Green Lantern 18

green lantern 18 wrath

Today, Mikyzptlk and Patrick are discussing Green Lantern 18, originally released March 6th, 2013. This issue is part of the Wrath of the First Lantern crossover event. Click here for our First Lantern coverage. 

Mikyzptlk: One of my favorite movies of all time is The Shawshank Redeption where Andy Dufresne is convicted of murders he did not commit. He spends twenty years in prison suffering one horrible thing after another until he decides he’s had enough. He no longer wants to suffer but knows that the only way to escape said suffering is to endure even more of it. He ends up crawling through the sewage pipe to escape, but on the other side finds freedom and a new life. I couldn’t help but think about Andy while reading the conclusion to Green Lantern 18 as Hal finds himself in similar situation. While Hal may not have to crawl through a river of shit to escape, his path to freedom may be even worse.

The issue begins with Hal Jordan giving a hand to the newest arrival to The Dead Zone, Simon Baz. Sinestro breaks the bad news that Simon is dead but Hal quickly corrects him. Simon can’t be dead because he still bears his Green Lantern ring. Realizing this, Sinestro attacks Simon in an attempt to reclaim his ring. Thanks to Simon’s trusty handgun, Sinestro fails to get his ring back, though he is gifted with a bullet to his chest. Sinestro is dead, but hey – so is everyone else in The Dead Zone, right? As Sinestro recovers from his mortal/nonmortal wounds, Tomar Re explains that unlike everyone else in the Zone, Hal, Sinestro and Baz are still alive and cannot truly die in the Zone so long as they have the will to live. He also explains that Volthoom was an unknown traveler who became the First Lantern by being the first being ever exposed to “the very first light of creation” and then proceeded to go out a kill millions of people across the universe before being stopped by the Guardians. As the gang tries to figure out their next move, Simon begins getting pulled back from the other side by B’dg. Wishing for Hal to escape with him, Simon unconsciously commands his ring to replicate. The ring goes after Hal, but Sinestro uses some emotional trickery to reclaim the ring for himself. Somehow, Black Hand winds up unconscious in The Dead Zone. Hal sees the black ring as a means of escape but cannot master it because he still has “one foot in the land of the living.” The issue ends with an actual cliffhanger and Hal asking himself a simple question.

Die Die Again

Andy Dufresne crawled through a river of shit the length of 5 football fields to manage his escape, and it’s looking like Hal is going to have to crawl through his own river in order to manage his. To master the black ring, Hal must let himself truly die. The image of him standing over the precipice is an effectively poetic means of illustrating the choice that is before Hal Jordan. Should he stay in The Dead Zone awaiting another possible rescue, or take matters into his own hands by ending his own life to become a Black Lantern? If prophesies are to be trusted, it’s clear that Hal will make the choice to become a Black Lantern. But what then? I’m extremely curious to see what becomes of Hal and how exactly he’ll become “the greatest Black Lantern.”

As Geoff Johns continues to tell his epic conclusion, I’m happy to see Hal resume the role of main protagonist. I’m a huge fan of Simon Baz, but we all know that this is Hal’s book in the end so it’s good to the focus placed back on him. Along with more Hal, we get more Sinestro as well. More importantly, we get more Hal and Sinestro together. I’d almost forgotten how much fun these two can be together and I was ecstatic to get the following laugh out loud moment from them in this issue.

They just cant get alongWhat I wasn’t so ecstatic about in this issue was the art. Szymon Kudranski is credited as the artist, while Ardian Syaf is credited as the penciller. To be honest, I’ve always thought that was the same thing in comics, but I guess there is a distinction. Either way, that could explain why I enjoyed only some of the art featured in this issue. Although the change was from regular artist Doug Mahnke was a bit jarring, I generally enjoyed The Dead Zone segments. I really appreciated the rough, almost painted looking boarders surrounding the panels. I also found the odd angles and strange close-ups to be appropriately unsettling. My problem with the art came from the land of the living. The characters all looked off-model and a bit too “90’s” for me. Fortunately, we didn’t get too much of that as most of the issue was spent in The Dead Zone.

I’m glad to see that Geoff John’s epic conclusion is continuing to be just that, epic. Even after nearly 10 years, Johns is still finding ways to surprise me and I know I’ll be sad to see him go. What about you Patrick, how did you feel about this latest installment? Were you happy with what was delivered or were you expecting something different? Were you disappointed that while we learned something about Volthoom, he wasn’t present at all? Lastly, did you catch the glaring, if honest, mistake left behind in this issue?

Patrick: I can totally clear up your art vs. penciling question! Let’s take a look at that credits page and see if we can’t agree on something.

Green Lantern 18 credits

To me, this looks like Kudranksi and Sinclair did the majority of the art in this issue with Syaf, Irwin and Avina picking up art duties for all the ‘real world’ stuff. If you’re not familiar with Kudranski’s work, it’s all delightfully moody, just as it is here. I appreciate editorial reaching out to an artist with such a specific style for this issue. It adds a layer of sophistication to the goings-on in this non-space space. I mean, right? If you’re going to do the afterlife, you gotta make it mean something. Syaf’s pages are a little too cartoony for my liking as well — good thing there are only 2 of them.

We did get some intriguing new information about Volthoom, and while it’s sort of a bummer that we didn’t spend any time with him, we did just have three issues that were overflowing with Volthoom, so I’m good for the time being. Also, that little nugget that we get from Tomar Re is… confusing — possibly contradictory — and awesome for very Volthoom-y reasons. Tomar says:

Volthoom was there when the guardians unlocked the power of the emotional spectrum. He became the first being to ever wield its power by bathing in it’s light — the very first light of creation. With that light, he became the first lantern […] Volthoom was now the very light that started this universe. If the first lantern is extinguished, we will be as well.

It’s unclear whether Tomar believes Volthoom to be the creator of the universe, or a product of the creation of the universe. Which is further interesting when you apply our readings of the character from just a few weeks ago. If Volthoom is an author surrogate — but also a character in the narrative — it’s extra cool that he should be perceived as both a creator and a product of a creator. He’s somehow of the action and above the action at the same time. This does all beg the question of “how would Tomar Re have this information?” but, hey this is a conversation between ghosts we’re talking about here.

I’m also happy to see Hal and Sinestro take center stage again in this issue, if for no other reason than it would feel insincere to end Johns’ run on this series with Baz in the lead. Don’t get me wrong, I loves me some Simon Baz, but Johns has been crafting the journey of Hal Jordan for a decade – not just the journey of some Green Lantern of sector 2814.

Oh! That actually brings me to one of my favorite parts of the issue. Hal used to make a habit of identifying himself in the voice over at the beginning of every issue. He stopped doing it with the advent of the New 52, and with the exception of the Annual, there’s isn’t any voice over from Hal in the New 52. Under Johns’ watch, this series was driven by Hal’s personality, and I guess it wasn’t until this panel that I realized how far the current series had slid away from that:

My name is Hal Jordan

The line usually goes “My name is Hal Jordan. I’m an officer of the Green Lantern Corps. Space Sector 2814.” It’s Hal giving his name, rank and serial number, and it was just this fun carry-over from his life in the air force. That this issue should start with Hal’s voice over, which expresses fear, before breaking his own introduction-ritual speaks volumes about what Hal’s been through. It’s not just his own ritual that he breaks here, but also the fourth wall. It’s not revolutionary for superheroes to address the reader as “you” from time to time, but Hal goes one step further, assuring us that we know the rest of what he was about to say. Y’know, because we’ve read it so many times. This moment forges an oddly personal connection between Hal and the reader – it’s a moment where we can nod and speak back to the character “Yes, I do know the rest.”

All of which is to say that I feel incredibly close to Hal as he decides to kill himself at the end of the issue. It’s seems perfectly motivated to me – and it’s doubly rewarding because it was prophesied like 6 months ago.

ALSO MIK – WHAT MISTAKE? I’ve read the issue two or three times more than I would have otherwise to catch this mistake you alluded to, but to little success.

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?

22 comments on “Green Lantern 18

  1. I’m suddenly glad we live in different states because you may just decide to want to kill me. There actually ISN’T a mistake. Or at least, the one I thought there was. I was referring to when Simon and Hal were talking after Simon tells Hal he’s willing to give his ring back. Simon says that he has a “sister and brother-in-law” back at home. At the time of my write-up I though it was Hal saying that. I was confused since before that panel, Simon still had on his mask. Also…it’s DARK in The Dead Zone…and uh…I’m not used to seeing this artist portray these characters…and is that enough excuses? Damn, is there an emoticon for embarrassed?

    Seriously though, I am so sorry I made you reread this thing that many times! At least it wasn’t Superman 18. lol

  2. Oh my goodness, the art in the Dead Zone portion of the book is so incredible. Not only is it perfectly suited to the situation, it’s just beautiful to look at. So expressive and moody. It provides such a perfect backdrop for that pop of green from Baz’s ring. I love love love it.

    • You check out that link to Kudranski’s blog? It looks like he’s going to be doing the Batman: Dark Knight Annual, which (against all odds) has me interested in picking that thing up in May.

      • I also really like when the panels are washed in a non-black color – usually green. But the standout, just for being so singular and shocking, is the violet panel of Carol being throttled by Volthoom (CAN’T WAIT TO SEE THAT, BTW).

    • I’ve heard some people complaining about Kudranski’s art. For me, that was the reason I picked up this book. The whole Third Army/First Lantern has been dragging a bit and I was thinking about dropping the title, but when I saw the art I was won over. I thought Syaf’s art was a little jarring though — I hate when they mash up two artists on a book.

  3. For all of the talk about Simon being like Hal or Sinestro, I really feel like he’s very different from both of them. Both Hal and Sinestro have absolute confidence in their own abilities, but Simon is incredibly unsure of everything, reminding us over and over that he doesn’t know what he is doing. Imagine either Hal or Sinestro in the same situation — Sinestro would assume he knows what he’s doing, and Hal just wouldn’t care. We’ve seen that Simon is capable of willing some miraculous stuff, but he sure doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his own abilities.

    • I don’t think the rings have ever had a history of replacing Green Lanterns with similar Green Lanterns. I mean, Abin Sur and Hal couldn’t be much more different. If anything, that suggests that the rings select new bearers based on what it perceives to be the needs of the sector. Abin Sur had grown too invested in the fate of The Universe and the Emotional Spectrum, so the ring selected Hal, who was more focused on Earth. And actually…

      Drew and I were talking about this the other day, but whose ring is that? Sinestro’s? Hal’s? Is it a 2814 ring or a 1417 ring? Rings are sector specific, right?

        • Right, I guess my confusion was, if it’s Hal’s ring (that is, Abin Sur’s ring), does that mean Sinestro was a GL of sector 2814? Conversely, if it’s Sinestro’s ring, shouldn’t it have sought out a replacement sentient in sector 1417?

          Actually, come to think of it: do the rings scan their home sectors for replacements, or just their immediate area? Obviously, not all GLs die in their home sector, but it seems weird that a Human would be selected as the GL for Korugar — Simon doesn’t even know there’s such a thing as Korugar, let alone the specific sociopolitical problems it’s dealing with.

        • These questions tell me that I don’t know as much about the GL rings as I thought I did. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of these questions were answered by the first volume of GLC (post Rebirth) since that book explored A LOT of those kinds of questions. I really need to read that series again, but they are all in floppies back in Orlando 😦

          Anyway, there have got to be sectors out their with more than one planet with sentient life right? And the planets within those sectors may not even know about each other, but the ring would have to choose someone to be GL. My point is, it probably isn’t weird at all for someone who doesn’t know jack about the rest of the universe because the ring would just give them all the details needed to work the mission.

        • Right, like that’s obviously how all of the Earth GLs are, but my understanding is that that was a result of us just reaching the “sentient” threshold — that is, most planets with sentients are much more advanced than us, and have been aware of the GLC (and any other planets in the sectors) for eons. Granted, the universe being THE FUCKING UNIVERSE, that still means there would be A LOT of planets like ours out there, but I always got the impression that MOST planets the GLs care about have known about GLs for a long time.

        • That’s so true. Every time we see a GL show up they are either hated or respected, but they are KNOWN. Can anyone recall an instance where that hasn’t been the case? You’d think there’d be more of a mix of planets who did and didn’t know about GL’s. I’m pretty sure the Guardians and GL’s lack a prime directive that keeps them off of planets who aren’t aware of alien species right?

  4. I’m late to the ball on this AC, but I can’t believe the Geoff Johns GL ride is almost over. I can’t believe with only 2 Johns GL’s remaining Hal is going to becoming Black Lantern G.O.A.T. Will he somehow use the power of the black ring to defeat Volthoom, and that’s what makes him the greatest? Will the combination of his Black Lantern powers and Kyle Rayner’s White Lantern powers do the trick? Will Volthoom reboot the GL continuity? How much can freaking happen in 2 more issues? I loved the artwork for the Dead Zone portion of the issue but I would be extremely disappointed if Mahnke didn’t rejoin for the final 2; it seems pretty normal though that he would delegate a kind of downtime issue like this so that he can make put extra detail into the climactic issues to follow and make deadline. I love Venditti as a writer and I’m excited to see his take but, man, this whole ride would be an impossible act to top on this title and I don’t expect it to ever be done in my lifetime. I hope Johns puts in a good decade on Aquaman so that my favorite character can ride that legacy forever after and never have to worry about cancellation of solo ever again

    • I hope he stays on Aquaman a good long while. You never know with Johns. Sometimes he’ll stay on a book for years while other times he’ll just try to put them in a good starting place for other writers to take over. I was shocked when I didn’t see his name associated with the N52 Flash reboot since he had just spent a year and a half (2 years?) making Barry a player again. I’m guessing he felt confident in the other creators who took Flash over (rightfully so) and felt that Aquaman still needed some TLC.

      Speaking of Johns, I know this may be unlikely, but with him leaving GL, I’m really hoping that one of the last two books DC has yet to reveal will be a new Booster Gold ongoing by Johns. Although, that may not be necessary if Booster finds a home in JLA.

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