Cover Date: October 1995
Story: Ron Marz and Kevin Ferrera
Pencils: Tom Grindberg and Joe Phillips
Inks: Bill Anderson, John Lowe, and Dexter Vines
Cover: Joe Phillips and Dexter Vines
Parallax steals the power batteries from Alan Scott and Guy Gardner, and tries to drain power from them. At the same time, Kyle Rayner decides to go out on patrol after a long day of work at his drafting table. When he charges his ring, though, he ends up in Hal Jordan’s body, and vice versa! Not only that, each is stuck in the other’s past: Hal has Alexandra DeWitt climbing all over him, and Kyle has to deal with the Invisible Destroyer. After solving these short-term problems, as it were, the two fly off to think, neither knowing what’s happening to the other. Hal ends up saving Alex from Major Force, and Kyle learns more about Hal’s past at Ferris Aircraft. When the pair simultaneously recharge via their batteries again, though, they’re put back into their proper bodies in the present day. Parallax talks with Kyle at Alex’s graveside, now more understanding of the trials Kyle has faced. Hal still vows to make things right, and Kyle knows that with his new appreciation of Hal’s history, he’ll be ready for the disgraced hero.
All of the DC Comics 1995 annuals fell under a “Year One” theme, where the present-day characters interacted with their past in some fashion. In Green Lantern’s case, they went with the ol’ Freaky Friday cliché of having two opposing characters walk in mile in each other’s shoes. In 1995, Kyle hadn’t been Green Lantern for that long, and both he and Hal knew next to nothing about each other. Instead of yet more battles as they had in Green Lantern (Vol. 3) #0, #63 and #64, this gives them to opportunity to learn plenty without even crossing paths. Not only is this technique relatively rare in comics, it works as part of the continuing Green Lantern narrative as well as a standalone story.
Tom Grindberg’s art is always a pleasure; the switch to Joe Phillips’ pencils later on the issue was a little disconcerting, as his style is noticeably more cartoony. It still works, though, and it’s not bad art by any stretch. Phillips’ cover illustration looks great, too.
The story in Green Lantern Annual #4 does contain a black mark, though: no explanation is offered as to why the power batteries caused the body- and time-swaps. Given that it’s the linchpin of the story, a throwaway explanation at the very least would’ve been welcome. Perhaps Ganthet did it to heal the rift after “Parallax View”?
In conclusion, Green Lantern Annual #4 was a good story, albeit imperfect. If you can get over the confusing setup, it’s a great insight into the minds of both Kyle Rayner and Hal Jordan.