Wednesday, August 19, 2015

GREEN LANTERN #49 – February 1994


Emerald Twilight Part Two: The Present
Credits:  Ron Marz (writer), Fred Haynes (penciler), Romeo Tanghal & Dennis Cramer (inkers), Albert de Guzman (letterer), Steve Mattsson (colorist)

Summary:  Hal Jordan flies to Oa, and is confronted by various Green Lanterns along the way.  He easily defeats Lanterns Ke'Haan of Varva and Jayd Laira and steals their power rings.  Hal then faces his friend Tomar Tu and Jack Chance; he defeats them both and leaves them to die in space.  Using the power of the various rings he’s stolen, Hal brutalizes the final Lantern defender, Kilowog.  He arrives at Oa, announcing he wants the Central Battery.  The Guardians reluctantly release Sinestro to face Hal.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Years later, Geoff Johns will reveal that the Sinestro Hal faces in this storyline is actually a hard-light duplicate that Sinestro is controlling from inside the Central Battery.

“Behold, the Unrivaled Imagination of Hal Jordan!”:  Hal sticks to his typical energy blasts for most of this issue, although he does briefly create a giant replica of himself during the Kilowog fight.  And…I guess that’s supposed to be a knife, but we’ll get to that one later.

I Love the '90s:  I’m assuming Jack Chance was DC’s attempt to create a Green Lantern “for the ‘90s.”  He has a trenchcoat, a giant gun, and a bad attitude to go along with his gambling gimmick.  I’m going to guess that he was created as an intentional parody and just accept the joke.

Approved By The Comics Code Authority:  Hal creates what appears to be a knife with his power ring (the art isn’t clear), and severs the hand of female Lantern Boodikka when she refuses to give up her ring.

Creative Differences:  The original solicitation for this issue reads:    
GREEN LANTERN #49
   by G. Jones, Haynes, & Tanghal
   "Green Lantern is caught up in a battle raging between two equally powerful groups of the Guardians of the Universe. Hal's side loses, and the winners' first act is to take away the power rings' 24-hour time limit, and their yellow impurity. Their second act is to appoint a new leader of the Green Lantern Corps---Sinestro!. This issue leads directly into the landmark Green Lantern #50, a major turning point for the series."
   Cover by Kevin Maguire

Review:  I didn’t hate the previous issue of this event.  I thought that Ron Marz conveyed Hal’s angst in a credible way and, given the limitations of a single issue, established the enormity of Hal’s loss in a manner that didn’t feel cheap.  This issue, I hate.  It’s everything I assumed “Emerald Twilight” would be, and even if my affection for Hal Jordan is limited to his old Super Powers action figure, I can’t read this and not feel some empathy for anyone who grew up enjoying Hal’s adventures.

Before delving into the sheer ghastliness of the story, I’ll mention that the art is a major disappointment after the Bill Willingham job last issue.  I’ve always liked this cover (which appeared in numerous fan magazines and promotional materials at the time), but the interior art is far too rough for a professional job, let alone an “important” storyline that serves as Hal Jordan’s big finale.  Ugly faces, feeble backgrounds, pointless rendering, weak anatomy…it’s exactly what I would expect a ‘90s rush job to be.

The plot of the issue I’ve been familiar with for over twenty years, even though I’m only now reading the story.  Everyone knows about the time Hal Jordan went nuts, killed his friends, and tried to steal the Guardians’ power.  The execution this issue is about as deep as that summary -- Hal’s here, he’s crazy, and people are going to die.  (Okay, aliens are going to die.)  Even today, this is frustrating on numerous levels.  It’s just such a pathetic attempt to imitate what DC thinks someone like Alan Moore would do with the book.  It’s the hero as the villain, driven mad by grief and power, and aren’t you kids just thrilled to watch his killing spree?  Out of sheer morbid curiosity, of course this is going to bring attention to the title, but surely someone had to realize that this was disastrous short-term thinking.  

DC is extremely lucky that Ron Marz was able to create a replacement character that managed to attract his own fans and keep this book alive, because it’s difficult to imagine why any hardcore Green Lantern fan would continue to follow the title after this issue.  Was Green Lantern even in such a dire need of a reboot, anyway?  DC was publishing three Green Lantern titles at the time, so I’m assuming the brand still had some commercial appeal, and I don’t recall any antipathy towards the Hal Jordan character.  Maybe a segment of the readership was burned out on Hal, but did anyone really want to see this happen?  Yes, some writers are able to create stories that aggressively fly in the face of what the audience wants while still keeping the readers onboard, but this event has no real creative merit.  It was conceived as a hit piece on Hal Jordan’s character and a flagrant sales stunt.  At least “Death of Superman” and “Knightfall” had a point to prove.  This is just ugly.

6 comments:

James said...

Green Latern, Green Lantern Corps... and Guy Gardner, Warrior? I'm trying to work out the third title.

As empirically bad as this art is, I must admit I kinda like the wonky anatomy of Hal's leg as he stands over Kilowog.

I must admit I was a fan of Kyle Rayner and largely oblivious to this previous era, but looking back it really was a massacre and a hackjob at that. But of course the Rebirth put right to all that with glorious affect...

Matt said...

Like you, my exposure to Hal Jordan was limited to the action figure (and SUPER FRIENDS), but I always thought he was really cool looking and had a really cool power. I use no hyperbole when I say that this storyline was/is sickening.

Comicbookrehab said...

I used to confuse Hal Jordan's Green Lantern the Green Hornet..

I still think the Green Lantern comic book suffers from a lack of innovation - even Geoff Johns seemed to eschew developing Hal's character in favor of focusing everything on the Corps and it's mythology. It was a success, but short-lived.

G. Kendall said...

James, there was also the GL series MOSAIC, which ended right before this storyline began. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Lantern:_Mosaic

Daniel AH said...

Rayner Rules!

Scott Church said...

This is what got me reading Green Lantern. (I'm missing only 40 issues for every single Green Lantern comic from the Silver Age until New 52, this includes all the regular series, spin offs, one shots, etc.)

To me DC was always the boring characters that were all older, and weren't relatable, to me it would be like every character was based on the Fantastic Four (my least favorite Marvel series, sooo boring). I loved the X-Men line, it was young, fun and people dealing with issues of not fitting in. Spider-Man was funny and the every-man. Marvels art was killing it in the 90's while DC's was so plain and boring.

But, I always thought DC's characters were actually cooler concepts than Marvels. Flash, Batman and Green Lantern always seamed like they could be cooler characters if the writing and art were better, except Superman who to me was again, unrelatable.

This story got me in, young Kyle Rayner was young, cool, just learning and something I could at least relate to. Read through the first 1-45 issues of that Green Lantern series, to a teen, nothing is relatable. Hal was old, everyone he talked to was old, the book didn't sell. For the first time in 50 issues, Hal was actually doing something that got my attention, going crazy, which is funny, the issues of Superman and GL 46 he knows Coast City is gone and is still stable, issue 47 he hangs out with Green Arrow and he doesn't appear to bothered then randomly he goes nuts when he finally is there trying to bring people back.

It was fun seeing Hal actually use his powers in unique ways, seeing how he really was the most powerful lantern by slicing through the other members. I only knew the other members from the DC Universe Cosmic Teams cards that had recently been released. I loved the Sinestro fight and would re-read this series over and over as a teen. It was next to my Trasnformers Generation 2 as favorites at that time.

I followed Kyle through the end this series and really enjoyed Hal as a villain, Parallax, the Spectre and was upset when they returned him with the mystical creature that had possessed him and turned his hair white and put Kyle out to pasture. Blah, Blah, Blah.

Funny thing is that these shot up the charts in price soon as they came out, issue 46 and 48 were hard to find. I had read them while my mom shopped at the grocery store and when I saw the price shot up I just went back and bought them, they had a whole row of each, should have just bought them and sold them to local stores.