Take notice comic book fans! This is possibly the last time that comics from either Marvel and DC actually reach issue 50th (given the state of the constant renumbering). So let’s take the time to celebrate this momentous occasion, before it starts all over again in just a few short months. Since December of last year, Venditti has been slowly building towards the ultimate confrontation between one man’s ultimate despair and his reflection. The desire within us to want to reshape our past takes takes physical form as two Hal Jordan’s from battle for their souls.
Context is everything when telling a story. I’ve made previous statements citing that Venditti is recreating the lead up to Emerald Twilight, however there are some readers who may not know who exactly this Parallax is and why does his arrival mean ill tidings. One could make the argument that this should have been done in the issue’s leading up, but since Parallax wasn’t the focus I can understand why his backstory is given here. Venditti perfectly nails the Parallax from 20 years ago, with his dialog and oddly enough it made me sympathetic towards him.
Then I remembered this is the man who murdered the entire Green Lantern Corps and The Guardians, so that feeling didn’t last to long. Both Parallax’s and Hal’s arc for this issue (up until the climatic showdown) is something that superheros constantly battle, the one they can never really win. The battle to save everyone, the battle to not feel powerless which is something we as readers can relate to as well. This is all made more effective when you look at the state both Parallax and Hal Jordan are in currently in, two men who wield incredible power and they couldn’t prevent a personal disaster. The complete difference between both of these two men, is that the Hal has someone to actually tell him that he can’t possibly save everyone or prevent every disaster.
Goes to show that sometimes a person in desperate times, all they need is a support group to steer them away from even more despair. It doesn’t come off as preachy, Venditti’s handling of both Hal and Parallax comes off as realistic, well as realistic as a writer can be when the book is titled Green Lantern.
However, I did have some major problems for this issue and a majority of it falls on Billy Tan’s art. In the past I have found ways to see the positive aspects of what Tan brings to the table, but this issue is possibly some of the worst line art I’ve seen of his. The entire issue rides on high emotional moments but when most of the facial expressions for not only our two main roles but the supporting characters are either deadpan or looked cross eyed that emotional punch is lost. Not to mention that some of the line work looks flattened out, which makes certain character’s head look awkward. The battle scene’s came off as stiff, so any explosiveness that is told via writing is null in void by the pencils on the page. It isn’t until Tan is replaced within this issue does the art see some improvement but event those few pages had storytelling problems. Sadly that wasn’t the only problem I had with the issue, Parallax himself was a problem as well.
What appeared to be Parallax at the start of this late last year, seemed to be the original Parallax before the bug retcon. This issue reveals that Hal Jordan didn’t in fact go crazy but the current Parallax still has the bug of fear which is make the opening pages of this story feel pointless. Similar to how Rebirth stripped Hal of responsibility of what he did, the same is done here once Parallax reveals his teeth and claws. It would have made a more interesting story to actually see Parallax as was intended to be in the mid 90’s. It gives the current Hal something to look at and see as a cautionary tale to not venture to the dark side. It’s simply a disappointment that this isn’t the Parallax of old but rather the Parallax of 2004.
Green Lantern #50 earns a 3/5