Written by Grant Morrison
Illustrated by Liam Sharp
Published by DC Comics
“Run Jordan! Run for your life! VORR IS HUNGRY!”
I won’t call it their best effort, but this issue of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern is undeniably excellent pulp.
On the one hand, just the exercise of conceiving the full-on cosmic goth of an actual Vampire Planet is, by itself, phenomenal. It’s exactly the sort of wild, over-the-top idea that should be done in comics, because you can do it in comics, even if, as in this case, it is captured only briefly.
On the other hand, the idea is so wild with potential, it fairly screams for a broader treatment than just one issue can provide. This alone is a disappointment, one that is matched by the merely fleeting suggestions, in word and picture, of a hundred thousand undead stories on the edges of our fairly sanitized single tale.
But it also stretches credibility – not because the concept itself is so outrageous, but simply because it is so grand and so terrible, it seems truly impossible that anyone, even legendary Green Lantern Hal Jordan could ever possibly run a gauntlet through such an unimaginably deadly territory and all its horror, without being pulled down in seconds from a thousand different threats, all honing towards his rich, rich lifeblood.
But, such is the life of a hero. And Hal Jordan is nothing if not supremely sure of himself.
That’s the part that makes it truly enjoyable mind you. Here he is, stripped of his powers, forced to make his way ever deeper into unrelenting territory, wading through ghouls and gore galore, all to prove himself to Countess Beelzebeth and earn his place amongst her elite Blackstar strikeforce, and Hal Jordan spends the entire time trading barbs, deflecting her taunts, and matter-of-factly beating down on one bloodthirsty horror after another.
He even takes the time to taunt her in return, confirming for us that her father was, in fact, longtime Justice League and DC villain, Starbreaker. Emphasis on ‘was’, because apparently we missed a chapter somewhere, involving Green Arrow and a silver arrow.
Jordan risks it all. Because he knows he wouldn’t be subjected to the test unless there was a way to win it. And he never once entertains the thought of losing.
He’s just that kind of joe.
All of which makes for supremely entertaining, if somewhat streamlined, scripting. While Liam’s art is veritably unleashed into an unrelenting vision of sepulchers, gothic balustrades and bloody landscapes. I’m sure it was great fun.
For Hal Jordan, it’s all about the job. Because make no mistake, that’s what this is. It’s gratifying to get that confirmed at some point along the way – the entire point of this exercise is for Jordan to infiltrate the ranks of the Blackstars. Both to root out the Blackstar informant in the ranks of the Corps, and to shut Controller Mu down for good.
Gratifying, but sobering. Because that sound like exactly the sort of thing a hero like Hal Jordan would do. And if we are likely to think so, what in the world would make us think that Beelzebeth and Controller Mu, would not be similarly minded?
Perhaps that’s why our issue ends with one final test for Blackstar recruit Jordan. One that puts him in an impossible situation. And reintroduces us to an old friend.
Next Issue: Strange circumstance