Green Lantern #40

Looks can be deceiving.

Looks can be deceiving.

Author: Geoff Johns
Artist: Philip Tan
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover Artists: Tan, Glapion and Ruffino
Alternate Cover Artist: Rodolfo Migliari
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Eddie Berganza
“Tales of the Orange Lanterns: Weed Killer” Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

Let’s start with the cover.  ‘Prelude to Blackest Night.’  Okay.  ‘Green Lantern vs. Agent Orange.’  Now, that’s a little bit misleading.  Sorry folks, but Hal Jordan won’t be fighting Agent Orange in this issue.  That’s not to say that Green Lantern #40 isn’t already packed with exciting stuff, but the cover art is probably more indicative of what will happen next issue.

Thankfully, everything else about the cover art is very indicative of what you can expect to see inside this issue.  And that is brilliant comic action depicted by the art team of Tan, Glapion and Ruffino.  It’s good to see the full complement of inker, colorist and letterer credited on the splash page of this issue, because I don’t think their roles could possibly be overstated in making Green Lantern the quality title it has been from month to month since 2004.  It’s amazing to see the book that used to be characterised by green and green only grow into what is essentially the most colourful series on comic store shelves, month-in month-out.  The book opens with purple, moving on to green and blue, and then of course, orange.  The brilliant colours and pencil work on the cover are consistent throughout the entire story.  Philip Tan’s pencils are dynamic and perfectly suited to the breakneck action that fills these pages.  Take the cover art alone, for instance: Agent Orange grips Hal Jordan’s neck possessively; a hungry reptilian maw burning from his other hand; Hal threshes in frustration, his green constructs shattering on his opponent’s chest.  It really says all you need to know about the character and his insatiable thirst for more.  The unsung hero of Green Lantern comics is of course the letterer (in this case Rob Leigh), whose ring transmissions and ring commands are always interesting to look at.  All of these elements work together to generate the atmosphere that is unmistakably Green Lantern.

Geoff Johns must have heeded our general weariness for Hal Jordan’s narrative recaps in the opening of every single Green Lantern issue, instead shifting them to the sixth and seventh pages!  Newsflash, Geoff: an annoying narrative recap is still an annoying narrative recap, even if it comes five or six pages later!  Imagine how this is going to read in a trade!  I can count ten out of sixteen caption boxes that this glorious two-page splash could have done without.  While I understand the desire to get new readers up to speed, especially those who may have jumped on board for Blackest Night, there’s got to be a more economic way of doing it.  In fact, most of the dialogue contains enough incidental information to get by.  Luckily there’s enough action unfolding on-page that it doesn’t really slow things down.

The opening story snippet hints at big things to come for John Stewart, which is interesting, considering this book’s one-eyed focus on Hal Jordan since Rebirth.  It stands to reason that Lantern Stewart would have his time to shine – Green Lantern Corps centres around Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner – so he has been without a comic book home for quite some time.  In fact, I seem to remember an interview with Geoff Johns last year indicating that Green Lantern would focus on the adventures of Hal and John, while the support book deals with Kyle and Guy.  I guess that time is now.

It’s all happening in the Vega system at the moment, which should excite fans of Alan Moore.  Johns himself must be a huge Alan Moore fan – just about every single issue up to now seems to contain at least one tip of the hat to his Tales of the Green Lantern Corps.  The beleagured Guardians introduce a fourth new law to the Book of Oa, and it’s refreshing to finally see some resistance to all this revisionism from within the ranks.  The Guardians themselves embark on a mission, and so we’re starting to see a more interventionist creed taking root here.  Hal Jordan is a nerd’s dream come true as he struggles to reconcile his blue ring’s powers with his green ring.  The blue ring gives us a glimpse of Hal Jordan’s deepest hopes, which hints at a possible future.  I’m starting to see the setup here, but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone with further details.

Once again we see Larfleeze (Agent Orange) gripping the orange power battery in his cave.  I love this depiction of the character; his posture says “MINE!”  Thanks again to Philip Tan.

Unfortunately, the core story caps off at 18-pages, and we have a backup feature to conclude.  The good news is that it’s still entertaining and very Moore-ian.  The bad news is the change of artist – not because Rafael Albuquerque’s art is unwelcome; in fact it’s quite good – it just makes the overall product feel a little inconsistent.  The four-page story is titled “Tales of the Orange Lanterns: Weed Killer”, and narrates the origin of Glomulus, one of the orange constructs that debuted four pages earlier.  You may remember Albuquerque’s work on Blue Beetle (though judging by the sales figures, probably not!), and it’s actually well-suited to this type of story.  It’s just that I would have preferred to see this and other stories like it in a separate tie-in, to make room for the main feature.  It does flesh out the character, but it feels a little strange, given that Glomulus is essentially dead, and lives only as a construct within Agent Orange’s power battery (as do all the Orange Lanterns).

All in all, we have a pretty juicy issue of Green Lantern to dig into this month, even without the cover’s promised match-up.

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