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“Hostility is for squares”

The Green Lantern #10 presents the first part of a two part story that will lead to the finale of “season one” of the series in a over-sized issue that will surely be something spectacular.  This week’s issue is something really special where Grant Morrison, Liam Sharp, Steve Oliff and Tom Orzechowski work in perfect unison to create a deep, rich tale that rewards the reader for taking the extra time to really take in the ambitiousness on display.  There’s a lot her to unpack and I’ll certainly try my best to provide some in-depth analysis – or at least as much I can in order to get this review out in a timely manner!

The issue hits the rewind button a little bit in order to show us what some of the Guardians of the Multiverse were doing prior to receiving Abin Sur’s (Earth 20) SOS from last issue.  This accomplishes something critical by giving the readers some much appreciated background about the various incarnations of Green Lantern that play a larger role in the story – and it manages to do it in only one page per character.  On Earth 36 we see Hank Hallmark, the Flashlight of this dimension, as he receives a call from the Guardian of the Cosmos to divert himself to provide assistance.  The page layout and art style are an homage to the classic days of comics yesteryear with clean lines bold colors.  Oliff’s color choices are very symbolic given the queer leanings of this universe, even encircling the Guardian with a rainbow which shouts “pride”.  Morrison gives us a quick rundown of Flashlight’s abilities; seven unique settings which Hallmark must combine to deal with the threats in his universe.

By contrast the scene shifts to Earth 47 and the joyous world where hippie culture lives on where we see Magic Lantern dealing with an alien whose design is delightfully reminiscent of the Blue Meanies from Yellow Submarine.  Sharp’s page layout is straight up groovie in the most fun sense of the word.  Psychedelia reigns on the page as the imagery and color choices scream ’70’s counterculture and flower power.  Orzechowski gets in on the act, ditching the classic lettering from the previous page to something far more creative on this one. Where everything we see on Earth 36 is nice and tidy, Earth 47 sharply contrasts that with blended color and images like a comic book version of a tie dye t-shirt.  Everything blends together in a trippy way, instantly symbolizing in one page the crazy over the top creativity that Morrison and Chaz Truog had when they first designed this universe back in 1990’s Animal Man #23.  Morrison even pulls Guru Joz of the mothballs for this one!

Earth 32’s Bat-Lantern is featured on the next page, a return to a more classic page design with a darker color palette as one would expect for the Emerald Knight originally created by Mike W. Barr for 1994’s Elseworld’s tale, Batman: In Darkest Knight.  The Bat-Lantern amalgam of Batman and Green Lantern is interrupting a fight between two criminal elements, themselves combinations of familiar DC villains.  Shark, a mashup of the Penguin and the Shark, is in a bit of a turf war with the Masked Hand, a likely combination of Black Mask and Black Hand.  Alfred, who originally died in the 1994 story, is represented here as a ring construct who let’s “Master B” know of the coming crisis.

Right on, man!

Jumping back to the near-present we witness Abin Sur and Hal Jordan trying to keep the Qwa-Man at bay until help arrives.  Sharp’s grotesque imagery of the cybernetic monster is ghastly for sure, but Oliff’s color work resulted in a revelation about the Qwa-Man that I didn’t connect with until I flipped to that page.  The yellow energy bleeding out of the “Anti-Man”, especially the energy erupting from his left middle finger – this is the antimatter universe version of Hal Jordan that’s been on the back burner since the first issue.  Qwa-Man? How about Qward-Man!

The Guardians arrive and Morrison provides some levity in the interactions between Bat-Lantern and Magic Lantern as the former chastises the later for his use of marijuana only to be rebuffed by the Magic Lantern.  The chemistry between the two is great and their interactions this issue instantly makes them my favorite pairing since Arkillo and Guy Gardner.  Fortunately for everyone involved the Magic Lantern didn’t lose in concentration and Bat-Lantern failed to bum out Magic Lantern while he was “doing the good work of the Guru”, allowing for the defeat of the Qwa-Man and the departure of the Lanterns.

Liam Sharp really gets creative as the scene shifts to the Bleed Space between universes.  On Twitter Sharp indicated that he used special software to create a 3D render of a mandelbrot set to represent Bleed Space, a fantastic choice which wonderfully illustrates the space that acts as a buffer between the worlds of DC’s Multiverse.  Then the issue picks up full steam as Hal and the Guardians of the Multiverse go in search of Carol Ferris of Earth 11 and the Cosmic Grail which will take them to Earth 15 – the perfect universe destroyed by Superboy Prime and original home of Volthoom.

There’s more great detail once Hal comes to after his trip through Bleed Space and meets up with Strong-Woman.  In a great call back to Green Lantern #24 from 1963, Morrison finally gives the original living planet Green Lantern a name, Uugo. Hal is once again reunited with his old friend as he once promised her he would and Sharp and Oliff keep Uugo’s design true to the original right down to the Hal Jordan shaped land mass.  Perhaps a distant relation to Mogo, Uugo first appeared some twenty-two years before the more well known Mogo and serves a familiar purpose.  The only lonely sentient planet serves as a base for the Guardians of the Multiverse, and it’s on Uugo that Hal meets more of its members.  Joining the others are Kai-Ro from Earth 12, the Tangent Lantern from Earth 9, Stan Lee’s Len Lewis from Earth 6, and a version of John Stewart from Earth 23. It’s neat to see Hal interacting with all these characters and it once again reminds me that there’s so much reading I need to do to revisit some of the really interesting and creative ideas that have been a part of DC’s publishing legacy.  It also gave Morrison a change to poke a little fun at the Earth 1 books!

There’s some other tidbits here that bear examination. We once again see the Blackstar medallion that controlled Abin Sur last issue, which reminds us that there is still a traitor in the Green Lantern Corps who may or may not have been responsible for setting up the whole threat in the first place. Morrison takes a time out to visit Earth 0 where we see Halk-Kar interacting with some of the lanterns we’ve seen over the previous nine issues.  Volk, Chriselon, Xax and Brokk humorously treat Halk-Kar as a mere civilian as they tend aid to fallen members of the Superwatch and there’s some dialog between Chriselon and Volk as the crystalline being tries to elicit details about Hal from his volcanic comrade. It throws suspicion on Chriselon, whose rescue was a major point of the first issue.  Morrison adds more elements from the past as well, including references to the anti-matter mining colony which provides some great connective tissue between this issues and those that came before.

Cosmic Grails and missing Lanterns – and Hal is focused on Carol!

Another tidbit is the reference missing Green Lanterns from across the Multiverse, specifically mentioning one missing from Earth 2, perhaps a reference to one version or another of Alan Scott. Morrison references the seven unknown worlds in the Multiverse and makes use of the Transmatter Cube, created in the 1970’s to allow the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America to travel between their respective Earths to share adventures.   Then there’s two other characters which are needed to live up the promised three unstoppable menaces promised on the cover of the issue.

On Uugo John Stewart mentions an anti-matter event which seems to be the creature who appears at the end of the brief diversion this issue takes to Earth 0.  In my own confusion I read the last issue as that being being the same one, the Qwa-Man, that attacks Abin Sur and Hal Jordan, but it’s not.  This is a much larger being which nearly destroyed the entire Superwatch and poses the greatest threat of all which has arrived from the the Anti-Verse.  The identity is of this creature is not entirely clear at this point and one has to wonder if it’s a new creation or a new rendition of an old threat.  Either way, if he represents the second anti-matter event that John Stewart warns could destroy the Multiverse, we could just have another Crisis on our hands.

The other is revealed on the final panel as the Guardians of the Multiverse explore Earth 15.  He’s an intriguing character to be sure, particularly when we see the close up of his eyes, with irises that look like the Green Lantern logo and what looks like a familiar domino style mask.  I thought I’d seen that somewhere before so I went back to the series’ first issue that had the tease of “things to come” splashpage at the end.  There it is, the same eye sharing a panel with a shattered power battery.  We know that Morrison has said in early interviews that this series is titled The Green Lantern not because of the leading character but because this books is about the nature of the the Green Lantern power itself.  With the promise that this man has “a tale to tell” I’ve no doubt that we are on the verge of a major cosmic revelation that will redefine Green Lantern mythology for years to come.  Note that he refers to the Guardians of the Multiverse as “companions of the living lantern” – this isn’t a throwaway line by any means!

The Green Lantern #10 moves fast and is filled from cover to cover with amazing creativity both artistically and from a narrative perspective.  There is a LOT going on in this series and while it does require some effort on the reader’s part it’s energy well spent.  Morrison, Sharp, Oliff and Orzechowski are all working at peak form and their collective efforts have made this series something quite special. If you’re not reading it you’re missing out on one of DC’s best books – this installment gets a well deserved ten out of ten lanterns.

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