Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2 – Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman, Writers; Gabriel Hardman, Artist; Jordan Boyd, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Ray: The Earth One line has had a strange journey over the last ten years, but as DC ups its outputs of OGNs, these top-tier reinventions of iconic characters have mostly gone dark. Grant Morrison’s reinvention of Wonder Woman is still going with a third volume planned, but JMS’ Superman faded out after three volumes, the Johns/Frank Batman reboot was the best of the lot but is on hold as they concentrate on other projects, and the Jeff Lemire-penned Teen Titans reinvention never quite caught on due to the radical changes to the characters. But returning for a second outing is the hard sci-fi reboot of Green Lantern by the husband-wife team of Bechko and Hardman.
Every one of these series takes place in its own continuity without the other heroes, so the reboot of the Green Lantern Corps has become the defining event for its world. As Ferris Air takes point for tech development, Earth makes contact with alien lifeforms for the first time a few years after the Battle of Oa. But a growing wing if militant and isolationist humans wants to deter progress, and a diplomatic mission with a reptilian species goes horribly wrong with earth’s military space defense seems to fire on the peaceful alien fleet—potentially causing a war, and resulting in the human diplomatic team (including a young John Stewart, pre-ring) being taken hostage by the aliens.
From there, this turns into a high-octane space thriller as a massive new threat emerges in the form of the Yellow Lanterns. Tied to an ancient enemy of the Green Lanterns and seemingly taking sides against Earth, they seem to be far more powerful than the Green Lanterns and aim to impose a stricter order on the galaxy—and may be aligned with sinister forces on Earth. This creates a possible civil war within the Green Lantern Corps, as the pragmatic and militaristic Sinestro starts considering splitting from the Greens, while Hal, Arisia, and Kilowog stay loyal and work towards resolving the diplomatic standoff with the aliens. It’s impossible to miss some of the political subtext here.
While there’s a lot of sci-fi action here, Bechko and Hardman are interested in exploring some pretty weighty topics including isolation and militarization. There are no traditional villains here besides possibly a sinister general on Earth—Sinestro is given a lot more layers than you’d expect for a guy with that name and seems hesitant to cross certain lines. Even the master villain seems to be more of a tragic character than anything else. The trio of explorers, including John Stewart (who solicits spoiled winds up with a yellow lantern ring at one point), steal the show, giving a very human point of view to the chaos. They steal it so much, in fact, that Hal seems to get overshadowed for much of the book.
The creative team packs an enormous amount of story into roughly 140 pages, and almost all of it lands. Towards the end, the story maybe becomes a bit bogged down in sci-fi terminology as the multiverse enters the picture, and the ending is such a massive swerve for the Green Lantern franchise that it’s hard to imagine what a third volume is even going to look like. But isn’t that kind of the joy of something like this? Free of continuity or other heroes to account for, Hardman and Bechko are able to tap into the insanity that the Green Lantern Corps would bring to Earth. If more A-list creative teams want to put their stamp on a franchise in this line, I hope they cut loose as much as these two did.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.