Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Wednesday Comics: Grant Morrison's Green Lantern

I don't think I've mentioned Grant Morrison's now two year-old and still going run on Green Lantern on this blog yet, so it's about time I did. For the short verison, if you aren't a fan of Morrison or particularly his "mad idea" neo-Silver Age approach to DC characters he has taken at least since All-Star Superman and possibly since JLA, then you probably won't like his run on Green Lantern.

If you do like some of those things....well, you might like it. 

I think for most people Hal Jordan Green Lantern might be a bit of a hard sell. I'm sure there are folks out their that love him (Geoff Johns writes for them, apparently), but I don't know anyone that views him as their favorite. Morrison's take gives him some characterization that he hasn't had before, but I'd hesitate to call it depth. He is stalwart, and cocky, and mostly unafraid. He is also not terrible success at much other than being good at facing down danger and being a hero.

That sort of character stuff mostly takes a back seat to gonzo sci-fi superheroics. Morrison's view of DC galactic and multi-dimensional society is incoherent in the sense that it's hard to discern much when it's coming at you out of a firehose. It's perhaps a bit like Guardians of the Galaxy, perhaps, in a "just go with it" sort of way, but it's also very DC Silver Age filtered through modern sensibilities. It's grounded with the often very police procedural approach taken to the Green Lanterns' job and the tribulations they face. Barely surviving an onslaught from an antimatter universe is followed by a day in court, where the perps play on the judge's sympathies. It even touches on police brutality early in the run, but wisely that's a bit a misdirection. The bubble Morrison is building would probably pop in the face of too much realism.

While the series doesn't lack for action, cleverness and problem solving are often the solution to the stories' central dilemmas, in Silver Age fashion. Liam Sharp's art certainly supports the action and the sometimes trippiness of the setting, but I occasionally sort of wish for someone a bit cleaner-lined to make some scenes a bit clearer and as a counterpoint to Morrison's flights of fancy rather than a henchman. José Luis García-López would have been great for this.

Anyway, it's not my favorite of Morrison's mainstream DC works, but it keeps me coming back. I'm also hoping (like with his Action Comics run) that it has some surprises at the end that make what came before seem even better. We'll see.


Dick McGee said...

Having been employed at a comic shop during the 90s it feels really, really weird to hear someone say they don't like Hal as *the* face of the GL Corps on Earth. For most of the fan base his descent into insanity and cosmic-scale supervillainy back then was a tremendous betrayal of the character's legacy, and the readership (and DC subscription counts overall) suffered terribly when they tried to replace him with Kyle Rayner, and the folks that did hang on through all that wanted to see Jon Stewart or Guy Gardner taking the role of Earth's main GL, not this new guy. I didn't have a dog in the fight myself but DC lost a lot of readers over their fiddling with Hal - who eventually wound up "redeemed" by dying while stopping the Sun Eater, then became the Specter for a while, then (years later) came back from the dead and had all his dodgy behavior blamed on a cosmic entity messing with his head, making the entirety of a decade's worth of comics more than pointless.

I'll agree that Hal's written as shallow as can be, but that seems to be what his diehard fans want out of him, at least going by their complaints 25-ish years ago. Myself, I have a soft spot for him, partly because he's such a lunkhead (especially in the Silver Age days) and partly because Gil Kane drew dynamic punches better than any human being has a right to.

Trey said...

I didn't say I don't like Hal as "the face" of the GL Corps. Rather, I don't know know that a lot of people are particularly excited about GL in general, and Jordan is just a subset of that.

I remember the those concerns in the 90s, but that was nearly 30 years ago, and I'm not really sure everyone who was upset about that was an avid reader/buyer of GL comics. In fact, I am pretty sure they were not. Comic book fans (particularly of the Old Man Comics) sort, like to get upset about things that are emblematic, not necessarily because they have a dog in the fight.

tug said...

I have a lot of similar thoughts on this series after reading the first page. I almost see it like Morrison doing Silver Age comics as though they were 2000 AD sci-fi serials. And I think Sharpe is definitely going for that in the art too, which is great to look at but doesn't do a great job of storytelling what's going on from panel to panel. Which is kind of how I remember lots of 2000 AD sci-fi stories from back when I read a friend's older brother's comics growing up.