The First Lantern is busy spilling his wrath all over the various lantern corps. But while he’s tormenting them for his amusement (and to grow more powerful), what’s going on with Hal Jordan, Sinestro, and Simon Baz in the depths of the Dead Zone? Find out in GREEN LANTERN #18. Will these three men be able to escape from death? Or will their competition over the right to be main character of the ongoing series spell doom for them all?
This issue makes thorough use of an alternate, more hazy art style, as most of the page count is spent in the Dead Zone. Aside from being a Stephen King novel-turned-film starring Christopher Walken turned-television series (which the comic even references in passing), the Dead Zone is apparently some kind of limbo for souls of the dead. In practice, it’s the inside of Black Hand’s lantern ring, though that may just be a portal. Point is, about six months ago in publishing terms, Hal Jordan and Sinestro got sucked into Black Hand’s ring, transporting them to the dead zone and leaving their shared ring to seek out a worthy replacement, in this case Simon Baz.
Now that Baz is also in the dead zone, their – for lack of a better word – liaison Tomar-Re can finally give them some exposition on what’s going on. Tomar-Re is a character reintroduced about five issues ago, but I decided to avoid mentioning him for this reason up until now. In brief, Tomar-Re was a Green Lantern and a good friend to Hal Jordan, as he was to Hal’s predecessor Abin Sur. But then Tomar died shortly after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Unless you’re read the classic GL comics, you’ll probably know him best as the GL voiced by Geoffrey Rush in the recent live action Green Lantern movie.
But the movie (or movies, given DC’s desire to keep on with that franchise despite poor box office earnings) is neither here nor there.
It’s thanks to Tomar-Re that we learn a little more about what the deal is with the First Lantern: Volthoom came back in time to when Krona viewed the beginning of time (in so doing creating the multiverse), and helped the Guardians discover the massive power of creation that comes from the emotional spectrum. But then he went mad with power, and had to be locked away because he’s become some kind of cosmic keystone. Kill him, and the universe is destroyed.
This has the side effect of making the First Lantern the ultimate Load-Bearing Boss.
But I think we all know the main draw of GREEN LANTERN #18: seeing Hal Jordan (and Sinestro) meet Simon Baz. Old meets new. And it’s a pretty good meeting, though much time is devoted to Sinestro and Hal fighting over who gets the ring. Because really, it’s been a year and a half since the reboot, where Sinestro got his ring and then pulled Hal into his business. At some point there was going to be a power struggle, instead of just a tentative alliance.
I mentioned the art style being changed for the dead zone bits, and I can say without hyperbole that I love what the artist did here. Black and shadow are used extensively, but like the art for Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, it uses the high contrast well. It’s a very moody installment. As is par for the course for GREEN LANTERN, it’s a must read for fans. But then, if you’re a fan, you’re already buying this series.
It also helps that Simon gets a chance to prove how effective carrying a gun can be. And you all scoffed.