In addition to trying out lots of new titles from the new 52 I am, of course, continuing to pick up the Green Lantern titles, which, much like the Bat-franchise have emerged from this reboot with tweaks to some of the earlier continuity, but their ongoing storylines unscathed.
As a result, I did have some issues with this first issue of the relaunched Green Lantern. Namely that it didn’t really come across as a number 1 at all. There was little real sense of it being a jumping on point, with it following on so many plot points directly from the previous run. Given accessibility is the name of the game with this whole “new 52” push, I felt Geoff Johns missed a bit of a trick here. While we knew Green Lantern’s immediate continuity would be largely unaffected by the reboot, there still should’ve been more of an attempt to hook new readers with this first issue. Instead what we got was very much issue #68 of volume 4 as if nothing had changed.
However, I’m not a new reader. I’m an ongoing reader, and one who’s been a bit wary of Geoff’s run on this title over the last year or so. And as an ongoing reader, this issue hit a lot of the right buttons for me.
It was not without its flaws. Once again we have a reliance on the Guardians being unlikeable idiots spouting mysterious stuff to tease the next big event. Frankly this is something we’ve seen far, far too often during Johns’ run on the title, and its really time to get away from it. One day the Guardians will get some characterisation rather than just being an obstacle to be overcome by the GLs. But not in this reboot. It felt very much like things were having to be put into place, just so Geoff could explore Sinestro being a GL again. There’s no real logic to the Guardians’ reasoning for letting him go, it just serves the larger plot.
With that done however, I found a lot to like about the issue. One of my complaints for a while has been Hal Jordan’s guest star status in his own book. And while he may not have the ring or the title anymore (or even the cover), he’s very much the star of this book, as Johns tries to reconnect us to Hal’s character, as he finds himself jobless, broke and eventually homeless. Hal’s attempts to reconnect with Earth and Carol was nice to see, and I liked how he was mature enough to accept the desk job she was offering him (something I’m not convinced earlier incarnations of this character could’ve done). Of course, that goes wrong and Carol eventually refuses to have anything to do with him (admittedly another example of characters acting in a way to push the plot along, but nevermind). I liked seeing Hal stripped of everything, and the desolation when he reaches home after angering Carol, only to find he’s been evicted ontop of everything else was nicely done and a good payoff to the downward spiral Hal had been in throughout the issue. Its very much Geoff Johns’ take on Hal. He’s nothing without the GL ring.
On the flipside, once freed of the Guardians and his imprisonment, Sinestro’s story goes quite differently. He heads straight back to Korugar, only to find the population suffering under the whims of the Sinestro Corps. For some reason, the fact that leaving a big society of killers in charge of the planet being a bad idea had never occurred to Sinestro, and he’s appalled that they’ve not obeyed his orders to stay away from the citizens.
In general terms, while its all a bit forced, I am onboard for seeing how Sinestro reacts to being a Green Lantern once again though. A recurring theme is that he’s always viewed his actions as a deliberate way to strengthen the Corps against coming threats, and he believes in the Corps, but not the Guardians (similar to Hal and any other GL worth listening to). This is even nicely captured when he tells the Guardians he doesn’t need redemption. He sees everything he’s done as necessary, with the ends ultimately justifying the means.
So to put him back into that role of a GL is an interesting move, and one I’m intrigued to see explored. But how can he be seriously surprised by what’s happened on Korugar? My concern is that Geoff’s leaning towards the yellow ring influencing him, which I hope is not the case. Sinestro’s not a character who should be redeemed, especially after his actions in volume 4. So I’m a little warier of this aspect of the storyline, but it does lead to the nice surprise conclusion at the end of the book, where Sinestro appears on Earth to confront Hal and offer him a chance to get his ring back. An action that is exactly in line with Sinestro’s character. He knows that Hal feels the same as himself with regards to the Corps and the Guardians, so in many ways, its in Sinestro’s best interests to ensure Hal gets his ring back. Although, with the Guardians having fired him out of fear of his willpower, if Sinestro does help Hal get his ring back, I wonder if this will lead to Hal going rogue as was prophesied earlier in the run?
From the view of accessibility I wonder if it would’ve been better reducing Sinestro’s role and focusing solely on Hal’s attempts to get used to life on Earth again, only for Sinestro to then turn up at the end of the issue. Issue 2 then could’ve been from Sinestro’s perspective and filled in the Guardians letting him go, his discovery on Korugar etc. It would’ve kept the main story beats in tact, but reordered things slightly just to make things that bit more new-reader friendly.
I do like the current direction though, but I wish Geoff would step away from storyline building for a while. I really don’t need the Guardians being mysterious idiots for the umpteenth time since he took over as writer. Especially since they never show any development after they get blind-sided by the near-destruction of everything, again. However while I may come across a bit negative, I definitely enjoyed this issue a lot more than anything in the New Guardians story arc. Hal getting the much-needed focus was great, and I look forward to even more during this storyline. The Sinestro as a GL is an interesting hook as well, along with the mystery of why he’s got a ring that can’t be removed, and while we have to assume Sinestro will eventually end up with a yellow ring once more, I’m intrigued to see how things get to that point.