Review: Green Lantern #50

I admit, I’ve been rather hard on Geoff Johns’ work on Green Lantern over the last two years.  I won’t rehash all of the reasons why the War of Lights has left me cold.  I’ve written enough on that already.  Just read any GL-related article I’ve written since the end of the Sinestro Corps War.

On the whole, I’ve found Johns to be a mixed bag on this book.  No doubt, he’s had lots of cool ideas.  And he’s added to the GL mythology in a way that has the fans clamoring for more.  And yet, there’s almost always some “Johnsism” that makes his GL less than satisfying for me.

When I’ve written reviews of this book in the past, I think the reviews tended to be dominated by discussions of the lastest derailment.  Even if I made a point of saying I enjoyed the issue as a whole, readers certainly focused on the things I didn’t like.  And in fairness, I’ve probably given the negatives more space than I have the positives.

So let me say up front that Green Lantern 50 was the most enjoyable issue of GL in a long, long time.  Doug Mahnke’s art is the star here.  There were pages where I just stopped and took it all in.  I didn’t even care about the words on the page.  Mahnke is a great artists and he’s at the top of his game right now.  This issue may be his best work since Superman Beyond.

As for the writing, well of course there were some “Johnsisms” that really had me rolling my eyes or scratching my head in bewilderment.  It wouldn’t be a Geoff Johns issue of Green Lantern if he didn’t write things that were just plain stupid in an attempt to be cool.  That’s what he does.  But this time, I had to admit, some of the things that happened were pretty darn cool.

The big plot twist is spoiled for you on the cover.  Hal decides that the only way to defeat the Black Lantern Spectre is to free Parallax and to become his host.  It’s a bit of a WTF moment.  Surely there are other solutions that Hal hasn’t considered.  Doesn’t this seem like Shadowpact territory?  Why is Hal the only suitable host for Parallax and why is Parallax suddenly the only way to defeat the Spectre.

If this was real life, probably every one of Hal’s allies would have told Hal he was crazy and refused to go along with the plan.  But this is super hero comics.  So they go along with it.  And so did I as a reader.  It makes no sense, but I don’t want to read an entire issue of exposition that makes it make sense either.  So you just go along for the ride.

If you’re willing and able to do that, Green Lantern 50 is a heck of a ride.  It has the “epic” feel that the last issue of Green Lantern Corps was lacking.  Whereas GLC just felt like Tomasi pulling big plot twists out of his bag of tricks to generate buzz, GL 50 really feels like the culmination of all of Johns’ work on the title to date.

I am going to end the review on a positive note so Bruce Castle won’t call me a “hater” this month.  GL 50 was a fun book.  There, I said it.

read/RANT

PS. I’m going to rant in the comments section.  Don’t tell Bruce Castle!

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7 Responses to Review: Green Lantern #50

  1. dclebeau says:

    I didn’t want to pick nits in the body of the review, so I figured I’d save the “good stuff” for the comments section. There were, as always, lots of little things about this issue that just didn’t work for me.

    Most anything uttered by a Red Lantern had me scratching my head. Mera didn’t want children? I sure hope that was the ring talking. Cause otherwise, Mera just seems like a bitch.

    Why does the yellow ring make Scarecrow afraid? Ever since the start of the War of Lights, I’ve been wondering about the nature of the yellow rings. During SCW, it was sufficient to know they were the opposite of GL rings. But now that Johns keeps brining up the mechanics of all the different corps, it just doesn’t make sense to me.

    I thought that the point of the rings was that they had something to do with how scary the weilder could be. Didn’t matter if you actually scared anyone (otherwise they would lose power if there was no one around to scare) only that you could be scary. Based on that criteria, Scarecrow seems like he would make an excellent candidate for the Sinestro Corps.

    But what does that have to do with being afraid yourself? You got me.

    For that matter, why does being compassionate mean dressing up like a some kind of shaman? (Someone get Ray Palmer a shirt, please.) What does love got to do with wearing a violet stripper outfit and don’t men have a capacity for love? Why does being greedy make Lex Luthor talk like Gollum?

    But above all, the big WTF moment for me was the retcon about Hal Jordan, Parallax and the Spectre. There was a panel in which it was revealed that when Hal and the Spectre separacted, Hal wanted to destroy Parallax but the Spectre ran off like a sissy becasue it was afraid.

    WTF?!?

    Maybe I’m mis reading this. I’m sure someone will explain it to me if I am. But I read this panel to mean that Hal was still possessed by Parallax at the time.

    Now the idea that Hal was ever possessed has always been a big, fat retcon. If you read any of those stories, it was very clear that Hal was not possessed. But the retcon was necessary to make Hal a suitable lead character for the Green Lantern book, so you just have to roll with it.

    But when Johns brings it up (as he frequently does) you can’t help but be reminded just how much it makes no sense in the context of decades of previous stories.

    Supposedly, Hal’s grey streak was a result of his possession by Parallax. So Hal had demons inside him for years and years of DC continuity. But none of the mystics, detectives or mind readers of the DCU picked up on it. (Seems like maybe Martian Manhunter would have noticed the embodiment of fear living inside his teammate – just sayin!)

    Then, with the destruction of Coast City, Hal suddenly knows fear and Parallax is able to take control. Seems like possessing Hal Jordan was a pretty bad move of Parallax. He’d have been in control a lot sooner if he decided to posses, say, me. But instead he possessed the one guy in the DCU who was least likely to ever feel fear.

    So Parallax is in control Hal starts going by the name Parallax. He destroys the Corps. It’s suggested that his actions have resulted in the deaths of most Corps members (although that two would be retconned away).

    But Hal as Parallax is nothing at all like anyone possessed by Parallax in the Johns era. Hal as Parallax was always convinced he was writing the world’s wrongs. He tended to babble and cry a lot. And he never, ever hard sharp teeth or made evil quips. He was basically a sad, delusional old man doing the wrong things for the right reasons.

    Speaking of which, Hal eventually made a heroic sacrifice to save the world. He died reigniting the sun. In the original Ion story line, it was revealed that Hal left his residual Parallax powers in the center of the sun. In that story, Kyle had to race one of his enemies (I think it was Nero but I could be wrong) to claim Hal’s power at the center of the sun.

    Of course Kyle won the day. And when he claimed Hal’s power, it made him into Ion. Not Parallax. Because in the story, the power had been stollen from the central power battery on Oa. It had nothing to do with Ion or Parallax entities.

    Getting back to Hal, Hal’s dead. He’s in limbo. We know this because we see him there in the Geoff Johns-written Judgement Day cross-over. Apparently, Hal is STILL possessed by Parallax as he is walking around the afterlife and no one notices.

    By the end of JD, Hal has become the host of the Spectre. He even had his own short-lived series as the Spectre and it was just full of internal monologue. Hal rambled on and on about his guilt and all the blood on his hands. No hint of possession. No suggestion that there were three entities warring for control. It was just Hal and God’s spirit of vengeance.

    So as ridiculous as the possession story always was, you kind of had to swallow it. But the idea that Hal remained possessed by the Spectre in death and beyond and no one (including the Spectre) ever let on, well that’s just too much for this reader.

    Add in the bit about the Spectre being afraid of Parallax and my eyes still haven’t stopped rolling.

    It sure is a good thing Doug Mahnke can draw!

  2. brucecastle says:

    If it makes you feel better, I’m considered by many to be a Johns hater.

  3. dclebeau says:

    So is anyone who has ever done anything but gush about anything Geoff Johns has ever written. It’s actually a pretty big club.

  4. I like Stryfe says:

    I will say I like that they keep using Parallax instead of it just being a throwaway retcon, but every time he shows up you realize even more how Norman Osborn-resurrection ridiculous it is, especially for the reasons stated above.

    Now Parallax is basically a yellow Carnage symbiote which makes zero sense why Hal would sacrifice himself during Final Night.

    And I have always despised that they used it to take the gray out of his hair and make him young again.

  5. dclebeau says:

    If they hadn’t used it to take out the grey, it would still be ridiculous. But a lot less so. The fact that Parallax supposedly caused Hal to grey means he was possessed for a very long time with no one knowing.

  6. seventhsoldier says:

    “Now the idea that Hal was ever possessed has always been a big, fat retcon. If you read any of those stories, it was very clear that Hal was not possessed. But the retcon was necessary to make Hal a suitable lead character for the Green Lantern book, so you just have to roll with it.”

    The retcon never made sense on any level, but people went with it because Johns. Still, this mindset irritates me: the retcon wasn’t necessary to make Hal a suitable lead character for the Green Lantern book – it was necessary to make Hal a lazy lead character for the Green Lantern book.

    Mainstream comics has a terrible track record for moral ambiguity and ethical dilemmas – this essential failure was part of the problem with CIVIL WAR, for example – but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try. Alas, the retcon here took away the potential for anything INTERESTING about Hal’s character. It basically said, “Hal is an action hero. He has the character traits of an action hero. Any attempts to say otherwise are wrong and will be erased as soon as possible.”

    Not only did it kill a whole host of potentially fascinating stories, but it also forcibly stagnated a character.

    • dclebeau says:

      Not surprisingly, I agree with you. I would love to live in a world where I could read a book about Hal Jordan trying to redeem himself for his actions as Parallax and not have it all explained away with a massive retcon.

      But DC tried that with the Spectre series. I didn’t think the execution was all that great. But I think that series failed because the fans didn’t want to read about a morally ambiguous Hal Jordan. They wanted their stagnant action hero back.

      I found Rebirth to be a pretty terrible read. It was just retcon after retcon with Johns massively overcompensating to make Hal seem Indiana Jones cool. But it was a huge hit because it gave the fan boys what they wanted.

      The last few years at DC have been frustrating because they have taken so many interesting ideas and characters and just tossed them out in favor of bringing back the silver age status quo – only slightly darker. But I can’t blame them. This is the stuff that sells.

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