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“Look at me! I’m a hero!”

We’re inching towards the end of Robert Venditti’s run in the Green Lantern corner of the DCU; the latest installment being Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #45.  The “Darkstars Rising” arc’s second chapter finds three of the Four Corpsmen trying to recruit help in the upcoming fight against the Darkstars.  And, of course, we’ve got a couple of neat twists and turns along the way.

Tomar-Tu and the Darkstars go one further than their “eye for an eye” ideology, not caring if there’s any collateral damage in their ongoing mission to rid the universe of anyone who’s taken a life.  While I’ve found Tomar-Tu’s arguments about corporal punishment pretty compelling, this is clearly crossing a line that I hope is used against him.  Looking down the road I’m hoping that Hal Jordan can use incidents like the one in this issue to get through to his friend before it’s too late for redemption.

John tries appealing to Zod’s sensibilities

Of course the gambit that John Stewart uses to lure Zod into helping the Corps and not adorning a pike on Jekuul with John’s head could put that idea to rest very quickly.  With no convincing argument about the greater good on the table John uses the only card in his hand by leveraging Zod’s distrust of the Corps to get the upper hand.  For Zod the chance to avenge the loss of Krypton by taking on Tomar-Re’s son is too much of a temptation.  I liked how Venditti played the scene out by building up the tension between Zod and Stewart before John plays his trump card.  While John’s strategy was a bit predictable I think the way it played out was entertaining nonetheless.

If there’s one thing that might have been a surprise it’s on Heep as Guy Gardner learns that the Corps will not be able to count on help from the Yellow Lanterns.  Tomar-Tu shows up with a mission of this own and Guy’s decision is a little surprising as he dons a Darkstar mantle of his own.  I’m not sure that Guy is doing this in earnest of if this is a gambit on his part to try to learn a weakness in the Darkstars that can be used against them.  Guy’s know for pulling some crazy stunts and this just could be his craziest.  Whether Guy’s shifted his goal based on Arikillo’s statements or he honestly wants to join the Darkstars will unfold in the coming weeks, as is an interesting statement that Tomar-Tu makes.  Tomar-Tu makes an interesting observation about their fathers, and how killing Goldface allowed him to come out from behind Tomar-Re’s shadow.  What’s piques my interest is his statement that Guy’s mission starts with his own father.  While Ebenezer Gardner is still alive, there is the matter of the person who put him in a wheelchair – but that doesn’t fit the Darkstars’ mission statement.  Could it be that Guy’s mission has something to do with his father as a murderer?  Either way, I’m really interested in seeing how this subplot gets resolved.

With Kyle’s mission to recruit Orion being saved for another issue, the last subplot this time around revolves around Hal Jordan’s attempt to get Hector Hammond on team Green Lantern.  The distraction of the Atomic Skull fight does serve some purpose when Hector threatens to “pop his brain”, leading to a nice interaction between Hector and Hal.  I really enjoyed seeing Hal convince Hector that he’s not there to trick Hammond.  Their dynamic has always been both bizarre and humorous and I applaud Robert Venditti for keeping their interactions going along the lines that Geoff Johns did.  The closing page of the issue had me both cringing and grinning at the same time!

Hal has to talk Hector out of killing the Atomic Skull

Visually this issue is one of Ethan Van Sciver’s last efforts for DC Comics and as always his pencils give the script some added punch.  Going all the way back to 2004’s Green Lantern: Rebirth, Ethan’s work has redefined the visual style of the Green Lantern universe and just flipping through this issue it’s easy to note how consistent he is with how he presents the characters.  I also can’t talk about the art without noting the absolutely stunning variant cover from Tyler Kirkham.  Doug Mahnke’s regular cover is of course nothing to sneeze at either!

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #45 nudges the plot forward a little and that may lead to criticism, but I personally found the various subplots in this arc each interesting enough to warrant spending a little extra time on them.  This is another entertaining adventure in a book that seems underappreciated by the comic buying public.  This is straightforward superheroic action of the highest order and well worth picking up.  Nine out of ten lanterns.

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