Green Lantern Blackstars #2
Writer: Grant Morrison
Colors: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Steve Wands
In the last issue, Grant Morrison set up the new universe under the reconfiguration of Controller Mu. Essentially The Blackstars have now replaced The Green Lantern Corps and have completely overtaken control of the universe. Former heroes and villains are now united under the Blackstar banner. Hal Jordan has become Parallax, but not exactly like the 90s version, and about to marry a badass space vampire, Bezelbeth. The final page of the last issue teased that the reader would learn about what has been happening on Earth, and that is the focus of issue #2 (along with some more space vampire stuff).
There is a lot going on in this book. Earth is on the chopping block if they do not turn themselves over to The Blackstars. Hal Jordan tries to convince Superman to listen to his reasoning, as Earth is a disaster. Superman goes through all the problems that they are facing such as; invasions from other universes, Batman being broken over and over again, superhero mental health crises, and the consistent and constant changes in the universes status quo. Essentially, it is the DC Universe. Superman faces a challenge with his son actually siding with the Blackstars. Bezelbeth also gets her origin story full of toxic male vampires. The wedding promised from the last issue does take place here. Controller Mu’s presence is still in the background in this comic but felt on every page, and this eventually leads to a new evolution of the character. The book wraps up with a clear vision of the climax that is about to approach, now that it has fully set up the new universe.
I loved this book, and it might be my favorite single issue written this year. The story itself is interesting enough, but, in typical Grant Morrison fashion, there are a lot more thematic elements in play. This issue stands alongside Morrison’s postmodern work in Animal Man. When Superman is talking about the problems of Earth it is essentially Morrison commenting on everything post the New 52. When Superman is speaking about Batman you know Morrison is poking fun at himself, Scott Snyder and Tom King for their constant “breaking of The Bat” and need to reexamine the character. There is a great line that “Batman needs protecting more than Gotham city.” Wonder Woman is now an overtly violent character forcefully castrating mythical creatures. It seems to be a comment on the mishandling of Diana when she is reduced to a warrior role (Morrison write Wonder Woman Earth One that has a very different take on the character, and I assume that is how he sees her).
The recent events of Metal and Heroes in Crisis are also given satirical nods. And before we think that Grant Morrison himself is taking things too seriously, or being overly critical of his own peers, he has Superman and Hal Jordan directly remind the reader that they are in a comic book in one of the most clever panels I have seen since Animal Man acknowledged the audience. If this book was just “Top 10 Things That are Wrong with the DCU” it would get tiring and Morrison knows when to move on with the story, so thankfully there is more to be discovered here. Bezelbeth’s origin story is really entertaining and shows that Grant Morrison is an infinite well of incredible ideas.
We learn that Bezelbeth had a previous husband that was abusive towards her. In fact, every man in her life has been the prime example of toxic masculinity. Without spoiling the details, Grant Morrison’s created backstory makes Bezelbeth infinitely more interesting, and she is now one of my favorite Green Lantern characters. He also adds some lore to the cosmic vampire force as a whole that ties together things Morrison has been doing for nearly his entire career at DC comics. Grant Morrison has put together another perfect issue, proving again that he is one of the greatest comic book writers of all time (if not THE greatest). Very few writers go from strength to strength like he does, without losing any steam.
Xermanico again shows he has no problem following Liam Sharpe. He is able to juggle Grant Morrison’s crazy ideas and bring them all to life. The real strength of this issue is Bezelbeth’s backstory. Xermanico blends the gothic with sci-fi and brings forward a whole new style I never knew I wanted. While he got to create some new characters and work with new ideas here, Xermanico also showed his ability to balance a simple dialogue as well. Hal and Superman’s discussion/exposition/debate is well-paced. Morrison’s script is strong but Xermanico turns it into a dynamic discussion. He knows when to pull away and illustrate what they are talking about, show the emotion on Hal and Superman’s faces where you can see the frustration, and takes on the challenge of creating some panels that work in Morrison’s crazy postmodern ideas. This artist was not on my radar at all before this book, but now I want to see the Xermanico/Morrison pairing working on the same level as Sharpe/Morrison and even Quietly/Morrison.