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“Watch me work”

Robert Venditti has been building the “Darkstars Rising” arc slowly over the past several issues, using elements from his entire run like building blocks.  Adding in a far dose of Lantern lore along the way readers have been able to enjoy a multilayered story that is building towards the end of his run with issue fifty.  This week’s Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #46 shifts focus from the Darkstar threat to the human element of the story with a strong emphasis on Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan.

Guy Gardner’s troubled childhood comes clearly into focus as the newly recruited Darkstar confronts his abusive father over this indiscretions of the past.  But Venditti doesn’t go for the low hanging fruit, instead he paint Roland Gardner as a man as haunted by his past as those he’s victimized.  This takes what could have been a simple confrontation and adds powerful drama to it as Roland nearly begs his son to put him out of his addictive misery.

Guy Gardner comes to collect retribution from his abusive father

For Hal Jordan his journey is also a minefield made up of past mistakes, or at least the weight that comes with feeling you’ve done less than you should have.  This, too, adds layers to the fascinating relationship between Jordan and Hector Hammond, who relishes his chance to really have an adventure rather than voyeuristically experiencing it through the memories of others.  But Hammond’s inability to know where to draw the line leaves Hal in a really interesting predicament that serves to undermine the efforts to rally the troops to stop the Darkstars.

Speaking of gathering forces, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner also get some page time in this issue thanks to shifting the story away from the main plot.  John and Zod’s interactions continue to be engaging as two tacticians continue to battle for the high ground.  In the end it seems both are willing to stand on mutual ground for as long as the situation is beneficial for each.  Given more time on the book I think Venditti would have developed this rivalry more and it’s a shame because John has so few adversaries he could call his own.

As for Kyle, his attempt to collect on the debt owed him by Orion seems to have fallen short.  With Rayner and Space Cabbie a captive of the New Gods, Highfather washes his hands our affairs and preventing Orion from doing the honorable thing.  You can see that this doesn’t set well with Orion and it certainly looks like he might rebel against his father given the chance.

Meanwhile Hal Jordan finds Hector Hammond may be a little too helpful.

This all sets the stage for the upcoming conflict with each of the Four Corpsmen having a personal stake in the outcome over and above the ideological differences between the Darkstars and the Green Lantern Corps.  Pumping the brakes on the overall narrative to develop the layers beneath the main plot is well worth the time given how the upcoming battle will have more meaning for each of the four Earth Lanterns.

Artistically Clayton Henry does a really nice job with the visual elements of the story.  There are a couple of minor quibbles with the depiction of Hal’s mask, but other than not being enthralled with a stylistic choice I really like the artwork in this issue.  Also deserved of a shoutout is another great variant cover by Tyler Kirkham.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #46 is another rock solid issue that swerves the plot of “Darkstars Rising” in a couple of unexpected directions.  There’s plenty of personal drama in this one, particularly in Robert Venditti’s strong script as it pertains to Guy Gardner’s confrontation with his past.  Nine out of ten lanterns.

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