Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 13, originally released January 25, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: Superhero books from DC and Marvel will always be the closest comic books to my heart because of their long-running, storied continuity. A big theme that DC’s Rebirth keeps coming back to is “legacy” – mainly referring to characters like Wally West who were lost in the cracks of the New 52. Legacy is inherent in all superhero books: the impact they have on the world around them, how they inspire new heroes, and the way they’ve connected to readers for nearly 80 years. Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps 13 focuses on this idea of legacy from a set of characters that are not Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps.
Robert Venditti’s opening arcs of Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps have been about the return of the Corps, a new direction for The Sinestro Corps, and thwarting the plans of Sinestro, Brainiac, and Larfleeze. Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps 13 reminds us, however, that there has been another supporting character in the series thus far: the planet Xudar, home to famous Green Lantern Tomar-Re and his son Tomar-Tu. Sixty years from now, Xudarian Somar-Le is telling her grandchildren a bedtime story. She recaps them on the above events of HJ&tGLC from the perspective of the Xudarians. At the end of her inspiring speech about hope and will it’s revealed that Somar-Le is the latest, great Green Lantern from the planet Xudar.
I love the DCU, warts and all. I dislike editorial/studio mandates to try to make the characters and concepts of the DCU more “serious” or “relatable.” In Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps 13, Robert Venditti proves that you can take those oddball characters/creatures – mind controlling starfish aliens and Dimetrodon-headed bird people – and give them emotional weight and significance without fundamentally changing them. Somar-Le tells her grandchildren the terror of being in the grip of one of Starro’s spores that filled her with murderous rage. The feeling of the spore’s tendrils reaching down her throat is one that has lingered on her consciousness in a form of post-traumatic stress. Starro is still a giant one-eyed starfish but with that context it might has well be a terrifying xenomorph from the Alien series.
The emotional spectrum is another regular cast member of any Lantern book. Sometimes the discussion over Rage, Fear, Will etc. is only expressed in vague platitudes – much like The Force in Star Wars. Here Venditti describes the power of these emotions in great detail through Somar-Le’s perspective. Rage, Fear, Avarice, and Love are presented as “instinctual” whereas Will is something that must be a conscious decision. Will is choice by definition, but I found Somar-Le’s breakdown of Will compared to the other emotions to be quite eloquent.
Hal Jordan and The Green Lantern Corps 13 reminds me of the great issues of Green Lantern past: particularly the finales of “The Sinestro Corps War” and “Wrath of the First Lantern.” This issue is like a combination of those two finales, serving as a quiet epilogue while teasing the future of threats to the Green Lanterns down the line. Artist V Ken Marion draws three double-page spreads depicting visions of what lies ahead for everyone’s favorite space cops. We see visions of a Xudarian Sinestro Corps member (I think Romat-Ru?), Evil Star, and a trio of giant robots covered in Kirby-esque symbols.
It also appears that there will be another War of Light in our future, though it’s difficult to tell what the sides will be. The choreography here is very intentional: The Green Lanterns, Star Sapphires, and Indigo Tribe are very clearly fighting the Red and possibly the Orange Lanterns, while the Blue Lanterns fire off their beams into an unseen enemy off-panel. As of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 12, The Sinestro Corps and The Green Lantern Corps are allies. This truce seems to have been broken by the time this next war breaks out: Soranik is firing at a Star Sapphire while another Sinestro Corps member attacks a GL off-panel. It’s a great spread by Marion that was a lot of fun to dissect.
As is the case with the emotional spectrum, we’ve become accustomed to these teases of future events and I love them. I think the most original tease was the visual of a swarm of green rings shooting out into space. Were they Green Lantern rings? Au contraire, mon frere! These rings bore the symbol of Power Ring/Volthoom – the villain of Earth 3. Looks like there’s gonna be a whole Corps of those mothers, and I’m sure Jessica Cruz will be involved in some form or another.
Spencer, did you dig the inspiring tale of Somar-Le as much as I did? Did you find her mythic storytelling to elevate the heroic levels of our favorite GLs? At first I thought that these Xudarians were descendants of Tomar-Re and Tomar-Tu, but on my second read I realized my mistake. Do you think this would’ve played better if they were Tomars? Tomar-Tu’s mother is ashamed that he’s a GL like his father, does this future optimistic Xudarian tale have any bearing on that present day drama? Also I didn’t mean to have a monopoly on those future teases, if you have any thoughts or observations on them have at it!
Spencer: We definitely had similar thoughts about those future teases, Michael; like you, what leapt out at me were those Green Lanterns and Sinestro Corps members fighting each other in the War of Light spread. Looks like our uneasy allies have rough times ahead. I was also fond of that spread of upcoming threats.
What I enjoy the most about this vision is the variety and originality of the villains featured. Modern Green Lantern stories have a tendency to get a bit insular, to reuse the same villains and return to the same threats to the emotional spectrum over and over, so I appreciate Venditti broadening his horizons here. I love the designs of both the giant Kirby robots and the Skarmory mechs, and even better, I don’t recognize either; Evil Star, meanwhile, may be an established villain, but he’s an awfully obscure one (I only know him from his cameo appearances in the final season of Justice League Unlimited). I look forward to all injecting some new/refreshed blood into this franchise.
Speaking of fresh blood, I’m awfully fond of Somar-Le and her family as well. They work great as an unit; Venditti and Marion just fill their interactions with so much familiarity and affection that it’s infectious. How can you not love these two together?
That’s not the only reason why I’m glad this story focuses on Somar-Le’s family, though. To answer your question, Michael, I just don’t think this issue would have worked as well with Tomar-Tu’s descendants; neither Tu nor his mother discovered their heroism on the day of Larfleeze’s attack, after all. I’m still interested in what happened to Tomar-Tu, though; given the fact that there are now three Green Lantern memorials in Xudar’s park, I’m assuming that Tomar-Tu has passed on, and that perhaps Somar-Le even inherited his ring.
I don’t know whether Tu died peacefully or in battle, or if his mother ever came to respect his decision, but he’s clearly still revered by his people. Mortality is actually a consistent concern throughout this issue; since it’s set sixty years in the future, Somar-Le already knows the fate of most of the cast, and most of them don’t seem to be alive anymore at this point (John Stewart is specifically referred to in past tense). It’s awfully sad, even if it’s also completely expected; even putting aside old age, Somar-Le herself points out that bad things, that evil things (the kind of things that kill heroes) are going to happen no matter what.
Where this issue’s inspirational message comes into play is in how we react to evil, to pain and loss and fear. We can give up, or we can make a choice to stand up, to overcome fear and keep on fighting the good fight. I can only hope that all the Lanterns who have sacrificed their lives are honored on their worlds as Tu is on his, but even if they’re not, their deaths are not without meaning, because they’ve inspired others to live their lives the same way they did: with integrity, and without fear. I’m sure that goes for many Green Lantern readers as well.
When reading Somar-Le’s tale, I couldn’t help but to think of Green Lanterns’ Frank Laminski, a.k.a. the Phantom Lantern. His origin story bears some similarities to Somar-Le’s; he too was rescued, and thus inspired, by a Green Lantern, only Frank never quite “got” what being a Green Lantern was all about. He saw Hal’s power and knew he “deserved” it, and selfishly set out to prove that fact; in contrast, Somar-Le saw the Green Lanterns’ power and was inspired by it to overcome her own fear, which, in turn, made her worthy of eventually wielding a Green Lantern ring herself. What that means is that you don’t just get to say that you’re brave or righteous or a hero; it’s your actions that prove your worth.
Michael, I really liked this issue. After 12 issues that moved at a breakneck speed, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 13 acts as a breather, a refresher of what came before and a preview of what’s yet to come. Most importantly, though, it’s a reminder of what it means to be a Green Lantern, and a testament to their power to inspire. I guess I’m a sucker for that sort of thing, but hey, I’d bet most of you are too.
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 Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?