“I don’t do inner demons and I don’t do regrets”
Every issue of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern feels like an ode to comics from days gone by, and with this week’s fifth issue the creative team channels the essence of horror comics in a gothic tale that starts Hal Jordan down the path of being a member of the Blackstars. After meeting Countess Belzebeth last issue Hal is tasked to prove himself in a vampiric gauntlet to earn his place among her army.
While the issue deals with Hal’s test of mettle as the main plot this issue really serves as a bit of a character study on Hal Jordan as Morrison puts Hal through his paces in his first real ordeal in this run. As we’ve learned from the first four issues, Grant Morrison’s take on Hal is one that embraces all of Jordan’s past, the good, the bad and the ugly. What we see and are told through some great dialogue is that Hal doesn’t shy away from his past mistakes, but he doesn’t mire himself in them either. One particular monologue shows just how well Hal knows himself and how self-reflective he is despite past depictions which paint him as rather shallow.
“I’ve lived, I’ve died, I’ve been reborn. I’ve relived my Dad’s death and every betrayal a thousand times. I’m a founding member of the Justice League of Planet Earth, so let’s get serious…I don’t do inner demons and I don’t do regrets.”
It’s succinct but shows a level of self-awareness that we don’t often see with Hal. I think there are a lot of comic readers who’ve discounted Hal over the years because so much has been left for the reader to piece together and the dialogue doesn’t relay the depth of what’s really going on inside Hal’s head. Despite what some would say I believe Hal Jordan is a deep character hidden behind a mask of bravado that is easily misinterpreted. Morrison dives into Hal Jordan’s psyche and brings some of that to the surface in this issue and I find that to be the issue’s strongest point in terms of the writing.
It was pretty apparent that Hal was going undercover on this one and we get confirmation that the conversation off panel between Hal and one of the Guardians in issue #1 outlined the details of Jordan’s undercover operation. As this issue unfolds Morrison has Jordan probing Belzebeth for information they banter back and forth. Belzebeth perhaps gives Hal a little too much guidance when it comes to finding the pieces of this Blackstar mantle but Morrison uses the dialogue to build up the dynamic between Hal and the daughter of Starbreaker as a necessary step of building the layers of this story arc.
When the dust of the fallen dead settles, Hal Jordan has once again embraced his past when he chooses the handle of Parallax as his new moniker among Controller Mu’s elite guard. The issue builds to a somewhat of a surprise ending that leads us into the next issue which will challenge Hal to find a way to cement his place as a part of the enemy without murdering a classic DC cosmic character.
Liam Sharp once again nails the artwork in this issue, really giving this issue the gothic horror treatment it deserves. There are a couple of really notable panels in this issue that deserve to be pointed out. One being on the very first page where Belzebeth introduces Hal to the vampire planet of Vorr. There are a number of vampiric characters that round out the populace and many of them are of course nods to vampires from popular media. You can spot the likenesses of Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt from the Interview with a Vampire along with a being with an incredible likeness to Marvel’s Morbius. There’s also what I think is a reference to the vampire comedy What We Do In The Shadows, Count Orlock, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula as well as others I’m probably missing. Morrison even makes a verbal reference to Count Yorga, Vampire along the way as well. The other image was a wonderful tribute to the late Jon Schnepp who we tragically lost last year. Sharp’s work has been on point this entire run as has the great coloring work done by Steve Oliff and together they are really providing fans with a tremendously enjoyable visual experience.
The Green Lantern has been showing us the best from Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp. Evocative of some of the great gothic horror comics from the past, issue five blends equal parts classic sci-fi, horror and character study into yet another fantastic installment of this must read series. Nine out of ten lanterns.