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“Challenge Accepted”

This week marks the penultimate issue of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s run with The Green Lantern: Season Two #11. This issue pulls a number of elements from throughout the series and sets the stage for a conclusion which hints at a status quo change for Hal Jordan which could just as easily be one more chance for Morrison to provide his own commentary on DC Comics. But before all of that, we need to return to Athmoora.

Abin Sur’s visit to Athmoora in GL#16

For those who don’t remember, Athmoora is where Hal went to unwind back in issue nine of the first season. Knowing Morrison’s tendency to re-use lore from DC’s history rather than just make stuff up I did some digging before this issue came out to try to figure out where it originated. As it turns out, Athmoora was referred to back in Green Lantern #16 from 1962 in the story “Earth’s First Green Lantern” by John Broome and Gil Kane. The story used a flashback to explain why Abin Sur was flying a spaceship in Showcase #22. It also reinforced Hal’s reason for wearing a mask on Earth.

The long and the short of it is that Abin visited Athmoora while on patrol and investigated why the beings on this planet never evolved beyond the Middle Ages. He encounters beings who are holding the civilization back and who track Abin Sur back to Ungara. Because Abin did not conceal his identity one of the aliens attacked Ungara and threatened the planet unless Abin Sur helped them. Then Abin attempted to trick the alien by claiming he couldn’t help them because he didn’t have enough power in his ring, and so departed with them on a spaceship so he could get them away from Ungara. Moments after dispatching with his adversary, Abin Sur hit the yellow radiation bands which caused his crash. Despite this, Athmoora never advanced beyond the Middle Ages to this day.

With that bit of history out of the way, this issue opens with a faun named Fekk and a nun named Sister Samandra witnessing a conflict between some of the tribe leaders on Athmoora and the use of advanced alien technology. Fekk insists that they get a warning to Hal, but before they can they are captured. Luckily for them, Hal is about to want to spend some time on Athmoora to “get away from it all”.

Hal heads to Oa

The scene shifts to Xudar where Morrison wraps up one subplot from his series, the Orintho-Babies what Hal took custody of in The Green Lantern: Season Two #2. Chucky, Bucky, Lucky, Plucky, and Tops get introduced to Trilla-Tru who will help them with setting up a nest somewhere nice with her species as they continue to mature. Hal seems somewhat melancholy, commenting that no one needs him anymore. Trilla picks up on it and asks Hal about his well-being, but Hal doesn’t get into what’s bothering him, instead he takes flight and heads off to Oa.

Checking in on Rami, Hal and Saal have a very interesting conversation which seems to be another bit of meta-commentary from Morrison. Saal’s ultimate point is that the Young Guardians are moving on and have plans to restructure the Green Lantern Corps, plans which don’t include a place for Hal Jordan. The Young Guardians are afraid of Hal and how his independent nature is not wanted, that the very thing which makes Hal the greatest Green Lantern is no longer wanted when it can challenge the will of the Guardians. Saal comments that other Green Lantern may be better suited to be a part of the collective mindset that the Young Guardians have in mind, with images of Jo Mullein, Keli Quintela, and Tai Pham shown.

What exactly Morrison might be alluding to is certainly open for debate. It could be a criticism of the direction DC Comics seems to be taking, but it could be a lot of things. The idea of free will and independent thinking’s threat to a collective mindset could just as easily be critical commentary on cancel culture, politics, or Twitter for that matter. Whatever is in Morrison’s crosshairs, it’s clear that what makes Hal the Green Lanterns the Guardians call in to do what others can’t is the same thing that threatens their authority – and we know what Hal thinks about authority.

Morrison is talking about something more than just Hal’s future

This section is also the most dense of the issue, with information dumped about a power source that links central power batteries across the Multiverse (or is it the Omniverse at this point?). Saal also explains the threat of the Majistry, a nomad empire which predates the Maltusans who eventually became the Oans and the Zamorans. The Majistry plunder planets and feed off of them, and they are returning to our universe to finish feeding off of what is here. The Majistry is made up of giant golden beings, one of their children being the golden giant that Hal and Flash teamed up against in The Green Lantern: Season Two #4. Hal’s mission is to take care of the Majistry on his own, and then turn in his ring when all is said and done. Neither Hal nor his ring care to listen to any more of this, and depart for Athmoora so Hal can process this while slaying a dragon or two.¬†One side note before I continue. Liam Sharp commented on social media about a Green Lantern shown walking on Oa and that he is the slave trader that Hal “killed” back in the third issue of season one. One more wrapped up loose end.

Hal’s arrival on Athmoora finds a planet undergoing its own Game of Thrones moment as the leaders of each tribe are fighting against each other and war has erupted across the planet. Hal himself falls to an attack and awakens to discover that his ring is gone. “Sir Hal of the Green Lamp” does find one comrade who provides him with “the sword of the champion in jade” so Hal has something to protect himself with. The two plots collide as we learn that the Majistry has returned as feared….and they’ve chosen Athmoora as a trap for Hal. To raise the stakes the Majistry have brought some familiar faces to Athmoora as a welcome committee for Hal – The Shark, Black Hand, Major Force, Hector Hammond, and what looks to be Dr. Polaris and one of the versions of the Tattooed Man. Hector greets Hal, showing off that he has Hal’s ring and revealing that it now answers to Hector. The issue ends with Hector challenging Hal and Hal, with his trademark smirk, accepting the challenge.

Hal returns to Athmoora not knowing they are expecting him

This sets the stage for the finale and one which on the surface seems to put Hal in the position of stepping down should he survive. It’s here where I wonder if DC’s new editorial has interfered with Morrison’s original story and told him to end the series by putting Hal on the shelf so that DC can focus on other characters. It also could be just Morrison threatening Hal with this kind of change as a commentary on Morrison’s own disenchantment with DC’s direction now that AT&T has imposed their ownership on them. Hal is not one to just step aside and with how Morrison has made the power ring capable of independent decision making the ring might just decide it isn’t going anywhere other than on Hal’s finger. There are a number of ways this can play out and I find myself looking forward to the conclusion with some mixed feelings.

As far as the art goes, I don’t know what more I can say about Liam Sharp that I haven’t said before. There’s just so much creativity at play here and Sharp seems to take himself to a whole other level once again. The scenes on Athmoora are just stunning. The page where we see the ship sailing on the sea of flames accompanied by soldiers riding on giant spiders is just beautifully painted art that seems more suited for a gallery than a comic book.

The Green Lantern: Season Two #11 has some heady narrative, but it accomplishes the tasks of defining what this series is leading up to in the next and final chapter. Grant Morrison has put Hal in perhaps his greatest challenge yet, faced with the gravest of situations against some of his greatest foes with nothing but his bravado and a sword between him and the end. And should he win his reward just might be getting punished for possessing the very qualities that make him the greatest being to wield a power ring. Between Morrison’s set up and Liam Sharp’s stunning artwork, this one’s a great experience. Nine out of ten lanterns.

 

3 Replies to “The Green Lantern: Season Two #11 Review”

  1. 100% – love that no matter what line-wide changes DC throws at Morrison throughout his career, he usually explains away any of them with a line of dialogue or a page of action, and continues on with his story.
    This run will influence creators for decades to come. What a gift!

    PS: I almost feel sorry for the team that has to follow up after this…it’s sort of like watching an epic film series or high-level TV run come to an end and get replaced with “Murder She Wrote”.

    1. DC will be making a big mistake if they don’t give Hal a book again or have him more involved in the DC Universe. I think that Hal sells better than the other GL’s, as much as they like to promote them.

      1. Yeah I feel like they’re putting him on the back burner for a bit to see who else might stick. I’m all for diversity, I’d just like new diverse characters instead – I do realize it’s sometimes a challenge for new characters to compete with ones that have an 80=year history. And John is great (I prefer the architect John, not the marine with some architecture training that he suddenly appeared as in the cartoon).
        Speaking of diversity in a different way – I think the bigger problem is how watered down it is to be a human GL. There are what…eight human GLs (all American, no less) representing a space sector the size of a couple of galaxies? Abin Sur’s planet alone is feeling left out. That’s way too many from one place.

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