Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Green Lantern #43 Review

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy

First things first, Bruce Wayne, his corpse or anything related to that cover does not occur in this issue. It is about as cheap a cover as DC could possibly put on the book. Thankfully, the actual issue is excellent and, cover shenanigans aside, everyone should walk away happy with this purchase.

With that out of the way, I think we should clarify what this issue is about. It's not a Green Lantern comic, despite the title of the book. This is basically Black Hand #1. The issue highlights the early days of Black Hand as a child, his life growing up, recaps how he got his powers, which was also shown in Secret Origin, and ends the issue by ushering us into Blackest Night with a bang.

The first and most immediate thing to mention is the artwork of new series artists, Doug Mahnke. I'm a huge fan of Mahnke's art and this is easily some of his best work. It's dark and moody, as befits a story about the birth of the first Black Lantern, but is clean and detailed at the same time. A real treat after some muddled art from Tan's fill-in arc on Agent Orange.

As for the content of this issue, I'm torn. On one hand, I did enjoy the issue a great deal and it really ramped up a notch in the closing pages. On the other hand, though, the first 15 pages or so are, well, basically filler if you ask me. It's just recapping things we already know about Black Hand and events from the past. It has Johns's unique twist on the recap through Black Hand's eyes and I feel it was important to flesh out Black Hand at this time, but I just felt like I was watching a rerun of something I've already seen with some voice overs.

However, I also believe the majority of the people picking up this issue, especially those that are merely jumping on for Blackest Night, will greatly appreciate the background information on Black Hand. I'm probably a bit clouded on the topic since I just spent a great deal of time researching and rereading for the Blackest Night primer we've been running all week.

All this brings us to the present day section of the book, which featured the splashpage full of names teased on DC's The Source blog. The way I read this section was that the "voice" speaking to Black Hand was listing off various deaths that have occured, such as Martian Manhunter's, Ted Kord's, Vic Sage, etc. It didn't read as a who's who list of guaranteed Black Lanterns as many people immediately speculated on forums around the internet. The "voice" continued by listing off the people that have also come back from the dead, such as Flash, Superman and Hal Jordan, before telling Hand that he "wants them all" back, implying the mystery big bad is someone that controls the land of the dead, lending some weight to the Nekron theory that's been floating around for a while.

The issue ended in a chilling and distrubing manner as Black Hand, at the behest of the "voice", slaughters his family, sits down at the dinner table and promptly blows his own brains out. Scar shows up, coughs up a black ring and Hand is reborn as the emdodiment of the Black Lantern Corps. Scar even compares him to Parallax, Ion and the newest emotion entity, the Predator, of the Star Sapphires and the embodiment of love. This appears to be the same Predator from an older Green Lantern story that possessed Carol Ferris when she was a Star Sapphire.

It's curious how Scar worded this section as it sounded like she was saying Black Hand was the actual embodiment of death; not that he was possessed by something, but I may be reading too much into it at this point. Furthermore, the black ring repaired Black Hand's head, brains and all, and he was in full control of his mental faculties (or as much as he was before), laying to rest the possibility of Black Lanterns being actual zombies or mindless husks.

Verdict - Must Read. While I didn't get as much out of this issue as I'd hope, it is still a very good issue that tells you everything you could ever want to know about Black Hand while simultaneously kicking off Blackest Night with a literal bang.

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