Friday, August 21, 2015

GREEN LANTERN #50 – March 1994

Emerald Twilight Part Three: The Future
Credits:  Ron Marz (writer), Darryl Banks (penciler), Romeo Tanghal (inker), Albert de Guzman (letterer), Steve Mattsson (colorist)

Summary:  Sinestro battles Hal Jordan outside of the Central Battery, goading Hal to remove all of his recently acquired rings.  Hal agrees, defeating Sinestro in a bloody battle that ends with Hal breaking Sinestro’s neck.  Kilowog reemerges and tries again to prevent Hal from stealing all of the Green Lanterns’ energy from the Central Battery.  Hal declares that he can’t go back and blasts Kilowog until only his skeleton remains.  As Hal enters the Central Battery, the Guardians decide to sacrifice their own lives and give their remaining power to Ganthet.  Hal emerges wearing new armor.  He crushes his power ring and flies away.  Later, Ganthet reforms the ring and flies to Earth.  Outside of a nightclub, Ganthet hands the ring to Kyle Rayner.

Irrelevant Continuity:  Hal Jordan’s new identity after stealing the Central Battery’s power is Parallax, although he doesn’t use the name this issue.  I’m assuming that comes in his next appearance.  Years later, Geoff Johns will reveal in the Green Lantern: Rebirth miniseries that Parallax was the name of the “fear entity” that possessed Hal throughout this entire story arc.

“Behold, the Unrivaled Imagination of Hal Jordan!”:  Hal resorts to generic energy blasts for most of the issue, deviating a few times to create a shield, a battering ram, and a handheld laser cannon (which simply shoots the energy beams his ring fires anyway, so you tell me what the point is…).

I Love the 90s:  Kyle Rayner is wearing a Nine Inch Nails t-shirt, although it doesn’t feature the rectangular NIN logo that was everywhere during 1994.

Total N00B:  I’d love to know how Kilowog’s death was retconned.

Gimmicks:  This is a forty-eight page anniversary issue, featuring a pin-up gallery in the final pages.  The cover price is $2.95.  Looking at the GCD entry, I don't see any indication that there was an enhanced cover.

Review:  There’s a moment this issue when Hal Jordan’s friend Kilowog returns unexpectedly, giving Hal one more chance to end this insanity and turn himself in.  Kilowog is one of the more popular Green Lanterns, with a lovable grouch persona that’s reminiscent of the Fantastic Four’s Thing.  (Judging by his appearances in all of the TV and film adaptations featuring GL characters, DC is under the impression that everyone loves Kilowog.)  During their conversation, Hal reveals that he actually didn’t leave any of the Green Lanterns to die; that even though he stole their rings, he left them with enough power to escape outer space and return home safely.  This reads as a very abrupt attempt to backpedal away from the previous issue, which gave absolutely no indication that Hal was concerned about sparing the lives of his friends, but hey…maybe cooler heads have prevailed.  No one explicitly died last issue, and the only person killed by Hal so far is the villainous Sinestro, so there’s still time for Hal to redeem himself.  He’ll have a trial, lose the ring for a few issues, and then the status quo will be restored.  It’s all a little melodramatic, but nothing too outrageous by the standards of a superhero comic, especially in the early ‘90s.

Oh, what’s this?  

No, they’re doubling-down on this nonsense.  Ah, well.  

“Emerald Twilight” concludes, with Hal Jordan officially becoming a supervillain, effectively killing the entire Green Lantern Corps and flying off into space in his shiny new set of villainous armor.  Bizarrely, the issue ends with a series of pin-ups dedicated to Hal Jordan, with a portion of the Green Lantern oath pasted in typographic print on each drawing.  Yes, let’s pay tribute to the gallant hero whose character we’ve assassinated over the course of the past three issues.  I can only assume that these pin-ups were already in the drawer when DC decided to radically change plans for “Emerald Twilight,” because the decision to run them after this storyline is mind-boggling.  

There’s not much to be said about the issue that I haven’t covered before.  Visually, it is an improvement over the last chapter -- Darryl Banks’ interpretation of Hal Jordan is reminiscent of M. D. Bright’s, and I don’t have a problem with that.  There’s a sense of incredulity throughout the issue, although most of the shock value was already exhausted in the previous chapter.  That issue led us to believe that Hal was actively killing his friends, while this issue allows him to claim innocence.  The decision to back away from the apparent murders in the last issue seems odd initially, until you realize that it’s all done to make Kilowog’s death this issue seem even more dramatic.  If Hal’s already killed a dozen Green Lanterns, it doesn’t mean as much when Kilowog is blasted into bones.  Of course, we’re supposed to infer by the end of the issue that the rest of the Green Lantern Corps died when Hal stole the power from the Central Battery, but it’s more of an incidental death now.  I can’t imagine this placated anyone -- Hal’s still clearly on the hook for all of these deaths.

The final pages end with the introduction of the new Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner.  I get the sense that he’s still being developed as a character, because no effort has been made thus far to establish anything about Kyle, aside from the fact that he’s young.  I’ve heard people remark before that Kyle was a random citizen who received the ring while drunk outside of a nightclub, but he appears sober this issue, commenting that he needed to “leave the dance floor for some air.”  The “random” part of his origin might be true, with Ganthet commenting that Kyle will “have to do,” although Ganthet’s actions in the final pages are so poorly dramatized it’s hard to discern what’s happening.  He flies all the way to Earth, for reasons that aren’t explained.  (Hal Jordan’s sector didn’t just include Earth, right?  And there are no sectors now, and only one ring, so why did Ganthet travel so far?)  For more unexplained reasons, Ganthet decides to stand outside of a nightclub, and after giving the ring away, he simply disappears.  I have to assume that Kyle’s origin was fleshed out in upcoming issues, because it’s hard to imagine that such a choppy origin story didn’t receive at least one retcon or two.

Whether or not Kyle Rayner was a worthy successor to Hal Jordan is ultimately irrelevant.  He’s taking the mantle after a conscious decision has been made to twist Hal into a murderous psychopath, and there’s no way the existing fan base would stand for it.  DC had to know they went too far with this story, because the rest of the ‘90s are spent trying to find ways to redeem Hal Jordan without totally negating the events of this storyline.  And DC was outright stubborn about this.  “Peter Parker Shouldn’t Be Married” stubborn.  Eventually, it took a fan-turned-pro who never got over this story to pull the ultimate retcon, and regardless of what you might think of Geoff Johns’ later work, his enthusiasm for the Hal Jordan character did lead to a legitimate revival for the hero.  Hal was finally redeemed, even though it took longer than any of us expected.  DC used to defend “Emerald Twilight” by touting it as “daring,” but it’s clearly shock value storytelling; poorly conceived, poorly executed shock value at that.


Yuna Dawg said...

I've got this issue and just loved the storyline while it was being published. The cover is enhanced, though, it's glow-in-the-dark.

Daniel AH said...

Ganthet coming to Earth is explained by his trying to contact Guy Gardner or John Stewart.
Kyle was drinking, but not drunk, if memory serves, and he needed fresh air and a break from dealing with his drunk friend.

Kyle Rulez, Jordan suckz


andrew brown said...

Kyle does indeed rule, and you should read his run if you ever find them in a quarter bin. I miss my 90's DC, with Kyle and Wally and a robin that isn't terrible.

David page said...

Everyone loves kilowog those who don't are poozers

As to how he came back later? He was one of the things spectre hal brought back to atone for before the spectre left him in rebirth

Luis Olavo Dantas said...

I was actually open to having a new GL at the time, although the way they got rid of Hal was both brutal and irritating.

But then I met Kyle. His whole reason for being was not deserving to be a GL at all and shoving that down our faces.

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