“Just call me the Hustler”
Seeing Hal Jordan and Barry Allen together is my favorite team-up in all of comics, so I’ve been admittedly a little anxious to see the two partner together again in the pages of this week’s The Green Lantern: Season Two #4. This issue is another “one and done” adventure but ends with Hal meeting up with the “villains” of this second season. I fully anticipated some crazy antics when it’s a Green Lantern / Flash team-up, but this one is far out there even by those standards.
The issue starts out with two call-backs to the past, one with the return of the Golden Giants and the other with the arrival of Olivia Reynolds. The Golden Giants were antagonists in Flash #120, a John Broome / Carmine Infantino / Joe Giella collaboration from 1961. The connection I did not make is that the Golden Giants are connected to Zundernell, the Golden Giant that the Guardians of the Multiverse fought with during the events of The Green Lantern #11.
The bigger surprise is seeing Olivia Reynolds again. Another one of Hal’s former flames, Reynolds was initially a competitor of Hal’s during his toy salesman days. Olivia secretly possesses the powers of the U-Mind, something akin to the anti-life equation, which is so powerful that Olivia has been prevented from knowing she has them so that she doesn’t destroy all of existence. Olivia debuted in Flash #191, another John Broome story that teamed Hal and Barry together. The U-Mind comes into play here as well as the story progresses. For those puzzled by the use of the word “Lenglyns” – they were a race that was being sustained by the U-Mind from that debut issue.
Hal, Barry, and Oliva travel to a distant planet once they disappear through a portal in the Flash Museum, and this is where the story becomes a wonderfully absurd trip that took me back to the 1970s. Liam Sharp must have had a great time coming up with all the strange and psychedelic creatures that inhabit this “toy Earth”. I instantly thought back to books from DC’s past like Plop! that I’d occasionally pick up because of the amusing artwork. As it turns out the three humans are being tested in advance of a possible invasion of Earth which the three thwart by the end of the book. It’s wacky and fun even though the stakes are high.
Green Lantern and Flash unfortunately don’t work together so much as they just appear in the same book. Grant Morrison’s script has the two separated most of the time, so for me, I missed seeing the two actually work together as I’d hoped. I still enjoyed the book for the most part, but there are some things about this issue that really made the experience more of a struggle than it should be.
The script appears disjointed in a few places and at least for me it prevented this issue from coming together cohesively. There’s a point where Hal tells the aliens, “take me to your leader”, only to appear next to Barry with no resolution to how Hal got away. In the last third of the issue both Hal and Barry refer to there being “three tests”, but I don’t ever see where either of them learned this. And perhaps the hardest part of the reading experience with the issue is the alien dialogue. In some places you can infer the meaning, but in others it’s simply more of a challenge than one should expect from the reader. I fully expect any book by Grant Morrison to require a couple of read-throughs to “get” some of what he’s doing, but this time it really did lessen the reading experience for me.
The denouement was a great way to bring this season’s main story back into the forefront, however. With the adventure over, Hyperman’s presence since the issue’s opening is fully acknowledged as he is joined by Hyperwoman and Hyperdog in their surprise assault of Hal Jordan. We’d seen Hyperman and Hyperdog in the background in The Green Lantern #9 and now the Hyper-family connection hinted at last issue is confirmed.
While I’ve had some issues with Morrison’s work, I can’t sing anything but praise for Liam Sharp’s art. There are some things, like the weird inhabitants of the toy planet, which are just a joy to take in. Then there are creations like the Ptechnodactyls that are just really, really cool looking. Another couple of high points was the representation of Hal’s mind coming apart and the image of Hal playing billiards with planets using a giant pool cue construct. I know I’ve seen Hal do that once before with asteroids, but I can’t remember what issue it was!
The Green Lantern: Season Two #4 is a hit and miss for me due to some parts of the story failing to line up and expecting too much from the reader. While Grant Morrison’s contributions were the issues low point, seeing Hal Jordan and Barry Allen together again and the ever spectacular art by Liam Sharp helped compensate in what is still a fun issue. Seven out of ten lanterns.