“Wish upon a star”
The first new batch of comic books for the month of February are on the stands today and that means that we have a new issue of The Green Lantern to pour over. This issue pulls together some of the plot points from the first three issues to set the stage up for the middle act of Grant Morrison’s twelve issue “season” of this cosmic police drama. There’s a bit of a cat and mouse game that unravels as the issue moves along, leading to a double reveal at the end which may or may not surprise you.
The issue starts with a bit of a flashback to the events which precede the first issue of the series, with Countess Belzebeth traveling to the planet Weirwimm to take the contents of a coffin stored in a crypt there. This is the body of the anti-matter lantern we see in the first issue, confirmed by the conversation between a four armed space cowboy and a red clothed individual sharing drinks in a lounge on Rann. The anti-matter lantern had his heart surgically removed as the first of five items needed by Controller Mu and the Blackstars to form the as yet unknown “ultimate asset”. The Blackstars have three of the five items, with the other two being the Luck Dial also obtained in the first issue and Evil Star’s Star Band which was taken from him in the second issue.
The Space Cowboy shares a story of his own, that of Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns taking down two Sun-Eaters. For this part of the story Grant once again pulls in some characters from the past, including Tagort, one of Geoff Johns creations, and Ash-Pak-Glif, a Scott Beatty creation from the Kyle Rayner era. Morrison also adds a new creation of his own, the sentient star Hyperia-3 who may be the largest member of the Corps, literally eclipsing Mogo. The Green Lanterns manage to destroy one of the Sun-Eaters and send one packing to the deep dark recesses of the universe. These two narratives make up the majority of the issue as we learn that the four armed man is trying to meet with Belzebeth in hopes of joining the Blackstars. Along the way we learn that Hal does indeed face repercussions for “killing” Volgar Zo last issue, I use quotes here because I fully believe that Zo is very much alive and his death faked to create a believable cover for Hal to be able to go undercover and infiltrate the Blackstars.
We also get acknowledgement that John Stewart, Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz are still clearly members of the Corps during the timeline of this series. DC continuity is such a loose thing at this point that it’s hard to know where anything fits together anymore, but we at least know we aren’t dealing with some future timeline where Hal is the only Earth Lantern. Morrison also provides more details on Belzebeth, confirming that she is indeed the daughter of Starbreaker, a Justice League villain from the early 1970’s who was originally presented as a cosmic energy vampire and later defined as a fully mature Sun-Eater. I’ll certainly talk more about Liam Sharp’s amazing art later in this review, but this issue’s cover is a wonderful homage to the debut of Starbreaker in Justice League of America #96.
The two stories do a nice job of contrasting how morally bankrupt Belzebeth is and how noble and heroic the Green Lanterns are, making Hal’s supposed fall from grace seem all the more believable. The double reveal in the last two pages didn’t really surprise me much and I don’t know if Morrison is expecting us to be caught off guard or not as the clues seemed hard to overlook from my perspective. I’m interested in seeing how other readers fared with their reading experience, but even knowing what was going on didn’t lessen the quality of the issue for me. In fact I think it actually made for a better experience because it was interesting knowing something that the characters didn’t and watching as they each played their hands out.
Of course the issue is made all the better by the visuals from Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff. This is their best work yet in my opinion, and as I’ve said before Sharp’s pencils seem both contemporary and classic at the same time. Every time I read the issue in preparing this review I got caught up on the scene in the lounge on Rann, caught up in the scene that’s been created and wishing somehow I could be teleported there. From Xudarians to Thanagarians and a number of other aliens in between the setting is beautiful. If I’m not mistaken it even looks like Sunboy makes a cameo somehow from the 30th century! I also loved the opening sequence on Weirwimm which showcases the team’s creativity as well as the all the subtle detail that makes the issue visually rich.
The Green Lantern #4 is another great issue in what has been a wonderful run thus far from Grant Morrison, Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff. There are a lot of details that are easy to overlook and rewards readers who choose to take a deep dive and take the time to immerse themselves in the experience. This isn’t your typical read it once in fifteen minutes and put it in the long box type of book and that’s a good thing. Nine out of ten lanterns.