The universe has been redone and Green Lantern: Blackstars #1 gives readers the first look at the reality shaking changes spinning out of The Green Lantern #12. Oa lies in ruin and now occupied by a ghastly new iteration of the Empire of Tears, the terrible demons who planted the seeds of doubt in Abin Sur all those many years ago. Among the other changes that the Miracle Machine has made possible we see that Blackstar Parallax, aka Hal Jordan, is an elite member of Controller Mu’s forces, shaping the universe according to Mu’s vision of universal peace.
While this issue spends a lot of time setting up the new reality, there’s an interesting notion that presents itself as we see that Controller Mu is very much like Sinestro in some ways. Surely the methods we see Countess Belzebeth and Blackstar Parallax use are highly questionable, but the end goal seems to be one of altruism. Like Sinestro Mu is seeking peace through absolute control, but it’s not fear that powers Mu’s agenda. It’s will, and that makes it all the more interesting in considering that there’s not a lot separating Mu from the Guardians of the Universe. Is Mu wrong? If harsh justice brings about peace and harmony then do the ends justify the means? Like debating whether or not Batman should kill someone beyond rehabilitation like the Joker in order to prevent the loss of innocent lives, this kind of moral dilemma is interesting fodder. It feels like this is what Grant Morrison is asking us to ponder in the break between the “seasons” of The Green Lantern.
The issue is broken up over several days, which are counting down from four. In the span of those four days we witness Belzebeth and Hal bring the Empire of Tears and Mongul under their control as they become resources in the transformation of Oa into a new paradise. There are some neat appearance of characters like Kilowog, John Stewart, Trilla-Tru, Volk and Jessica Cruz who seem to have survived the alterations in reality and have become a part of the Blackstars. We also learn that Hal is haunted by the memories of what came before, with the dreams of the former universe reaching out from Hal’s subconscious.
The issue’s conclusion thrusts Hal into an interesting position with regards to his future with Belzebeth and Hal’s return to Earth where Hal has gone to prepare a wedding feast for the space vampire. Morrison reminds us early on that Belzebeth has a planetary appetite so one can only assume the worst when it comes to exactly what is going to be on the menu. Hal’s solemn expression upon gazing down at Earth makes me wonder just exactly how much Hal remembers and how much of his behavior is an act being used to downplay suspicion while he tries to figure out how to undo what’s been done.
Visually Xermanico’s art style compliments what we’ve seen from Liam Sharp over the past twelve issues and Steve Oliff’s colors help provide a sense of artistic continuity. I love his take on the Empire of Tears in particular and I thought it was a nice touch to give Jessica Cruz a Blackstar logo over one eye. I also appreciated Steve Oliff’s use of a bright color palette for the panels that take place on the reformed Oa, representing the front-facing image of peace and harmony that the best PR person would want to convey the image of Controller Mu. Meanwhile a darker palette colors the shady underbelly of the price paid by other to bring that image to reality.
Green Lantern: Blackstars #1 is a good start to this three issue miniseries with the concession that the creative team is obligated to show us how the universe has changed. Hal Jordan finds himself in a unique situation where he’s going to be forced to make some tough choices if indeed he’s truly aware of the consequences of using the Miracle Machine. A trip to Earth is in order in December and I’m really interested to see how this gets resolved. Eight out of ten lanterns.