Review: The Green Lantern Vol. 2: The Day the Stars Fell hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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With The Green Lantern Vol. 2: The Day the Stars Fell, Grant Morrison essentially opens Hal Jordan's "Black Casebook." Just as in Morrison's well-regarded Batman run, in which he took the strangest of Batman's past-continuity Silver Age adventures and made them contextually canon, so too here does Morrison take a seven-issue swim through some of the weirder concepts of Green Lantern and friends' histories.

The result is mixed. This book is entertaining to be sure, whether you recognize the characters involved or you're simply a fan of Morrison's brand of weirdness. The second volume, however, doesn't have much to do with the overarching story Morrison is telling, at least until it snaps back to that storyline with abrupt whiplash. That aspect feels stitched together, Morrison focusing hard on one concept until he finishes with it and then discarding it haphazardly for another, in a way that feels uncharacteristically indelicate for this author.

It's fine, ultimately; I come to a Morrison book for high concept more than anything else, and if the book wants to dawdle in the Multiverse for a while, as it does, before getting back to business, that's fine with me. But in comparison, Stars is more about nostalgia than Morrison's first The Green Lantern book, more about sly nods than story, and that may not be as appealing to some as the first volume.

[Review contains spoilers]

Again, though lacking perhaps in connectivity and follow-through, each of the stories in Stars are enjoyable, if often presented with a wink and a nod. Take for instance the first issue semi-prose piece, lushly illustrated in storybook fashion by series artist Liam Sharp. The story takes as its launching point Myrwhydden, the Mxyzptlk-esque wizard who first plagued Hal Jordan in the 1960s, and uses that to sweep Hal through an atmospheric Edgar Rice Burroughs landscape, ending with a white-knuckle, do-or-die finale and a tribute to the relationship between ring and ring-bearer. "Morrison-ian" can sometimes mean finding the most iconic or esoteric within the superheroic milieu, but it can also mean repurposing the hokey into the beautiful.

And it's not just Hal Jordan who gets the deep dive treatment; an irreverent Green Lantern/Green Arrow team-up sees the return of Xeen Arrow, a sci-fi Silver Age ally of Oliver Queen and Speedy Roy Harper; the story begins with Ollie complaining with the increasing amount of weirdness he has to deal with, but goes on to show the weirdness has been with him all along. (Sharp's excellent Neal Adams impression serves the issue well.) Later, Morrison riffs on about a dozen Silver Age alt-Supermen and women, as familiar as Vartox and as esoteric as characters from stories like "Superman's Super Courtship" and "Superman's Big Brother."

But the piece de resistance of Morrison's second The Green Lantern volume is the arrival of the "Guardians of the Multiverse" to help Hal Jordan battle the threat of the Qwa-Man. These multiversal Green Lanterns are gathered from the Earths outlined in Morrison's Multiversity, though of those are characters culled from a variety of other sources — the Tangent Green Lantern, the Batman Green Lantern from In Blackest Night, "Magic Lantern" from Morrison's Animal Man, the Green Lantern from Batman Beyond, and more. I, for one, am always happy to see Morrison return to his Multiversity landscape (and by implication, Final Crisis); there is some material here about the Orrery of Worlds, but I still found The Green Lantern far less complex than Final Crisis, if that was giving you pause.

At the culmination of the Qwa-Man story, Hal is suddenly whisked away by the Blackstars, antagonists of The Green Lantern Vol. 1: Intergalactic Lawman, and everyone just takes for granted that Controller Mu was behind all the trouble previous. It seemed to me very swift, with no explanation as to how Mu could have set loose a beast from another dimension (though it's something of Morrison's trademark not to trifle with details like these); also, we're left with the impression that the entire Qwa-Man threat and the appearance of the multiversal Lanterns was no more than a red herring to distract from Mu's return. That's a whole lot to sweep under the rug, and the sense of "none of that matters, we're doing this now" is jarring, but indeed if I didn't want to be jarred, I'd probably not be reading a Grant Morrison book.

For me, the book's real soft spot was the Green Lantern Annual collected at the end of the book. Obviously Morrison's still trying to do big things, bringing back classic DC character Air Wave as well as the Kwyzz from Morrison's Flash run, referencing Hal Jordan's time as the Spectre, and tying all that together with a "Jordan family reunion" story from the late 1960s. But artists Giuseppe Camuncoli and Trevor Scott are no match for Sharp, making the story look lesser-than as is, plus the disparate elements don't blend; at the point in which Morrison gets into the petty Jordan family squabbles, the story feels off the rails. It's fun spotting everything Morrison is sampling, but together they don't make a harmony.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase The Green Lantern Vol. 2: The Day the Stars Fell

Obviously I'm not stopping here, with Hal's subsequent Blackstar adventures sure to be collected and the "second season" of this series following that. Grant Morrison's proven he can tell a good Green Lantern story, and I'm still hopeful we'll actually see a promised "police procedural" tale before all is said and done. But The Green Lantern Vol. 2: The Day the Stars Fell is looser and less focused than the previous volume; I'm hoping for more of a return to how this all started next time around.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
The Green Lantern Vol. 2: The Day the Stars Fell
Author Rating
3.75 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 1 )

  1. Huh, I read this in single issues, and the Annual was the only part I really enjoyed, beyond the Cosmic Grail teases that went nowhere.


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