Green Lantern Blackstars #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Colors: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Steve Wands
The Green Lantern series has come to an end (with the promise of a season two on the way). Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp took the series on an intergalactic journey that was mind minding. Jordan was a “space cop” that often found himself going undercover, battling God, stopping an alien species from using human souls as drugs, and forming a team of Green Lanterns across the universe. The series ended on a down note for Hal Jordan, who was captured and used to recreate reality. This side series picks up in this new altered reality with Hal Jordan being a Black Star named Parallax and the rest of the Corps and rogues filling out the Black Star ranks.
The story has Hal Jordan (now called Parallax, but he doesn’t look like the 90s version) as a leader of the Black Stars. He is in a relationship with Countess Bezelbeth, a vampiric space demon, and much of the story revolves around their soon to be wedding. The book opens with them releasing ancient celestial horrors, in order to grow the Black Star ranks and bring “peace” to the world. Controller Mu is referenced throughout the book and is an ever imposing force without saying a single word (it is Mu that recreated the universe at the end of the previous series). The Black Stars even take out Mongul and promise to remake him. This comic effectively sets up a new universe where everything is very different than what the reader is used to, and does not connect in anyway with current DC comics.
Grant Morrison is a genius. That isn’t me being hyperbolic, his creative works have earned him a lot of praises over the years. His run on The Green Lantern is arguably the most interesting the title has been in a long time. The title reminds me of equal parts Doom Patrol, 2000AD, and Heavy Metal. In Doom Patrol Morrison was able to have more ideas in a single panel than most writers have in entire arcs. He isn’t afraid to introduce a new concept or character and abandon them part way through the book to pick up another creation. This is Green Lantern, a world of endless aliens and cosmos, having things uniform is counter intuitive to the title. The celestial horrors at the start of the book give way to the battle on Warworld, and then gives way to the preparation for the wedding. All the while, showing off new ideas and characters that make the world feel alive and unique. This is unbridled creativity at its finest. This book is like 2000AD as it reminds me of Morrison’s older UK based work. The 2000AD title is an anthology work and at its peak it was the best and brightest in the UK just throwing every idea at the wall and seeing what sticks. It was punk rock come to life in comic book form, no idea is bad and everything must break the rules. Morrison throwing out the playbook he was given for Green Lantern and allowing everything and nothing matter, is exactly that. Who cares that this book doesn’t mesh with every other DC book on the shelf, it is trying something new and fun. This is a Green Lantern book that is accessible and worth reading. If you have knowledge of what came before, there are fun nods, if not you can pick this up and still have a blast. Finally this book is Heavy Metal. Grant is the EiC of Heavy Metal magazine, and that is a publication that is not afraid to push boundaries. It has fun with the material and celebrates the grotesque. This isn’t grim and gritty, it is bloody and fun. What is more Heavy Metal than Hal being in a relationship with a demonic vampire from outer space, partnering up with lovecraftian beasts, and fighting a bad ass giant red scorpion? Every damn page of this book rocks. And in many ways it is a culmination of everything Grant Morrison has learned in all his years of writing.
Liam Sharp is a tough act to follow. His work on The Green Lantern was universally praised. Thankfully, Xermanico is a more than welcome addition to Morrison’s Green Lantern run. As varied as this book he is able to handle the work with ease. This book goes places, and has character descriptions that would be a feat for anyone to tackle. Somehow all these pieces fit together to make a coherent book. It takes someone talented to be able to make Morrison’s psychedelic ideas come to life, and Xermanico pulls it off. Stand outs in this issue would be the opening on planet OA, which sets the tone for everything to follow. Xermanico is able to build the world in his illustrations. On the polar opposite side is how he closes the book. The coming of Controller Mu is set up in a uptopic world. Because we know that Controller Mu is evil the beauty in Xermanico’s pages are unsettling. The art in this book is a spectrum going from horrific to idyllic, but the tone never changing. This art is perfect.