In Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #21

This is a "Can't Miss" issue for Lantern fans.

The covers: This issue has the expected two covers to track down if you’re a completist. Several members of the Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps are flying about on a cover by Ethan Van Sciver and Jason Wright. In the foreground is Kyle Rayner, then Soranik Natu, with Kilowog behind her. There are also other lanterns, but these three are the most clear. Text in yellow states “To Save The Future, One Must Die!” This is a classic bit of prose, as most comics promised something dire on their covers for years. Most comics have gotten away from this, but I love when wordage like this reappears. The characters look great and the colors are extremely bold, making this an instant stand out on the racks. Because of this, I purchased this cover rather than the variant. The Variant cover is once again done by artist extraordinaire Kevin Nowlan. On an unknown desolate word, several bodies of Green Lantern Corps members are strewn about the ground — Hal Jordan’s body is the closest to the reader. Above this scene of death is a massive skull, showing that Death is also present. The coloring is drowning in green, with the background merging with the bodies too easily, and the majority of dead lanterns are similar looking bald humanoids. I needed more variety in the dead. Morbid comment, but truthful. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant B-

The story: This is the concluding chapter of “The Prism of Time” story by Robert Venditti and it’s outstanding. En route to space sector 563, Hal Jordan is flying a construct plane with time traveler Rip Hunter in the seat behind him. The two are off to stop Sarko, a new foe who wants to destroy both the green and yellow lanterns. They summarize what’s happened in the previous chapters, concluding just as they arrive at their destination. Meanwhile, on Mogo, the living homeworld of both lantern corps, all the lanterns have turned off their power rings, realizing last issue that the creatures they’re fighting are composed of living willpower and they’ll be unable to defeat them with their rings. John rallies everyone, “We hold out as long as we can. Throw everything we have left at them and buy Hal the time to see it through. That’s my big speech.” It then becomes Clobberin’ Time, to quote another hero, as they battle the creatures with fisticuffs. One character hasn’t given up his ring, but hides and watches the battle from a distance. This was very surprising and I hope that Venditti addresses this in a later issue. Just as the ringless lanterns begin to fight, two other lanterns, in the medical wing, leave their charges to join in the fray, with one making a startling action. The battle is on two fronts, Hal and Rip versus Sarko and his monstrous creation and the others on Mogo against the constructs. Venditti took me completely by surprise by what happens on Page 12 and doesn’t fully show his hand until the final page — This is why fans should pick this book up: it’s a major change one lantern. This is not a costume change or a flip to evil, but realistic, specific fallout from a battle. This character needed some development and Venditti has delivered the goods. Great, great ending. Overall grade: A+

The art: The penciller on this book is V. Ken Marion and Dexter Vines is on inks. From the first page, a reader can tell that this book is going to look good. The construct that Hal is flying is highly detailed, as is the iconic lantern, who looks fantastic in the final panel on the page, and Rip looks great as well. The first three panels on the second page are composed of flashbacks and they succinctly use visuals to summarize what’s occurred. The fist panel on 3 shows the lanterns surrounded by the willpower constructed creatures and these beings are really well done. They look like spiky insects and will communicate to readers of any age their threat. The bottom panel on the same page shows one lantern hiding in fear and it, too, doesn’t really need text to state what’s going on. The reveal of the antagonist on 6 is terrific, with its size adding to the menace of its design. The reaction shot in the third panel on 12 is great, with the following panel being exceptional. It’s a page that every reader will return to when they learn the secret. Page 14 is comprised of ten panels, with nine of them being similarly sized cubes. This is a neat way for the artists to increase the tension of the action, cutting back and forth between characters in the middle of the action. The last page is full paged splash and it’s going to be reprinted for a long time whenever the history of the corps is brought up as well as when this one character is focused upon. It’s a gut punch of a image, with the text accompanying it damning. Great, great visuals on this book. Overall grade: A

The colors: As with the art, the first page shows the reader that Dinei Ribeiro is going to do an excellent job on this book. The greens that are used on the construct jet as it makes it way through the transluminal pathways are great, and the characters within the vehicle look great. The shading done on the characters’ faces and costumes is perfection. The use of dots in the flashback scenes for the colors is an extremely cool way to show the past to the reader, recalling the original way comics were colored. It’s on the willpower constructed creatures that Ribeiro really shines. Look at the incredible work that begins on the monsters on 3 — Wow! Impressive! When the art pulls in closer to the creatures they continue to look incredible. Take note of how greens are dark when the fighting is occurring on both worlds, but once the threat is dealt with (and that’s no spoiler!) the emeralds go much lighter, showing that peace makes the surroundings brighter. However, the dark greens return for the final page because…well, you’ll find out. Overall grade: A

The letters: Dave Sharpe creates scene settings, dialogue, sounds, yells, ring speech, the story’s title, the book’s credits, and the tease for next issue. There’s a lot of dialogue in this issue and it never fails to impress when a letterer uses a consistent dialogue size that doesn’t overshadow the art and Sharpe is the master of this. The yells on this book are great, of which Sharpe is also a master, but I really need to shine a light on the final page. Of all the comics I read every month, the story titles and credits on books done by Sharpe look the best. Look how well he puts the credits next to the story’s title, but look at the tease for next issue — this text matches the emotional ending for this story and sets the tone for next issue perfectly. Overall grade: A+

The final line: What looks to be a lantern slugfest spins into a massive game changer for one character. This is a “Can’t Miss” issue for Lantern fans. A smart story whose repercussions will last for a long time, plus the visuals are outstanding. Overall grade: A

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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