(Huh… I was looking for the link to this review to add to my review of the second volume of this series and couldn’t find it. That’s a first for me. So if you’re wondering what I thought of vol. 2 after reading my thoughts here, come on back tomorrow.)
After Geoff Johns gave us the definitive “Green Lantern” run, I was of the opinion that it would take a similarly high-profile writer to keep me reading that series. Someone like Grant Morrison, you know. Instead we got Robert Venditti and that was that. (To be fair, Venditti had a run that lasted almost as long as Johns’ did, so I think I owe it to him to give it a look one of these days.) Now, Morrison is writing the series with Liam Sharp providing the art and they’ve boiled the series down to its essence: Hal Jordan is a SPACE COP fighting SPACE CRIME.
That might seem like a reductive way to describe the appeal of a series like “Green Lantern,” until you consider its writer. Letting Morrison tackle the concept of space crime is all the excuse he needs to let his imagination run riot over the proceedings. In the first few pages alone we see a squad of Green Lanterns fighting a spider-pirate and her gang to save the Luck Lords of Ventura. Oh, and one of the Lanterns happens to be Floozle Flem, a sentient virus. Things get crazier still from there and that’s even before Jordan himself shows up.
When he does, expect to see him figure out the right place to punch the brain of a collective organism. Then play “good cop” in the interrogation of the spider-pirate. He’ll then go on to track down the Earth after it’s stolen, employ extreme measures when dealing with intergalactic slavers, find a way to deal with some rogue Sun-eaters, and go undercover to try and track down the ultimate will-controlled weapon.
There’s a lot of crazy details that I’m leaving out -- like how Jordan places the inhabitants of the Earth under arrest for being gamma-intoxicated -- and they’re both the best and most distracting part of the volume. You see, Morrison is a writer who has always understood that stories have to be grounded in the understandable, whether that involves understandable character motivations or familiar stories, before things can get really crazy. In the case of “The Green Lantern,” everything is filtered through the lens of the police procedural. That helps keep things relatable even when Jordan is going toe-to-toe with an alien being who calls himself The Shepherd and is arguing that it was okay to steal the Earth because its most populous life form -- insects and bacteria -- didn’t object.
So yeah, there’s a lot of craziness here and Morrison dishes it out to the reader at a pretty frenetic clip. Some might argue that it’s too fast as you’ve barely had time to wrap your head around the thought of things like a cosmic auction place before the Green Lanterns try to break it up and are confronted by the Blackstars with their own thought-powered weapons, and their very presence means there’s a traitor in their ranks, and… Look, Morrison has always been one for coming up with wild and crazy ideas in his comics. That’s all part of his appeal. With “The Green Lantern,” however, it feels like this is the rare time when he’s arguably throwing too much at the reader for once.
By the end of this first volume you’ll either be overwhelmed or impressed by the fact that the writer doesn’t appear to be running out of steam in the slightest. I fall into the latter camp, even though that there are some faults to the writer’s approach here. His take on Jordan as someone who’s courageous and cocky in equal measure works in the context of these issues, even if there’s not much depth to it beyond that. The series also feels strangely unmoored from the rest of the DCU, with only token nods to the other Green Lanterns and the Justice League.
Helping paper over these issues is the spectacular art from Sharp. Not every artist has been able to keep up with the writer on his projects. Sharp is the rare one who appears to thrive on the crazy stuff he’s been given to draw. The level of detail he packs onto each page is impressive at the start, and he keeps delivering that level of quality throughout the rest of the volume. Toss in all of the distinct aliens he has to draw in each issue and you really start to wonder how he was able to deliver this book on a monthly basis. Each page features something to catch the eye or stoke the imagination and Sharp deserves as much credit for this volume’s success as its writer.
Even in its current hardcover format “Intergalactic Lawman” is worth a read. Incredible art and imaginative writing make “Green Lantern” work quite well as an interstellar police procedural. Just make sure that you’re okay with a take on the series that prizes crazy ideas over character development.