Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps third arc saw major progression made in the last issue as Hal and Kyle were successful in their mission to find and save Saint Walker. With this part of ‘Quest For Hope’ accomplished for our main characters it is now time to focus on the big development of the last issue, the fight between Guy Gardner and Arkillo. Understanding that these two are some of the hardest hitting brawlers of their respective Lantern Corps this should be, as Jim Ross usually put it, an old school slobber-knocker. With that thought in mind let’s not waste any more time and see what Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #16 has in store for us.
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Colorist: Tomeu Morey
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Throughout the universe Kilowog, Iolande and Tomar-Tu lead their teams in the capture of rogue Yellow Lanterns Setag Retss, Murr The Melting Man and Romat-Ru, respectively.
Over on Mogo, John Stewart rushes off to search for Guy Gardner, who has gone on an unknown mission. Space Cabbie wants to go with John but is left behind by the Green Lantern. Soranik takes off after John, in case Guy needs medical help, and decides to bring Space Cabbie along.
On planet Heep, Guy goads Arkillo to make the decision to fight without his ring. Arkillo threatens to feast on Guy’s organs. Guy tells Arkillo to accept his challenge to see which one of them is the toughest fighter by fighting without their rings. Arkillo takes off his ring, gladly accepting the challenge. Arkillo then knocks Guy to the ground with a punch to the face.
As Guy is laying on the ground Arkillo’s taunting remind him of his childhood when his father would beat him for being a disappointment.
Back in the present, with Guy on the ground Arkillo talks about how he was able to make Heep, a place populated by criminals, a planet he rules through fear and killed anyone who challenged him. As Arkillo is about to put his ring back on Guy throws something at Arkillo’s head. Arkillo turns around to see Guy back up ready to continue their fight.
Back on Mogo Ganthet is meditating when Sayd approaches him. Ganthet mentions he senses a great power of will approaching. At that moment Hal, Kyle and Saint Walker fly overhead.
Hal, Kyle and Saint Walker land outside the Green Lantern Corps headquarters, where they are greeted by Kilowog. While Saint Walker happily reunites with Mogo, Hal asks Kilowog about how mad John is with them for taking off. Kilowog mentions that John is preoccupied with finding Guy and bringing him back to Mogo.
Not remembering who Guy is Kyle tries to remind Saint Walker about him. As Kyle does this Hal asks Kilowog about what Guy got himself into.
Kilowog says that all he knows is that Guy left without permission, leaving his ring behind in the process. In the meantime Kilowog mentions that the Green and Yellow Lantern Corps have been rounding up rogue Yellow Lantern members.
In the prison cells the rogue Yellow Lanterns are placed into prison cells. One of the rogue Yellow Lanterns, Shorm, complains that he can’t survive above water. The Green Lanterns let him know that they have an aquatic prison.
Back outside Kilowog recruits Hal and Kyle to look for more rogue Yellow Lanterns. Saint Walker wants to join but Kilowog says that Ganthet and Sayd want to talk to him.
Back on Heep, Arkillo is destroying Guy in their fight. No matter who much blood Guy coughs up he continues to get back up until he is finally is able to tackle Arkillo into a pillar.
As the structure that the pillar was holding up lands on Arkillo, Guy remembers how his dad would reprimand him as a kid after a beating.
Arkillo gets back up just as John reaches Heep and begins searching for Guy’s location. Arkillo grabs Guy by his head and starts trying to rip Guy’s ears from his head. Guy is able to break Arkillo’s grip, though he is now bleeding from his ears.
As soon as John and Soranik arrive at the location of the fight they find Arkillo dominating Guy. As Guy continues to get back from each blow he keeps on remembering all the beatings his dad gave him as a kid, including what his dad would yell at him for.
Soranik tries to interfere but John holds her back, saying Guy and Arkillo need to finish the fight themselves.
As Arkillo holds up a bloody Guy he tells Guy to admit he loses. Rather than admit defeat Guy punches Arkillo in the eye so hard he begins to bleed out of it. Guy begins beating Arkillo, yelling about how his dad used to hit him harder. Guy ends up beating Arkillo so bad that Arkillo’s eye pops out of its socket.
Guy then tells Arkillo to say what he wants to hear. Arkillo admits defeat out loud to Guy as he passes out.
John and Soranik go to Guy and John catches him before he falls to the ground from his injuries. As Soranik checks on Guy’s injuries Guy tells John that he is the “All-Time Champ.” Guy then passes out in a near-death state in John’s arms. End of issue.
The Good: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #16 is exactly the type of character study issue that Guy Gardner needed. Amongst the original four Earth Green Lanterns Guy is the easiest to forget as he hasn’t been given a big moment to shine or major role outside being a sidekick to his peers. Now with this issue Robert Venditti is able to give Guy the type of spotlight that defines who he is and elevates his status in the process.
What made this character spotlight great is that Venditti did not try to make Guy’s story all about his childhood. Rather than just focusing on the flashbacks Venditti went with the route of having Guy’s childhood inform us with his attitude towards fighting and why he acts the way he does. This is a much better way to give us a look at Guy’s origin story, especially for those who are not familiar Guy, and elevate the fight with Arkillo.
Seeing Arkillo’s anger over not being able to put Guy out of his misery no matter how much he beats him down made everything we saw even more brutal. There was a very Cactus Jack element to the way Guy kept taking a beating and continued to get back up no matter how much blood he lost. It definitely showed us how much Guy and Arkillo are very similar characters and why this fight had to happen to progress the alliance between the Green and Yellow Lantern Corps.
Making the fight feel even more important was the fact that John Stewart and Soranik arrived as the fight was going on and they did not interfere. Even though there was the threat that Guy, Arkillo or both would die they both understood that it is a fight that had to happen. The silent understanding made elevated the importance of the fight, especially given how angry John was at Guy for taking off on his own but didn’t interfere when he saw what was going on between the two combatants.
Putting an end with this fight between Arkillo and Guy goes to show us how Venditti is making sure he is not wasting time in delivering on the payoff for several subplots ‘Quest For Hope’ has going on. Bringing Hal, Kyle and Saint Walker to Mogo in this issue was also a good step forward for this arc. It at least puts a nail on Hal and Kyle’s mission so they can now assist John, Soranik and the others to help further strengthen the Green and Yellow Lantern alliance.
Outside the alliance, it’ll be very interesting to learn what Ganthet and Sayd have planned for Saint Walker and rebuilding the Blue Lantern Corps. With each passing arc we have seen how the structure is now working for the Green, Orange and Yellow Lanterns in the new DCU continuity since Rebirth started, who are much more firmly established in their membership and mission statements. That is something that is not completely clear with the Blue Lantern Corps since Saint Walker is the only member now. What Venditti does to establish the Blue Lantern Corps so they have their own identity will be very interesting to learn about.
Rafa Sandoval continues to make Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps his own with each passing issue he draws. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #16 is no different as he gives Guy and Arkillo a big fight feel even though they stay in one arena setting. Having the fight take place in such a small setting helped the fight set itself apart from the normal fights we see in the DCU’s cosmic side. It especially stands out given the larger scale fight Hal and Kyle got involved in on their own adventures in this arc.
Helping make the fight even more important was the way Sandoval was able weave in Guy’s childhood and still make it all have a good choreographed flow. That is where this issue could’ve easily fallen apart as it may have dominated the entire story if not handled correctly. Luckily Sandoval did and delivered artwork, with help from Jordi Tarragona and Tomeu Morey strong inking and coloring, enhanced Venditti’s storytelling.
The Bad: The one place ‘Quest For Hope’ falls short is giving time for the full hunt of the rogue Yellow Lanterns. Given that there are major Yellow Lanterns like Romat-Ru amongst the rogue group it would’ve been nice to see the search and fight given more time to tell its own dedicated story. But since this search has become so rushed that we get one panel for each one the Yellow Lanterns look a lot less dangerous compared to the Green Lantern Corps. I understand that Venditti wants to not make the rogue Yellow Lanterns search become boring for readers but there should’ve been more of a balance to this story involving the other Green and Yellow Lantern Corps members.
Overall: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #16 did an excellent elevating Guy Gardner stature in this series. The fight Guy has with Arkillo was as brutal as was expected to be. Robert Venditti was able to do a great job balancing the brutality of the fight by giving us a further look into who Guy is and why he searched for the fight in the first place. Now with yet another major plot point in ‘Quest For Hope’ checked off it’ll be time to learn what happens next for the Blue Lantern Corps.