In Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #46

This issue lacks the punch and immediacy of previous issues, but is still a fine read.

The covers: Two to add to your collection if you can find them. The Regular cover is by Stephen Segovia and Romulo Fajardo Jr. Guy Gardner is wearing the mantle of a Darkstar and trying to tear it off of him. Helping him pull the suit off are Hal, John, and Kyle. These three look great, but Guy’s face doesn’t look good, I didn’t know the suit was like putty (or is that like Venom?), and the coloring is really bland. I’m just not liking this. The Variant cover is another (fairly) textless frontpiece by Tyler Kirkham and Arif Prianto and it’s the one to find. This has Hal about to punch the reader. He’s got a bloody cut in his right shoulder, he’s bleeding from his mouth and forehead, and his fists are covered in blood. His left hand is pulled back to deliver a knockout, while his right is in the foreground with emerald energy streaming out of his ring. WOW! This is dynamite looking! Overall grades: Regular C- and Variant A+

The story: In Baltimore a frail looking Roland Gardner looks at a corner bar, Hunter’s Green. He recites the Serenity Prayer to give himself the strength to keep from entering the establishment. He looks at his hand and flashes back to when he was much younger, very drunk, and beating his young son Guy. He’s recognized by some friends he used to drink with at Hunter’s Green and they ask if they’d like to go in with him. He says he has a meeting to attend. Again he thinks of the pain he’s caused his son. “Go on. Cry now. Think you’re some big man?” This sad man turns from temptation and begins the walk to his meeting when orange energy explodes behind him, causing him to fall to the ground. He turns and looks to the sky when he hears his name. Guy Gardner, now wearing the mantle of a Darkstar, stands before his father. “For the crime of knocking me around when I was a kid — your penalty is death!” The former hero’s hand is raised to incinerate this father. This chapter of Darkstars Rising, “Death Sentence”, by Robert Venditti is appropriately titled. The story then moves to Sector 563 where Hal makes a request of his new ally Hector Hammond and the former foe does something frightening and reveals something surprising to the lantern. Once again, Venditti shows he can make a villain both terrifying and sympathetic. Also visited this issue is the alliance that Zod and John Stewart have created, with the lantern assisting the Kryptonian with something terrible. Kyle and Space Cabbie are also shown this issue, prisoners of the New Gods, who are more than willing to let the pair leave their space unscathed for a price. The story returns to Guy confronting his father who has plenty of reason to be upset with the old man, though someone arrives who takes umbrage with Guy. The story continues to move forward to the lanterns and their allies confronting the Darkstars, but it seems as though two of the lanterns’ stories are unnecessary side trips. This is readable, but not as riveting as previous issues. Overall grade: B

The art: Clayton Henry is this issue’s artist and his work is fine, but it’s not as dynamic as previous issues. The opening panel of Earth looks like a photo more so than an illustration. The second panel’s view of the street and the bar is well done, but the reader is too far from Roland in the second panel: the imagery above his head is unneeded. The three panels that close out the page are good, with that final panel being a slick point of view, though the floor and background look odd. The second page is fine when the former friends arrive, though there’s too much black space in the bottom panel, as if there was supposed to be a thought balloon there. The top panel on Page 3 is outstanding: showing Roland’s walk in the rain and the broken environment he now inhabits. The full-paged splash on 4 is a solid image of Guy confronting his father, but it just doesn’t scream strength. The debris clouds behind Guy look good. Hector Hammond looks okay, but he lacks the crazy eyes he had last issue, which diminishes the insanity he had. I know what I’m supposed to be seeing on the double-paged splash of 6 and 7, but several of the characters are difficult to make out. Pulling back from the image would have increased the number of characters and the horror, as well allowing for more characters to be shown and recognized. The characters in the middle of Page 10 look terrific, with the back lighting great. The construct on 12 is outstanding. I like the split face on Highfather on 14 — that’s just really cool looking. Guy looks terrific on 16, but he loses his threat on 17 with too many panels too far away from him. 19 has some great reactions by Guy to a threat, but the lack of background has the action lose some of its strength — there’s nothing to measure these actions against, save the one vehicle. The character’s appearance on the final page is good, but there’s too much of the illustration lost to the cloud of debris. This art is serviceable, but doesn’t equal what’s gone before. Overall grade: B-

The colors: This issue’s colors are also not as strong as previous issues, with the majority of the book appearing to be done in pastels. Pete Pantazis does the opening scenes in Baltimore in a fairly bright colors during a rainstorm, with the flashbacks achieved with a filtering effect. Page 4 would have a bigger impact if the characters were more brightly colored and the background darkened. Instead, the characters appear to be standing under several streetlights, though the one in the background is out. All of the lanterns’ constructs are done very well and Hector’s thought balloons are colored a creepy orange. It’s hard to find a focus on 6 and 7 due to the colors. Starker colors would have helped. Jekuul’s pages are all good. The coloring effect used for the forcefield on the pages that follow are too heavy a filter on the characters behind it; a different choice would have helped. As with the art, the colors are fine, but not exceptional. Overall grade: C+

The letters: At least Dave Sharpe delivers the goods for this issue, creating scene settings, dialogue, yells, sounds, the story’s title, the book’s credits, Hector’s thoughts, whispered dialogue, and the tease for next issue. The scene settings are terrific, done in block letters slanted to the right to lead the reader into the visuals. The yells are in several sizes and fonts, making each utterance sound differently to the reader. The whispered dialogue comes from Roland, which visually enhances his broken nature. Certain words and phrases are placed in italics for emphasis, and the final two spoken in this issue are outstanding. Overall grade: A

The final line: This issue lacks the punch and immediacy of previous issues, but is still a fine read. The visuals are also not as strong; they work, but aren’t as strong as what’s come before. Lantern fans will be happy this, but others will probably be indifferent. 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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