THE GREEN LANTERN #1 / Writer: Grant Morrison / Artist: Liam Sharp & Steve Oliff / Letterer: Tom Orzechowski / DC Comics / November 7th 2018
I have to be honest, after spending the last two years following the exciting adventures of Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz within the page of Green Lanterns, I wasn’t 100% thrilled when a Hal Jordan series was announced. Learning that Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp would combine their genius to bring us this tale did quench my disappointment a bit, but it wasn’t until reading this first issue that I was fully on board.
This book presents itself as a simple space cop story placing Hal Jordan in the position of investigating the death of a fellow corps member. The book opens up with a team of lanterns apprehending a group of criminals. The villains are quickly dealt with, but through the use of a device named a Luck Dial, they manage to escape, causing the lanterns’ ship to crash. The rest of the comic is focused on Hal Jordan, whom, after taking care of the criminals who crashed on Earth, meets with a Guardian about the mission he’s about to embark on. Meanwhile, throughout the comic, we get these quick, behind the scenes snippets of a group that is about to send Hal Jordan’s world into a tumble.
In regular Grant Morrison fashion, The Green Lantern is weird yet fantastic. The space and murder mystery aspects of this comic fit the tone Morrison brings to all his work. The story feels jumpy at times and goes from one thing to another quite quickly, but it did keep me on my toes during the entire thing. Despite everything moving so quickly, it doesn’t feel like any information is left behind. At all times during the comic, I felt as if I was being fed just enough information while the veil of mystery persisted until the end. Morrison introduces new concepts like the Luck Dial while still paying homage to Hal’s history with him meeting a crashed lantern ship on Earth.
Where the comic loses some momentum is in the characterization. Hal did feel like Hal, but there was no big character moment. The comic ignores character focus in order to make more room for a plot-focused first issue. This is by no means a negative, but if you’re expecting bold new character direction, then this comic will not be for you. There’s no doubt in my mind that Morrison is planning a deep dive into Hal’s psyche deeper down the line, but the kick-off issue doesn’t hint to it just yet.
Where the book excels is in terms of plot. The Green Lantern #1 keeps things simple enough while having the staple Morrison edge. He has big ideas and plans for this book and it shows, from the way he introduces the problems with the book of Oa, the Luck Dials, to the open ending. It left me with a million questions, but I never felt lost. I was left immediately craving the next one because of Morrison’s expertly planted seeds of mystery. This comic felt like an early 50’s jump into science fiction where the crazy over the top nature of the unknown is embraced as an element of the plot and art.
Despite how much I was hooked by the writing, in The Green Lantern Morrison is living in the shadow of the art. Liam Sharp takes Morrison’s writing and elevates it tenfold. I had some serious New X-Men vibes reading this comic. Last time I was this enthralled by someone teaming up with Morrison was when Frank Quitely was teamed up with him. Sharp really owns the space mystery tone that echoes through the pages of this comic. He provides the perfect balance between detailed and simplistic. Giving detailed scenes that let your eyes explore endlessly without overloading pages with so much information the brain can’t process. The brain of Grant Morrison is truly brought to life by the skills of Liam Sharp.
The colors meshed with the pencils quite well, despite being probably the tamest aspect of the comic. Steve Oliff was placed with a superstar team, but he showed up to the challenge. I found the colors to be stale in certain places, but he made up for that during the important Green Lantern scenes where the lantern light is crucial. I personally prefer Sharp’s pencils without colors, but in a comic like this one where colors are an important pillar, the illustrations need a colorist who can highlight these bright greens perfectly, and Oliff does just that.
There is a lot to love in this comic. From the writing to the art, the entire team came to play. Morrison continues to be one of my favorite writers because of his uniquely bizarre style. Sharp produces astoundingly beautiful art that marries itself to the writing. Go pick up The Green Lantern because it’s about to become an instant Hal Jordan classic.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5 shattered thighbones.