Review: Green Lantern Vol. 8: Reflections hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Robert Venditti delivers another good one with Green Lantern Vol. 8: Reflections. The book turns away surprisingly from much of what was set-up in the previous volume, but at the same time Venditti writes among his first Earth-set Green Lantern stories in forty issues and they were worth the wait. It remains hard to tell to what extent Venditti is following his own plan here and to what extent he's being buffeted about by the demands of the larger DC Universe, but impressively it doesn't matter. Despite that storylines here sometimes feel unfinished, Venditti continues to shock and entertain. Venditti's Green Lantern remains among the most consistent of DC Comics's titles and I'm eager to follow him into Rebirth.

[Review contains spoilers]

Green Lantern Vol. 7: Renegade saw Hal Jordan on the run from the Green Lantern Corps (who then proceeded to disappear trans-dimensionally) and teamed with a rogue slaver and a castaway prince -- the last survivor of his planet -- to right wrongs throughout the galaxy. This was an odd and interesting premise for the title, for one thing because it went against expectations -- as this book remarks a number of times, Jordan staged an elaborate, complicated break from the Corps only to have the Corps vanish anyway. Second, Jordan's fast friendship with the nobleman Virgo was unusually personal and sensitive for this title, to the point one might have thought we'd find in this title that Virgo was in love with Jordan.

Venditti defies expectations again in this second DC You volume. I'm tempted to say "unfortunately," but what Venditti does do is good enough that it's not quite a disappointment. We lose Virgo and Trapper for more than two-thirds of this book and their final curtain call is achingly short. Instead, Venditti puts Jordan on Earth almost the whole time among his brother Jim and family (not to mention a meet-up with the DC You Batman Jim Gordon), which is certainly not a bad thing but one wishes they could have their cake and eat it too.

The first three issues of this book, a majority in terms of focus, see Jordan squaring off with a new-era iteration of classic Green Lantern villain Sonar. Once upon a time Geoff Johns seemed to be planning a story with international intrigue for then-military pilot Jordan that was abruptly abandoned (anyone remember when Jordan and Jillian "Cowgirl" Pearlman were prisoners of war?) and Venditti spins something nicely reminiscent here. Pitting Jordan against a terrestrial military threat speaks both to Jordan's space cop and military/aviation backgrounds, not to mention the thematic value of a "no fear" Lantern battling terrorism.

Venditti conceives Sonar this time as a non-powered despot who wields sound-activated bombs, which Venditti rolls out in convincingly frightening ways. On one hand I thought Venditti erred a bit toward melodrama in some of Jordan's upset over his nephew Howard's injury by Sonar (dramatic as it was); on the other hand Venditti wrote a truly gripping scene when Jordan interrogated Sonar's men to inadvertent, bloody result.

Equally gripping was when Venditti finally put Jordan back in space, and he faced off against a group of rival pseudo-space cops. Here in these final pages, it was highly possible Venditti was going to kill off either Virgo or Trapper, not to mention that Venditti puts a gun in Jordan's hand and makes it seem equally possible Jordan might shoot someone in cold blood. It's a great two-part story, though placed somewhat strangely -- I get that it brings Jordan to admitting he's not actually a criminal, but the stakes here are so much lower than the previous issue's conflict with the pre-Flashpoint Parallax Hal Jordan himself that it hardly seems a proper end point. Furthermore, as mentioned, Jordan only gets two pages of denouement with Virgo and Trapper in which Virgo doesn't even get to say all that much, letting alone that Trapper cuts off Virgo's "Hal --" that might have been very significant.

For the midpoint fiftieth issue, Venditti brings the original Parallax Hal Jordan on the scene, an issue more astounding than it probably got credit for amidst the Rebirth hubbub. I'm reminded we've seen Kyle Rayner versus this Parallax before, but never Jordan himself (not a little because of the multiversal gymnastics that it ultimately required). Pity Jordan couldn't have been in his original costume here but the visuals are still great, especially when the yellow Parallax entity begins to emerge from Parallax Jordan (if you follow, this might be the first time a Lantern has faced this Parallax Hal Jordan post-Geoff Johns's Green Lantern: Rebirth with the knowledge that Parallax was the yellow fear entity and not just a name Jordan called himsef). Billy Tan does gangbuster work here, inked by Mark Irwin; for reasons I can't explain, in Green Lantern Vol. 7: Renegade Tan and Irwin's work sometimes came off sketchy and lacking in detail, but they're sharp here and also in the final space issues.

This book includes the Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth special, which to Venditti's credit of just keeping doing what he's doing, reads more like the conclusion to this book than the start of something new. I was legitimately surprised how insular the special was, not even bringing the Corps back on to the scene. This recounting of the Corps history is well drawn by artist Ethan Van Sciver, such that Venditti is able to do a fair Johns impression -- high praise indeed.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Green Lantern Vol. 8: Reflections

Much as I'm enjoying it, as Robert Venditti in some respects flits from adventure to adventure, I wonder at what it's all supposed to mean. Johns had a similar problem -- see indeed the forgotten Cowgirl -- in which his Hal Jordan never quite seemed to learn anything or reflect in meaningful ways on his actions. Venditti's Jordan took one large growth step in becoming leader of the Corps, but I wonder now how these experiences -- feeling responsible for Howard's injury, his friendship with Virgo, becoming a being of pure will -- will shape Venditti's Jordan in the future. I don't think we get a strong sense of it at the end of Green Lantern Vol. 8: Reflections, but then again, Venditti's run seems far from over.

[Includes original and variant covers, Rebirth special]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Green Lantern Vol. 8: Reflections
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)
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