“Which Superman am I even talking to?”
Green Lantern: Blackstars #2 is the middle chapter of the three issue mini-series holding down the Green Lantern fort for awhile, and this issue Blackstar Parallax returns to a home that is unlike the DCU we know. The impact of the Green Lantern Corps becomes very apparent this issue as Grant Morrison shows us how important that one ripple is for the fate of our planet. In a way I’m remind of the JLA: The Nail series which showed how one moment could cause a butterfly effect and drastically change the future.
Following the announcement that Countess Belzebeth would be wedded to Hal Jordan last issue, Blackstar Parallax has returned home to talk with Superman about the impending fate of the planet Earth as Belzebeth’s wedding feast. Morrison gets rather cheeky in how he presents Earth, with tongue in cheek references to a lot of things going on in the DC Universe that have often been critiques fans have had of DC. Nothing is sacred, Superman’s stint in jeans, the Dark Multiverse and the company’s numerous timeline changes are fair game. One panel in particular gave me a great chuckle as one protester on Earth is holding a sign emblazoned with the phrase, “Crises are Infinite”! It’s a world familiar to us but at the same time one that’s become, as Belzebeth pointedly says, is “an entire planet of whining self-appointed victims”.
Hal’s attempt to get Earth to surrender to the Blackstar way goes nowhere, even with the help of Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. While Superman and Earth’s metahuman population refuse to surrender their freedom for peace, one person wants the change, Superman’s son Jon Kent. Jon’s wishes of course don’t set well with his father, and the tug of war between Superman and the Blackstars becomes a critical part of the story by the time things are done here.
A lot of this issue gives us the sordid history of Countess Belzebeth and why she is so fiercely loyal to Controller Mu. The story returns us to the Planet Vorr and the arranged marriage her father, Luciphage aka Starbreaker, has negotiated with Vorlokk. Belzebeth’s journey from a forced marriage to Mu’s most trusted follower takes a number of pages, and while it’s not an uninteresting story I do admit that I would rather have seen the panels spent propelling the main plot forward more. I did rather enjoy Morrison’s continued reference to vampire lore which even included a nod to Madrakk the Dark Monitor.
Mu’s plans do begin to crack as we see Mongul becoming a bit of loose cannon when he goes on a “missionary” trip to the planet Vardu. Vardu itself is a call back to issue 31 the weekly 52 series that Morrison worked on back in 2007. Mongul takes out another Blackstar with explosive consequences just as Mu himself begins to go a little wonky. Belzebeth does reveal something to Hal which will likely lead to her undoing, that is if what Hal has already done doesn’t do the trick.
While we’ve seen Hal play into the role of a Blackstar, there are little glimmers that indicate that he hasn’t completely drank the Kool-Aid that the Blackstars are serving. You can see the glimpse of the hero poking out, and what Hal does this issue sets the course for next month’s final chapter. Given that we are likely to see both Superman and Hal in close proximity to the Miracle Machine next month it’s not hard to imagine it being used to undo what was done to set things right. A part of me hopes it’s not that simple, but then again I hope it’s not too far fetched either. I also have a hunch that Pengowirr might have a role in the finale of this series.
Xermanico and Steve Oliff do a fine job overall with this installment, although it seems like more effort was put into Belzebeth’s backstory than other parts of the issue. Those pages had the similar lush, detailed work that we’ve come to anticipate from Liam Sharp in the main series, however other sections of the book lacked backgrounds or had very simple flat surfaces. Rather than knock down Xermanico’s work though, I think it’s a testament to the amazing work ethic and creativity of Sharp to have fostered a standard that is a challenge to live up to.
Overall, Green Lantern: Blackstars #2 is a fine middle chapter in this altered reality tale, albeit one that doesn’t move the plot along a great deal. I quite enjoyed Morrison’s commentary on DC in this and the backstory of Belzebeth was interesting even though it seems at this point something we didn’t need to know. Seven out of ten lanterns.