Sunday, February 14, 2016
Justice League: The Darkseid War: Green Lantern #1
Previously, in "The Darkseid War"...
•Justice League #41 ("The Darkseid War" Pt. 1)
•Justice League #42 ("The Darkseid War" Pt. 2)
•Justice League #43 ("The Darkseid War" Pt. 3)
•Justice League #44 ("The Darkseid War" Pt. 4)
•Justice League #45 ("The Darkseid War" Pt. 5)
•Justice League: The Darkseid War: Batman #1
•Justice League: Darkseid War: Superman #1
•Justice League: The Darkseid War: The Flash#1
The fourth of the character-specific one-shots to spin-out of Geoff John's 530-part "Darkseid War" story arc in Justice League, focusing on Green Lantern Hal Jordan, is probably the best of the seven (we've still got Shazam and Lex Luthor to go, before he return to the pages of Justice League for the next chapter of "Act II" of the storyline).
This is due in no small part to the superior creative team, consisting of writer Tom King and artist Doc Shaner (here colored by Chris Sotomyaor). The events of the book take place directly after a scene in Justice League #45, wherein Batmetron, the new God of Knowledge, tells Hal to get his ass back to Oa, as the legions of Darkseid's Parademons will be swarming the central power battery, seeking a power to serve now that Darkseid is dead (Darkseid's dead, remember. If you don't, there are all those links above to click through).
This one-shot is therefore a side-quest of Hal's, one that he embarks on after that scene in #45, before returning to the title. Despite its connectivity to a long-running story arc and a suite of tie-ins, it's worth nothing that this book stands on its own as a pretty neat exploration of who Hal Jordan is and how he faces tragedy and what he would do if he had the power of God to fix everything he perceives as wrong in the universe (There's a very intentional contrast here between what this Hal would do given that temptation, versus what the Hal Jordan who became Parallax in the pre-Flashpoint DCU did in the same position...ironically, that Hal recently showed up in the pages of Green Lantern, thanks to Convergence related continuity shenanigans).
This entry into our series will be shorter than the others, I assume, because there isn't much to make fun of in this issue.
Another homerun by Francis Manapul, in which the artist draws one of the Leaguers in their upgraded, New New God mode, with a bit of Kirby-esque design elements as filigree. If Jordan's costume looks familiar here, it should. It is a mash-up of his regular Green Lantern get-up with that of the original New God Lightray, conceived and created by Jack Kirby:
In a very welcome departure from many superhero comics these days–you know, when DC can ask you to fork over $3.99 for just 22-pages of comics–this book does not open with a splash page. In fact, there are only two splashes in this book altogether, and one of them is very, very busy with art, with little scenes embedded in the background almost forming "implied" panels.
Rather, King and Shaner's story begins with three pages, each with five-panels apiece! These are all "wide-screen" panels, long, horizontal rectangles stacked atop one another, of mostly equal size.
There is a floating Mother Box that asks Green Lantern John Stewart if he will be its god (the title of this story is actually "Will You Be My God?"), and Stewart refuses, while getting teh crap kicked out of him by re-animated dead Green Lanterns. Stewart records and sends a last message to Hal, telling him what's going on, while Hal soars through space to get there. There images Shaner draws in this sequence are all pretty great, particularly that of Jordan flying straight at the reader, and then gradually away, while cuctting back and forth to the terrible things happening on Oa.
Apparently, Darkseid's Parademons, now without their god to serve, flew to Oa, merged a Mother Box with the Central Power Battery, and took the fallen Lanterns, one by one, before it, asking if they will accept the mantle of godhood. They all refused, of course (Let's forget for a moment how the hell a bunch of Parademons were capable of taking out a planet full of Green Lanterns and Guardians, shall we...?)
Oh, and if this sequence is at all confusing to you, since John and the rest of the Corps are supposed to be lost in a different dimension as per miniseries Green Lantern: The Lost Army and Green Lantern: Edge of Oblivion, do remember that "Darkseid War" is set long, long before the launch of all the "DC You" books and the new status quos of last June. That's why Superman still has his cape and full powers, and Batman is still Bruce Wayne and Hal Jordan doesn't have long hair and a green trench coat.
In a church on Earth, little boy Hal Jordan has come to light a candle for his late father, a non-practicing Catholic (Hey, did you know Jordan's mom was Jewish? I didn't know that). There's one other person in the church with young Jordan, a brown-haired guy in a bomber jacket whose face is never really shown. Who could that be?
Whoever he is, he knows Jordan and knew his father, and they get to talking. Hal is a bit bitter about the fact that his dad died in a flaming plane crash, and, if there is a God, God didn't move to save his father.
Hal talks to his ring about what's been going down on Oa, while he's being attacked by the likes of Kilowog, Arissa and B'dg. THey have all been turned into Parademons by the other Parademons, but that basically just means they've been given a few bits of gold armor. They look more like they've changed clothes, rather than been completely transformed, as the people who made the other Parademons apparently were.
For example, here's the Parademonized version of that one Green Lantern who looks like Tomar-Re, but isn't, because Tomar-Re is dead:
Back in church, Hal gets his candle lit, but is full of anger about God just watching his Dad die rather than intervening to save him.
The guy in the bomber jacket comforts the young Hal, explaining the main difference between God and humanity, as he sees it. It's actually a pretty daring reading, at least in its climax–"Bet you think we go into church to worship God....Well, the truth of it is, God comes to church to worship us". This is all tied into the Green Lantern concept by addressing the concept of free will. God doesn't have it, but his created humans do, so while he has to watch tragedies, because everything he does is necessary, humanity is free to act and create.
As you can see, the coloring of Hal's "God of Light" costume is slightly different on the inside versus on the cover; here the white portions are simply a paler green. I think I like the coloring choices on the cover slightly better, but it hardly matters; Hal won't be wearing that costume for very long.
Using his newfound powers, Hal is able to re-set everything to how it was before this book began: The Corps and Guardians alive and well and un-Parademonized, the planet restored, the Parademons all sent to Apokolips. As he contemplates his infinite power, his ability to set the universe right again, he...pulls on his bomber jacket, and then we're back in the church, as we here adult Hal Jordan tell child Hal Jordan the differences between God and human, and Hal chooses free will over infinite power.
That there is a choice seems to imply that, even as a god, Hal still has free will, so this is maybe more a symbolic choice than a literal one, but whatever the case, he asks the Mother Box to destroy itself and send him home...as plain old mortal Green Lantern Hal Jordan, not New New God Green Lightray.
In that respect, this story is something of a narrative cul-de-sac, and probably not really relevant to "The Darkseid War," as it basically has Hal leave "The Darkseid War" to appear in a one-shot, assume New Godhood for a few pages, and then decide against it.
Hal flies back to Earth, discussing his choice with his ring while foreshadowing something bad about to happen with Batman who, unlike Hal, chose to keep the infinite power in order to change the world for a better place. Maybe not necessary, but a nice character study nonetheless. And the construction of the comic, from King's scripting to Shaner's perfect artwork, is all so good that it's really a comic to be admired.
Both creators deserve a better assignment than this, but I'll be damned if this issue, this character, and this piece of a big event is lucky to have them.