“Beware the wizard Myrwhydden”
The highly anticipated The Green Lantern #7 hit stands today, and boy did this issue live up to the hype that built up for it over the course of the past week! A conceptual cousin to 2001’s Green Lantern: Willworld graphic novel where Hal Jordan undergoes training by entering the central power battery, issue seven finds Hal suffering from amnesia after his power ring prevents his death following the massive explosion last issue. In addition to not remembering who he is, Hal has no idea that he is inside his own power ring and the issue’s plot revolves around how Hal navigates his way back.
That’s really an oversimplification to be sure, this issue is a heartfelt journey that explores the very nature of Hal’s relationship to his ring and why he is so unique. For Hal his ring is not a tool that he wears on his finger to simply do a job, it’s what has allowed him to realize his greatest potential and find among the stars a place where he truly belongs. Up for debate is whether the Emerald Sands and its occupants are truly what dwells in the ring or whether everything we witness is Hal’s mind attempting to parse the reality that he’s found himself in.
Sometimes comic creators find ways to break the conventions of a traditional comic book issue and transcend to another plane of creativity, and with issue we see Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp both turn in an effort that exemplifies that notion. Told through a story which consists largely of prose and rhyme, Morrison’s tale of Hal’s return challenges the reader to piece the puzzle along with our protagonist as Hal wanders the Emerald Sands looking for answers. Joining Hal is Pengowirr, a new character whose name is a clever acronym for her deepest secret. Hal and Pengowirr search for Myrwhydden (whose spelling has been corrected from last issue) as the Emerald Sands, and Pengowirr herself, are slowly dying.
Why everything is degrading around Hal becomes clearer and clearer as this one-issue story unfolds, until the mystery of what happened to Hal and Pengowirr’s secret are finally revealed for anyone who hasn’t figured it out on their own. While some may have hoped for more interaction with Myrwhydden, I ultimately felt that Morrison made the smart choice by really focusing his story on Hal and Pengowirr simply due to what it represents. At its core this issue is a love story full of sentimentality that will tug at your heart if you let it. Carol Ferris may be the greatest love of Hal Jordan’s life, but his power ring has always been his truest love, and in realizing that Morrison ends the issue with a moment that pulls it all together. With the ring Hal found his purpose and his long and storied journey has frequently focused on how Hal tries, and fails, to juggle a life on Earth while being drawn to the reality that his first, best destiny is out in the greater universe where he not only feels the most alive, but can make a difference. Sure Morrison is ignoring continuity with regards to the history of the ring, but greater things have been overlooked by writers before.
Liam Sharp simply turns in one beautifully rendered issue after another, and issue seven is clearly something very, very special. Sharp uses panel designs using visual elements of the ring’s design to depict the moments that take place inside the ring, only shifting to a more traditional layout when the scenes transition to the universe outside the ring. Emerald Sands is the stuff of fantasy and nightmare and Sharp does an exemplary job of balancing them both. Sharp is also the colorist on this issue and you can see how the color palette shifts between the muted, dark colors as the world inside the ring fades to how brightly they appear at the end of the issue. The three images that have stuck with me since reading this issue a few times today are those of Hal embracing Pengowirr as they go the extra mile, Hal, teeth clenched, demanding a lantern as the ring dies, and the full-page image that closes the issue. If there was an original piece of art I’d want from this run so far, it’d be that one for sure! I was also happy to see the cameo by Perdoo, who we haven’t seen since being used in the background in Green Lantern Corps #33 – what was a nice little surprise!
Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp have outdone themselves in The Green Lantern #7 with a single issue story that is both a fantasy adventure and a sentimental exploration of Hal Jordan’s true love. This series continues to be one of DC’s strongest books on the stands, well worthy of your time and money. Ten out of ten lanterns!