It is the 1990’s all over again for Hal Jordan! Our boy, Hal, is rocking a trench coat and sporting some long hair. I am fairly confident that he has Nirvana pumping over the speakers in his spaceship. Yup. The DCYOU continues the New 52’s trend of giving us modern spins on the 1990’s comic book tropes. Joking aside, I had to give this “new” direction for Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern franchise a chance. I am a longtime Hal Jordan fan. And, while I am not familiar with Robert Venditti’s work I am a big fan of Ethan Van Sciver’s artwork. So, hopefully this “new” direction for Hal Jordan will get me interested in reading this title once again. Let’s go ahead and hit this review!
Words: Robert Venditti
Pencils: Ethan Van Sciver
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a tribe’s day of mourning on an uncharted world. The high priest is performing the funeral rites on an elder who has passed. The Black Hand appears on the scene and tries to bring the dead elder back to life. Instead, the dead elder turns to stone. Then the ground and the people surrounding the Black Hand also turn to stone. Black Hand is distraught and cries about how the dead will not longer come to life and play with him. The Black Hand says that he does not want to be alone. The Black Hand say that he needs to “go home.”
We shift to Hal Jordan at the farthest edge of existence near the Source Wall. Darlene, the sassy onboard sentient computer that controls Hal’s space ship, and Hal engage in some banter. Darlene does not like Hal at all. Hal says that he could do with out the hostility. That Darlene is ruining the moment. Hal stares out the window and absorbs the amazing sight of the edge of the universe.
Virgo appears on the scene. Hal says how he used to fly by this area as a Green Lantern and that he never took the time to stop and notice how beautiful it is. Hal says that he can’t relate to Virgo’s loss of his entire planet, Ketleth. They were all turned to stone and Virgo is the sole survivor. But, Hal says he understands loss since he is now the sole remaining Green Lantern. That the rest of the Green Lantern Corps disappeared.
Hal says that he is the last of the Corps and Virgo is the last of Ketleth. That they are in a spaceship at the birthplace of the stars. Hal doesn’t know the takeaway from all of this is but they should appreciate this moment. Hal places his hand on Virgo’s shoulder and the two men stare at the edge of space in silence.
Virgo says that Hal could be searching for his friends, but instead he is helping Virgo. Virgo says that Hal’s sacrifice does not go unnoticed. Hal says that he is searching for clues and that maybe what happened to Keleth and the Corps are related. Hal puts on a space suit. Hal tells Virgo to not touch his Green Lantern gauntlet and to leave Trapper cuffed to his bunk. Hal is not thrilled with having Trapper aboard the vessel. Virgo counters that Trapper’s gang is totally wiped out and that Trapper is like Hal and Virgo. All they have is each other.
Hal reminds Virgo to not let Trapper near his Green Lantern gauntlet. We see that there is a giant alien studying the Source Wall outside of Hal’s spaceship. Hal says that he cannot take him with him because he will be undercover because if the giant alien recognizes him then they are dead. Hal puts on the space suit and leaves the ship.
Virgo tells Darlene that Hal is a good man and that he does not know why Darlene dislikes Hal so much. Darlene replies that she dislikes all organic lifeforms.
Hal approaches the giant alien. The alien introduces himself as “Relic.” He asks if Hal is here on a mission of science. Hal says that he is. Relic says that he has been studying the crack in the Source Wall. Relic is unsure what has caused the fissure in the Source Wall. Relic says that the Source Wall’s reservoirs have been replenished and now that the Green Lantern Corps is gone that one of the greatest drains on the Source Wall is no longer around.
Hal asks if Relic knows what happened to the Green Lantern Corps. Relic replies that all he knows is that the Corps disappearance is a good thing and that maybe the fissure in the Source Wall will now heal itself.
Hal asks if gravel from the fissure in the Source Wall could be traveling around the universe. Relic says that any gravel from the Source Wall would immediately be pulled back into the Source Wall by its immense gravity. Relic says that is must be something else causing the Source Wall stone to be spread about the universe. Relic says that he was once fused to the Source Wall and then was freed from it. Relic says that he does not have any memory from when he was part of the Source Wall or any memory about how he escaped the Source Wall.
Relic says that there is a chance that a person who has touched the Source Wall surface carries traces of the Source Wall within them like contaminants. Relic says that his first memory after being freed from the Source Wall was the sight of a man in black who was Hal’s size fleeing the Source Wall. The man seemed distraught and his arms were covered in stone. That perhaps this man was the cause of what Hal is investigating.
Relic brings up an image of the man on one of his video screens. Hal recognizes the man. It is the Black Hand. Hal is less than happy with this revelation.
We cut to aboard the ship. Virgo tells Darlene that Hal needs backup. Virgo puts the Green Lantern gauntlet on. Trapper then appears on the scene after having somehow escaped being cuffed to his bunk. We see Virgo cry out in pain as he puts on the Green Lantern gauntlet. A massive green energy explosion comes from Virgo’s body.
Relic senses the energy from the Green Lantern gauntlet. Relic says that Hal is tampering with powers that he does not understand. Relic says that Hal came in disguise and ready to attack Relic. Hal quickly flies back into his spaceship.
Relic calls forth an army of robot bugs to attack Hal and his ship. Hal sees Virgo on the ground with Trapper standing next to him. Hal blames Trapper for what is going on. Trapper replies that he picked his cuff and then found Virgo putting on the Green Lantern gauntlet. Hal yells for Darlene to get them out of here. Darlene replies that the energy outburst from Virgo took her main propulsion units offline. Hal yells for Darlene to initiate a reboot in order to get the propulsion system online.
Darlene tells Hal that Virgo put on the gauntlet so he could go help Hal. Hal says that it takes lots and lots of will to control the gauntlet and that Virgo is lucky to not be a scorch mark right now.Hal puts on the Green Lantern gauntlet. Hal then creates a massive green energy blue whale that eats the robot army headed to the ship.
During this scene, Darlene nags Hal that he only yells at her and gives her commands. That Hal never thinks about her needs. That Darlene would like to be able to be in control of her own life and actions. That she would go find a nice dry world and find a server farm to talk to. Trapper comments that this is why he never got married.
Darlene then tells Hal that the reboot is complete. Darlene then hits the engines and our heroes make a quick escape from the scene. Relic stares into empty space and says that he will see Hal again.
We cut to Space Sector 3087. We see a shadowy figure attacking a woman who owns a gaming den on the planet Y’gaal. The woman says that Hal rescued the Ketleth monarch and then fled. That they have not returned. The figure says that he is going to burn down her gaming den. The woman says that the man cannot do that. The man replies that no one will stop him. The law won’t. That the grey agents will be the new law. That they will decide who burns. The figure then burns down the gaming den. End of issue.
The Good: Green Lantern #43 was a solid read. There was nothing spectacular about this story. But, it was still an above average Sci-Fi/Super Hero issue. This issue is just the second issue in this all new DCYOU direction for Hal Jordan. So, it was great to see Venditti making sure that Green Lantern #42 was new reader friendly. If you missed Green Lantern #42 then do not worry at all. You can pick up Green Lantern #43 and slide right into this story with no problems at all. This is a smart move by Venditti. It is critical that writers keep in mind that any issue, no matter where they are in their story arc, is potentially a first issue for a new reader.
What I appreciated is that Venditti made Green Lantern #43 new reader friendly without employing long recaps or boring narrations that are always a turnoff to long-time readers. Instead, Venditti uses an economy of words in two panels within the context of the story so that the back story information was delivered in an organic fashion that made sense and never interrupted the flow of the toy. The scene with Hal and Virgo staring at the edge of space and the Source Wall was a natural moment for the two characters to reflect back on what has happened prior to this issue. The long-time reader does not mind this moment of reflection that provides critical information in getting the new reader up to speed in a proper fashion.
I love grand cosmic tales. They have always been my favorite style of super hero story ever since I first started reading comic books. Jack Kirby comics have always been my favorite comics. A big reason that I have always been drawn to Kirby comics is because he loves to tell incredibly dramatic cosmic tales. So, any issue dealing with giant alien beings, the Source Wall and adventuring across the cosmos is sure to grab my attention.
Venditti deserves credit for succeeding in making Green Lantern #43 large in scope. This feels like a big cosmic story. What is so cool is that Venditti does not rely solely on big action scenes to make this cosmic tale feel huge. Instead, it is the smaller moments where Venditti allows the characters several moments of quiet to convey the immense setting of this story. The scene where Hal reflects on the grandness of the edge of the universe and the scene where Hal and Virgo have a moment of silence are excellent examples of how less is more in conveying the awe of a setting. There are moments where the emotion needs to kick in and the dialogue must stop. By having no dialogue, Venditti is able to signal to the reader that they should stop as well and take in the setting for the story and realize the importance of what is occurring in the story. These two scenes help set the stage for this story and pull the reader deeper into the story.
I was also impressed by Venditti’s dialogue and character work that he delivered in this issue. It is clear that Venditti is a technically sound writer. He understands the basics of how to construct an effective story. And solid dialogue and character work are important in creating an entertaining issue. Action will only get a writer but so far. If the reader is not invested in the characters then there is little reason for the reader to come back for the next issue.
Venditti does his best to get the reader invested in Hal, Virgo and Darlene and their relationships with each other. All three characters are nicely developed. All three have distinct personalities and each play their special role in the story. Each character also possesses their own unique external voice. The reader could have the dialogue read to them and they would know exactly which character is speaking based just off the different external voices. The dialogue also has an excellent flow as the characters banter back and forth in a natural manner.
I actually like Hal more in this role as a renegade than as a cop. Hal is a test pilot. Those are people with balls of steel who like to take risks and not play it safe or follow the rules. That is not really the character type of a cop. Instead, Hal has always been more of a gunslinger. Hal’s current role as a space cowboy better fits his personality. It also helps to further differentiate Hal’s personality from other Earth based Green Lanterns like John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner.
Darlene’s personality is a good change of pace. Her antagonistic attitude towards Hal provides for some quality source of tension and humor. Having said that, I will say that less is more when it comes to Darlene. If Venditti overplays Darlene’s sassy nature then she could quickly become a character that annoys, rather than entertains, the reader.
Virgo plays an important role in bringing out the compassionate side of Hal’s character. This prevents Hal from being a one-dimensional tough guy type of character. This helps to allow Venditti to give Hal’s character more depth and complexity. Also, Virgo’s character allows Venditti to show that even though Hal may be a “renegade” he still views himself as a “good guy” and has the heart and soul of a true hero. This is vital so that Hal does not become one of the one-dimensional dark and gritty style heroes that we have already gotten enough of in the New 52.
The good character work and quality dialogue combine to create some great chemistry between Virgo, Hal and Darlene. I enjoyed seeing these characters interact with each other. The one weak link was Trapper. However, I suspect that since Trapper is the newest addition to this story that Venditti will quickly flesh his personality out some more and get him into the mix in a more entertaining fashion.
Now, do not let my praise for Venditti’s character work and dialogue mislead you. Green Lantern #43 delivers enough action to keep the story lively and action fans happy. We get a nice fast paced action scene to cap off this issue in style. This final scene was well done and got the reader’s adrenaline pumping as our heroes made a mad scramble to escape the wraith of Relic.
Speaking of Relic, I liked his character. He has a neat design and is the type of grand mysterious cosmic character that Jack Kirby would have rolled out in one of his stories. I am interested in learning more about Relic and I hope that we see him later down the road in this story.
Venditti ended Green Lantern #43 with a good hook ending. The reader is teased with a mysterious man who is on the hunt for Hal Jordan. This man is affiliated with a group called the grey agents. Venditti succeeded in piquing my interest in both this mysterious character and the group that he is associated with. This was a moment of good plot development by introducing a new plot-line to the mix. More plot development and progression was needed in this issue
I love Van Sciver’s artwork. His slick style of artwork is a perfect match for a Sci-Fi title with interesting alien races and hi-tech gear where he can show off the incredible detail in his art. Van Sciver’s action scenes are as dynamic as ever. Green Lantern #43 is a pleasant-looking issue from start to finish.
The Bad: Green Lantern #43 is horribly decompressed. The plotting and pacing are atrocious. The story inches along at such a slow crawl. The slow pacing is quite noticeable to the reader and gives the distinct impression that Venditti is killing time and trying to stretch the story arc out over a certain predetermined number of issue. The only new plot development in this issue is that Hal now knows about the Black Hand bring connected to people being turned into stone and the final page teasing the mysterious villain. That’s it. That is simply not enough plot development and content for a comic book that costs $4.00.
Venditti delivers a Geoff Johns style story with Green Lantern #43. Spend the majority of the issue with no plot advancement at all until the final page where a few exciting plot developments are introduced in a great hook ending designed to make the reader forget that nothing really happened at all in the bulk of the issue. It would be nice to get more plot progression throughout the entire issue rather than just with the final page.
Personally, I am not overly thrilled with the Black Hand being the villain in this story. I know it has now been five years since Blackest Night concluded, but it was such a mind meltingly slow and plodding read that I feel like I could go another five years before I need to see Black Hand again.
Overall: Green Lantern #43 was a solid issue that was sadly brought down a few notches by being too decompressed. If Venditti can tighten up his plotting and pacing then Green Lantern would be a quality comic book that would be worth reading. However, it is hard to justify spending $4.oo on a single issue that offers so little plot progression. Readers could easily skip Green Lantern #43 and pick up the next issue and not miss too much at all. Green Lantern certainly has lots of potential. I will keep this title on my radar.