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Green Lantern vol. 2: The Revenge of Black Hand

January 17, 2013

A good part of the fun of this series comes from the fact that while reading it, you really feel that writer Geoff Johns has a plan for all this.  Granted, I’m sure that there have been plenty of changes and revisions to it ever since he successfully brought Hal Jordan back as the title character in “Rebirth” yet it all still feels relatively coherent.  It should be telling to DC that books like this, the Snyder/Capullo “Batman,” Snyder’s “Swamp Thing,” Jeff Lemire’s “Animal Man,” and Azzarello’s “Wonder Woman,” books with strong authorial voices with clear stories to tell, have been the most well received and best-selling of the “New 52.”  You’d think they’d try to nurture and replicate that kind of success with their second-tier titles... but I guess not.

As for the volume itself, it’s another solid read despite a few hiccups.  Though things start out with Sinestro requesting Hal’s help to stop the plans of the Guardians of the Universe -- by holding Carol at gunpoint because that’s how he rolls -- the two Green Lanterns are are abducted by the Indigo Tribe and taken to their homeworld.  There, we finally learn the origins of this particular group of Lanterns and Abin Sur’s connection to them.  Though the revelation of their origins likely won’t surprise anyone, they still offer some welcome payoff to a long-running mystery.  We also finally find out what “Nok” means, and that pleased me to no end.

This part of the volume, titled “The Secret of the Indigo Tribe,” offers up a good deal of action to go along with the revelations as Hal has to fight his way to an indoctrinated Sinestro, and then the two have to take on the entire Tribe once their rings go offline.  Coming from artist Doug Mahnke, it all looks incredible as the detail he puts into the art is matched only by the wildness of the things he gets to draw.  However, the only real hitch to this story comes at the climactic moment when we find out the effect that the indigo ring has had on tribe leader Indigo-1.  I can see what Johns was going for here as we’re meant to see that the influence of her ring has changed her for the better.  The problem is that the change comes across as quite arbitrary since the rest of the tribe is out for blood once the rings go offline.  How exactly did she change?  What is the exact nature of the effect that the indigo rings have on their bearers?  I woudn’t have these questions if it hadn’t been implied that the tribe has a kind of “Stockholm Syndrome” effect on its members.  Or, for that matter, if we hadn’t seen Indigo-1 thirsting for revenge against Abin Sur in “War of the Green Lanterns.”

Of course, a little “Stockholm Syndrome” in the name of compassion isn’t a bad thing when one of the tribe’s members is Black Hand.  After he escapes and “The Revenge of Black Hand” begins, Hal and Sinestro find themselves thrust back on Earth with the Book of the Black which wants to be with its rightful owner.  Zombies, of course, are also involved.  Though this story aims to channel a little of the magic that made “Blackest Night” such a great event, it works better as a prelude to future stories.  Yes, it was a tense moment when Black Hand tries to bring back Hal’s dad right in front of him, but it was more interesting to see the machinations of the Guardians as they unlock the prison of the First Lantern.  The Book of the Black also has some foreshadowing that unnerves Black Hand to no end as he finds out that someone else is going to be the greatest Black Lantern of all.

Though the Hal/Sinestro/Black Hand stuff is diverting enough, the story does a better job of selling the idea that the Guardians have finally gone too far and need to be stopped.  It all centers around this First Lantern whose power they use to create the first soldier in their Third Army to replace the Green Lanterns.  It’s not a pretty picture, but it does leave me eager to see how the upcoming crossover plays out.  We also find out why there’s a need for a new Green Lantern of Sector 2814 in a way that sets up an interesting conundrum for Johns to write his way out of.

The current “Rise of the Third Army” crossover is currently extending through all four “Lantern” titles.  Crossovers and events like this may fizzle out more often than they succeed, but after reading this I’m glad for this accelerated serialization because it means I’ll get the collected edition that much sooner!

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