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“..the ring IS Hal Jordan”

This week brings us the third chapter of “Bottled Light” in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps issue 10 and the mid-point of Robert Venditti’s second big arc on the series.  This issue reveals who is behind Brainiac’s actions and gives Hal (and the reader) a chance to re-visit some favorite ring bearers from years gone by.

Venditti continues to adeptly juggle the cast of this series and finding time in each issue to make sure that everyone gets at least a little bit of face time.  John Stewart and Guy Gardner along with Soranik Natu and members of both Corps struggle to keep the Xudarians safe as they try to figure out how to deal with their predicament.  Stewart again finds fault with Natu’s leadership and Soranik again puts John in his place, reminding him that her Corps is the more likely target of Braniac’s trap.  I like how Venditti is putting the two leaders at odds with each other although I’m wondering how much of their back and forth is an externalization of their frustration at being held hostage.  I’d say it was bottled up anger but that would be….okay, I said it!

John and Soranik continue to be at odds with each other

Hal Jordan’s predicament makes up the other plot for this arc and Venditti makes Hal’s time in Emerald Space a real treat for fans.  As Abin and Hal share some great conversation about their respective place in Green Lantern history we get to see who else is sharing this mysterious space with them. Fan favorites who we haven’t seen for some time are there along with several members of the Corps who died during the Geoff Johns era and Venditti takes full advantage of the brief time Hal spends with them to give us a couple of wonderful moments with Katma Tui and Tomar-Re.  Katma checking up on John is a particularly well written interaction and I really hope that John gets to receive Katma’s words on panel.

Venditti is wise in not keeping Hal off the table for long since that card has been played several times already in recent history.  It’s how this time is used to focus on character moments that makes it worthwhile.  Abin Sur gives Hal a mission and also acts as a father figure to Hal, responding to his questions about his selection as Abin’s successor by turning those questions back to Hal for more introspection.

Likewise for Kyle Rayner as he finds himself challenged in returning Hal by connecting to the part of Hal which was forged into the ring.  Kyle’s immediate reaction to why Ganthet summoned him is a bit flippant but is seems to be coming from a place in which Kyle feels he’s experienced enough that he’s not content in simply taking orders from his old friend.  Kyle’s perspective is interesting as he vocalizes that there are things beyond the emotional spectrum that are probably better left alone.  Regardless he rises to the challenge and does what only a White Lantern can do.  Kyle’s time with the Omega Men, his relationship with Carol and what happened to the rest of the White Lanterns are not addressed, but I’m sure that as both he and Hal spend some time together there will be plenty of opportunity for some interesting conversations.

Hal and the fallen lanterns share some nice moments before Abin gives Hal a new mission.

Venditti ends the issue with a reveal, the identity of the “Grand Collector” who is behind Brainiac’s recent activities.  If you’ve seen the solicitations for upcoming issues they you already know who it is, and if not you probably won’t be surprised to see the return of one of the most memorable characters that Geoff Johns created during his tenure.

Ethan Van Sciver was originally slated to do the art chores for this issue but the issue was re-assigned to Ed Benes who does a great job.  When I heard that he was filling in for an issue I was a little torn given his predilection for promiscuity which often serves as more of an unwanted distraction than anything else.  Benes work is on point throughout the issue with his two page spread of all the lanterns a real treat.  Hal’s gradual emergence from Emerald Space was also a highlight as his hand disappeared in one location and began emerging from nowhere back in reality.  The depiction of Kyle as he struggled to pull Hal free was also well conveyed.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #10 is another winner by Venditti.  There are some very welcome cameos that will no doubt make fans from every era very happy paired with well written character beats and just enough plot development to keep the story moving.  Ed Benes’ pencils are some of his best work on the lantern books in quite some time.  Nine out of ten lanterns.

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