“Pedal to the Metal”
The finale to Robert Venditti’s run begins with this weeks Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #48 in part one of “Last Charge”. I’m admittedly finding myself approaching each issue of this series with both a sense of excitement over how much I enjoy this book and a sense of dread knowing it’s all about to come to an end. At the end of the day the positive side wins out, particularly when the issue is as much fun as this one is. The battles between the Darkstars and the Green Lantern Corps has finally arrived on Mogo’s doorstep and there’s no turning back now.
Fans have for some time had a respect for Venditti’s handling of the “Four Corpsmen” sharing one title, but where many find fault is in how often the rest of the Corps is relegated to the background. This issue gives Kilowog some much deserved panel time as he leads the charge against Tomar-Tu on Mogo while the “Four Corpsmen” launch their sortie on the Darkstar base in Sector 0001. Kilowog hasn’t really gotten a spotlight since he and Hal got into their memorable knock down fight in Green Lantern #40, and while this isn’t on the same emotional level as the “Battle for Krona’s Gauntlet” it’s still a rewarding exchange. You can tell that this conflict with Tomar-Tu is personal for Kilowog which gives their scenes in this issue a little extra punch.
Venditti comes full circle with Hal Jordan’s inner struggle when John Stewart issues his no kill edict. This part of the Darkstar arc is one of the anchoring subplots and it is important that we get this moment before it gets lost in the frenetic pace of the battle that’s about to unfold. Hal’s monologue underscores the ideological struggle that the Darkstars represent to the Green Lanterns and I was really glad to see that Venditti took a panel or two out of this issue for this moment to resonate with the reader. The scene also illustrates John’s leadership in this struggle and how each of the other Lanterns supports John in his role and trusts his decision making about the role each of them is about to play. It also provides Rafa Sandoval a great opportunity to play with the visuals in some funny sight gags that showcases the sheer unpredictability of Hector Hammond.
It’s also great fun to see Guy Gardner and Arkillo cracking skulls side by side once again. Their battle alongside Zod, Orion and Kyle Rayner keep one contingent of the Darkstars busy while the rest of the Corps take on the other on Mogo, making the issue one very action heavy. That’s to be expected and it results in a very exciting issue visually. With Hal Jordan and Hector Hammond playing the unlikely roles of stealth agents, it’s the quiet absence of John Stewart during the battle that has me intrigued the most. We know he worked with Zod to develop a way to hamper the Darkstar’s teleportation ability, so I’m apt to think that he’s on his own mission to eliminate that particular tactical advantage.
I’m really glad to see Rafa Sandoval finishing out the run with his wonderful pencil work. His arrival on this series has been a breath of fresh air and his style works so well when it comes to depicting the epic space battles that we get to witness. This issue has two fantastic covers, the primary one by Doug Mahnke and the variant by Tyler Kirkham. Whether intentional or not it was great seeing Mahnke work with the Green Lantern universe one more time before this run reaches its conclusion. Great stuff all around.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #48 is perhaps the best issue of the Darkstars saga so far, with an exciting star spanning conflict underscored by personal conflict and high stakes. Both sides have come out swinging in a battle that is as much a philosophical conflict as a physical one. A great script and fantastic art make this one a must read. Ten out of ten lanterns.