GREEN LANTERN: REVENGE OF THE GREEN LANTERNS (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Carlos Pacheco, Ethan Van Sciver & Ivan Reis
Collects Green Lantern #7-13 (2006)
It took about a year’s worth of comics for me to really get into Green Lantern after Rebirth brought Hal Jordan and, as a result, the Green Lantern Corps back from the dead. At first I just didn’t care about Hal Jordan (though I liked the first issues of his series the second time around) and then Green Lantern Corps Recharge introduced a bunch of GLs I didn’t know or care about (though, again, I changed my mind once again), but I really started to come around with the Revenge of the Green Lanterns storyline because it brought a group of characters I really dug at least on a visual level back into the forefront, introduced an awesome villain into the mix and added to Hal’s troubles with the Corps. But it didn’t start off like that.
Issues #7 and 8 have Green Lantern and Green Arrow getting back together and facing Mongul and his Black Mercy plants which were previously existed, but are celebrated now because of their inclusion in Alan Moore’s classic Superman, Batman, Robin and Wonder Woman story “For The Man Who Has Everything.” Huh, look at that, an Alan Moore connection. Of course, Mongul also happens be the guy who blew up Hal Jordan’s home town of Coast City during Reign of the Superman, so there’s mountains of bad blood there, even if this is really a battle between his son and daughter. These issues were kind of whatever to me because I’ve seen way too many “Hey look at these perfect lives for characters which they will eventually figure out aren’t real” stories and just don’t care. Once you know how the Black Mercy works, you really just need to figure out how the heroes break free, all that other stuff is just filler. Pacheco drew these issues. Again, I like him, but he doesn’t blow me away.
The next issue (#9) teams Hal up with Batman to fight a new version of the Tattooed Man. Once again, I don’t particularly care about Hal’s old enemies, so this story wasn’t interesting to me on that level. It was, however interesting to see Batman and Hal get over some of the bad blood. Better than all that, though, was seeing Hal hand the ring over to Batman to help him deal with some of his tragedies. Not only do we get to see Batman as a GL (which DC Direct made an awesome action figure of), but he also admits that he doesn’t want to deal with his parents’ death which was both obvious and a nice moment to see. Van Sciver did some rad things with art in this book, especially with the Tattooed Man and that Batman GL costume. Very cool. Dude seemed to be getting significantly better with each outing, not that he was a slouch to begin with, mind you.
#10 finally got the ball rolling on the Revenge of the Green Lanterns story, but not before tying into DC’s One Year Later jump that took place during Infinite Crisis. See, the idea was that, between issues #6 and 7 of IC, there was a jump in time. Every DCU book picked up with some kind of change that we were supposed to get explained either in the series itself or in 52. But, as 52 started to shift focus away from the secret-telling and more towards the characters and stories that had kicked off early on, some of the OYL books made less and less sense because some things weren’t explained. I had that kind of confusion when it came to GL as it opened with Hal fighting Rocket Reds and the appearance of a brand new Crimson Fox along with a whole new group of Global Guardians. These were characters and concepts that played heavily into Justice League International, so I was familiar with them, but also assumed they were dead and gone for a while. Who were these guys and where did they come from? Also, what the hell is Hal talking about having been shot down with his girlfriend Cowgirl and another pilot? None of those questions are answered in this collection, though I think they get addressed in the next one, Wanted. I have absolutely no memory of those explanations. Oh, I believe #10 has the first bestowing of a Sinestro Corps ring when Arkillo gets one. It’s a quick page, but he’ll be a kind of major member of that Corps so it was cool seeing this moment again.
Anyway, a thought-dead GL crashes on Earth which sends Hal on a search mission for any other surviving GLs, most of which happen to be the ones he went up against when he was wrecking shop on the Corps before blowing up the Central Power Battery. The Guardians told him not to, but he did anyway and Guy Gardner went along with him. See, the GLs seem to be being held captive on the old Manhunter planet, which harkens back to the upgraded Manhunters appearing in the early issue of GL. As it turns out, Cyborg, a foe of Superman’s who also had a hand in blowing up Coast City, is the new leader of the Manhunters. When I first read this I was so impressed because it just made so much damn sense. The guy had been running around after Reign of the Superman as a pretty powerful badguy, but making a half-man, half-machine leader of a robotic group of beings just makes so much sense, it’s kind of shocking it hadn’t been done before. The fact that he’s got history with Hal after a fashion makes it all the more ingenious. One of the annoying things about comic books is that certain things seem to make logical sense, but can’t or won’t be done because it might be too different than what fans and readers are used to. With Johns, he seems to look at the larger picture of the DCU and sees even the faintest of connections, bringing characters together and making them make sense, in the process making them cooler and as a result more interesting to read about.
So, Hal and Guy have to fight against a whole planet of Green Lantern power-sucking Manhunters in an effort to save their fellow corps members and also not die. It turns out that the Manhunters had been collecting near dead GLs for years (or however much time had passed in the DCU between Hal going nuts and Rebirth) and using them to create mega Manhunters that are actually powered by GLs. It’s a pretty cool element that I don’t think has been brought up again since. As you might expect there’s still some bad blood between Hal and the Lost Lanterns, but Arisia, Hal’s ex who also happens to be there, doesn’t hold anything against him.
In addition to the Arkillo appearance, the issue also holds a few potential seeds for future stories. When the Guardians are insisting that Hal not go after the Lost Lanterns in #11 one of them lets slip that Sector 3601 is the Blackest Night. I don’t know how or if this fits in with the Blackest Night story, but I’ll see as my reading continues. Later on there is a panel during a flashback explaining Hal and Arisia’s past that features Krona (#13). The character isn’t named, but as I theorized, the story being referenced here had something to do with Blackest Night’s main baddie Nekron. It’s an interesting early hint that I definitely didn’t catch the first time around. We also get references to Arisia’s apparent death at the hands of Major Force in the pages of Guy Gardner: Warrior, a moment that made me really sad back in the day. Finally, there’s a moment when Hal and Cyborg are fighting in which Cyborg tells Hal the only reason the Guardians keep him on the Corps is to be an example of what can happen to the rookies if they continually question the Guardians. It’s an interesting point that I believe is flat-out said later on in the series.
As far as Hal’s character goes, there are lots of moments that make him more than your average arrogant jerk, from him trying to help Batman get over his darkness to his undying need to help the Lanterns that he put into danger on his rampage.