Relaunches can be a blessing for a comic book publisher. They’re an invitation to fans to try something new or try something old again. And though we fans complain of event fatigue, the numbers generally show that relaunches are good business. However, there is a downside to linewide relaunches and it’s not either of those groups who feel it the keenest; it’s the creators.
So, when DC made its last push with DC You, I let Green Lantern go. Though Geoff Johns had made it my problematic fave, though I sincerely enjoyed Robert Venditti’s writing and adored the moments where he shone through the clearest, the call to support new titles like The Omega Men and We Are Robin was too much and I left the Corps behind. But now I’m back and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps is the continuation of Venditti’s ongoing Lantern saga.
The mystery of not knowing exactly what had happened in the Green Lantern line made this series’ Rebirth issue extra thrilling, but it also highlights the greatest problem that this issue has. To put it plain, not enough is explained, not enough happens, and not enough of what does feels agentive. Some titles have put their Rebirth issues to work for them, but here it just feels like Venditti was forced to write two #1s for a series that didn’t need it.
I was tempted to start this review with a crack about the applicability of the title – respectfully, I’m here for the ‘Green Lantern Corps’ a lot more than the ‘Hal Jordan and’ – but upon thinking about it, that wasn’t really accurate. Hal Jordan gets a capable reintroduction, highlighting his experience and skill alongside his fierce independence, but the real star of the show is Sinestro.
Finally in control after years of insisting that he could police the universe better, Sinestro starts this series in a fascinating place, but we’re not given enough time with the galactic dictator. Scenes of Sinestro as an aged revolutionary and the clear disdain he feels for his own Corps make for interesting moments, but too much of our time in Sector 0 is spent on the same few ideas: Soranik’s tenuous hold, Sinestro’s need for control, etc.
Venditti’s knack for writing minor characters is still on display, something that makes me feel optimistic now that he has full access to two Corps, and the issue leaves us in a place where things seem ready to erupt, but, while that bodes well for the series, this individual issue remains unfortunately weak.
One area where Venditti seems confident is in working with his artists. Though the abundance of splashes and drawn out visuals exacerbate the feeling of limited progression, it’s not hard to see that as a knowing attempt to circumvent the problem. The script leaves plenty of room for the art to instill some wonder and the entire team delivers on that front.
Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, and Tomeu Morey really do some lovely work. There’s a heroically exaggerated realism to the pages that gives the book a retro appeal even as it fits in among the decidedly modern. If I had to compare it to other artists, I’d call it Guillem March by way of Neal Adams. Hal himself gets the best of this, with detailed shading and hatching that give his scenes a noticeable spark. The lines stay fairly light, allowing pages to be full of detail without getting bogged down, a useful quality in the many large-scale compositions.
The biggest problem with the art is anatomy. Sandoval goes rather overboard with muscles, especially abs, in his attempts to bring back the classical heroism of the Lantern brand.
After a solid Rebirth issue, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps stumbles on its debut. It's not that there's so much wrong with this issue as there really isn't enough space or necessity in its telling to justify how little it does that's right. The art's Bronze Age style meets modern technique fusion is appealing and the attention to character beats bodes well, but come back next issue when the story will hopefully have caught up to the series' potential.