Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 18, originally released February 22nd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.
Michael: I think that Robert Venditti’s joining of the Green Lantern Corps with the Sinestro Corps will be a defining moment in the writer’s run on both Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps – and the Green Lantern mythos in general. It takes the “unlikely alliance” angle between a hero and villain and heightens it to the level of two opposing armies joining forces for the first time in their history. With such a wealth of diverse characters from both sides, the Sinestro Corps/Green Lantern Corps union promises to bring plenty of interesting character shakeups.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 18 sees the Sinestro Corps establishing a new central battery on their shared home world of Mogo. While they are erecting said power battery, there is nay a Green Lantern in sight assisting them. The hostility between the two corps is tangible, as Hal and Kyle discuss the absurdity of the situation from above – both of them having returned to the fray after being away.
I really like this premise but I can understand how Hal and Kyle feel. The Sinestro Corps were created by Geoff Johns as the antithesis to the Green Lantern Corps – the ultimate bad guy for the Corps. To tell the championed hero police force of the universe that they have to ally themselves with what was considered by Sinestro “the most powerful instigators of terror” is a tall order. Since both readers and Green Lanterns alike have seen the Sinestro Corps as the ultimate villains, it’s on Venditti to show us all that they can put that dark past aside.
For example, Venditti makes it clear through eye “patch guy” that not all Sinestro Corps members are criminals. The long and short of the GL/Sinestro Corps alliance is that the Sinestros must renounce their villainous ways and get with the program or be incarcerated. You’d think that the next step of making their Corps legitimate would be a little rebranding. Replacing “Sinestro Corps” with “Yellow Lanterns” might lose some dramatic oomph but it will help them reshape their image significantly – not to mention it makes for smoother sentences. “Green and Yellow Lanterns fought ___” is a lot less clunky than “The Green Lanterns and the Sinestro Corps fought___.” Aesthetics!
With so much uncertainty and doubt coming from heroes like Kyle and Hal, it’s nice to have a counterbalance in John Stewart and Guy Gardner. John Stewart in particular comes off looking pretty good in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 18. The way he drops in on Hal and Kyle’s gossip and gives them a brief American history refresher proves that he’s the Corps Leader that Hal could never be. A common criticism I make against John is that he can tend to be a bit boring, but I think that Venditti has done a great job finding a way to have John’s voice heard.
Another thing that I often find erratic in John’s characterization is how artists portray his hair. When he first appeared in the’70s he had a righteous fro, but in modern incarnations he’s typically had a clean, military haircut. Every now and then I’ll see an artist give him a flat top like he’s the Fresh Prince; which is inconsistent and…slightly problematic? Artist V. Kenneth Marion kiiinda commits this sin in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 18, but it may just be a matter of perspective.
As John swoops in to save the GLs and Sinestros from killing each other, the angle makes it look like his hair has suddenly reverted to that flat-top cut again. It’s a minor nitpick, and probably indicative of something larger than the perspective of Marion, but it did strike me. Another visual of John’s that stood out to me was how he broke up the fight with a jackhammer. I guess the intention is supposed to be that John will always be an architect, but it still made me chuckle a bit. ALL WILL TREMBLE AT THE MIGHT OF THE GREEN JACKHAMMER!
The larger mysteries of Rip Hunter, time travel and the Porygon-like aliens that attack elude me – but I enjoyed the opening scene with Gorin-Sunn and “Space Ape” quite a bit. While it is yet another example of the “GL and Sinestro forced to work together” dynamic, I liked it as demonstration of Green Lanterns as cops. Gorin-Sunn is trying to throw his weight around and show Space Ape who’s boss and he tells him to “try not to do anything that will require me to fill out a report.” This is one of the most cop lines that’s ever been copped in a Green Lantern book. We like to think of police as these sharp-shooting heroes – or villains – but a lot of the job comes down to filing precise paperwork so case details aren’t overlooked.
Patrick how are you liking the GL/Sinestro team-up thus far? Did you like how Space Ape refused to be referred to as anything other than Space Ape? Did you find Guy’s naming Arkillo “The Arc” equally charming and stupid as I did? Are you thinking that Rip Hunter’s appearance might lead to some Rebirth tie-in business down the road?
Patrick: Honestly, I find it sorta surprising that Rip and Booster aren’t more tied in to the Green Lantern mythos. All of that Time Master nonsense is grandiose on just the right level to jive with the Guardians of the Universe. I’ll agree with John, that the more pressing question is: why is he wearing a Green Lantern ring? Mind you, I only like that question because I know who Rip Hunter is — i.e., I know he doesn’t usually wear a ring — but John shouldn’t have the same assumption about him. Honestly, wouldn’t it be weirder if a time traveler materialized on Mogo, spilling warnings about Green Lantern erasure, and he wasn’t a lantern of some kind?
Also, DeLaney, I’ll TOTALLY got to bat for Guy calling Arkillo “The Arc.” If there’s a more efficient characterization of Guy Gardner than that, I don’t know what it is. It’s over-confident, it’s inelegant, it’s douchey as hell. And, oh my god, I just wrote Guy’s bio on the DC wiki. Like all the best slang, it sounds like something that’ll be fun to use ironically at first. Three months later, you’ll realize you’ve been saying “totes”sincerely and you don’t even care. Mark my words: we’ll all be embracing the casual use of “The Arc” by the end of Summer.
To Michael’s first question, though: the adventures of Gorin-Sunn and Space Ape stand as an excellent micro-scenario to the macro-scenario presented in the rest of the issue. Venditti is playing with some pretty big themes here – racial distrust, incarceration, fascism, the cost of peace – and he uses these stories at different scopes to weave one hell of a tapestry of discord. In the later half of the issue, it’s clear that the Greens are the aggressors. The Sinestro Corps is just trying to rebuild their power battery (y’know, so both teams have batteries on Mogo – totally reasonable) and the Greens won’t let them out of their sights. Raynunn (a.k.a., “Eye-Patch Guy”) may throw the first punch, but he’s provoked by Kilowog’s hands-on approach to debate.
Raynunn is escalating the situation, but no one was touching each other until ‘Wog decided it was okay. Even Kilowog’s language is kinda gross here, insisting that any position against the Sinestro Corps is worth supporting. That’s not even a Green First attitude; it’s Yellow Last.
Which brings me back to Gorin-Sunn and Space Ape. Let’s all have our requisite chuckle at the name Space Ape and then IMMEDIATELY LET’S FEEL BAD ABOUT LAUGHING. If “Gorin-Sunn” is any dumber of a name than “Space Ape” I’ll eat my fucking hat. Venditti is making a powerful point about othering people that you don’t understand. Gorin-Sunn and Space Ape are supposed to be partners, but Gorin-Sunn doesn’t even offer him the dignity of his own name. For his part, Space Ape is entirely civil the whole time. Meanwhile, Gorin-Sunn is a big-timing piece of shit, bragging about his accomplishments and making snide jokes about Space Ape. But, it’s the beginning of the issue, and the target of those jokes is a sentient gorilla wearing a villainous power ring, so the reader is sort of okay with it.
Blow out that kid of systemic oppression to a larger scale and its no wonder that groups of Greens and Yellows are having trouble working together. Guy and Arkillo’s gesture at the end of the issue is sweet, but there’s no real sense that these tensioned have been eased – just delayed. No matter what, there’s still violence at the heart of Guy and The Arc’s truce, and that should make anyone wary of the stability of this alliance.
Man, I hate getting so deep into a conversation without talking about the artwork, but these things happen sometimes. Penciler V. Ken Marion has one of those nearly impossible Green Lantern artist tasks: draw like a billion characters on every panel. He and colorist Denei Ribiero find an excellent balance between Green and Yellow in every panel – even those that ought to be swallowed by the chaos of battle. My favorite bit of color-balance comes when Guy and Arkillo arrive at the brawl.
This panel is framed by those Yellow and Green hands in the foreground, perfectly counter-balancing the internal Green and Yellow of Guy and The Arc.
Michael’s right that this union may be the defining characteristic of Venditti’s run with the series, and I love that it’s seemingly playing out in the cracks between other stories. By the next issue, I assume we’ll be more engaged with this whole “The Prism of Time” story, and the tensions between the Corps will simmer on the back burner for a few issues more.
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