Ask most Green Lantern readers in the last five ye–scratch that, the last freaking decade and they’ll tell you the two creators synonymous with the brand are Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver. No other duo has a made mark on the series than they did way back in 2006. They started this Rebirth with Green Lantern: Rebirth and now the legacy they left on the franchise has become the newest DC Comics initiative for all titles. That’s quite a standard to align your entire publishing line on, but damn if it doesn’t give me goosebumps just thinking about so many comics being that damn good. So who would DC put to the task of recreating that magic from what seems like so long ago? Who? Well, just a guy who was tapped to replace Geoff Johns when he departed the title, in Robert Venditti and one of the biggest artists in comics…Ethan Van Sciver! Below, I’ll give you my take on the first volume of this historic series and whether or not it shines as bright as the legacy it follows!
I should start by mentioning that this volume of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps was released in a bi-weekly format, which puts the creative team under a lot of added pressure to the regular stress that making a monthly comic has. I bring this up because the first thing on my mind as I opened the book was whether the stop and go nature of that release schedule would help or hinder my enjoyment reading it as a whole. I’m pleased to say that Robert Venditti must be a fan of the trade waiting public. There are problems with this volume (collecting the series’ first seven issues) but I would not at all list the pacing as one of them.
I’m not interested in recapping the story for you. I want to give you the good, the bad and the low down dirty shame of it all. So with that being said, lets focus on the characters. And since his name is plastered across the title, lets focus on Hal Jordan first. Venditti was able to get a decent grasp of the character before the Rebirth initiative when he was writing the main Green Lantern title, but the Hal he’s writing here just feels different. For the better! Robert Venditti makes Hal Jordan the shining star he deserves to be. There are some truly outstanding moments in this volume that not only look great, but read incredibly well. This isn’t Mad Men meets GL, by no means. Still, Hal Jordan is simply more fun than he’s been in a long time. Spidey-esque even with his humor. For me though, its not the humor that makes Venditti’s depiction so good. Its the tension towards the end. Before I realized it, Venditti had sucked me into a narrative that was 10 years in the making, in seven issues. How could you not want to see Hal vs Sinestro? We got it! And it delivered. Venditti delivered.
Unfortunately, as feared by many, when the title of this series was announced, the Green Lantern Corps takes a backseat in this volume. Granted, no one expects Venditti to have a scene for each of the 7200 lanterns and still tell decent story…oh yeah, and fit it into 32 pages of comic. No way. However, I do expect John Stewart to make more sound decisions going forward than sending a single lantern (not to mention it being Guy Gardner the most reckless of them all) to…I don’t even know what the purpose was. The corps ultimately did very little besides remind us who were the human Green Lanterns. Guy Gardner is tortured for most of the series and its not until the last issue where they finally decide to kill him, and they can’t even do that in swift enough fashion. That’s pushing that suspension of disbelief a little too far. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Venditti does take the time to build a personal favorite of mine and many others, Soranik Natu, to a worthy height. She has been given the most development of any supporting character over the last few years and it was a real treat to see that Venditti wanted that to continue. Her talk with Hal Jordan was a bit too on-the-nose as far as storytelling goes, but there was no other lantern I was happier to see pop up every time, than Soranik.
Art. Hands down the most important factor of a comic book is the art. A bad story can become a great one with an amazing art team. A good narrative, like the return of the Green Lantern Corps and the final encounter between Hal Jordan and the evil Sinestro? Well that deserves a helluva art team and boy did they get one. I mentioned at the top that Ethan Van Sciver returned to the franchise and all was well. I lied. Partially. Ethan is definitely back drawing Green Lanterns but certainly not on a bi-weekly basis. EVS split pencilling duties with a relatively unknown, Rafa Sandoval who Venditti courted from his indie work. Thank you Robert Venditti. If for nothing else, every Green Lantern fan must thank you for the gift that is Rafa Sandoval (and of course a mighty strong hat tip to inker Jordi Tarragona and colorists Jason Wright and Tomeu Morey). Rafa Sandoval is a beast with a pencil, an unstoppable force. Rafa Sandoval is comics next big thing! That’s not hyperbole folks. This collection features some pencils from issue #7 and even those are drool worthy. Rafa is the star of this book. He is the scene stealing performer that took Ethan Van Sciver down a notch. He’s part of the reason why Hal vs Sinestro works so well. The battle between the two was eerily reminiscent of the best of Dragon Ball Z. Sparks were flying, screams were heard and excitement was seen all over my face because Sandoval proved over and over again that he is simply, talented. My only knock on him would be his style choice for Soranik’s hair and the taper fade he gives John Stewart. Both incredibly minor nitpicks that never take you out the story. His art flows from one panel to the next, never missing a beat.
On the flip side, I think EVS does trip up a little. Characters seem more elongated than usual and at times it feels as if Venditti is writing EVS some big moments from to draw, but the scene comes up short. I’d hypothesize that Venditti writes his expected EVS drawn issues before the Sandoval ones and differently from the Sandoval ones as well. I’m only guessing, but it feels as if the Van Sciver issues are given big pops that seem like they should be grand and amazing but given the rest of the story prior, they sizzle out. That’s just an assumption though and I by no means want to give this audience the impression than I don’t appreciate Ethan’s skill. His pen game talks more than his twitter account.
Overall, its very clear that Rafa Sandoval wants to make Hal Jordan a star but he still has to rotate that spotlight if he wants to keep this Green Lantern diehard happy. There’s a ton of promise in this collection and for that I remained intrigued.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1: Sinestro’s Law gets 3.5/5