I’ll be honest that I wasn’t expecting much from the Darkstars when they were first teased. The Darkstars are a group I have zero familiarity with, even though I knew that they have some history within the Green Lantern mythos. Given how many Lantern Corps there are now it was hard to see how the Darkstars would fit into the current Green Lantern franchise’s status quo. But as with his entire run on the franchise, I shouldn’t of doubted that Robert Venditti would make the Darkstars compelling. He quickly did that by making Tomar-Tu the first member and established how the Darkstars will be the polar opposites of the Green Lantern Corps as a policing force. Now with that established how will the rivalry between the Green Lantern Corps and Darkstars intensify? Let’s find out with Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #44.
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Brandon Peterson
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At Iron Heights Penitentiary in Central City Tomar-Tu confronts Goldface in his prison cell. Tomar-Tu reveals himself as a Darkstar and says Goldface will be killed for all the murders he has committed. Goldface freaks out and is completely incinerated by Tomar-Tu.
Sometime later Hal Jordan finds the bones of Goldface in the prison cell. Flash appears and asks Hal what is going on. Hal reveals Goldface killed his mentor Tomar-Re some time ago and his son, Tomar-Tu, took over his position as a Green Lantern. Hal then goes over recent events and how he should’ve seen Tomar-Tu killing Goldface coming.
Flash tells Hal not to blame himself since Tomar-Tu didn’t follow Hal’s lead close enough. Hal says he isn’t sure since he’s thought of killing bad guys before and Tomar-Tu and the Darkstars have decided to do just that.
Flash says while he has the power to stop every crime that has ever happened but refuses to stop believing in people being good and if they aren’t they pay for their crimes through being offered a redemptive path. Hal says he wishes he could think the way Flash does but with the upcoming battle with the Darkstars he isn’t so sure.
On Planet Heep Guy Gardner meets up with Arkillo at a bar. Guy tells Arkillo he needs his help in creating an alliance between the Green and Yellow Lantern Corps because if not the Darkstars will take them all down.
Exiting the Transluminal Space Kyle Rayner wonders where his ring has taken him. Space Cabbie suddenly shows up and lets Kyle in his cab. Kyle reveals he needs to get to a place that is almost impossible to get to in order to ask for a favor from someone who owes him one. Space Cabbie says that is no problem for him thanks to his new Mother Box Engine.
Using the Mother Box Engine Space Cabbie quickly gets Kyle to the orbit above New Genesis where they are met by a bunch of New Genesis guards.
Over on Planet Jekku John Stewart meets with the House of Zod. While Ursa wants to kill John right away Zod allows the Green Lantern to speak since he wants to know why John is going back on their agreement. John says he needs to join forces with Zod as much as he hates to even ask. Zod says that was a miscalculation on John’s part.
Zod goes then charges at John at full speed. John is ready by creating a construct knuckle and meets fist to fist with Zod. Zod’s had is surprisingly broken during the meeting of fists. John reveals used a piece of kryptonite as part of his ring construct. John then asks if Zod is now listening to him.
At Stryker Island Penitentiary Hal tells the worker there that he has been checking all the prisons on Earth to make sure the Omega-Level threats are still incarcerated where they should be. The worker says they have Hector Hammond heavily sedated to keep him from being a threat thanks to the help of STAR Labs.
Hal asks for a few minutes alone with Hector Hammond. As soon as he gets that Hal cuts all of the sedation tools as he needs Hammond’s help.
As soon as Hal does that he is attacked from behind by the Atomic Skull. The Atomic Skull reveals he is the boss of Stryker Island Penitentiary and that Hal is under arrest for trying to free Hammond. End of issue.
The Good: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #44 is a pure set up issue for what is to come with the Darkstars. After two issues that set the stage for who the Darkstars are this was something that was needed. The Darkstars hit the Green Lantern Corps with how they are going to police the DC Universe hard and fast. Seeing that force of power made why the Green Lantern Corps are trying to recruit allies an even more intriguing set up.
While there is hardly any action in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #44 this is far from being a slow issue. Robert Venditti made sure that each scene flowed into the next as we never spend to much time in one scene. Venditti gave every scene just enough time to breath to allow the reader to connect with what the four Earth Green Lanterns are planning on doing to combat the Darkstars. At the same time he makes use of each page to inform the reader and characters involved on what the motivation is for who Hal, Kyle, John and Guy seek out.
The opening of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #44 added to all the planning that the Green Lantern Corps went through in this issue. Tomar-Tu straight up confronting his father’s killer, Goldface, was something we all knew was coming as soon as he became a Darkstar. The emotionless expression on Tomar-Tu’s face as he killed Goldface, who was begging for mercy, drove home what the attitude of all the members of the Darkstars will be when policing the DC Universe. Even in his uncaring facial reaction the dialogue that Venditti gave Tomar-Tu did give you the idea this was a satisfying thing for him and a long time coming.
Tomar-Tu’s action gave more weight to the talk Hal has with Barry Allen right after Goldface’s murder. Venditti did a good job using Barry in a third party role since he is completely in the dark of what Hal’s recent Green Lantern adventures have been. Barry was able to present his case for why Hal should not give into the darkness that sticks to who he is at his core. It provided a nice dichotomy to what Hal was shown to be thinking as his own moral compass is wavering since Tomar-Tu was arrested.
Hal talking about Tomar-Re added to why he was doubting himself during his talk with Barry. That guilt that Hal is feeling made his actions at the end of this issue make even more sense. Just like his Green Lantern peers Hal sees the Darkstars as a threat that forces them to make some unlikely alliance. Even if these alliances are questionable at best Hal going to recruit Hector Hammond make you realize just how big of a threat that the Darkstars are. How freeing Hammond affects Hal’s standing on Earth will be very interesting to see after Atomic Skull made it clear he was arresting Hal for his actions.
Hal’s doubt made for the different methods that the other Green Lanterns employed in their recruit efforts stand out even more. John Stewart’s recruitment of the House of Zod in particular stood out as another strong moment for the current Green Lantern Corps leader. At no point did Venditti show that John doubted he would be able to recruit Zod. Even with how powerful Zod was John stood his ground even when he was outnumber. This confidence made the reveal after breaking Zod’s hand that he had kryptonite with him a badass character moment. That reveal made it clear Zod got some respect for John but also now sees how big of a threat the Green Lantern Corps can be. What this means for how the alliance with the House of Zod will go during this war with the Darkstars will be very interesting to see play out.
With how serious the recruitment Hal and John conducted it was a good change of pace to have Guy have his recruitment of Arkillo in a bar. The setting made the entire scene have a more friendly tone as it felt like it was two old buddies catching up. At the same time, it did not take away from the serious favor that Guy was asking from Arkillo. Given the state of the Green and Yellow Lantern Corps current contentious relationship this is a big favor Guy is asking for. Venditti will have a lot to play with from the history he has given these two Lantern Corps and the fact that Tomar-Tu is leading the Darkstars won’t make this alliance any easier to maintain, if it even happens.
Brandon Peterson delivered some solid artwork throughout Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #44. Given that this issue placed a heavy focus on dialogue heavy scenes Peterson did a good job elevating these scenes with how he drew different character reactions. The emotion on Hal, John, Guy and Kyle’s faces showed how differently each of the Green Lanterns were approaching their side of the recruitment. And in the one bit of action Peterson made John look like a complete badass with how he put Zod in he broke the Kryptonian’s fist.
The Bad: Though Venditti has used them in a past arc it was odd that Kyle would go recruit the New Gods. The New Gods aren’t the type of allies that you would think of being the first Kyle would go to. It’s even odder given that Venditti seems to leaving out the other Lantern Corps out of this story. With how quickly the Darkstars are rising this would be a good opportunity for the Star Sapphires, Blue Lanterns or Indigo Tribe to get some spotlight after being pushed to the side for quite some time now. The Star Sapphires and Indigo Tribe in particular would’ve been more fitting choices since they have shared similar contentious relationships with the Green Lantern Corps in the past.
While I did like Peterson’s work in this issue the way he drew Kyle for his short segment was off on a few panels. This was mostly because of how the mask looked on Kyle’s face threw how he looked in different angles just not feel completely right. It does not affect the pacing of the issue. Just one of those things that is noticeable on multiple read throughs of the comic.
Overall: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #44 is a fantastic issue to kickstart the “Darkstar Rising” story arc. Seeing Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner recruit antagonists they have fought in the past showed how big of a threat the Darkstars are to the entire DC Universe. All of these potential allies gives Robert Venditti a lot of opportunities to work with different sub-plots as the “Darkstar Rising” arc progresses. If your a Green Lantern fan I highly recommend reading this issue as we are about to hit a big chapter in the life of this franchise.