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Subj: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #36 - In Search of a Legacy.
Posted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 at 07:24:08 pm EST (Viewed 393 times)
There's been a frustratingly dogged determination in the output of DC comics to mine the past, usually the well trod past, in order to fuel any new storyline or event series.
And certainly the superhero genre has tended to be always be one of mining its past - Two-Face, The Joker, Bane, Rha's Al Ghul - all familiar faces over the years who will perennially return to lock wits with Batman for example. But interspersed within this cycle would always be new faces to break the predictability and keep the legend feeling still fresh, some of these new ideas and faces would be disposable, others, such as The Ventriloquist or Anarky would prove popular enough to be added onto the legend for repeat engagement as the years passed by, and so the story remained fresh and still vital.
Yet look further afield. Look to the worlds of Wonder Woman and Superman, and progress, innovation, imagination, has all but ceased. A climate exists where nothing new is being introduced, no new situations developed, no new antagonists being conceived to present a different and fresh challenge. And in light of this climate of calcification Robert Venditti's plot for 'Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps' surely seems to fit the very same category on the face of it. After all there is nothing new within these pages of the latest issue either.... and yet... and yet.... it works.
'Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps' #36 is no great work of art, not on the face of its basic plot at least. But what it expresses in its written content is something else, a quietly done character piece on one of the books most used and abused figures, and in amidst what is just another day on the job for the Green Lantern Corps (now seemingly an organisation consisting of just four, all earthmen) develops another familiar and 'seen-it-all-before' plot into a sequence of events which looks at the question of what the mortality of man means for an immortal being. Or to be more precise what the Immortal can find for itself by way of a sense of purpose. What forces might influence an immortal to turn itself to a selfish uncaring trajectory, and what might the forces be that would make an immortal turn its existence to developing a sense of dedication and responsibility to a greater purpose. A selfless purpose...
Yes, on face value the story of the Green Lanterns pursuing abducted Guardians and tracking them to an evil-dooers lair is all routine superheroics. Well enough illustrated by jack Herbert and Jose Luis, but in keeping with his own established approach to the series Robert Venditti is telling a story that has more than just that one action-orientated level, for at work here is an insight into the workings and inner thoughts and feelings of a Guardian of the Universe - the always prominent, but seldom explored, Ganthet.
Always depicted as an individualistic figure, a personality among a clique that had divested itself of personality, Ganthet's long life has duly been, until recently, a lonely one. And in the wake of the violent end of his brethren some time ago little of his thoughts and ambitions since these events has been shown. Now, with a very real threat of death from the long thought extinct Controllers the realities of his own relative vulnerability and the loss of much of his own kind is finally a subject brought to the fore by Venditti and a progressive and natural sequence of events allows for the writer and his focal character to take stock of all of this long-standing jumble of past events and returned faces to make a choice to move on. To take events and move forward. Robert Venditti's greatest triumph in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #36 isn't so much his finely handled study of what propels an immortal towards decency and unselfish service to the greater good, commendable though his work in this aspect is. Rather what his example shows in this story is that unlike too many other writers at the moment, he can take existing stock characters and long-standing plots, and instead of merely reserving them in another empty and soulless go-round, take the past and recalibrate it in such a way that it all feels both natural progress at work and a shrewd and judicious selection of the books 'stock room' in order to set up a future that honours that past while intriguing us on its future usage.
There IS nothing new in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #36 no; just a reworking of the existing furnishings. But what matters is the technique the writer hs employed to make it all seem a fresh and natural progression. And Just another reason as to why I find Robert Venditti to be such a good writer of the Green Lantern mythos.
Thoughts and Observations:
*"I have Been Called Guardian. But Never Have I Been Called Father."
As an opening page the sequence of all-black panels is an effective way by which the readers attention is naturally made to focus on the narration of the unseen Ganthet. A very effective way by which Robert Venditti makes us, the reader, immediately take an interest in the story of this character and thereby take us along through the story to the eventual choices he makes, and what the influences shaping those choices actually are.
The reveal that Ganthet has long been in love with fellow Guardian Sayd is a longstanding one going back to the days of Tyler Kirkham and Tony Bedard's New Guardians series, and possibly earlier still, but this may well be the first time he, or any Guardian, has shown feelings or thoughts concerning an actual need or awareness of family. It is quite likely, indeed canon even, that the Guardians became impotent as they left Maltus and evolved over Millennia on OA. But on the other hand the fact that they have also been seen to have fathered a new race of immortals back in the days of the Post-Crisis universe with their Zamaron counterparts does tend to support the possibility that in principle at least Ganthet and Sayd could still potentially procreate... the question is left ambiguous by Venditti however.
*Survival of the species is very much an undercurrent to the issue's story, The Controllers are an ever diminishing offshoot of the ancient Guardians who settled on OA millennia ago. Theirs was a path that gradually went nowhere, as all they were left to do was to gamely struggle at the edges of the Universe and never make any significant impression upon the scheme of things.
For their part though time saw the Guardians reduced also, from a large contingent to just the six of which Ganthet speaks of. Played out here then is a test of worth, The Controllers pouring their remaining efforts into supplanting and literally taking over the Guardians place in the Universe, but ultimately overpowered by their more successful offshoots as apart from their being the more powerful Immortals their long established works in the form of the Green Lantern Corps, prove the point at hand - that investing ones efforts into long-standing cooperative ventures with others is what gives the Immortal real power and purpose in the scheme of things. And even taking into account that last page the reality still stands that all The Controllers really have by which to answer that is a misplaced understanding of the world that is rooted in their being only capable of mimicing their more successful cousins...
*Further to which: As the embattled Green Lanterns use skill and sleight-of-hand to free the Guardians the unspoken message at hand may well be "Don't Let It Be Them!". If the Guardians stood there on that page, just freed, don't take the stand against their cousins the future of the Universe would be in the hands of The *Controllers*, not the 'Guardians'...
*We are given a passing (though unconvincing) explanation finally for where the missing Templar Guardians have been, and while not entirely satisfying Venditti does at least honour continuity by making the explanation a continuation of Justin Jordan's under-appreciated New Guardians run, and he even shows as much by getting their names right(!)
As unexpected as their return is I will say I am more than happy to see them back. By reintroducing them Venditti makes fine use of this established stock of characters and reweaves them into a new generation of distinctive and individualistic Guardians of the Universe, the fact that in rejoining with them in a renewed pact to watch over the well-being of the Universe also gives Ganthet (and Sayd) his previously mentioned need for a 'family' is one of the numerous fine touches Robert Venditti's script offers the reader to enjoy.
*And... The Darkstars!
Who could have guessed that a now fading footnote to the Green Lantern mythos and a largely unloved book of the early 1990's saturation output of comics would find a new life in the today. Long defunct, a crude and unwelcome continuity implant in its 1992 debut, The Darkstars was in initially marketed as a modern take of the Green Lantern concept, a sophisticated update that would be headed by the intriguing creative team of Michael Jan Friedman and Larry Stroman.
And oh how the reality disappointed.
But surprising as it was to see that final page their return in the context is a fitting choice from Venditti. The Controllers were the original creators of the Darkstar organisation and technology, but it was always a poor reflection of their cousins successes, and as the gradual discoveries of Ferrin Colos would prove theirs was never any altruistic agenda in their creation. As the retreated Controllers roll out a new generation of Darkstar suits it is an entirely fitting development as in the end, much as they had in the beginning, all they have left to them is not inspiration by which to make their mark on the scheme of things, but Imitation. A poor mans inspiration of a proven success, but one done with no awareness or understanding of why that inspirations source actually works so very well... but this is all quite the norm for The Controllers. Only a failure misunderstands what is actually just an act of desperation.
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #36 - A very satisfying installment indeed.
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