In Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #44

The Lanterns go looking for help, while one Darkstar gets his revenge.

The covers: A pair of very different frontpieces for this issue. Hal Jordan is face to face with a Darkstar, the visage of the lantern is reflected back to him from the visor on his foe. Behind the pair are five Darkstars looking to jump in and help their comrade if Jordan gets physical and it looks as though he will — his ring is pulsating with emerald energy. Cool looking cover by Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, and Tomeu Morey. I like the characters and the colors are really bright, with the background of space an awesome violet. The Variant cover is by Tyler Kirkham and Morey. It’s a primarily textless cover, though the title and credits are really tiny in the bottom center. The image is a close-up of a pilot’s helmet falling to Earth. In the shattered visor one can make out human Hal Jordan reaching out to the headpiece as he falls to his death. Above the helmet is his lantern ring. The illustration is fantastic and the colors are killer. This is a cover to find! Overall grades: Regular A and Variant A+

The story: If one has read the previous two chapters of Darkstars Rising, this opening has been expected. In Sector 2814, Earth, at Iron Heights Penitentiary, a prisoner receives an unwanted visitor. Goldface turns to see a Darkstar in his cell. The vigilante takes off his helmet to reveal he is Tomar-Tu. He is there to murder the criminal, who is in prison for burglary. With his face revealed, Goldface screams and the Darkstar kills him, leaving a smoking corpse in the cell. “Final justice has been served, Goldface. This is only the beginning. The Darkstars are the new law.” Later, Hal is in the cell using his ring to determine who killed one of his old enemies. The ring identifies residual energy from a Darkstar mantle. It’s then that the Flash appears. Robert Venditti’s inclusion of the Flash at this moment provides a good way to recap what’s happened in previous issues and the speedster provides a good sounding board for Hal, who feels like he’s responsible for all that’s been happening. The story then moves to Sector 1974, where Guy isn’t welcome anymore, but he’s there to ask someone to join up with the corps to take down the Darkstars. Who this character is that he speaks with had me screaming in joy. Kyle is also getting an ally, and he’s an unlikely one, though one that’s definitely welcome. However, whom John goes to get assistance from had me really excited. Venditti does not disappoint, coming up with a great way for the lantern to survive this meeting. The book ends with a reveal of why Hal was really on Earth and a surprising character makes an appearance on the final page for a terrific cliffhanger. This issue is building the upcoming blowout against the Darkstars and it’s extremely enjoyable to read. Overall grade: A

The art: Taking over the art chores this issue is Brandon Peterson. Some of the visuals look good, while others have me scratching my head. Goldface on the first page is a messy looking character. Peterson does give him a golden shine on his skin, but it’s overdone, with the final panel on the page just too much. I do like the smile on Tomar-Tu in the first panel on 2; having read the previous issues, I know that this is a golden moment for him (Sorry, couldn’t help it). The smoking corpse on 2 doesn’t look good. It looks great on 3 in the first panel and Hal’s introduction on that page is terrific. The full-paged arrival of the Flash is dramatic, with him covered in Speed Force energy. The three panels on 5 that are flashbacks of a past battle with Goldface that look great — I love the retro look! However on 6, Hal’s face is down too often and then the reader is looking up the hero’s nose in the final panel on that page. This is just odd. When the focus goes to the Flash on 7 he now gets Hal’s weird point of view panels. Better is when Hal is shown over Barry’s shoulder. I couldn’t get the angles of this conversation out of my head when I was done. Where Guy goes is great and I love how he uses his ring at this location. The person he meets looks great and what this person does on 10 made me laugh out loud. Kyle’s introduction on 11 is stellar! The partial double-paged splash on 12 and 13 is awesome — What a vehicle! The new setting on 15 had me extremely nervous for John, with the action at the bottom of the page terrifying. The full-paged splash on 16 is great, and recalls a moment from the film Superman II. The smile at the bottom of 17 is delicious. 18 introduces an infamous villain, while Hal uses some delightful old school constructs on 19. The book ends with a full-paged splash of a possible foe and this individual looks great. Once the book gets out of Iron Heights, the art is good, but while there the visuals are irregular. Overall grade: B-

The colors: Before I even saw the visuals, the golden colors on the opening page told me whom I was looking at. I like how Ivan Plascencia uses reds to color in the villain’s final words, strengthening them as they are screamed. Colors are also key when Tomar-Tu leaves on Page 2, with the telltale sign of red energy from last issue reused. The greens coming out of Hal’s ring on 3 look great, and I really like how they dominate in the final panel on the page. Barry’s entrance into the story brings a strong red to the pages, which puts a welcome bit of bright colors into the book. The three flashback panels have muted colors to age them for the reader. The location that Guy is at is colored too darkly. I don’t recall that setting being so dark when it was shown some time ago. The best page of the book, due to the art and colors, is 11 — truly, it’s gorgeous. The ship that arrives soon after has got some terrific colors, which are perfect for its pilot. The dark colors for John’s pages are great, making the individuals he speaks with all the more ominous. The book ends with some neat violets and pinks, leaving me wanting to see more of Plascenia’s work next issue. Overall grade: B

The letters: Dave Sharpe creates this issue’s scene settings, dialogue, yells, sounds, ring speech, the story’s title, the book’s credits, and the tease for next issue. Normally, when I review Sharpe’s work I draw attention to his sensational scene settings and sounds, which are, as always, outstanding in this issue. It’s the yells I really want to focus on. Because of the variety of yells in this book, due to their shape and size, the reader can easily tell how loud a character is. For example, take a look at the last panel on the first page. Goldface yells and then screams. It’s obvious he’s doing so because of how Sharpe has created these yells. Others occur throughout the book and Sharpe makes them perfectly heard, at the correct volume, by the reader. That is an amazing skill for a letterer to have. Overall grade: A

The final line: The Lanterns go looking for help, while one Darkstar gets his revenge. The story is outstanding, while the visuals are better than average. This is still an incredibly readable book and one that has me eager to check out the next installment. I just wish the visuals had been a little more consistent. Overall grade: B+

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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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