In Review: The Green Lantern #1

These aren't the visuals I want on a Lantern book, so I'm one and done with this.

The covers: I’ve found at at least ten different covers on line, but heaven knows there could be more. The Regular cover by  Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff has Hal, from the knees up, looking at the reader. He has his power battery in his left hand and he holds his right up to show the emerald energy issuing from his ring. Behind him is a wholly alien sky full of stars and nebula. Hal’s upper body is massive and his legs not so much. The illustration is okay and the colors are fine, though it’s really dark around Hal, which leaves him blending in too much with the background. Not something one would expect on a first issue. A textless version of this cover exists for Local Comic Shop Day. The Variant cover by Frank Quietly has Hal in close-up being held by mechanical creatures. He smiles menacingly as wires are inserted to the right side of his head and a bright medical tool makes its way to his chest. This looks really cool, but this never occurs in this issue. I’m afraid this is a spoiler. Epic Comics has a Trade Dress Variant by Jim Cheung that has Hal flying to the upper right covered in construct armor. There are orange blasts of energy pouring past him as he makes his way to some unseen foes. A traditional Green Lantern cover that looks fine. There’s also a Black and White Variant of this cover and it, too, looks good. And there’s a Virgin Variant, which has the colors but no text. The BuyMeToys Trade Dress is by Rodolfo Migliari and is split vertically down the middle. On the left is Hal in costume powering up his ring, surrounded by several familiar lanterns. To the right several women look on as pilot Hal powers up. Nicely done. There’s also a Sketch Variant of this cover and this looks much better than the colored cover. Frankies Comics Trade Dress Variant featuring art by Francesco Mattina is the best cover of the bunch. This has Hal looking to the left with constructs appearing around him as he’s just finished powering up his ring. The emotion on Hal is awesome and the colors are spectacular. There’s also a Minimal Trade Dress Variant of this, with all the text moved to the bottom. Also exceptional. Regular B-, Local Comic Shop Day B-, Variant A-, Epic Comics Trade Dress Variant A-, Epic Comics Black and White Variant A-, Epic Comics Virgin Variant A, BuyMeToys Trade Dress B+, BuyMeToys Sketch Variant A-, Frankies Comics Trade Dress Variant A+, and Frankies Comics Trade Minimal Trade Dress Variant A+

The story: The Guardians of New Oa are trying to contact the Green Lanterns of Sector 2018.2. Maxin Tox says he can’t respond because he’ll lose his concentration as he’s currently battling a Vegan Spider-Pirate for sport among other aliens. Bets are being placed on both individuals, but take a turn when the lantern’s ring finger is bitten off by the larger opponent. Another lantern arrives on the scene to change the outcome, but I’ll not spoil what this hero is capable of. With this criminal added to a transport ship of others, things look to be going easy for these lanterns, but writer Grant Morrison has Tox finding a new threat which will be further developed in later issues, and the criminals’ ship crashing on Earth. Hal gets some time to shine out of his uniform, with a partner and some minor combatants, but it’s when he goes after the recently arrived antagonists that things get interesting. This is one of the most alien Green Lantern issues I’ve read in a while and for that I’m grateful. One of the joys of the Green Lantern books is the encounters with hitherto unseen species and places. Morrison is delivering that in spades. It was neat to see Hal more than capable of stopping some threats without the help of his ring. His humanity is also on display when he encounters a peer in need of aid. When Hal gets his green on and does battle he’s able to overcome the threats too easily for my liking; these characters have had some considerable build up and it’s a blink and you’ll miss it conflict. It’s more funny than cool. Yes, Hal is smart and the battle should be quick given the intelligence of the foes, but it came off as empty punchlines. Better are Pages 26 – 29 which promise big changes for Hal and the Corps. It’s good to see that these aren’t drastic changes, but subtle ones. The past remains the same, but the future is a wild card. Overall grade: B+

The art: Liam Sharp’s art is not for me. He is creating imagery more suited for black and white than a color book. This just does not appeal to me. His work reminds me of Mark Schultz on his iconic Xenozoic Tales, and I like that work much more. In fact, when Hal is out of his fatigues, he really resembles the male lead from that series. This may be why I would prefer to see this book in black and white. The first page of the book is a full-paged splash of the Guardians trying to signal the lanterns. They’re not as large headed as previously seen versions, which is fine, but does subtract from their alien-ness. Note, when one is shown in close-up later in the book their large heads, or at least that one, has manifested the big head. The layout of this opening page is stylish with four corner squares set apart from the main image; there’s no reason to do so, but it does give it a 1920’s vibe. It’s hard to find a focus in the first panel of the second page. The right establishes some delightfully alien structures, but overwhelms and distracts from the characters on the left. Better is the second panel where focus is much more easily obtained by the fighters and the speakers. The second panel on 3 contains a neat explosion. I should also mention the panels’ borders; occasionally Sharp will put a rounded corner on his thick outlines. There’s no rhyme or reason for doing so. At first I thought the rounded corners were being done to spotlight alien-centric panels. No. Then I thought they were done to highlight an alien world. No, because some are right angled. There’s no consistent reason for this attribute. Thick line work dominates the top panel on 8 which distracts from the thin lines on the trio in the foreground. The partial double-paged splash that reveals Hal is just too heavy handed with the cross-hatching; it looks more a razor run amok than the character’s skin. I’ll just stop there. I could go on, but this is obviously not the art I’ll enjoy on a Lantern book and that’s a shame. I’ve been a huge lantern fan for years, but these visuals are going to have me passing on this series while it looks like this. Overall grade: D 

The colors: I’ve enjoyed colorist Steve Oliff’s work on other books, but this time out his work only amplifies that this book should be in black and white. The first page has a lot of green, due to the large power battery. I was surprised to see so much orange in the bottom of the panel, as those colors in the past have represented a villain. The next page introduces the hero and the villain, but the background, which is fairly heavily detailed, is given lighter colors. It’s not enough, because the leads are lost in the colors. This happens often in this issue. The second panel on Page 3 is perfect, with the explosion and the characters all standing out from each other and the reader’s eyes drawn to the boom. The third panel on 4 again has no focus: it should be on the villain, but the art with these colors loses it. Colors that blend too easily into one another again appear at the top of 8; the speaking characters should be brighter than all else. There’s not much Oliff can do with Hal for his first appearance, with even his hair looking uneven with colors. Oliff isn’t given much to work with when Hal powers up his ring and it’s blasé color-wise. Oranges nicely dominate for the destruction in the small town due to the fires the villains have created. I am surprised to see the Guardian not wearing red, but a washed out violet, which, sadly, washes out his character. This just isn’t working. Overall grade: D

The letters: Tom Orzechowski is responsible for the yells, dialogue, screams, sounds, ring speech, weakened and whispered speech, the story’s title, the book’s credits, and some alien dialogue. There are several different sized yells to show the level of each outburst, which is good, but some look poor, such as when Hal powers up. This book looks like it was pulled from the 1950’s for its text. This meshes with the visuals, but I didn’t enjoy those, so I’m not a fan of the explosive texts. Overall grade: C- 

The final line: These aren’t the visuals I want to see on a Lantern book, so I’m one and done with this series. This is a shame because I love the Corps and I’ve loved Morrison’s past works, but I can’t get beyond the art. This is a title I would rather read than view. Catch you later, Hal. Overall grade: D+

To order a digital copy go to https://www.readdc.com/The-Green-Lantern-2018-1/digital-comic/T1881100015001?ref=c2l0ZS9pbmRleC9kZXNrdG9wL2xhcmdlQ2Fyb3VzZWw

To see the covers visit my Instagram account: patrickhayesscifipulse

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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