THIS WEEK: Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern reaches a fever pitch. It doesn’t get better than this.
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.
Green Lantern: Blackstars #3
Writer: Grant Morrison
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Steve Wands
I feel like Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern has been flying under the radar a little bit. Today’s issue completes what has been one continuous story between the regular series and this mid-season mini. And it’s been fantastic. Xermanico and Oliff in this issue seamlessly continue the series style of otherworldly settings with meticulously detailed backgrounds and dynamic panel layouts that draw the eye naturally across the story. The softer gradient of color going from shadow to light creates realistic forms and compelling outfits, with the hammered metal of Belzebeth’s uniform showing off incredible texture and depth. The work put into the visuals alone make this book worth the read.
Morrison’s Green Lantern rewards longtime readers with fun little chunks of obscure lore; from visiting the wizard Myrwhydden trapped inside the ring, to a tour of parallel Earths that will force you to break out your copy of Multiversity. In his signature way, Morrison brings in what is outdated and forgotten while making it unapologetically cool. It’s more a remake than a sequel, as the aesthetic is straight 1990 Hal Jordan.
The story arcs throughout the series are somehow simple yet confusing, clichéd but deep. You know, Morrison. His books can be very disorienting when you’re waiting a month between issues. There’s just so much information in them and some of it will be important ten issues later. There’s no coddling here. If you missed the brief mention of the Miracle Machine a few books back and now you’re wondering how we’re suddenly in a world where the Green Lantern Corps doesn’t exist, I don’t know what to tell you. Read, read, and reread. It all comes together. If Green Lantern seems like it’s flying under the radar, it’s not because readers aren’t enjoying it…we just know to wait for the landing.
Waiting until there are a couple years’ worth of story before diving in is a valid strategy. On the other hand, I do think that some issues can be enjoyed as a standalone experience or with a more casual approach. You might not catch all of the references, but the story works at a surface level just as handily. In this issue, the Controllers want to control and Hal Jordan should probably stop them. His loyalties are kind of murky at this point, since he’s an officer of the Controller-led Blackstars right now. Queue a rousing speech, a desperate plan, and a satisfying twist. Morrison sticks the landing again.
My major takeaway from this final issue of season one is that Morrison gets it. He understands that Green Lantern isn’t about alien planets and sci-fi battles. The pitch might be police procedural in space, but that’s just the (very cool) backdrop. Get beyond the window dressing and Green Lantern has always been about imagination and willpower.
Morrison calls the tool on Hal’s finger a “wishing ring” and that’s exactly right. An officer of the Green Lantern Corps can will anything into existence. Wish for a sword and you get a sword. Wish for a flower and you get a flower. The trick to being considered the greatest Green Lantern of all time is to know which is appropriate and when. Without imagination, that alien running toward you might look like an enemy to be swiftly defeated rather than a person in great need. Armed with the power to turn thoughts into reality, a Green Lantern doesn’t always have to resort to a giant green boxing glove.
About as on-brand as he can get, Hal Jordan spends most of this issue questioning authority and fomenting revolution. He reminds the people around him to be their own gurus and to follow their own counsel. Imagining what you want is only helpful if you have the willpower to back it up. Manifesting thoughts into cold green existence requires you to say no to those who think they know better and to always keep pushing. Morrison has captured my favorite part of Hal Jordan stories. When all is lost, that last-ditch effort. The refusal to give up, even when it’s certain that there’s nothing left to hope for. Give absolutely everything you’ve got to give…and then go farther. That’s what a Green Lantern would do.
A ‘word to the wise’ sidenote: now that the mini-series is complete, this is a great point to get caught up on Grant Morrison’s Green Lantern before season two begins. Read issues #1-12, skip the annual, then read this Blackstars mini. It’s all one complete thought with the feeling of completion at the end. Then reread it.
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