Release Date: June 5, 2013
Cover Date: August 2013
Story: Robert Venditti
Pencils: Billy Tan
Inks: Richard Friend
Cover: Billy Tan
Variant Cover: Rags Morales
In the near future, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps are getting their asses kicked on Oa by a mysterious foe, and the Central Power Battery is disabled. Meanwhile, back in the present day, Hal tries to act like nothing’s changed with Carol Ferris, but she needs some time off. He’s recalled to Oa by the Templar Guardians, and he’s shocked that they’ve chosen him to lead the Corps! They have much to learn, after all, and Hal’s been at the forefront of the Corps’ greatest battles. As he discusses his new role with Kilowog, Hal releases a reserve of power rings to help rebuild the Corps’ depleted ranks. Good timing, too, as Oa is suddenly under assault by an enraged Larfleeze! The Orange Lantern has taken advantage of the world’s broken defenses to steal everything, and the Green Lanterns are in deep trouble. Good thing some new recruits arrive to help, right? Unfortunately, they don’t even want their rings, and would rather go home.
I’m a big fan of Robert Venditti’s excellent work on the relaunched X-O Manowar from Valiant Comics. The man knows how to write great science fiction, and when I heard he was taking over Green Lantern, I was happy as a pig in shit. So…how does his first stab at the mythos turn out?
Not too shabby. Hal finally got some character development, after years and years of being a second fiddle to Sinestro, the other color Corps, and everyone else who showed up in what’s supposed to be his own damned book. Hal’s interaction with Carol is nothing we haven’t seen before — in fact, that very point is made by Carol herself — but it’s necessary to move his story forward, and it also brings new readers up to speed. Making Hal the leader of the Corps is a logical choice, and despite his shock, the Templar Guardians explained it perfectly. This reminded me a bit of classic stories like “Hard-Traveling Heroes” and much of the Kyle Rayner era, in which the Guardians stepped back and learned from the Lanterns for a change. I especially liked how the Templar Guardians go on and on about how Hal is the perfect choice to lead the Corps, but it’s contrasted by the fact that the love of his life can’t even be around him right now. Each half of Hal’s persona is being pulled in very different directions, and that sets us up for some great stories and conflicts.
Venditti’s inaugural Green Lantern issue was quite good, but two things stand out unfavorably in this issue…and neither may necessarily be his fault. The first is Kyle strangely being an asshole when he hears about Hal’s promotion. It’s completely out of character for him, and it did not come across as sarcasm, either. Hal and Kyle are friends, damn it, no matter what their diehard fanboys tell you. So what gives? I’m guessing it’s just part of the apparently editorial mandate to constantly knock Kyle down a peg. Hopefully he’ll be written properly in Green Lantern: New Guardians #21 and forward; the Templar Guardians asking Kyle to remain behind for a secret discussion is the kickoff to that story.
The second bit of weirdness is the appearance of Larfleeze, because it conflicts with his recent story in Threshold, and almost certainly in his ongoing series (which starts later this month). He’s clearly clutching his power battery in this issue, but he’s not supposed to have it back yet! In fact, Larfleeze thinks he destroyed it! This was already a huge problem with the revelations seen in the abysmal Green Lantern (Vol. 5) #20, and this issue compounds it. Some explanations are certainly in order, yet I fear we’ll never get them.
Having said all that, I am pleased that Larfleeze is apparently back to being a major threat. I know, it’s happened before and it doesn’t last, but maybe it’ll stick this time. Also, Hal was somehow able to break through Larfleeze’s constructs. Green Lantern rings can’t do that, and don’t give me that crap about how “Hal is teh best Green Lantern EVAR, so he could do it!” That would be lazy and inconsistent writing. Instead, I’m hoping that this was a deliberate story hook, as even Larfleeze was surprised by this turn of events.
Now let’s talk about the artwork. I remember reading Billy Tan’s Spirit of the Tao way back in the late 1990s, but I’m unfamiliar with any of his work since then. Fortunately, his pencils haven’t dulled, and he does a great job illustrating the Corps. The opening battle scenes looked great, and those later on with Larfleeze looked even better. The Orange Lantern himself looked goddamned fantastic; he’s at his best when he’s menacing. Also, the quieter parts of the book, such as Hal talking with Carol and those on Oa were clean and slick. I think my only complaint with Tan’s art here was that Hal and Kyle looked a bit “flat” in a few panels, due to their torsos being drawn a little too wide. Small potatoes, I know, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point it out.
Overall, still a great issue, and I’m excited to see where things will go from here. New blood was definitely what the doctor ordered.