I had no doubts about Jeremy Adams taking on the reigns of the latest Green Lantern series, and my faith was well rewarded with a fantastic first issue. With the initial excitement of a new series out of the way, this month’s Green Lantern #2 looks to build on the great start and the question is obviously whether or not the it continues to upward momentum. After reading the second issue, my answer is a resounding yes.
Like the previous installment, Adams jumps back and forth between events from a month previous and current day, picking up right where we left off with Hal manifesting a ring from the energies pulled from the Manhunter armor worn by Steel Fury. The issue starts out with a humorous exchange as Fury gets dispatched and Hal takes to the sky once again. Adams really does a nice job of letting us feel the joy that Hal does once he takes to the sky, free from his worries about fitting in and just living in the moment. Hal gets to test out his ring when he encounters the Demolition Team, a nice use of characters created by Len Wein back in 1984’s Green Lantern volume 2 issue 176. The Team is a minor league threat for Hal, and he relishes the opportunity to test out his new ring by creating a delightful assemblage of ghouls.
Adams also has some fun with Hal’s history with Batman here that left me grinning, especially the reference to Batman: The Animated Series. All is going well until the new ring peters out just as Hal is reaching the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere, leaving us with a bit of a cliffhanger as we jump forward to the present. Obviously Hal survives, but we don’t know how. This w hole opening sequence is just great adventure, and seeing Hal having fun with his ring was a joy to read. It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Hal be this carefree and loving being a Green Lantern and it’s a welcome change.
But now Hal has to come back down to Earth, literally. Hal makes it back to his camper having pretty much lost his gig flying drones for Carol Ferris. He’s greeted by Kilowog, who give Hal a much needed pep talk. Adams really nails the voices of Hal and Kilowog and the essence of their friendship. There’s some nice humor here, too, and all in all a really strong scene that grounds Hal and shows some nice depth of character.
The next day Hal is back at Ferris Air, having in one day moved his way from the mailroom to the co-pilot of Carol’s private plane. Carol is accompanied by Nathan, who has gone from boyfriend last issue to fiancé in this one. It’s humorous seeing how Hal moves from mailroom to driver to pilot in the matter of hours, but then his competitive nature comes out when Nathan and Carol arrive. Hal can’t help but cause a disturbance which allows him to be alone with Carol, and it would be easy to look at Hal’s actions as very cringey, but there’s something else at play here which I’ll get to later on that I think is critical to the story and may explain some of Hal’s behavior.
I do want to talk about Carol Ferris here. A while back we examined the relationship between Hal and Carol in The Podcast of Oa Episode 205. And despite how much the two may love each other, Carol has a pretty poor track record of making demands of Hal, rejecting him, and diving into poor relationships. She’s been married once and now engaged for a third time, and let’s not talk about the awful romance she had with Kyle Rayner. Despite knowing all too well what an obligation Hal as a Green Lantern, still whines about Hal having to leave. Carol is no Lois Lane, who has the emotional maturity to know that Superman has a greater role to play in the universe and willingly shares him knowing fully well that she will always have to come in second place to the universe. Despite seeing firsthand as a Star Sapphire what it’s really like, and spending no small amount of time away from Earth herself, Carol just can’t rise above her own neediness.
That’s not to justify Hal’s actions, but rather to point out her hypocrisy and her own role in the state of their relationship. I think Hal crosses a line here and does a poor job of respecting Carol in this instance. I do wish that Hal would call Carol out for her own bullshit just once, though. I do think there’s something greater going on here that I promise I’ll get to in a moment, but before I do, I just want to finish up talking about this particular issue. Adams closes it out by neatly connecting this plot to the “Knight Terrors” event, ending his part of the issue with a horde of ghosts closing in on Carol’s plane.
Back to the the aforementioned “greater story” going on here, let me talk about the summary page talking about the United Planets quarantine of Sector 2814. Frankly, I think this page is probably the most important on of the whole issue despite it being just some information on a page. We learn that no one is allowed in or out of the sector, and we see the status of a number of characters. We already know about where Hal, John Stewart, and Sinestro are, but here we learn that something is going on with Kyle, something important enough that his status has been redacted. But most importantly, we learn that someone is dead and that the death was made known via a field report from Hal Jordan. Who?
Well, that’s where I think this story is going to get interesting, and if you are concerned about me potentially spoiling something you might want to skip a paragraph or two. Let’s unpack a few things. First, let me call your attention to the original announcement of the series from DC Comics, which included the following line in their description of the series, “A heartbreaking defeat has sent Hal reeling, returning home to rediscover his roots…and find the man responsible for ruining his life: Sinestro.” Secondly, last issue Hal has a conversation with himself, saying things that he thought that Kilowog would say if he was there. Now, Kilowog shows up, sans ring, and gives Hal a pep talk. How did he get here? If he was already on Earth Hal would’ve talked with him last issue, not made up a conversation. Are you connecting the dots?
I thought something was off with the Kilowog conversation last issue and had a feeling there was more to it and started speculating to myself. However, this issue leads me to think that one of my ideas is true and that the heartbreaking defeat and the death of a Green Lantern are related, and that death is Kilowog. Hal is manifesting Kilowog in his imagination as a coping mechanism in the wake of the loss of perhaps his greatest friend. He’s alone on a world that’s left him behind and he has no one to help him with the grieving process. He hasn’t sought out Ollie or Barry. Let’s face it, Hal is in much worse shape that anyone realizes, and his actions towards Carol is pure desperation because she represents home to him, and right now he’s alone in the universe and hurting badly.
If Kilowog is in our sector as a matter of choice, he’d no doubt be included in the list on the page of text. If Kilowog was on Earth Hal would have had a real conversation with him last issue, not an imaginary one. Grief can drive people to irrational actions like the ones we’ve seen so far – how long will Hal be able to carry on before it all comes crashing down? I could be very, very wrong, but I’m not alone in my thinking. Our good friend Chad from The Lanterncast actually publicly mentioned that theory in their coverage of the first issue. He and I compared our thoughts and they line up with each other, so if I’m crazy I’m in good company!
Xermanico’s art hits all the right notes once again. His visuals complement and elevate Adams’s story, and seeing the rapture on Hal’s face as he’s flying high is fantastic. The construct ghost splashpage is just a gorgeous thing. The facial expressions are on point. The whole issue is just stunning.
I haven’t even talked about the John Stewart part of the book yet! Philip Kennedy Johnson does a great job with the page count he’s been given, spending enough time on both parts of his story before they eventually come together. I have to say that the moments between John and his mother are my favorite, and Johnson does a great job of capturing the challenge that John has in trying to decompress and just enjoy his life. Shirley Stewart’s adept observations about John’s behavior are spot on, and read well as a mother’s natural instinct. I’m honestly more interested in this part of the story than the bits with the Revenant Queen, but that part is engaging as well. While Shephard tries to hold his own, it’s not long before he finds himself on the losing end of the battle, but thankfully that world’s John Stewart shows up in the nick of time.
Like Xermanico, Montos’ art is spectacular. John’s arrival on the final page is fantastic. It’s a shame that the John Stewart backup is not being continued over the course of the next two months. It’s an unnecessary gap that could take some of the momentum away, but I think that this creative team will come through and get us re-invested when issue three hits the stands in September.
Green Lantern #2 hits all the rights notes, and may be subtly setting the stage for a very emotional journey for Hal Jordan. This issue left provided some nice humor, adventure and a lot of heart. Nine out of ten lanterns.