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“Far, Far Out!”

Health issues have slowed me down this month so my review for The Green Lantern #9 is a little late.  In a way it might have been a good thing because the downtime has allowed me to re-read this issue a number of times so I’ve gotten a greater appreciation for the ambition at work in this month’s installment.  Grant Morrison introduce us to two new super-teams this month, both made up of characters that are likely either long forgotten or never heard of before by the great majority of readers.

The issue starts out with a great struggle between the Superwatch, a team made up of characters that come from about every obscure corner of the DC Universe, and a being we learn later to be the Qwa-man.  The roster of the Superwatch really shows the breadth and depth of Grant Morrison’s reach in the pantheon of characters who may have only appeared in a single issue of DC’s amazing catalog.  Rather than recount them all here I’d point you to an excellent article by Adventures in Poor Taste which does a fine job of showing just who these new old characters are, redefined and given new purpose by Morrison.  One of the things that I love about this is that Morrison is really re-establishing cosmic elements that have been there all along, but no other creator has taken time the or the opportunity to bring them forward from Silver Age obscurity.  It’s clear that Qwa-Man is more than the Superwatch can handle and the call goes out to the Green Lantern Corps to provide assistance.

Vartox makes a final plea

The scene shifts to the planet Athmoora where we see Hal Jordan enjoying a little R&R, D and D style.  Morrison has said in interview for this series that his take on Hal is that he has a hard time with the banality of existence on our little ball of mud compared to what he’s seen and experienced in the greater universe. Seeing what Hal is doing for kicks underscores that as his Tolkienian vacation is something far from anything he could undertake on Earth.  Alas the duty of the Green Lantern is never far away and we discover that the big bad superboss of Hal’s adventure is none other that the Green Lantern of Earth 20, their universe’s Abin Sur.  Abin is under control by a pendant bearing a logo very similar to the Blackstars / Darkstars which alludes to a possible connection back to the previous issues in “season one” of the series.

Abin has unfortunately brought the Qwa-Man to Athmoora and Hal finds himself trapped there with Abin Sur.  That is until three more Green Lanterns from across the Multiverse arrive to provide an escape route, introducing us to the Guardians of the Multiverse.  The Guardians are represented by the Green Lantern of Earth 36 (Flashlight), the Green Lantern of Earth 32 (Bat-Lantern) and the Green Lantern of Earth 47 (Magic Lantern).  In a way this all ties so nicely back to his Multiversity series that I’ve got to go back and re-read it all over again.  To me this is one of the greatest gifts from Morrison in that he continues to push the DCU forward by expanding on what has always been there, creating a new appreciation for the work of others challenging readers to go back and re-discover the past.

It’s not just the characters either, it’s even the places.  Kranaltine, the home of the Superwatch, is a call back to a Paul Levitz / Steve Ditko story from Adventure Comics #467 and Hal’s vacation spot of Athmoora goes back to classic John Broome / Gil Kane collaboration in Green Lantern #16 from 1962.  Even Abin Sur’s S.O.S. call to the Guardians of the Multiverse is a clear call back to the “S.O.S. Green Lantern” title from Showcase #22!

Hal once again encounters an Abin Sur

Artistically Liam Sharp delivers wonderfully on the tall order that Morrison’s script calls for in terms of the magnitude of re-designs in the opening pages.  Sharp gives each character a modern makeover that gives the reader the impression that even though the DC Universe may have moved on without ever putting them into the spotlight again they have also moved on and had lives full of their own adventures beyond the eyes of any reader.  Sharp’s lush visuals on Athmoora seem like an ode to Frank Frazetta.  All around the same kind of thoughtful and engaging  visuals that have become the norm for this series.

The Green Lantern #9 is a feast for the mind as well as the eyes.  Grant Morrison again adds breadth to the DC cosmic universe by bringing the past forward and reminding the reader of the incredible richness to be found in the tiniest nook and cranny of the DCU’s history.  Along with Liam Sharp’s stunning visual this is another not to be overlooked issue of one of DC’s best comics.  Ten out of ten lanterns.

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