“I could be your sidekick. Like Batman and Robin!”
It’s been awhile since we’ve had a Green Lantern annual that wasn’t a bookend of sorts to some major event or story line. With this week’s The Green Lantern Annual #1 Grant Morrison pulls some more crumbs from DC’s past and makes a meal out of it. There’s also the return of…..Air Wave!
Hal Jordan’s family has always been a part of the foundation of Green Lanterns’ supporting cast, but they’ve played less a part of it since the John Broome days. Morrison pulls them all back together for a family reunion of sorts which goes awry when an inter-dimensional being plays off of the kind hearts of the younger members of the Jordan clan and then hi-jinks ensue. Morrison releases all of the skeletons in the Jordan family closet and we see several members of the family, like Uncle Titus and Doug Jordan, who only made a one off appearance back in 1969’s Green Lantern #71.
A couple of fun elements of this story revolve around the return of Hal Jordan Jr. and Helen Jordan, Hal’s nephew and niece who haven’t been a part of his on-panel family in some time. Helen Jordan in particular played a major role during Hal’s time as the Spectre during the short-lived J.M. DeMatteis series that ran from 2001-2003. A great deal of those issues no longer line up with current continuity but Morrison seemingly folds them back in by having her recall travelling with “Uncle Hal’s Ghost” during a near death experience. Hal Jordan Jr.’s return as Air Wave is a fun bit of nostalgia as the teen hero teams with his uncle to defeat Zzptzz, a criminal from the Frequencies of Kwyzz, itself an element of the Multiverse first introduced by Morrison back in 1998’s Flash #136. Kwyzz even has a Green Lantern of their own, Krkkzz Zappl, who makes his debut in this issue. Morrison takes the opportunity to poke fun at the dynamic duo as Hal bristles at the comparison of his team-up with Hal Jr. as his “sidekick” to the caped crusader and the boy wonder.
There’s a particularly entertaining notion lying beneath this light action tale about the repercussions of spending too much time engaging with screens instead of with each other. At one point Hal humorously uses his family’s dysfunctions to good use as a means of breaking Zzptzz’s control over the Jordans, including the Silver Age plot where Susan Williams fell in love with Jim Jordan because she thought he was Green Lantern.
Giuseppe Camuncoli provides the artwork for the issue and he does a more than capable job of bringing “The Wireless Ones” to life. Air Wave’s design is true to its roots, but doesn’t look dated although it certainly screams “retro”. Camuncoli hides a couple of neat Easter Eggs in the issue, mainly some books on the shelves in the background which make reference to “52”, “Multiversity” and “Watchmen”. There’s one slight mistake with Hal’s outfit reverting to its Silver Age one piece look, but otherwise the art team delivers a good effort.
Overall I found the book to be a fun lighthearted one and done adventure with a nice balance of adventure and humor with a little twist ending. The question for readers is whether or not it’s worth dropping $4.99 on the issue. At this point it seems like Hal’s visit to see family on Earth has no connective tissue back to the police procedural that is the ongoing series’ meat and potatoes. One could skip the book and likely not miss anything unless Grant Morrison has plans to use some of the plot threads later on. However for anyone who’s a fan of character the annual has some elements that make it worth picking up.
The Green Lantern Annual #1 is not a “not to be missed” issue, but it is a fun and entertaining adventure that shows that the Jordan family puts the fun in dysfunctional. Air Wave returns to modern continuity and we get all the wild and crazy elements that Grant Morrison is known for in a nicely illustrated package. Eight out of ten lanterns.