Blowing Off Mythology to Focus on Hal in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps 28

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I want to start this piece with a pretty fundamental question: what is compelling about Green Lantern? It’s a tough elevator pitch, right? Part of that is because the great mythological expanse of the franchise is part of the appeal. How do you articulate the emotional spectrum with about babbling like a rabid fanboy for 20 minutes? Or how about trying to explain the always-in-flux state of the Corps, and their shifting relationship with the Guardians of the Universe? In the “Fall of the Gods” story arc, Robert Venditti and Rafa Sandoval are folding even more complex mythology into the dough, twisting their own narrative into a Kirby-ian pretzel. Issue 28, however, slows down just long enough to pitch the reader a different answer to the question I posed up top: Hal Jordan’s relationship to his dead father. Ingredients don’t get much more fundamental than that.

Lightray and Highfather spend the entirety of the issue zipping across the galaxy at ridiculous speeds trying to outrun the Metal Golem’s Omega Beams. Hal — our hero, whose name is on the cover of the book — follows closely behind in a spaceworthy jet of his ring’s own construction. As Hal’s jet approaches speeds that may cause “a speedforce singularity,” Hal’s long dead father, Martin Jordan, appears in the gunner seat. It’s unclear exactly what’s going on in this scene, and Venditti is quick to put all of the audience questions in Hal’s mouth. “Am I hallucinating you?” he asks, amid bouts of talking to himself. Letterer David Sharpe takes this great opportunity to play against the reader’s expectations with ambiguous balloon tail work.

Check it out: in that second panel, Hal is addressing himself by name. A few pages later, he’s going to use his old call sign to rally himself: “Hold it together, Highball.” So the speech balloon that says “You don’t always have to go solo, Harold” does not initially read like it’s coming from a mysterious second speaker. Sandoval keeps Hal’s mouth off-panel, and Sharpe’s tail suggests that there is a speaker, but it’s unclear exactly who.

Let’s pose another unanswerable question: what was Martin Jordan in this issue? Some sort of supernatural occurrence? Hal’s willpower made manifest in the backseat? Or just a helpful coping mechanism for a soldier pushed to his limits? Narratively, it’s an excuse to re-center a space opera on the most human element at the franchise’s core: Hal Jodan.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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