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.