Drew: Saying that Geoff Johns has a command over modern Green Lantern mythology goes without saying; the events (and many of the characters) that have shaped the Green Lantern universe over the past several years are his babies. It was his skill with not just the architecture, but the execution of these stories that had us so excited about all things Geoff Johns in the New 52. One might consider that excitement was misplaced, given the hit-or-miss nature of Justice League and Aquaman’s perennial status as our Retcon Punch-ing bag (until Detective Comics rightfully unseated it), but Green Lantern reveals Johns to be as commanding as ever of both the large- and small-scale details of his stories.
Issue 8 begins in the Indigo Tribe’s prison, where Indigo-1 confirms that Sinestro will be converted to the Indigo Tribe, just as soon as they can purge the willpower from his system. Sinestro attempts an escape, which Indigo-1 is quick to stop, but not before Sinestro does some damage to a Tribesman that looks like a cross between Mortal Kombat‘s Goro, and the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth.
Meanwhile, Hal and Black Hand are sharing some of their favorite Blackest Night memories. Hand explains how the Tribe has changed him, giving him the ability to empathize. He starts cycling through the emotional spectrum to demonstrate, and when he gets to green (per a little trickery on Hal’s part), Hal uses him as a power battery. This gives Hal the juice he needs to escape, but something’s…off. His ring doesn’t protect him from shrapnel, and he can’t fly, apparently because the power supply is “simulated.” Hal makes a getaway on a construct-motorcycle and asks his ring to find Sinestro. The ring does it, but not before it reveals that the building they’re in covers roughly half of a planet’s surface. Hal’s ring leads him to a giant statue of Abin Sur. He’s then treated to a weird parks-center welcome show, complete with indigo-construct animatronic Tribesmen to explain the history of the Tribe. Before Hal can fully appreciate what’s going on, he’s struck by a blast from Sinestro in full Indigo Tribe garb.
Okay, before we move on, I’ve got to talk about that image. The first time through, I just thought it was a big crowd of Indigos, but upon closer inspection, I realized that each Tribesman is actually accompanied by a construct version of their pre-tribe self. It’s a neat little motif that establishes that pretty much all of the tribesmen used to be scary or angry or at least bared their teeth a lot, which is an interesting thought. It also features some damn good art, putting Doug Mahnke’s knack for interesting character designs on full display. There are a lot of great details in that image, and some praise belongs to colorist Alex Sinclair and the team of inkers for making such a busy page so clear, but my favorite detail has to be that the former ring-slingers (namely Sinestro and Black Hand) still wear rings, even though it’s clearly not necessary. Also, check out the terrifying vagina dentata monster behind Indigo-1. Freud would be proud.
It makes sense to me that former ring-bearers would feel more comfortable with rings, so I guess the real question is why doesn’t the rest of the Tribe wear rings? They clearly worship Abin Sur, another ring bearer, as their creator and savior, which I would think would make them pro-ring. I hate getting into the conjecture game, but it almost feels like they don’t feel worthy, which is kind of bared-out by all of the prisoner imagery. I’m going to go ahead and suggest that the Indigo Tribe may have been founded by criminals Abin Sur apprehended and attempted to rehabilitate during his tenure as a Green Lantern. I’m probably pretty off-base, and I certainly don’t have enough details filled in to really make that idea make sense, but I think it’s a good sign that I’m interested enough to guess.
Anyway, this issue puts Johns back in the role he was born to play; crazy universe-builder. The Indigo Tribe is a huge unexplored wing of the GL universe, and this issue is littered with enough off-the-wall details to have me thoroughly intrigued. It also has Hal being Hal in a way that’s endearing rather than grating, which is one thing that hasn’t always clicked for me on this title. I couldn’t help but chuckle when he puts his life in the hands of a construct that may-or-may-not work.
So between the crazy universe-building, the genuine character moments, and the stunning artwork, this title has really found its stride. This has long been the strongest of the titles Johns is writing, but I still wasn’t absolutely sold on it until this issue. Shelby, you’ve got a lot more history with Johns and Green Lantern; is this the return to form I’m thinking it is, or should I be expecting more? Or, to put a finer point on it, is issue this as good as I think it is?
Shelby: It is as good as you think Drew. This is getting back to the Johns I know and love. I have long been intrigued by the Indigo Tribe; they would often pop in to a Blackest Night story for a quick “nok” and call it a day. Not only is Johns getting to a mystery that’s been hounding me for a while, we’ve also got the apparent conversion of Sinestro.
For me, this is huge. I’ve only really ever known Sinestro as a Yellow lantern, coldly mastering fear. I know he used to be a Greenie, and I’ve seen it in flashbacks and things, but something about seeing him in full purple regalia is super powerful. Probably because I can’t really imagine Sinestro showing compassion…well, wait now, he’s always had a soft spot for Korugar, he would show any Korugarian compassion. He’s ruthless, but not completely heartless; I wonder if that will make him a different brand of Indigo Tribesman?
Drew basically hit on all the points I wanted to make in this issue. Johns is doing what he does best; grand sweeping vistas of plot points without losing those small character moments that make you care about the characters. Drew was dead-on when calling Hal in this issue “endearing.” I feel like Hal Jordan is a difficult character to write: he’s a cocky, hot-headed jackass who leaps into situations without thinking about them.
Those are not character traits often thought of in a positive light. I can’t help but compare this Hal Jordan to the Hal Jordan of the Justice League. Here, Hal isn’t just kind of a prick, running around doing what he wants because he doesn’t want to listen to the man. Johns is showing that balance of character traits that makes Hal Jordan both believable and likeable, instead of the almost caricature-like Hal in JL.
I really enjoyed this issue. To me, it felt like the kind of story I was reading in the Rebirth arc, or in the early Blackest Night days, which was what got me into this crazy business in the first place. It’s a large-scale story (approx. one hundred million miles square scale) that doesn’t lose sight of the small character moments that are so important to a good story.
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