Review: Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)


Amid the plethora of continuity and non-continuity comics, television shows, and movies that tell and re-tell the origins of Superman and Batman, a new take on Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps is shockingly refreshing. Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman's Green Lantern: Earth One overlays quite a bit of established Lantern lore on a revitalized Jordan, who's one of the best things about this book. The tweaks here are at times small, but the creative team offers a new paradigm for the Corps that will be fun to explore; this first volume screams for a sequel. The episodic structure of the volume suggests collected comics, a graphic novel, and a TV pilot all in one. Almost a decade after the Earth One line first launched, it's wonderful to see these books can still delight.

[Review contains spoilers]

From comics to cartoon to movie, something that's been consistent is reckless flyboy Hal Jordan. To that end, the fact that Green Lantern: Earth One kicks off with tame, down-on-his-luck miner (make that astronaut miner) Hal Jordan -- late of blowing the whistle on an orbiting weapons platform -- is immediately noteworthy. The comics Jordan is notoriously hard to pin down, having learned few lessons and often inscrutable in his romantic decisions even after all these years. To the extent that the Earth One books are meant to be a modernization of some of these heroes' stories, indeed Bechko and Hardman's Jordan seems more the Jordan one might create today than the Jordan who seems even now to fit better in the Mad Men era of his origins than the present day.

Again, however, the creative team pairs their new Jordan with a relatively untouched Green Lantern Corps lore. There are still the rings, still the power batteries, still the Central Battery, Oa, the Guardians, the robotic Manhunters -- even a fairly similar Kilowog. That was a surprise, frankly, more in line with J. Michael Straczynski's familiar Metropolis and its denizens in Superman: Earth One than the radically different setup of Jeff Lemire's Teen Titans: Earth One. But the really interesting catch is that the creative team sets this book eons after the Corps have faded from active duty, with isolated Lanterns working independently on the run from the Manhunters. When the Corps does come together at the end of the book, they are all inexperienced, a far cry from the the traditional Jordan joining the established Corps as a new recruit. This is one of the things that makes me want to read more, that the mindset of this new Corps will be so different than in the mainstream comics.

At the same time, the end of volume one suggests that the events of volume two might be more earthbound. Green Lantern: Earth One is set in the not-too-distant future, but we don't get a detailed sense of the status quo and politics of this Earth since Jordan is swiftly whisked across the cosmos. With this book's conclusion, though, there's the suggestion that new Green Lantern Jordan might now go after some of the people who disgraced him; surely that's plot enough for the second book, and additionally I'm eager to see what Bechko and Hardman might do with Hal Jordan as Earth One superhero. Of course, that might mean we don't get back to space until the third volume, which would also be fine, letting this story meander through the various avenues it's set up (I'd prefer that to, for instance, this Colonel Jask being too-coincidentally aligned with the rogue Guardian). There's also the matter of Sinestro hanging around in the background.

Hardman's art in the book is matter-of-fact, which I appreciated, never cartoony or absurd, and treating well the alien figures as just as "normal" as the humans (obviously Hardman and Bechko have some experience with this given their Star Wars work). Attention to detail extends to Hal Jordan's consistently-growing beard over the course of the book. Colorist Jordan Boyd contributes shadowy, moody colors that in the beginning of the book remind of an Aliens movie.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1

Green Lantern: Earth One consists of three acts, which -- a rare rough spot in the book -- are each separated by Hal Jordan falling unconscious. That does however give the book a kind of dreamlike aesthetic, and also we get more of Jordan's character through his different status quos, whether exploring the cosmos with Kilowog or leading a slave rebellion against the Manhunters. What's most important here is that Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman deliver an Earth One story that perhaps most feels like a modern retelling of its source material of all the Earth One books so far. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long until they come back.

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 4 )

  1. My only real complaint is that, after nearly a decade, we should have more Earth One books than this.

  2. This makes me even more excited to pick this up!! I haven't dived into the Earth One line yet, but I think this will make me.

  3. Great review, sounds very intriguing. One of my complaints about DC imprints (the recent announcement of Black Label being an example) is we rarely get projects centering outside the trinity. Glad to see at least this and Teen Titans have both gotten out there! I hope the much rumored Aquaman Earth One comes soon.

    I'll also second the call for if not more Earth One books then at least a regular publishing schedule, rather then two one year then none for 3 years way they've been doing it so far.

  4. Like most of the other Earth One books, this one was better as an idea than it was in execution. It was good. Some of the ideas were really interesting and worthy of being explored in greater detail whenever they get around to rebooting the Green Lantern concept on screen again. But as a story, it never really gelled for me as a cohesive narrative. More like a lot of really interesting scenes strung together.

    Also like the other Earth One books (well, most of them), the artwork was fantastic (the only exceptions to this were the three Superman books and volume 2 of the Teen Titans, all of which were "meh" bordering on terrible).

    The only Earth One book that fully succeeds as story is volume one of Teen Titans. The fact that they're not using that as the basis for the upcoming Teen Titans live-action TV series shows just how little understanding WB and DC have of the quality of the material they own.


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