After John’s misadventures on Xanshi last issue, its straight back into the main action of Blackest Night here, with Hal and the rest of the New Guardians (as the group of Hal, Atrocitious, Sinestro, Carol etc are being called) as well as the new recruits (Wonder Woman, Barry etc) facing the hoards of Black Lanterns.
Things quickly take a turn for the worse (as impossible as that seems) when the Black Lantern Spectre turns up looking to judge Hal. The Spectre’s power (currently contained by its Black Lantern host) is pretty vast, and Hal is almost transformed into a Black Lantern himself, before Ganthet and Sayd manage to free him (and he quickly returns the favour).
Thinking quickly and realising that they need something to give them an edge over the Spectre, Hal has Ganthet grab the Earth Lantern’s power batteries and releases Parallax from within them, rejoining with the fear entity to gain the edge they need to stand against the Spectre.
To be honest, I’m a little unsure about this issue. Largely because the nature of Parallax and the power level of the Spectre. As originally presented, Parallax had no real power of its own beyond corrupting its host. Parallax originally had Hal absorb the power of the central battery, and then in Rebirth Parallax attempts to first get control of the Spectre’s power, and then later Ganthet’s (leading to the confusion about power levels above). This all suggests Parallax’s own power levels aren’t really that brilliant.
Then comes Sinestro Corps War, and the Parallax-infected Kyle is shown to still possess powers. Despite no longer having either his GL ring, or the powers of Ion. So where did all that power come from? Apparently Parallax. So why did Parallax need to absorb the central power battery etc?
So this idea that Parallax is the only thing that can challenge the Spectre is not something I can entirely buy into. I don’t see how Parallax is such a threat to something of the Spectre’s power levels. I’m hoping it’ll be some variation of Parallax’s corrupting influence, capturing the Spectre’s fears somehow, rather than Parallax suddenly being some awesome powerhouse, so I’ll have to wait until next issue to see how this pays off. But as it stands, in the midst of everything else going on, releasing Parallax again doesn’t seem like Hal’s best idea ever.
I’m quite surprised Parallax has been let out of the bag again so soon, although we have heard hints that the various entities will play into Blackest Night. Another surprise was that this issue read very quickly. As the 50th issue its oversized and $3.99, yet for some reason it didn’t really feel that the story was that dense to me.
Another thing I should mention is Carol kissing Hal. Geoff has obviously been positioning Carol back as a major part of Hal’s love life since the initial Star Sapphire story and the reveal of her divorce. While Hal and Carol are a classic DC couple, Geoff previously introduced Cowgirl at the start of volume 4 as an alternate love interest, and since the war of light kicked off, its really seemed like she’s been quietly dropped, which is a shame as I thought she was an interesting character. Hopefully once this is over, Hal will spend a bit more time on Earth and we’ll maybe see her again. That’s not really a complaint against the events in this book though. I hope that Johns is actually setting up a more tangled love life for Hal, with him being pulled between Cowgirl and Carol and the different aspects of his life as a pilot and a Green Lantern.
That all sounds a bit negative though. I didn’t really dislike this issue. The only real complaint I can make is that the Spectre/Parallax stuff just feels like a diversion from the main events of Blackest Night, and a throwback to Rebirth that I didn’t really feel was needed. I’d have been happy if Parallax and Spectre were left in Hal’s past. Saying that, freeing Parallax in this way plays into Johns’ take on Hal as being someone who’s overly (perhaps even dangerously) cocky and doesn’t always think through the results of his actions and that’s a take on the character I’ve actually been enjoying.
Much like Kyle’s death over in GLC I suspect this issue will be better viewed next month, once I have a better idea where this storyline is actually going. Although that’s a bit of a shame in an oversized anniversary issue.
I will say though, I really love the Larfleeze/Luthor interactions. Larfleeze trying to get the orange ring back from Lex is a great comedy moment 😀