Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Bottled Light (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

April 4, 2018

What was good in Robert Venditti's first volume of the relaunched Rebirth Green Lantern series becomes a detriment in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Bottled Light. I praised the first Corps for its unencumbered, straightforward story, appropriate for this new beginning in an epic TV movie/TV pilot kind of way. But Bottled Light is in the same vein in relatively light fashion, with a low threat by Green Lantern standards and character work that unfolds along predictable lines. I didn't mind that the first seven issues just essentially re-established the status quo for this book, but when we've only moved by inches after the next six, this starts to feel sluggish -- especially given how much Venditti packed into his New 52 stories.

[Review contains spoilers]

The newly combined Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps initially find themselves up against Starro, which offers some exciting visuals and is, in broad strokes, relatively rare. When Starro gives way to a Brainiac drone -- and the Corps shrunk into a bottle -- that too is without precedent. But Venditti loses all of this momentum when the culprit actually turns out to be the "Agent Orange" Larfleeze -- not with any new plan or special ability, just the same old Larfleeze whom the Corps has to fight their way past. Obviously in some respects the action-conflict here is secondary to the arc of John Stewart's Green Lanterns and Soranik Natu's Sinestro Corps coming together, but said threat really is so dull that it doesn't do its job to support the character work.

Neither is it all that surprising that John and Soranik come to join forces, nor am I quite sure the book needed five of its six issues to get there. There simply isn't suspense in whether or not the Corps would work together, nor does Venditti populate that development with any real nuance. At the end of thirteen issues, I have no real sense of any of these Sinestro Corpsmen individually aside from Soranik -- there's a gorilla in the background, but none of Cullen Bunn's Sinestro characters seem to have made the trip -- nor do I even know for what reason these Sinestro Corpmen have decided to fight for good, or what their philosophy is vis a vis fighting for good by the use of fear. Venditti wants the greens and yellows on the page together and so with a little grudging banter they are, and all of that plays out too simplistically for my tastes.

Parallel to this we have Guardians Ganthet and Sayd recruiting White Lantern Kyle Rayner to rescue Hal Jordan from inside his ring and he does, keeping again with the straightforwardness of the story. Within his ring, Hal visits with the spirits of dead Lanterns -- something I think we've seen before at least in Geoff Johns' run -- and as far as I could discern, nothing is revealed here that's important or directs the story in any way. It's pleasant to see Hal encounter his predecessor Abin Sur, but the entire sequence feels largely meant to fill up pages rather than influence the plot in any direct way.

The book has as its coda a one-off future-set issue where a Lantern essentially recounts the events of this very book. The issue is sweet, no doubt, presented as a bedtime story, and drawn and colored in a richer manner by V Ken Marion and Alex Sollazzo respectively. There's also a glance at upcoming storylines as perhaps fits the end of this bi-weekly book's first six months. But in light of my other concerns, the end of this book specifically takes place outside the forward action and does not advance the story at all, reinforcing the sense of not enough happening.

All of that said, I can't fault Venditti for his depictions of any of the characters, all of whom he gets spot on. His Guy Gardner is funny, his John Stewart and Soranik Natu heroic, and even as I felt the two corps coming together lacked real drama, I also like that Venditti doesn't have the corps leaders acting childishly and that there's a positive lack of angst. Venditt's Hal also seems to have an extra amount of exuberance these days, calling out "Lar-friggin'-fleeze" and wanting to hug one of Mogo's trees. Even if I find the proceedings a bit slow, new series artist Rafa Sandoval offers a youthfulness to the series, as I've said before, that matches a tone of Venditti's -- Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps might not be moving that fast, but it's been a while since the franchise has seemed this happy.


Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Bottled Light's decompressedness might equally not be so much of a factor were it not for the fact that Robert Venditti is leaving this title. He has written some fantastic multi-faceted wars for the Green Lanterns, and there seems no time to waste if we'll get something similarly bombastic before his tenure ends. I have enjoyed this respite from the more esoteric elements of the Green Lantern mythos, but I'm ready for this title to get back to it now.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Bottled Light
Author Rating
3 (scale of 1 to 5)

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