Patrick: Remember the incredibly short-lived television series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles? I watched the Pilot and maybe the two episodes that followed, but gave up on it pretty quickly thereafter. It just wasn’t especially good television and I don’t really care about the Terminator franchise. Even still, there was this lingering feeling that maybe I gave up on it too early because I resented seeing Summer Glau as anyone but River Tam. But I knew I made the right decision a few weeks later when the promo for the new episode used the the following line to tease a reveal: “You won’t believe what they find in the box.” If I won’t believe it, then just show it to me and let me not believe it – there’s nothing that kills my hard-on for mysteries like saying “OH MY GOD, LOOK HOW MYSTERIOUS THIS IS.” With that little bit of background, let’s dig into “The Secret of the Indigo Tribe (Part 1).”
Last we saw our intrepid hero and anti-hero, they were bickering in Hal’s bedroom about whether or not to take up arms against The Guardians. Words come to blows pretty quickly, but Sinestro reminds his protege that Hal’s ring cannot be used to harmed him. (Didn’t anyone read Hogwarts: A History?) None of this really matters because The Indigo Action team shows up and teleports them all off-planet. Poor Carol tried to put on her Star Sapphire ring to help out, but possibly because she’s slowed down by being wrapped up in a sheet, she’s late to the party.
Back on Oa, The Guardians interrogate Lyssa Drak. They insist that they need the Book of the Black to find the First Lantern, but Drak is basically no help to them. As is their wont, The Guardians mumble cryptically about destroying their own Corps. Meanwhile, we see that Hal and Sinestro were spirited away into the captivity of the Indigo Tribe. Then Hal gets an interesting visitor: Black Hand – who is actually willing to drop the “lek nekka” bullshit and talk to him like a human being. Even in English, divining the point behind what he’s saying is… difficult. Hand asserts that Sinestro “will no longer be a problem – Sinestro will be reborn as [Black Hand] was.” But given the bondage imagery and the severely sedated version of Black Hand we see here, it’s unclear whether Indigos are are really set free, or simply lobotomized.
This happens occasionally in Green Lantern: the supporting cast overshadows the actions of our heroes. I realize that part of this may be due to the fact hat I’m ensconced in years worth of GL lore, and I’ve been begging for answers about the Indigo Tribe forever now. There was an issue at the start of Blackest Night that stayed with William Hand the whole time – I don’t even think we see a green power ring the whole issue. Green Lantern 7 sorta splits the difference and tosses in a Guardians story to boot. So these few pages are way too busy and I was surprised when the whole thing ended abruptly.
Isn’t the inclusion of the bit on Oa strange? What point does that serve? “Don’t forget, The Guardians are up to no-good!” It’s especially puzzling because all the other stories at play here are actually pretty engaging. Hal and Sinestro’s relationship is mined for humor (effectively) and the Indigo Tribe is mined for mystery (despite my bitching, also effectively).
This issue definitely has a “first issue of an arc” feeling to it. Specifically, it feels like such an issue as written by Geoff Johns. Which means there’s a lot of intriguing and/or fun shit, but it all adds up to zilch until you’ve got all the pieces carefully lined up. YES I’M REVIVING THIS DEBATE! It’s issues like this that make me want to wait and pick up the series in trade. Drew, you frequently say that Johns’ works make you excited to read the next issue. With both of our heroes in chains and the fate of the Corps at stake, I assume you’ve got some of that going on right now.
For the most part, I’m withholding judgment on this one until we see the whole picture. I miss Mike Choi’s freer art from issue 6, but Doug Mahnke plays to his own strengths by filling the pages with crazy alien designs, some fairly creative constructs (like the Indigo using a jet against Hal) and more hauntingly heroic poses that you can shake green glowing stick at. My favorite of which is this rad image of Black Hand visiting the imprisoned Hal Jordan. I don’t know what he wants or what he’s capable of, but he owns the room.
It’s been a little while since you and I chatted about Green Lantern, so I’m eager to hear how you’re enjoying the series. This is starting to feel more like the series that got me excited about GL in the first place. That’s not meant to be read as a strong endorsement for this title, it has a lot of proving itself to do.
Drew: Before the relaunch, my only familiarity with Green Lantern came from John Stewart and company’s appearances in the DCAU, and from borrowing Patrick’s copy of Green Lantern: Rebirth a couple years ago. I now find myself reading two GL titles on the regular, though I’m still in the dark on much of the histories. So far, there hasn’t been a ton of stuff that hasn’t been spelled out, and as long as I’m patient, generally all of my questions are answered. But, there are still occasions where the histories and motivations of key characters are just kind of assumed. This works fine for mainstays like Hal, Sinestro, or even Carol, but has left me in the dark when the same approach is taken with random non-earth Lanterns and the like.
Take, for example, Black Hand; he’s not a character someone with my kind of broadstroke understanding of GL mythology is going to be familiar with. In situations like this, I head over to the DC Wiki for a little research. Sure enough, he’s played a massive roll in the DC Universe in recent years, big enough to make me a little embarrassed about my ignorance but also big enough that it’s clear why Johns wouldn’t feel the need to spell it all out (which would have felt insanely expository, anyway). Besides, what’s important to the story is that Black Hand was somehow redeemed by the Indigo Tribe, something I think is communicated quite effectively here. I’m pointing this out not to highlight what a n00b I am, or even to illustrate how appropriate the exposition is in this issue, but just as an excuse to share a hilariously un-encyclopedic passage from the DC Wiki entry on Black Hand, detailing a fight between Hal and Black Hand: “When they both simultaneously ran out of charge, they engaged in fisticuffs which resulted in a massive knockout and Black Hand getting his ass spread out on the pavement.” Comic fans are the best.
Anyway, my ignorance aside, I really enjoyed this issue. I loves me some Hal-Sinestro banter, and the first half of the issue definitely delivers. I love how brazen Sinestro is about manipulating Hal, sighing “I guess we’ll have to do this the old-fashioned way,” before he grabs Carol and holds her at ring-construct gunpoint. I suppose Hal thinks that hostage situation was Sinestro’s manipulation attempt, but it’s pretty clear that Sinestro only did that to draw Hal out, which totally worked. I like that Hal’s predictability isn’t a weakness of this title, but is treated as a character trait which Sinestro can use against him.
Speaking of Hal’s character traits, the fact that he’s using a ring Sinestro created forces Hal to be less impulsive, the one trait that has always annoyed me about Hal. The fact that he can’t shut Sinestro up (like he normally would) forces Hal to listen, though I suppose the fact that he’s held at ring-construct knifepoint doesn’t hurt.
Sinestro doesn’t get a chance to fully make his case before the Indigo Tribe shows up. I’m not exactly sure why Hal (who they seemed to have no interest in) ends up in a cell, or what the deal was with that desperate prisoner he encounters, but I like the details we’re being teased with. Is it possible the Indigo Tribe isn’t so much a corps of the extremely compassionate, but rather a cult of brainwashed prisoners? Black Hand’s zealous dialogue suggests this, which is only corroborated by the chains around his neck. I can agree that the title and cover copy on this issue oversell the “ohmygosh this is SUCH a big secret!” aspect of the Indigo Tribe, but we really don’t know that much about them, and a chance to learn more is welcome. At the very least, this is an opportunity for Johns to get to some of that mythology building that got you so excited about both his writing and GL in the first place.
I agree that the action on Oa is pretty weak. It seems mostly there to show us how totally evil the Guardians are, what with their blithe attitude towards killing anyone who gets in their way. What do we make of the fact that Ganthet keeps finding reasons not to kill? Is he pulling a Damian Wayne? Anyway, I think the point isn’t just to show that the Guardians are evil, but that they are very specifically compassionless. There’s certainly a better way to establish this than just making them eager to kill everyone, but it gets the point across well enough. Johns seems to be setting up a Indigo Tribe vs. Guardians battle, which I actually think makes a lot of sense, and something I can totally look forward to.
This issue also looks great. I continue to be pleased with the Christian Alamy/Keith Champagne/Mark Irwin team on inks, but the real star here are Alex Sinclair’s colors. Lantern titles, with all of their colored lighting effects, must be among the most demanding books to color, but Sinclair handles all of that and then some. The scene in Carol’s apartment is a case study in keeping track of light sources, with most of the action lit by the open window, except when in close proximity to a ring construct. It’s difficult to pick an image that communicates how well that plays, so I’ll pick one that also allows me to talk a bit about Doug Mahnke’s pencil work:
The similar compositions of these pages is pretty obvious, from the central levitating characters to the inset closeups on the faces of classic GL villains, but closer inspection reveals even more similarities. I especially love the way Mahnke manages to build a sense of depth around that central figure. I’m not sure exactly what these similarities might mean, but at the very least, they’re strong images that bear repeating. That’s probably the best way to summarize my feelings on this title: I’m not yet sure if it’s just neat-for-the-sake-of-neat, but it’s enjoyable enough that I like it either way (how’s that for a strong endorsement?).
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?
Red Lantern Patrick: Okay so while I was doing my writeup on the most recent Green Lantern comic book, the Green Lantern movie came on HBO. I’d never seen it before so I’m watching it. It’s on the TV as I type this, and I sorta can’t believe how bad it is. Don’t get me wrong – it looked shitty, but the passage of time made me forget this. I hatehatehatehate this movie’s reliance on characters poorly rendered by computers. It’s basically two movies, one live action superhero movie with Ryan Reynolds (let’s call it Green Deadpool) and a GC cartoon about outer-space cops. And neither of these movies is any fucking good. There’s a lot of shitty acting here and one of the guardians just said “your words have moved us, young human.” So the writing’s not great either. TOO MUCH VOICEOVER Oh OH! And Hector Hammond is a stupid villain for a live-action move: giant heads look hilarious on screen, not terrifying. THAT’S A BAD CHOICE FOR ANTAGONIST! And I don’t know what this take on Hal is supposed to be; he’s simultaneously douchier and sappier than I’ve ever seen the character portrayed in comics. Also also also, I like Blake Lively – I ACTUALLY LIKE HER, hell, I watched 3 seasons of Gossip Girl – but she couldn’t be more poorly cast as Carol Ferris. There’s a joke in the first 10 minutes about her call sign being “Sapphire” – DO YOU GET IT I GET IT!? The script here is so incorehent, I assume it’s written by a Red Lantern version of some Hollywood writers. A decade of Marvel movies has me wondering where the Stan Lee cameo is. FINAL FACT: That Green Lantern Oath sounds stupid spoken aloud.