excited for.  Eight out of ten lanterns.

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