Review: Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)


Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s first Green Lantern: Earth One volume was one interesting take on the Lantern mythos set against a world otherwise without superheroes, and their Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2 is a similar winner. Evoking the best sci-fi tropes, the first volume had as its undercurrent that Hal Jordan’s transformation to the Green Lantern was not just his own personal journey, but the entire Earth’s awakening to a larger universe. The second volume presents all those resultant consequences: a battle-hardened Earth taking the first steps toward interstellar diplomacy, toeing a fine line between peace and war.

More so, I’d venture, than most other of the Earth One books, Bechko and Hardman’s Green Lantern jettisons a lot of the built-up cruft of the characters' mythos to hone in on the sci-fi vein that’s been their specialty. Even in a book that manages to name-check as convulted a Green Lantern figure as Krona, there is nary a mention of willpower here, and the yellow rings have nothing to do with fear. What remains is nicely straightforward, though not simplistic — questions of one’s responsibility to their own planet (or nation, or family) versus their responsibility to the larger society; a debate over whether, as always, absolute power corrupts, or whether one can choose the lesser of two evils and still work for good; and surprising changes of heart from two of Green Lantern’s traditional villains. I liked this one a lot, and I do hope the authors plan to make it a trilogy.

[Review contains spoilers]

Most surprisingly, Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2 picks up three years after the first, in the wake of a largely off-screen war between the Green Lanterns and the Manhunters for the fate of Earth. What then was a nascent collection of Lanterns are now bonded much closer (if not wholly organized) and Jordan himself has moved from disgraced astronaut and low-level miner to head of his own aeronautics research company. He’s also an Earth celebrity, the Green Lantern, either the protector from or herald of a dangerous galaxy, depending on one’s stake in the matter.

What was refreshing about Bechko and Hardman’s Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1, and remains so here, is that their Jordan is far less irksome than traditional comics portrayals. Common wisdom might attest that the playboy, “shoot first” Hal Jordan is a more compelling protagonist than Hal Jordan, calm leader, interested in peaceful exploration of space, and with eyes for (and only for) Carol Ferris, but the opposite seems true. Again, not that there isn’t conflict — he’s hunted by a U.S. military more interested in interstellar conflict and torn between helping the Corps or defending Earth — but there’s something eminently wonderful about a Green Lantern story where one can root not only for what Jordan does but also for who he is.

Though yellow lanterns factor prominently into this second volume, as mentioned they are not powered by fear, but rather they’re just a more powerful version of the green lanterns (if possibly containing an element of mind control courtesy the book’s rogue Guardian). None of the characters trust the Guardian, but some debate comes from whether to accept the Guardian’s proffered yellow rings as insurance against the Guardian, a kind of space-borne arms race. In Bechko and Hardman’s take on this mythos, there is no moral requirement to be a Green Lantern (nor darkness needed to be a Yellow); instead, it’s all just how much power you have and what you decide to do with it. This makes for more nuanced conflicts — Sinestro, he of the regular continuity’s yellow Sinestro Corps, chooses a yellow lantern not out of narcissistic want for control, but because he sees mutually assured destruction as the best defense for his own people.

Indeed, another of the authors' sharp deviations from Green Lantern norm is that while Sinestro does take a yellow ring and turns against the Green Lanterns momentarily, within the span of this volume he sees the error of his ways and fights alongside the Corps again. Of course, we might still see a second heel-turn in another book (which I hope we receive), but given where I expected this to go with Sinestro in the spotlight this time, the reversal was a nice surprise. Similarly, rather early on we see a Qwardian hand over his yellow ring without much fanfare, ashamed of the things he’s done on behalf of the Guardian; the Qwardians aren’t characters who often get much distinction beside being uniformly evil, and I thought this too was a nice bit of difference.

Hardman continues to deliver clean, gritty art in this volume. The proceedings are less Alien inspired than last time around since the presence of extraterrestrials is not so much a shock, but Hardman still does well conveying the vastness and danger of space. There’s a particular scene toward the end where the principals convene in a small spacecraft that’s wonderfully claustrophobic. I will say that in spaceship battle scenes, especially in the beginning, I occasionally found the art hard to follow, but that’s often my complaint in standalone graphic novels where one is not as familiar with who and where as in the next regular volume of Justice League.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2



I read Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman’s Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2 in conjunction with a re-read of the first, and again, I enjoyed both of these volumes immensely. There’s a nice callback between them too, from when Jordan’s ally Amy Seaton won’t let the newly Lantern-ed Jordan into her ship for fear of radiation, to her hurry to do so in this volume in similar circumstances. I hope for a third book, and as surprised as I am that DC hasn’t yet released a three-volume omnibus of the Superman: Earth One books, certainly three Green Lantern: Earth One volumes collected together looks like they would reward consecutive reading.

[Includes sketchbook section]

Comments ( 2 )

  1. I think these Green Lantern Earth One volumes, if they get their due recognition, will end up known as the best of the Earth One line. They’re phenomenal.


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