The Green Lantern, One Season Deep

Category: Green Lantern
Last article published: 23 July 2020
This is the 75th post under this label
I may have said, on occasion, that I would read anything Grant Morrison wrote, which is not the same as saying I would LIKE everything the maverick comics writer wrote. In fact, it's been diminishing returns for me since (and including) Final Crisis (with Multiversity a possible bright spot). So it took me a while to go in and read his Green Lantern -- I'm sorry, THE Green Lantern --  and after reading "Season One" (but not yet the Blackstars mini that follows it, nor the parts of Season Two that have come out in the past year), the word that comes to mind is... baroque.

A good part of that is the art, and I think I'd have a better reaction to the series if it were brighter and more open. Liam Sharp seems better suited to horror (which I guess works for the planet of the undead we visit), and I found deciphering his ink-brushed collage of strangely shaped panels difficult, especially when most of the cast isn't human. Steve Oliff's dark palette doesn't help, and the action isn't clear in its choreography. I also don't like the cover dress which makes the book look like a tabloid, filled with headlines. Visually, it's all just so overwrought as to swallow itself.
In terms of writing, Morrison wants to give every culture/race their own way of speaking, which translates into a collection of accents, strange lexicons, and font work that, to his credit, is legible despite what sometimes feels extreme, but it's the kind of thing readers often resent in so-called "cosmic" books. I often felt tired at the end of an issue (and issue?! a page!!) because I had to do so much interpreting. At its worst, the Anti-Matter Universe characters speaking in mirrror dialog balloons.

But the plot is also all over the place. On the face of it, this is Police Precinct in Space, with an overlaid arc in which Hal is going to go undercover in the Blackstars (it's the Darkstars, but Morrison specifically tells us that's a stupid name). I'm just not entirely sure his stories really connect with that arc in an understandable way. It feels like we're jumping around from that to other things he wants to do, like a team-up with Green Arrow that instead of harking back to the O'Neil/Adams era, riffs on the giant Xeen Arrow story from Adventure Comics #253. Or a trip inside GL's ring, which has laid on prose in difficult to read fonts, again because the art is just too dark and detailed. And then there's the Multiversal Corps story that plays with the stuff introduced/explained in Multiversity and really doesn't go anywhere.
They get together to answer a distress signal from one of the "forbidden Earths" and it's a trap and a distraction while the real climax is happening on Earth-0, with an Anti-Matter Hal Monster putting the hurt on various Lanterns. You'd think Hal would arrive WITH the GLs of those other universes to save the day, but no, he's alone, so I dunno. Feels more like DC ignored Multiversity, and Morrison wanted to make it not all be in vain.

So what is The Green Lantern about? Making Hal Jordan the experienced, grizzled cop? Riffing on old continuity because "it all happened" (as he did with Batman)? Telling a Multiversal tale? Giving a weird gonzo feel to the universe at large with big epic storylines? Giving Green Lantern a bit of a horror spin? It's all of that, but not cohesively so. But like I said, change the art and maybe I'm more on board with the experience. But not ENTIRELY on board.

But maybe you had a different reaction to it?


Breenlantern said...

I agree 200%. And the Blackstars and Season 2 are more of the same. It all feels so Morrison is trying hard too hard to be “Morrisony” at the cost of a good cohesive entertaining story. I am a diehard GL fan and have read and collected every volume and iteration, and this is the first time I’ve been so turned off I am not sure I want to read anymore. It’s all too much oddity for oddities sake. I look forward to getting through this phase and seeing what the next artist/writer collaboration will do with the character.

Anonymous said...

Nobody's a bigger Hal Jordan fan than I am, and it bothers me how much trouble people have developing a feel for him. Robert Venditti did a great job, so did Gerard Jones in the 90s, and Geoff Johns just about had it (though I feel he was off).

Ever seen a Western with a roving lawman, perhaps a Texas Ranger? That's Hal. Brave, fair-minded, resourceful, knows it's up to him to set things right. Doesn't have to be a deep thinker for the most part. Absolutely cannot be cowed into inaction.

With that in mind, translate the story beats from Westerns into the worlds of 2814, and you've got a deep well to draw from.

Sinestro would arguably be the crooked sheriff who rules over his town with an iron fist. Sinestro is vastly overrated, though, and we ought to quit pretending he matters. Hal beat him over and over when 1) Hal's ring couldn't cope with yellow constructs and 2) Sinestro's ring drained Hal's; exactly how many advantages do you need to not lose every single time?

The other GLs, if you want to do them in groups ... ? Watch some "Hill Street Blues" and steal generously. Keep it to only a handful of GLs though, so you can focus on character interaction. Sadly, too many writers think it's good to do all the GLs all at once. Then the villains they fight are (by narrative necessity) either immune to green energy or have the ability to drain the rings, which makes them boring as hell.


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