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.
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.
What 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.
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:
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?