Thursday, 30 August 2012

Green Lantern Annual #1 Review

Picking up mere moments after the last issue, Hal Jordan and Sinestro have found themselves powerless and at the mercy of a reborn Black Hand. If that fate wasn't cruel enough, the zombified villain takes his revenge by burying our heroes alive! Meanwhile, the Guardians take several bold steps in their plan to eliminate the Green Lantern Corps and free will as a whole from the universe.

If the cover of this Annual wasn't enough to tip you off, it's that time again. A Green Lantern one-shot, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Ethan Van Sciver? Any long-time fan will know in an instant we're on the verge of another groundbreaking event, that will shake the DC universe to it's core! Since 2004, this all-star creative team has guided us through many a major happening, so when they're together, you know it's about to kick-off. This time around we're on the verge of the "Rise of the Third Army", a story with genuinely horrifying implications.

Having been freed from his shackles as a living member of the Indigo Tribe and returned to his undead Black Lantern state, Black Hand casts one hell of a scary shadow. He barely even needs to lay a finger on our dynamic duo and yet he's inflicting severe psychological damage with every barb. You can almost sense the glee with which Geoff Johns writes this villain. While Blackest Night left the character on the back-burner for the most part, instead focusing on Nekron and his army, this story is the true showcase for Black Hand. A particularly sadistic moment features Hand taunting Hal with an offer to bring his father back to life. Hal knows for a fact that the Black Lanterns aren't the genuine article, but Hand throws in just enough doubt about Nekron being gone and no ring to control the body, that you can see the temptation on his face. He eventually comes to his senses, but that moment is beautifully realised. It resonates heavily later on, as even when his own life is put in danger, Hal is more concerned with not letting Hand disturb his father's remains.

Hal and Sinestro also manage to fit in a wonderful array of teamwork in this issue. To think, only a couple of years ago, these men were at each other's throats, their own worst enemies. But now, they've developed this terrific buddy cop dynamic ala Lethal Weapon. They may not like each other, but they've got each other's backs without question. Hal immediately rushing over to dig up Sinestro and Sinestro with the last second save when all else fails. Sadly, this issue acts as a last hurrah for such a team, as their final fates have been left  a mystery for the time being, making way for the new Arab-American Green Lantern, Baz. I'm definitely going to miss the combination of Hal and Sinestro. Whoever this new GL is, he's got big shoes to fill. But if anyone can write an entertaining new character, it's Geoff Johns.

Finally, several big Guardian secrets are revealed. We've long suspected that the little blue men aren't as noble and virtuous as they make themselves out to be and this is the point of no return. They ransack an ancient vault, murdering their long lost brethren as they go and steal the appropriately ominous "first lantern". Absorbing power from this relic, the Guardians channel their might into the creation of a new species - the Third Army. A mindless brute, their heart removed, seeking to transform others into unfeeling monsters in their own image. If it wasn't scary enough that the Guardians now have an army of unthinking creatures at their disposal, the way it assimilates innocents and makes them into mirror images, is downright terrifying. The crowning achievement being the victim's eyes left unaffected, a horrifying reminder of just who that creature used to be. For the moment, it's transforming random red-shirts who happen to wander into it's path, but I genuinely fear for any hero that meets that fate.

9 out of 10  

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