There are moments that when reading a real good comic, one page can make you sit up strait. One panel and make you gasp aloud. One line of dialog that makes you shut the book you were reading and rush to the computer to try to put in words that moment.
That is what I am trying to do. That is the kind of book Green Lantern: Earth One is.
If you have read many of my reviews, you know I love the Earth One series. You might also know that I have a fondness to the Green Lantern Corp. GL comics make up a significant part of my comic collection, it might be the most significant even. Hal Jordan isn’t my favorite Green Lantern. Hell, he was second to last on my ranking of Green Lanterns. His origin story as well as his rebirth have been done to death over the past decade and a half. I went into Green Lantern Earth One knowing exactly what I would find…
“You Speak as if you are used to being listened to… and yet, you are very naïve.” – Arisia
... I was wrong.
See, while all the Earth One books do a twist on the origin story of their titular hero, this one is by far the most different. But that doesn't mean it isn't familiar. Being familiar with the prime continuity characters makes parts of this book shine, mainly because you get so many of the characters you know, but not in the ways you expect.
"Teach me. Teach me how to be a Green Lantern." Kilawog to Hal after Hal acquired a ring.
Hal is a former NASA astronaut. When the US government became a 1 party system and the private space sector was merged with NASA to become Arrowhead, Hal left joined up with an asteroid mining outfit headed by a company called Ferris. While working on a exploratory mission, he comes across an old ship with a deactivated robot and a dead alien inside. A strange lantern and glowing ring are all that he and his partner manage to salvage before the ship slides into a crevasse. Upon returning to their mother ship, Hal's partner in inadvertently activates the ring, destroying their lander and summoning the robot. The Ferris Mining crew look on helpless as Jordan somehow manages to battle this "Manhunter" in space before he blacks out.
"You know what I just realized? This is what I always wanted." - Hal Jordan
While, that may seem familiar, the universe is very different then what we are used to. The Green Lantern Corp is dead, overthrown by the robotic Manhunters. Oa is enslaved and the central power batter is thought destroyed. No body has see the creators of the Green Lanterns or the Manhunters, the so called "Guardians." In fact, the story of what happened about 350 years ago seems to change at every telling. People across the galaxy have very different ideas about what happened and who was to blame. Survival is key now, and resistance is met with hostility. There isn't a willingness to help someone out if it puts you in harms way.
"Then how about some truth? I don't care about them and neither do you!"
Hal quickly figures out survival is all he has when he is captured and brought to Oa, which is now a slave planet. It seems the Manhunters cant replicate or really repair themselves without biological help, thus the planet is mined for it's resources. Jordan's ring has largely been inert. He has not battery, and doesn't have access to one now that he has been seperated from Kilawog. He does manage to discover that the central power battery isn't destroyed, just contained. When he makes contact with it, a Guardian details a plan on how to destroy the Manhunters... it just requires the destruction of the power battery and all of Oa, inhabitants included.
"A small price in the face of our homes, our families... freedom from the Manhunters and their death-dealing." - Sinestro
Instead, they take down the containment dome and evacuate Oa, destroying as many Manhunters as they can in the process. Once safe, they agree to fight the robots under the leadership of Arisia, starting with each of their homeworlds. Hal returns to Earth, picks up the lantern floating in his former ships debris, and reveals himself to his CO Amy. The Manhunters know where Earth is now, and he has to be prepared.
While that is a brief summery of the book, understand that it only scratches at the surface of everything that went on. The story by Corrina Bechko (whom you may know from Star Wars: Legacy and Planet of the Apes series) and Gabriel Hardman (Star Trek: Waypoint and Incredible Hercules) is masterful. They play on your anticipation of what might happen, and then yank the rug out from under you. When you think you might have just met Ganthet, it seems like you instead meet Krona. The twists and turns of this story are so good, even if we get little resolution at the end of it.
The art by Gabriel Hardman and Jason Boyd are equally up to snuff. Perfect for the sci-fi setting, with lots of drama packed in every panel. You notice that through out the comic, Hal slowly but steadily grows a beard. I mean, who are you trying to impress on alien worlds after all. It's that attention to detail that makes it a great book. You can tell they thought about every facet of the story: from finding food to eat to not being able to communicate with other species when the rings battery dies.
All said, this book is a worthy edition to the Earth One line of hardcover books. It's worth the $24.99 price, and will look good on your shelf too.