The Green Lantern Chronicles: Volume Two

As I sit here typing this blog, I’m experiencing a sense of deja vu.  I feel as if I was just sitting here, typing up my thoughts on a Green Lantern trade yesterday.  Maybe that’s because I was.  I finished Volume One a mere two days ago, which goes to show how much I’ve been reading.  I’ve powered through four trades this week alone.  I guess you could say I’ve been enjoying myself.

I was particularly looking forward to this trade, excited to see where Green Lantern would go after Hal Jordan splashed onto the scene.  A part of me was hesitant, worried that the issues featured here wouldn’t provide much new content and would be entertaining, but wouldn’t add much to the overall story.

Note to self: just stop making guesses and assumptions as far as comics are concerned. You’re always wrong.

This trade, compiling The Green Lantern issues 4 through 9, exceeded even my high expectations.  Every time I finished an issue, I would decide that that was my favorite and would be the focus of my blog…and then the next issue would come up and throw me for a loop.  Every story in this trade was not only interesting, but contributed something to the Green Lantern mythology that had otherwise previously been unknown to readers.

The stories here are an equal mix of classic monster movie and science fiction, with a healthy dose of humor spread throughout.  I laughed out loud more than once, sometimes at the expense of The Green Lantern:

wpid-wp-1442446701366.jpgI mean, come on.  The Green Lantern, the emerald gladiator, protector of the universe, bested by a falling tree limb.  Making this point even more absurd is the fact that there were literally dozens of machine guns trained on him at this moment.   Helpful tip, bad guys: you don’t need bullets to take out The Green Lantern, just let the local flora do it for you.

While the comedic aspects were highly entertaining, I was more impressed with the character development seen in these issues.  Upon reflection, my favorite issue in this trade is Issue 6, containing the story, “The World of Living Phantoms”.  In this story Hal Jordan is summoned to help a neighboring sector of the galaxy.

wpid-wp-1442447113810.jpgIt’s a bird! It’s a fish! It’s an alien!

Actually, it’s Tomar-Re, a fellow Green Lantern who called Hal Jordan for aid.  While Tomar is busy fighting a giant monster, he asks Earth’s Green Lantern to help with a problem on a neighboring planet, where an entire race of beings remains in a state of suspended animation while their “thought images” live out their lives:

wpid-wp-1442446944225.jpgI wasn’t aware the Matrix was invented in the 60’s…

As Green Lantern fights the rebellious thought images (a story that is so well-developed I could picture it being released today) and eventually teams up with Tomar to defeat the monster, the reader is graced with action-filled scenes, inventive dialogue, and intriguing scientific principles.  Even more exciting is the fact that through Tomar we learn more about the Green Lantern universe as a whole.

Tomar provides Hal with information about the Guardians of the Universe, the powerful beings who control all of the power batteries and oversee justice in the universe.  In addition, Tomar also makes reference to Green Lanterns existing in other sectors of the universe, some of whom he has been in contact with.  For the first time in these comics (and indeed in any of the comics I’ve read so far) a greater universe is not only hinted at, but described and actually pictured.  I know eventually these characters will eventually progress to existing within a multiverse, so it’s exciting to see the early stepping stones that will eventually lead there.

The most exciting occurrence in this trade has to be the first appearance of Sinestro, a Green Lantern-gone-bad.

wpid-wp-1442448672433.jpgSinestro had been banished from this universe by the Guardians.  Unfortunately, they sent him to live with the Qwards, a race of evil creatures and enemies of The Green Lantern.  As was bound to happen, Sinestro devised a plan to regain a power battery and once again be unstoppable.  The Green Lantern foils the plot and defeats Sinestro, but only two trades we see him reappear.  Green Lantern prevails yet again, but it is clear Sinestro will be a recurring villain for some time.

(I admit I already know Sinestro ends up being a pretty important character, for no other reason than that Mistah J has made reference to the Sinestro Corp.  I don’t know any details beyond that, but I like to think I would have figured out he’d be a pretty major character on my own.  After all, he’s a bad Green Lantern.  There’s so much you can do with that!)

One rather awkward moment I can’t overlook occurred in issue 6, when Green Lantern is discerning why the aforementioned thought images were rebelling in the first place.  He noted that the thoughts of two sleepers became entangled, and made the following diagnosis:

wpid-wp-1442447872333.jpgDid anyone else think of one very specific thing when he says they’re, “unable to do anything about it”?  Honestly, why not just write, “They want to have sex but can’t because their thought-images have no corporeal forms” and then provide some really awkward editor’s note explaining the human libido?  Violence was a no-no back then but veiled sexual references were okay?

…Or maybe my mind just lives in the gutter.

As a closing remark, I have to make note on all of those editor’s notes that crop up throughout the comic.  At first they felt repetitive and unnecessary.  However, they’re actually quite helpful to anyone who hasn’t read the comics.  I realized that someone could pick up any Green Lantern issue and read it without confusion; the notes provide all of the necessary details required to understand, even referring readers back to older issues where characters appear or events transpire.  Gail Simone recently tweeted out her thoughts on this very subject, noting that many comic writers don’t provide enough context for their stories, often leaving readers confused as to what’s happening.  She praised those who are able to include context and backstory without having it intrude into the story, and I kept recalling her words as I was reading this trade.  Yes, the notes given are repetitive, but based on where they occur it’s fairly easy to figure out what they will refer to, and so if you’re familiar with the story you can just overlook them.  As a new comic reader, I’m grateful that writers take this into consideration.  This was always one of my biggest concerns about starting to read comics, and it’s a relief to see that some writers take this concern into account.

I feel like a broken record, but this trade was terrific.  I’m compelled by this recent run of great stories to delve even farther into this world, to continue my way along “the shelf” and see where the stories take me.  So far I’m thoroughly enjoying the comics of the 50’s and 60’s.  I can’t wait to see what the next few decades bring.

-Jess

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