GREEN LANTERN #21 [Review]: No, Seth; this ISN’T The End!

Robert Venditti? Who the hell is Robert Venditti, and why is his name printed where The All-Mighty Geoff Johns’ name goes?

Okay, so I was skeptical about this Venditti character becoming the new writer of Green Lantern. Why had I never heard the name of the man who was going to be taking care of my hero? I felt like I was handing over my first born to someone I found on Craigsist.

“Please take care of Hal! He can get a little difficult some times!”

So I looked up his resume, and I was not impressed. X-O Manowar? Demon Knights? Percy Jackson and the Olympians? Someone get me Dan DiDio; I need to have a word with him.

Alright, despite any bias right out of the gate, who can blame this diehard Lantern for being so after being fed so many amazing dishes from Johns (along with artists Doug Mahnke, Ivan Reis, etc.) for almost a decade? It wasn’t like I was going to stop collecting Green Lantern either way.

Anyone looking for a more lighthearded Green Lantern book will surely enjoy the addition of the New Smurfs.

I dragged my feet to the comic book shop and bought the issue, and to my delightful surprise, Venditti really delivered the right stuff — surpassing any expectations no matter how low.

Right from the first page, we find the Corps in peril at their very own central precinct on Oa. We’ve seen this a million times, but what’s interesting is, we have Hal Jordan, Salaak, and John Stewart leading a bunch of brand new recruits who haven’t even earned their Green Lantern emblem yet. (Another cool thing Johns created, after new GL recruits pass basic training, the emblem appears on their chest. Until then, they just have blank white circles.)

One line from the new writer left me particularly perturbed. After the comic’s primetime reveal, Hal blurts out an unforsaken declaration: “We’re done for.”

No Venditti!

Hal wouldn’t say that! Hal is the bravest, most resourceful, Han Solo handsome— err, ignore that last part. But still, the Hal Jordan I know doesn’t give up that easily. Yeah, it’s a petty complaint; but this my hero we’re talking about!

A nifty 2-page spread reveals the new villain DC Comics has been hyping about, and he’s the one wreaking all this chaos on Oa. Though not said in this issue, DC has showcased his name on the upcoming Villain’s Month series as Relic. Will he stand a chance?

I can see the Green Lantern/Mass Effect crossover already!

Put it this way: our favorite intergalactic personal trainer, Kilowog, only sizes up to Relic’s waist.

Venditti then jumps to “now” (making everything we’ve seen on the first few pages a flash-forward) and similar to GL #1, Hal isn’t having the biggest blast in his civilian life either. As usual, things are on the rocks with Carol (meh already), and, therefore, Hal is reduced to sleeping on his little brother’s sofa. This may be a solid indication that Venditti won’t keep Hal exclusively up in space.

Finally, the middle of the comic shows the New Guardians piercing their eyes around the new place, toying with weaponry confiscated from random evil-doers throughout the years.

The joke where the guardian nonchalantly blasts a hole in the wall is a little cheesy (Percy Jackson humor, perhaps?). It doesn’t seem out of place though, with the guardians depicted with a more cheery disposition — as opposed to the old, emotionless, assholes we’ve all grown to know. They also give complete control of the corps to Hal, and send him on his way, supposedly “regain[ing] the trust that was abused by those who came before.” Strangely enough, this.. well.. strange notion hands readers another plot point to further explore.

Another favorite moment showcases a quick scene with Kilowog and the newly appointed Guardian Hal. Since Kilo’s always been sort of mentor/best friend for Hal, this scene surely stuck out.

Then — Larfleeze attacks Oa. And, there’s a new Larfleeze ongoing from Keith Giffen, so you do the math.

Geeze Venditti, I hope you’re not burying your own crater with all of these plotlines! We’ve got the new villain, new Guardian Hal, Hal and Carol fighting again, Guardians on vacation (in a galaxy where everyone pretty much hates them), dangerous romantic liasons between a sciencell-chick and a shady not-so-Green Lantern, A Fleeze attack, and new recruits trying to take their rings off in the middle of a fire-fight!

Bah!

Of course they’re going to remake ALF!

Oh, the art? With Mahnke no longer the primary pencil god, there’s mega shoes to fill. Billy Tan isn’t quite near that level — obviously — but, thankfully, the comic still looks pretty and doesn’t steer to being either too clean or too jumbled. Safe? Maybe. It’s a smart move right now, so we’ll see if Tan can keep up this consistency.

So, hey, fellow Oan’s, here’s the deal. There’s definitely a lot set on Venditti’s plate right now, much of which is clearly editorially-mandated. Yet, the new guy in town comes through! Ditti — can I call him that, without the P? — done enough to set up a promising arc, one that certainly alters the familiar stuggles Hal has gone through. This series could be the “swashbuckling” version of Air Jordan, in akin to what Mark Waid has done over on Daredevil (and you remember all of those doubters, right?).

While the jury’s still out, don’t hesitate to continue Hal’s journey with Green Lantern #21. It may just surprise you.

3.5 (out of 5) Bibles = Very solid start to the new team’s venture with Guardian Hal.
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