DC Comics is trying something new. In the wake of their Rebirth initiative, the publisher has rapidly expanded its content to include diverse new imprints such as
Young Animal, Wildstorm, Wonder Comics, Black Label, Ink, and Zoom. As their lineup expands, it can be hard to figure out what to pick up each week. That’s what our team is here to help with, every Wednesday, with the DC Round-Up!
THIS WEEK: Grant Morrison returns once more to DC floppies with The Green Lantern #1!
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
I love Grant Morrison. I love Grant Morrison so much I wrote my college English thesis about his work at DC Comics. I love Grant Morrison because he understands superheroes in a way that few others do– in an elemental fashion. While he, like most big two writers nowadays, rely on continuity and history to inform their works at DC and Marvel, Morrison rarely ever loses sight of the fundamental elements that make these characters work. Just look at All-Star Superman, a book that both rewards those who have followed comics for all their lives yet remains both accessible and lovable to those who have never read a Superman story before because Morrison and Frank Quietly never lose sight of the reason why people are attracted to the Man of Steel in the first place: he’s a kind-hearted soul who can do anything. Beneath all the whimsy and the chaos that is Morrison, there is always a simple core to his stories– a core that keeps us coming back to his stories again and again. And it’s a core he’s found once more in The Green Lantern #1.
After Liam Sharp was announced as series artist for The Green Lantern #1, it became clear that the book that he and Morrison were going to craft would take a step away from the modern and toward the archetypal. Sharp, known previously for his work with Greg Rucka on a much-acclaimed recent Wonder Woman run (that he followed up with a Brave and the Bold mini-series), is known for his Frazetta-inspired anatomy and for hectic, jam-packed compositions that recall comics of the 70s and 80s. And that’s exactly what he brings to The Green Lantern #1– a feast for the eyes that is filled with stars, planets, and strange alien shapes that set this book apart from any other sci-fi oriented title in the present DC stable.
One of my chief criticisms of DC stems from that old adage about how Marvel tells stories about people that happen to be super while DC tells stories about superheroes who happen to (often) be people. While I don’t think it’s fair to paint either company with such broad strokes, I have always felt like most DC stories put more weight in the story and sense of epic scale than they do in fleshing out the quirks and ticks of their characters. And as someone who really likes learning about quirks and ticks but also adores DC, that has blown. And yet, here I am, in love with Morrison’s debut on The Green Lantern, despite his Hal Jordan being near-featureless, simply because the creative team here dials the mythological elements that surround our hero up to 11 and doesn’t bother trying to half-assedly shoehorn in character moments many similar comics have promised and then failed to deliver upon with any sense of confidence.
Indeed, there’s a logic to this. As we’ve seen through the Batman: Damned kerfuffle, characters like Hal Jordan, Diana Prince, and Bruce Wayne need to be– to a greater or lesser extent– broad. If you make them too specific or do things that are too polarizing with them, you risk alienating a part of your audience, thus reducing your potential for lunchbox sales. However, when you’re telling a story, not being able to grow or change is basically the worst restriction you can impose on a creative team. So what do you do if you’re relaunching Green Lantern? Well– why not make Hal as broad a character as possible and then just build A LOT of weird specific crazy stuff around him?
So yeah, Hal as presented here is sort of a non-entity. He’s a drifter who can’t hold down a job and feels down about being exiled from the Green Lantern corps (until he’s not, anymore). He has the lonely American cowboy archetype down to a T– he even gets to have sex with his partner in the middle of the desert they live in as shooting stars pass over the night sky. If this story were actually about discovering who he is, I’d be out. But it’s not.
Morrison understands that the core of a good Green Lantern story– at least one focused on the corporate golden goose Hal Jordan– is less about the man than the universe his profession opens up to us. We get to see Hal fight a bunch of shapeshifters before getting re-deputized to take down a group of cosmic thieves, one of whom is a size-shifting beaver-type-thing, who are using a probability-influencing “luck dial” to wreck havoc in space and on Earth. It’s total freeform chaos and comics at its most whimsical.
If you’re looking for a character-driven story that aims to hit you in the gut, The Green Lantern #1 probably isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a creatively fertile intergalactic epic that excites the part of your brain that dares to endlessly imagine, then welcome to the party.
Final Verdict: Buy
- The Dreaming has quickly risen from “hmm” status to becoming one of my favorite books in DC’s lineup. Simon Spurrier lends a distinct creative voice to the world of The Sandman that recalls Neil Gaiman’s magic while forging a path all its own. Spurrier has a very strong ear for character development and voice that’s further bolstered by Bilquis Evely’s singular artistic talents. And above all that, the first arc of this series is both very topical and clever. Later today, look out for an interview I have coming out with Spurrier about this week’s third issue of The Dreaming.
- Batman #58 is a bit of a course correction from the messy and unnecessarily sadistic KGBeast arc that preceded it. I love a good Penguin story– he’s one of the more interesting and specific villains in Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery– and King brings back Mikel Janin to set up a potentially interesting one here. Janin, of course, gets to exercise his contractual right to create gorgeous double-page spread fights, which also get a big thumbs up from me. Still though, another major character almost dies here, almost daring the reader to collapse in emotional exhaustion. Reading this book can oftentimes feel like a lot. And not in the best way.
- In addition to his debut on The Green Lantern, Morrison joins Will Conrad, Cliff Richards, and Dan DiDio on this week’s Sideways annual. Longtime fans of Morrison will appreciate the return of the Seven Soldiers of Victory– characters from what might well be Morrison’s best superhero run (besides All-Star Superman (in my opinion)). It’s a solid comic that’s well worth at least a browse. And Hi-Fi really nails the colors here, as well.
Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!
Alex is the New Media Editor of the Comics Beat. He is also a freelance comics editor with previous credits at First Second, Top Cow, and Papercutz. He primarily covers DC Comics and Magic: the Gathering.