THIS REVIEW OF ‘THE GREEN LANTERN’ #1 CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS.

The Green Lantern #1

Cover to ‘The Green Lantern’ #1. Art by Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff/DC

by Jarrod Jones. Here’s an interesting thing: An A-list comic project here to shore up sales for DC that’s almost aggressively anti-modern cape comics. What am I looking at here? The Green Lantern #1, from comics ace Grant Morrison and visual virtuoso Liam Sharp, is a comic book thing designed to induce maximum sugar rush. With its Betelgeusian vernacular and Giger line-play this should give stalwart readers of 2000 AD a particular charge and almost everyone else a pounding migraine. I loved it.

DC’s GL line has ballooned and shrunk and ballooned again ever since Geoff Johns retired from Green Lantern back in 2013, with writers and artists chasing the elusive alchemy that made “The Sinestro Corps War” and “Blackest Night” such mega-hits. (Hint: Liberal borrowing from Alan Moore.) Morrison and Sharp’s approach? Polar opposition. No more monthly cosmic calamities, no more strip-mining of established lore. Just manageable, digestible sci-fi brouhaha. The kind of pulpy stuff that fills up dusty longboxes. It’s not so much a space opera. More of a galactic nickelodeon.

I’m all for it. Morrison and Sharp doing their weirdo alien shit in DC’s backyard. Arachno-sapiens who fight dirty and bug-eyed gamblers who say things like “Innit tay winnit, my Rokk!” Om nom nom nom nom nom. With this level of inter-creator inspiration the stars hold no limits. I’ll say if The Green Lantern has one hurdle to clear in future issues, it’s to figure out the math on Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of sector 2814, who he is and why we should give a rip. Morrison’s on the case.

Self-assured, lantern-jawed, Paul Newman-sexy Hal Jordan. We first meet him after a raging space-bust (set on the Gambler’s Planet, Ventura), spread out on the desert sands with his cosmic dreams of giant fists and gargantuan fly swatters, just as a U.S. fighter jet streaks overhead. Michael Bay theatrics on a DC budget. A Bay-level studmuffin, as well. A between-jobs hunk whose “love me anyway” grin nets him a roll in the hay under the New Mexico sky before he hits the road like some Billy Jack contracted by Calvin Klein. Snooze.

Hal’s a well-established he-man, a braggadocious sort with a Justice League membership who also happens to be a cop. He wields power and he’s cocky about it. Uh-oh. Sharp sculpts Hal like Robert Mapplethorpe shot Schwarzenegger, all veins and biceps and elongated limbs. So he’s an Adonis, too. Yet, amid the bluster, Morrison goes subtle. There’s a bit where Hal pops into an alien invasion in Albuquerque with ginormous hands open to the city’s beleaguered citizens, instead of diving in with will-powered fists flailing. This isn’t revelatory by any means, but it’s something. What I’m waiting for is a sign that Hal might grow into someone interesting. A challenge. A foe. These things are coming, I’m sure.

But this machismo does evoke fondly-recalled workmanlike sequentials from years past. Peel away Steve Oliff’s eye-busting colors (only don’t do that, please), heighten the contrasts between alien visage and the vastness of space, throw in Hal’s established thick-necked brio, and this issue would be a dead ringer for those Mills/Belardinelli Dan Dare strips from way back when. Even Tom Orzechowski’s letters are in on it; he gives Lantern Maxim Tox a squared elocution that would make Joe Kubert nod in appreciation, and later, when Hal delivers the Lantern oath, Orzechowski gives it a wondrous bravado as the desert kicks sand into the sky, a nuclear blast of creator inspiration that feels… I guess I want to say pure.

It’s what modern superhero comics needs. Purity. An utter lack of pretension. Battles between what’s right and wrong produced plain as brightest day. There’s a Doomsday Clock reference in this issue. Ignore it. The big-time stuff in The Green Lantern, both in this issue and the ones yet to come, will be found in the nitty-gritty of cosmic DC, where heroes dare and villains beware.

DC/$3.99

Written by Grant Morrison.

Art by Liam Sharp.

Colors by Steve Oliff.

Letters by Tom Orzechowski.

7.5 out of 10

 

Check out this five-page preview of ‘The Green Lantern’ #1, courtesy of DC!

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