Review: The Green Lantern Vol. 1: Intergalactic Lawman hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)


Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp's The Green Lantern Vol. 1: Intergalactic Lawman is a treat for Morrison fans, utilizing many of the concepts from Morrison's earlier runs as the author is wont to do. At the same time, given Morrison's charming penchant for esoterica, I often take for granted what a meat-and-potatoes continuity wonk he is, and indeed Intergalactic Lawman also dovetails with recent events in the Green Lantern titles quite seamlessly. I'm not predicting a 50-issue run here, though I'd be happy if it was; the relative smaller scale of this book feels like a miniseries, but it's nice to see a Hal Jordan title shrunk down for a while after so many years of expansiveness.

[Review contains spoilers]

Hype for The Green Lantern ahead of time billed the book as a police procedural. I'd be more than happy to read a Green Lantern book done by way of Law and Order or Gotham Central, though this isn't it. Sure, there's a bit of following leads and questioning suspects in the beginning, a scene of "good cop, bad cop," but that falls away prior to halfway through the book once Hal Jordan goes up against God and then infiltrates an alien cult. All of which is enjoyable, don't get me wrong, but I don't think the "procedural" label wholly fits.

What Morrison does do is scrape away many (but not all) of the barnacles that have attached themselves to the Green Lantern franchise over the past decade or more, eschewing multi-hued Corps and even absenting the most recognizable Lanterns besides Hal Jordan. This is Hal's story, and via callback's to Hal's origin, Morrison essentially starts him from scratch, though Morrison does nicely credit Hal with all the years of experience that have by now ironed out most of his personal angst. After a lot of periods of Green Lantern titles trying to focus on a dizzying number of Lanterns, and some recent instances of Hal being written more irrationally than he ought, The Green Lantern is a lovely palate cleanser.

The bones of Intergalactic Lawman are comparatively simple, actually: in working to bring down the alien cult, Hal pretends to kill a suspect and then goes undercover as a rogue agent. Lest Morrison make this story bigger than it seems he intends, it's clear from the outset that Hal hasn't committed murder and there's a ruse at play; that part is fairly, perhaps intentionally, predictable. Where Morrison's story shines is in the aesthetic, the blending of thoroughly human and starkly uncomplicated Hal with wildly bizarre alien concepts and locations — the Green Lantern with a volcano for a head, Earth's bacteria deciding the fate of the planet, and weird phrasings like alien Lanterns calling a transport ship a "meat wagon," to name a few. Some writers struggle, I think, to write the cosmic Green Lantern Corps as anything other than human- (or humanoid-) centric, but not Morrison.

Layered on top of this is a healthy sprinkling of concepts, or echoes of concepts, from Morrison's DC work from JLA to today. There's seeming nods to DC One Million; the kind of "He is him from the Inside-Out! He is All Things Done Wrong!" language that evokes the entropic beings, Darkseid or otherwise, from Final Crisis and the Batman saga, et al.; there is what seems to be references to Green Lantern and JLA baddie Starbreaker, but who could as easily be Morrison's Mandrakk, the Dark Monitor, and maybe that suggests some connection accordingly. For those who like their Morrison less muddy, I'd say Intergalactic Lawman doesn't get in to Final Crisis-type fits and starts until the very end, when the "Ultimate Bomb" comes in to play, and characters move disjointedly within the scenery and there's a lot of vague, menacing implications. Here too, Morrison-ly, I suspect we encounter a kind of entropic Anti-Life force, another one of those "hole[s] in things."

But lest we spin too far from the mundane, I am always impressed with the way Morrison demonstrates himself a fan, whereas other writers might just ignore what came before. Though past knowledge is not necessary, the book picks up on recent events especially in the Green Lanterns title regarding the Corps' home base. It also returns to the Darkstar threat (now the Blackstars) from Robert Venditti's Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps sooner than one might expect; far from being repetitive, I'm glad to see Morrison's high-profile book work with what started in a "regular" title (the rising tide, as it were, lifting all boats). And then there's the smaller touches, like Hal evoking Parallax and a cameo by one of Kyle Rayner's villains, Grayvn, that suggest an appreciation among the creative team for more than just the Hal Jordan canon of Green Lantern.

Liam Sharp's art is gorgeous throughout. It swings wildly at times from the ornate to the very small and plain in such a way as to be dizzying, but I felt this kind of purposeful inconsistency helped enhance the very alienness of this book. Sharp at times also purposefully evokes Neal Adams, especially in the chapters' openings and closing kickers, further cementing Intergalactic Lawman's Hal Jordan-centric roots.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase The Green Lantern Vol. 1: Intergalactic Lawman

It's a breath of fresh air having a Grant Morrison DC title back on the stands; I feel a bit spoiled that we had him on Batman for so long and then by and large there's been mostly a gap since. Special projects like Multiversity are great, but after books like these I finding myself wishing we got more Morrison, more regularly. The Green Lantern Vol. 1: Intergalactic Lawman is a fun one and hopefully this run isn't over too soon; if you were more Team JLA than Team Final Crisis, this one will probably be OK for you.

[Includes original and variant covers, annotations]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
The Green Lantern Vol. 1: Intergalactic Lawman
Author Rating
4.5 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 2 )

  1. I love Morrison's take on Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern mythos, but as great as Sharp is at drawing alien creatures and landscapes, I think his storytelling often falters doing action scenes.

    Also, while I tend to use "Superman Reborn" as my mental explanation for all continuity discrepancies between the New 52 and Rebirth, the way Morrison brought back the pre-Flashpoint version of Adam Strange while disregarding Lemire's version of Alanna really made me scratch my head. I wonder which version King and Gerads are going with.

    1. Ugh, I meant Morrison brought back the pre-Flashpoint version of Adam Strange's FAMILY, including daughter Aleea and the fact that Alanna is Sardath's daughter.


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