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“I don’t do scared”

The Grant Morrison / Liam Sharp launch of The Green Lantern has gotten probably the most hype of any Green Lantern series since Geoff Johns kicked off the “Emerald Renaissance” in 2005.  The first issue finds its way to comic book store shelves and fans will finally get to see where the new creative team is going to take the Green Lantern franchise.  With the question of “which version of Morrison are we getting” in the backs of many fan’s minds, after reading the debut issue my own first impression is that we are in store for a series which will offer the traditional heroics we expect with a healthy dose of imagination stretching and mind provoking storytelling that the mere mention of Grant Morrison’s name conjures up.

Morrison’s take on Hal Jordan is one that doesn’t make any attempts to throw out the character’s long publication history, or selectively cherry pick the elements that are the most convenient.  This is a Hal Jordan who embodies all the creative decisions that have been made, both the good and the bad, since John Broome introduced readers to the Silver Age Green Lantern back in 1959.  As Mr. Morrison has said in interviews, his take on Hal is that he’s someone who’s become somewhat disconnected with Earthly life based on all he’s seen in the universe.  While still seemingly needing human interaction, the things which seem so high on the priority list of normal people like you and I are not terribly important to someone who’s been exposed to what’s “out there”.  Morrison is challenging readers to look at Hal differently than we have before and as a long time reader I think that as this series evolves I’m going to find myself reconnecting with parts of Hal’s character that haven’t been explored in some time.  From that perspective I’m really looking forward to seeing how Morrison melds all of Hal’s history into a cohesive character study.

Hard travelling hero

To quote Morrison, “people will be saying, ‘Hal Jordan wouldn’t do that!'” while reading the first few issues, and I have to say that I agree with him.  I’ve been reading Hal Jordan comics for over forty years and I found that there are a few things about Hal in this debut issue that aren’t what I’d expect.  Not so much his actions but in the way he talks.  One line in particular, “And I got nothin’ better to do right now”, seems more phrased in a way that I’d expect Guy Gardner to say it.  While details like those seem a little off-putting, what we see about Morrison’s depiction of Hal works for me in terms of the broad strokes.  This is only the first issue and I really need to see more before I can form a solid opinion.

Something I know will be an issue for some readers is how the continuity transfers over from Robert Venditti to Grant Morrison.  Like complaints about how the transition from Johns to Venditti seemed like there was little communication I think the same will be leveled at how certain elements don’t line up between where Venditti (and Dan Jurgens) left things off.  Particularly when it comes to things like Hal’s ring being made of pure willpower, Hal’s romantic life and the composition of the Guardians of the Universe.  Something I know I’ve personally come to accept is that as a reader we have to suspend the notion of these characters inhabiting a “real universe” in these situations because the creative process simply isn’t conducive to the kind of baton passing that makes the reading experience seamless.  Some elements are going to be lost or changed no matter what and we as readers just have to move forward.

Between the interviews that have led up to the release of this new series and the experience of reading the first issue I think that even though some of the fine details don’t translate literally, for anything that doesn’t line up there’s something new and interesting to take its place.  There are some new characters introduced here that are really very interesting and I think it’s great that we see Chriselon from the DCAU integrated into published Lantern Lore.  There also a brief scene with a woman who is presumably Eve Doremus, an old flame of Hal’s from the 1960’s that we’ve not seen in the comics since the early 1980’s.  As DC has already spoiled, Morrison also gives us a new protagonist named Controller Mu whose agenda isn’t yet quite clear but will likely play a much bigger role in months to come.

A wink and a nod to the past

Morrison is partnered with artist Liam Sharp, whose visual creativity seems well matched with Morrison’s.  This issue calls for the spectacle that one would get from Valérian and Laureline or George Lucas at one end of the spectrum with the gritty realism of an old western on the other end.  Sharp does a wonderful job with both extremes and the support he gets from colorist Steve Oliff helps to make the art pop.  Whether on purpose or not Sharp and Oliff underscore visually that Hal Jordan truly is a man of two very different worlds.

The Green Lantern #1 reads like the pilot episode of a science fiction police show which is exactly how the series has been described.  With Hal Jordan called into action by the Guardians to take on a special mission the new creative team of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp launch a new era for the Green Lantern franchise.  With good doses of intergalactic spectacle and bare knuckled grit this debut issue reintroduces readers to the Green Lantern universe without retreading the history that most comics readers are already familiar with.  Long time Lantern fans and new readers will find this issue accessible.  Nine out of ten lanterns.

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