“You never could fly with me!”
This week’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32 takes a pause before jumping into its next arc to take part in DC Comics’ big “Metal” event. Robert Venditti pits Hal Jordan against the Dawnbreaker as he and the rest of the Batman Who Laughs’ team continue to wreak havoc on our universe.
The first thing to note about this issue is that there’s little to no information about who the Dawnbreaker is, so if you haven’t been following the “Metal” event you truly are entering this book cold and Robert Venditti doesn’t do you any favors by not providing some much-needed background information. Regular readers of this series will have to fend for themselves about the back story – but for those reading this here is the Cliff Notes background information on who the Dawnbreaker is and why he’s a big problem.
There exists a dark multiverse containing short-lived abhorrent versions of our reality and on one of them, Earth -32, a young Bruce Wayne is chosen to receive a Green Lantern ring moments after the murder of his parents. Too immature and too grief stricken to handle his new-found power, the child embraces the darkness, channeling his willpower and rage to permanently eliminate crime and anyone who dares question his methods, including the entire Green Lantern Corps. He develops an ability to create darkness and in that create constructs which make him a most formidable foe to those who oppose him. As his universe falls he is recruited along with other Bruce Waynes from other Earths in the dark multiverse as the “Dark Nights” to take on our universe as the heroes of the DCU try to stave off the arrival of Barbatos, a being worshipped as a God who is about to enter the multiverse through our Earth’s Batman, who has over time been turned into a conduit for the ancient being. I’m rather enjoying the “Metal” event and I do encourage readers to check it out if you haven’t already.
The Dawnbreaker has come to Coast City to lure Hal Jordan to his version of a Batcave as have other Batman amalgams that have shown during the course of “Metal”. In this issue Hal is trapped in The Dawnbreaker’s cave as are other heroes of the Justice League. Venditti uses this opportunity to create an interesting tale that continues the ongoing “fear versus will” narrative that is an underpinning of Green Lantern mythology. Batman and Green Lantern have often been at odds with each other due to their contrasting ideologies and Venditti does a really nice job of showcasing just how different these two characters are. Hal’s bravado is tempered by his inner monologue that shows Jordan’s self-awareness that every time he throw down could be his last no matter how much inspiration he finds in his oath, while Earth -32’s Batman/Green Lantern hybrid displays a chilling coldness of a being that has so embraced fear and anger that he can’t see his own way out of the darkness that has consumed him.
The Dawnbreaker tries throughout the issue to take Hal down on a psychological level and Hal really isn’t having any of it. Parlor tricks and attempts to frighten a man who’s done all that Hal has in his career has little effect. This story becomes a game of one upmanship between the two, with Dawnbreaker’s visions challenging Hal and Jordan returning the favor by looking for ways to keep the darkness at bay. Robert Venditti delivers some really good dialogue throughout the issue and I particularly enjoyed one full-page spread that had Hal delivering a twist on a line that Geoff Johns had Hal using early on in his run. Venditti also mixes of that “Metal” spirit with Hal that emerges in another moment of bravado as Jordan faces the darkness. In the end Venditti moves the story to where “Metal” needs it to be as Hal eventually succumbs to the onslaught despite his valiant efforts.
Ethan Van Sciver is joined by Liam Sharp on the pencil work and their art styles complement each other pretty well. They are challenged during the fight scene by Venditti’s script, which calls for alternating action with black panels to dramatically illustrate Hal’s tactic of using his light in a strobing fashion to keep the Dawnbreaker guessing. They also use those flashes to deliver some of the creepy highlights of this particular Bruce Wayne’s cave, complete with the corpses of his very recognizable fallen foes. While the flashback sequences and the issue’s conclusion feature a full color palette Jason Wright keeps the cave sequences almost totally in shades of black and green which symbolically represents the battle between Hal’s light and Bruce’s’ darkness.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32 might be an issue that some readers will skip if they aren’t on board the “Metal” bandwagon. But for those who do pick up the issue it is an entertaining battle of wills that adds another chapter to the ongoing DC event without feeling like a filler. Eight out of ten lanterns.