DC expands its Earth One line of original graphic novels with Green Lantern.
One time NASA astronaut Hal Jordan escapes his Earthbound problems with a job for Ferris Galactic, prospecting for valuable metals in an asteroid belt near Jupiter. When Hal stumbles upon a fossilized spaceship, housing the body of a long-dead alien and the remains of a lethal Manhunter robot, he soon is sucked into the world of Green Lanterns, a galactic police force long since wiped out by the Manhunters. Various GL rings, vastly weaker because the Manhunters have cut off access to the central power battery, have found their ways into the hands of random creatures around the universe. Hal meets up with the kind-hearted Kilowog, before a run-in with the Manhunters lands Hal on the prison planet that the once proud Oa has become, where events will lead to the rebirth of the Green Lantern Corps.
From the husband and wife team of Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, Green Lantern Earth One is among the stronger entries in DC’s prestige series. Serving as co-writers, Bechko and Hardman update the familiar Silver Age Green Lantern mythos in clever, engaging ways. The world weary Hal, drawn to the stars despite years of personal setbacks, makes for a compelling pivot for this tale. Hal is smart and resourceful, but far from perfect. His growing pains and blind spots make him very human and very relatable. The writers bring in familiar faces like Kilowog, Arisia and Salaak (among others), putting smart twists on them. The Manhunters are both an effective antagonist and a clever means of introducing the GLC in hibernation, using Hal as the spark that restarts the fraternity.
Bechko and Hardman undertake a shrewd genre blending for the book, employing the DNA of the sunny futurism of the Silver Age stories and then mixing in harder Sci Fi elements, all tinged with horror. The duo has a gratifying sense of when to scale back or eliminate the words and let the expressive images tell the story. With strong characterization and a few agreeable twists, it’s the kind of modernization of concepts that the Earth One line should be about.
Hardman, working with colorist Jordan Boyd, crafts some absolutely lovely imagery to go with the involving story. He takes a darker, shadow-drenched approach, working the dark fantasy/space horror element quite effectively. Instead of a dazzling kaleidoscope of futuristic hues, Hardman and Boyd wisely underplay the concept, enhancing the impact when the brighter colors do emerge. Hardman’s Hal is no eager-eyed young crusader; the weariness and weight of his life’s choices tell on Hal’s face, thanks to Hardman’s dynamic expressionism. Hardman’s designs for the book are subtle, but packed with attention to details. Hal’s Green Lantern uniform contains a few nods to his traditional look, but based on a near future astronaut chic aesthetic. Hardman really sells the Alien-esque vibe of the story with his thoughtful compositions. Boyd is a big asset here, carefully modulating the darker parts of the story, restraining the shadow-drenched outer space drama until the story calls for explosions of light and color, which are deployed for maximum impact. The visuals are the kind of well-executed high concept that justify the premium format.
No prior knowledge is needed to enjoy Green Lantern Earth One. This is a smart, visually compelling book that casts its well-known hero in an intriguing new light.