Green Lantern #29 Review
Trying to give Hal Jordan some humility and responsibility, some promising character work.
Sketchy art and an unfocused story...
The Green Lantern Corps is preparing for war, and Hal Jordan has made a few (probably unwise) concessions in order to better his strategy. Will his gambles pay off? Your Major Spoilers review of Green Lantern #29 awaits!
GREEN LANTERN #29
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Billy Tan and Martin Coccolo
Inker: Rob Hunter and Walden Wong
Colorist: Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Green Lantern: After another giant space-faring war between the wielders of various colors of the emotional spectrum, the Blue Lantern Corps has been destroyed, save for Saint Walker. Hal Jordan has taken over leadership of the entire Green Lantern Corps after the loss of the Guardians Of The Universe, while the Corps has found a new setback in the powers of Relic, who has the ability to neutralize Lantern rings. In order to prepare for (another) war, this time with the alien Khund, Jordan has ceded Sector 2814 over the blood-vomiting monsters of the Red Lantern Corps, and prepares to improve his own leadership skills.
THE COVER ACTUALLY *SAYS* ‘ABANDON ALL HOPE’
There’s an accusation that keeps getting lobbed at modern comics, especially the New 52, that they’ve embraced the ‘adult’, grim-and-gritty mystique so wholeheartedly that there’s no joy left to be had, that every story is a massive hopeless battle against unstoppable foes with no chance of survival. Of course, the fact that the heroes always pull out a win at the last second, only to spiral back into the same thing next time around seems less realistic, and nowhere is that more true than in the Green Lantern titles. This issue begins with Hal Jordan arriving at his brother’s home, sadly informing his beloved nephews that he has to go away for a while, and introducing them to Simon Baz, the only Green Lantern allowed to stay on Earth under the new Red Lantern regime. It’s a decent scene, with some real emotional consequences for Hal, but the emotional impact is muted by scratchy penciling, rendering the facial expressions swollen and distorted. Still, it’s the best bit of the book, as Hal returns to space to consolidate his power as head of the Corps, while the last living Blue Lantern, Saint Walker, has a long discussion with Green Lantern Mogo, which sort of undermines the “Mogo doesn’t socialize” bit of his character. Having lived through the loss of his Corps, Walker is now a broken being, his optimism and hope crushed into nothing by the endless grinding existential terror of the Green Lantern universe.
THE COVER AIN’T LYIN’
Seeing the most positive character in this cast beaten down, the rest of the issue focuses on Hal Jordan’s shortcoming as a leader and a hero, reminding us that Kyle Rayner has died (unbeknownst to Hal, Rayner survived the destruction of Oa, but that’s another story) and that a Durlan impostor has undermined his troops confidence in him. Interestingly, rather than cede control to another Lantern who might have a better chance of success, Hal instead recruits his old pals Salakk and Kilowog, along with a new Lantern, to form a committee to make him a better leader. Their first act is to invade a sovereign planet to try to attack the Khund, only to find that the people of Woggle (Really?) have allied with the Khund, and are using Relic’s ring-draining technology to defend against the hegemony of the Green Lantern Corps. Perhaps this story requires that one have read everything Venditti has done as Green Lantern writer, but there is a marked lack of focus throughout the issue that bothers me, and the pacing sort of spasms its way through a series of mostly unrelated events until ending with the reveal of the whereabouts of the Durlan spy: Hiding on the surface of Mogo. The art is by multiple hands, but all of the art has the same indistinctness about it, going from scratchy at the beginning of the issue to kind of blotchy near the end, but never hitting the heights of the Ivan Reis or Ethan Van Sciver styles it seems they’re trying to emulate.
THE BOTTOM LINE: GRIM AND KIND OF INCOHERENT
There are some good moments in this book, don’t get me wrong. Hal Jordan seems to have shame and knowledge of his limitations, something I’ve been wanting to see for a while now, and his adoption of a council of Lanterns to advise him is a wise one. The interactions with his family have a core of truth that I like, but the execution isn’t quite there, and the rest of the issue’s events bounce back and forth enough to erase much of that goodwill. Green Lantern #29 has a lot of stuff going on, not all of which is clear, and while it helps to make our main character more fallible and approachable, it also underlines how poor his management and decision-making skills are, with sketchy art on top of it, earning a right down-the-middle 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’d love to see Green Lantern take a year or so off from the giant space wars and maybe let the concepts breathe a little bit, perhaps let things settle down a bit so the next battle feels like it has more consequence…