Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Losing the Green

I have continued reading the sequence following the Green Lantern comics I reviewed a few days ago, but nothing stood out enough to move me to writing about it specifically. There was some stuff about Sinestro escaping imprisonment yet again (1) and teaming up with a sentient galaxy, and everyone except Hal Jordon going off to fight them.

Meanwhile Hal is working on his secret identity and getting lots of subplot set up for the big Millenium crossover. Everyone else turns up in time for the main event (2). By this point Englehart seems to be running out of steam on the title, or perhaps he doesn't like where it's going. Either way, his writing is lacklustre and missing any subtext. Characterisation is practically at the level of everyone reciting their catchphrases at least once an issue.

I can see where Englehart might be fed up. It's clear that the entire storyline post-Millenium is a set up to destroy the team he's been building for the previous two years. This culminates in the trial of Sinestro where the Green Lantern Corps decides that since Sinestro always escapes from prison and goes on to commit genocide, the only option left is to execute him (3).

So they all zap him with their rings and he drops dead and the main power battery explodes. It seems that the guardians had programmed in a failsafe to stop them ever killing a male of Sinestro's race. Killing of any other race or sex is apparently fine, but they didn't like the males so they fixed it so they wouldn't be tempted to kill them (4). And just to make sure they were serious about it, not only would this make the main power battery implode, but it would turn OA into a black hole that would engulf the universe.

Seems like a touch of overkill, there.

And you know what? They totally forgot to mention this to anyone before they left. Isn't it always the same? You go away and there's always something. If it's not forgetting to cancel the papers, it's leaving a bomb that could destroy the universe on a hair trigger and not bothering to mention it to anyone.

Anyway, Hal Jordon saves the day, of course, because it's always about Hal Jordon, and all but a handful of Green Lanterns are depowered. What was an ensemble cast of equals is now Hal Jordon and his cheerleaders. And the comic is canceled so that Green Lantern can move into the experimental weekly anthology version of Action Comics that nobody liked much because it wasn't very good.

It's a contrived and sucky end to a good period in Green Lantern, where the focus was on the corps rather than a single ring weilder. Why DC felt the need to dismantle it, I don't know. My only guess is that sales were poor. It's not the only reason for canceling a comic or radically changing its direction, but it is the main one.


1. *yawn*

2. which I didn't have available, so had to do without. Thankfully

3. Which seems a bit harsh. I mean ok, Sinestro has warranted execution for some time, but they have changed their policy at this point not because he has done anything especially nasty but because their security isn't doing its job effectively.

4. which shows a lack of imagination on their part, if you ask me.


Anonymous said...

You know, for supposedly being so
smart, the Guardians sure do seem
to make a lot of...stupid mistakes
on a regular basis! Well, Ganthet,
we just blew up the power battery...Doh!

Richard said...

"By this point Englehart seems to be running out of steam on the title, or perhaps he doesn't like where it's going."

Yeah. Some anecdotal accounts at the time suggested Englehart was struggling with unpredictable and heavyhanded editorial mandates. Apparently, his ideas were continually being thrown out and revised, and he was given explicit instructions as to what to do with each character, which then changed after he'd done what was asked of him. (I'm not sure, but I believe the stuff that happened to Arisia and the cartoon-inspired GL Ch'p were examples of this editorial tampering.)

Englehart prides himself on being a pro, and if he's agreed to write a story to editorial specifications, then he'll do that to the best of his abilities. But clearly it must have worn thin: by the time we get to the last issue, the scripting has been taken over by someone else. This is a guy who took his name off stories that he didn't think were up to his personal standard -- hence the "John Harkness" pseudonym -- so I can only wonder what was so bad as to make him just walk away before the book was done.

It's possible to be a good writer and also a good editor. In comics, Archie Goodwin was both. In science fiction, Frederik Pohl was both, and a literary agent besides. But editors who want to be writers and who express this by giving writers dictation about what to write -- "write my story for me instead of writing your own" -- are really a pain.

googum said...

Yeah, the last issue of Green Lantern Corps doesn't even have Englehart's name on it, and I can see why. Also, a shame to toss a batch of characters like Driq or Flodo Span and later Katma.

Chance said...

I may be alone in this, but while I always dug the Corps as a concept (lookit the ameoba / planet / bug / smallpox virus / hot chick with pointy ears in a GL suit!), I thought it diluted the idea of Green lantern the hero. I mean the ring is the most powerful weapon in the cosmos, yet there seem to be a kajillion of them. It doesn't exactly speak volumes for the guardians when every other bozo in the universe has worn a ring at one time or another. Does Earth really need four GLs at once?

Anonymous said...

Well, considering how many other equally-powerful heroes there are on Earth, it doesn't bother me.

Anonymous said...

I know I may get clobbered for this but Hal should have stayed dead - or maybe evil but I have a thing where if you kill a character off it should mean something.

THe problem here is working with one of hte "legacy" characters. This I assume is one reason that there is som much heavy-handedness coming from the big cheeses. I guess there are some exceptions in Marvel now with Spidey coming out and CAp A running from the law (how many of you want to bet this doesn't stick?) but the legacy characters in general just become so much dead weight after a while. Too holy to sacrifice and too valuable to do anything intersting with.