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“We’re going to need a bigger Corps”

This week’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern #43 is Robert Venditti’s second chapter of his “Darkstars Rising” arc, combining an interesting chapter in Lantern lore with a topical subject and topping it with a healthy dose of interpersonal tension.  If this is just the beginning of what Venditti has in store for the end of his run readers are in for one entertaining and engaging ride.

After their recent lack of decisiveness about dealing with Zod, the Guardians are less inhibited about moving directly against the Darkstars after Tomar-Tu was broken out of prison last issue to become the first of the Controllers’ new order.  John Stewart takes a squad to investigate the location that they believe is where the Darkstars have set up camp, only to discover that the Darkstars 2.0 are much better equipped than their predecessors.  This sets up an point / counterpoint between Tomar-Tu and Hal Jordan than leaves the Green Lanterns with the realization that they aren’t the dominate force for peace in the universe.

Tomar-Tu and Hal Jordan provide the emotional anchor to the story.

What I really like about what Venditti does with this issue is what I like about translating today’s topical issues into comics.  The writing for Tomar-Tu is very, very strong and through his voice Venditti sells the reader on Tomar’s point of view, and it’s a very compelling stance.  Tomar has seen enough of the universe to change his stance on capital punishment and as he’s trying to convince Hal that the Darkstar way is the right way it’s not hard to find yourself agreeing with him.

The strength of his position, in direction opposition to Hal Jordan’s, gives this story a considerable amount of emotional weight.  Tomar’s father was the first Green Lantern Hal met after the death of Abin Sur, and there’s been a relationship between Hal and Tomar’s family that rivals any other in Hal’s life, even than the one he has with Sinestro.  And I mentioned the Korugarian intentionally because this story to me echoes Sinestro’s fall based on his own moral stance about law and order.  The combination of moral dilemma and a friendship pushed beyond its limits is great fodder for a powerful story and Venditti has built this one up in such a way that it has the potential to become a classic.

John realizes that the Green Lanterns can’t take on the Darkstars…yet.

The Darkstars 2.0 are much more formidable foe for the Green Lanterns and their actions, and far superior numbers, are set to push the Green Lantern Corps into a position where they are no longer needed.  The Darkstars are fine with the Green Lantern Corps doing what they do, after all they can collected the garbage and the Darkstars can come and dispose of it anytime they choose thanks to their new abilities, and with the Controllers out of the picture it becomes clear that the Corps needs help.  This is where the issue ends, leaving the Four Corpsmen to recruit allies and foes in hopes of putting together a coalition to stand up to the Darkstars’ judge, jury and executioner modus operandi.

It looks like Hal has gone to Earth in search of help so I’m really hoping that we get that conversation between Hal and Carol that Venditti teased us with in issue 31.  But, to be honest, I’m not sure Hal will reach out to Carol as much he will seek to protect her by not getting her involved.  It also looks like John is going back to Jekuul to have a conversation with Zod, and I imagine we’ll also see the Sinestro Corps return to the pages of this series before this arc is over.

I don’t know what to say about Rafa Sandoval’s work beyond a simple “Wow!”.  The book looks absolutely stunning from front to back.  I particularly liked the subtlety of Tomar-Tu’s posturing, conveying his conviction and self-assuredness brilliantly.  You can see the tension between Hal and Tomar which adds more depth to Venditti’s already fantastic script.  Larger panels and a gorgeous double splash page are used at just the right moments – the one in particular as Hal discovers to his amazement the sheer scale of the Darkstars’ forces is perhaps the visual high point of the issue.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #43 is a shining example of just how good this series has been.  When a series has you anxiously awaiting the next chapter you know you have found a gem.  Ten out of ten lanterns.

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