“Just for once…don’t shoot the monster”
This week’s issue six of The Green Lantern brings us to the midpoint of season one of Grant Morrison’s run on the series. What is in essence a mid-season finale ends quit literally with a bang which seems to wrap up the plot of Controller Mu while completely setting the book in a direction few would have seen coming. A word of caution in that I will be spoiling the ending later on in this review – so if you haven’t read the issue and don’t want the surprise spoiled remember that I did warn you!
Like every issue of this series, issue #6 is not one to be flipped through and discarded after a quick fifteen minute read. There’s a lot of meat on the bones in this installment as we’ve become accustomed to from Morrison and taking the time to unpack what’s here is well worth the time. Sure this story is at its core a nuts and bolts story of a cop going undercover to foil a criminal mastermind, but beyond that there is much more. Morrison drenches the plot with interesting tidbits and lore from DC’s history which makes this book so much more than every other book on the stands right now. Where Geoff Johns took Green Lantern and re-invented elements for the 21st century by expanding the universe, Morrison is using is reusing classic elements in a new way to freshen the entire DC Universe.
Hal’s final test of loyalty to the Blackstars takes us back to Rann where Hal-as-Parallax enters into a duel with Adam Strange. I’ve always loved the relationship that Strange and Green Lantern have had over the years; for a while Strange appeared in backup stories in the Green Lantern series so readers had a steady dose of his adventures. The situation puts Hal in a predicament as he has to come up with a plan to keep his friend alive while not tipping his hand yet. He resolution is one that we’ve likely already seen but Hal’s untested mastery of the Blackstar weaponry leaves the reader with some doubt as to whether or not Hal might have actually killed Strange, although a not too subtle wink to the grief-stricken Alanna implies what we later learn to be true. Despite the high drama I found myself chuckling at the macabre wink and a nod reference to Strange’s virility that followed.
Morrison sprinkles some clues as to the mysterious device that Mu is working towards as the Controller also reveals that Hal’s Power Ring is the fourth of the five components needed to bring the asset to life. Both Mu and Belzebeth throw around words and phrases like “absolute”, “a new reality” and “vision”. Combined with the fact that Mu is a Controller the obvious conclusion is that the grand asset that Mu is assembling is a Miracle Machine, a device capable of rewriting reality that Morrison used as part of the plot of Final Crisis. The Miracle Machine, in the Controllers’ language, is called “Geh-Jedollah” and translated as “The Absolute” and was based on the designs of the Green Lantern rings but developed to channel a power far stronger than will. With a Miracle Machine in his arsenal Mu would have nearly limitless power and with the notion of it becoming a reality the preview image of the Green Lanterns of the Multiverse shown for this series suddenly makes a whole lot of sense.
Of course Hal’s not just going to surrender his ring for Mu to get one step away from completing Geh-Jedollah and Controller Mu finds is completely useless. I loved the scene that follows which elevates Mu as a villain, seeing through Hal’s attempt at deception rather easily. Most writers would let the good guy pull the ruse off without a hitch but Morrison isn’t letting Hal off easy here by dumbing down his mastermind. Mu shifts to plan B by making uses of a Strangelet – go ahead on click on that link because it’s a real thing not some ironically named gag to play off of the guest star’s name! The Strangelet puts Hal in a dire situation and Morrison’s resolution takes the series on an immediate detour which takes the series in detour land.
I have to say that I was not at all shocked by Grant’s choice to bring Myrwhydden (now Myrwhidden for some reason) into the book, but I was very pleasantly surprised. The Sorcerer is a classic Gardner Fox/Gil Kane creation from way back in 1964 who, for all intents and purpose could be considered the Green Lantern’s toned down version of Mister Mxyzptlk. We haven’t seen Myrwhydden since Ethan Van Sciver used him as an Easter Egg back in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #22 and here he’s traded his Silver Age presentation for one that I can only describe as an elf in the outback with mutton chops. Sure it’s a bizarre description but I think it’s pretty spot on! Hal is once again a prisoner of his power ring, trapped in Myrwhydden’s realm and we’ll see if we find out where the diminutive wizard has been all these years or whether Morrison just runs with. I fully expect the later and I’m fine with that – heck, we might find that the spelling change is due to Myrwhidden being Mywhydden’s son!
Of course there’s also lots to be said for the stellar visuals that Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff gift us with this issue. One side note is that there is a coloring difference between the digital and print copies of this issue. The print edition features green skies on Rann versus them being blue in the digital edition and the print edition has a completely different color scheme for Alanna’s outfit than what is seen in the digital version. In reaching out to Liam Sharp he indicated that those items in the print edition were not caught prior to printing but were corrected for the digital version and that the collected edition would also reflect the changes.
If the last issue evoked memories of classic horror comics it looks like Liam Sharp was going for a pulp noir style this time around. I got definite Silver Age Gil Kane vibes from the issue’s opening and then the explosive conclusion seemed to draw some inspiration from Neal Adams in terms of panel design. I really have to give a big nod to Sharp on this book as he gives this book a visual look that melds itself with the varying themes of Morrison’s scripts which remind the reader of the rich history of the comics medium while maintaining a core look and feel that is completely on its own. This is a series which is going to be a fantastic read in hardcover not just because of Morrison’s story, but in an equal part due to the amazing work that Sharp and Oliff are doing in each and every issue.
The Green Lantern #6 is an amazing conclusion (maybe!) to the Controller Mu story that sets the series up for what might be an interesting bit of introspection as Hal Jordan is sent on a whole new journey. The creative team is going to have fun with what’s ahead and I can’t wait to see where the book goes. The Green Lantern is a big bright shiny emerald light in the DC Comics catalog right now! Ten out of ten lanterns.