09th Mar2018

‘Green Lantern: Earth One Vol.1’ Graphic Novel Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Corinna Bechko, Gabriel Hardman | Art by Gabriel Hardman | Published by DC Comics


So, what do you do when you want to draw in new readers to characters you have been publishing for over half a century? Why, you spruce them up of course. While long term fans like myself are happy wading through decades of continuity, amazingly some folks aren’t. So the solution is essentially to reboot in a different continuity. DC have done it in the past with their Elseworlds books, which in general are excellent, while their Earth One books are a posher extension of that. The first Earth One book came out in 2010 and featured, naturally enough, Superman. It was excellent, and lead to Earth One versions of Batman, Wonder Woman, Teen Titans and now, Green Lantern.

Most casual fans know the character of Green Lantern and his power ring, but are probably not up on the extensive history of the Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro, Oa, the Guardians of the Universe etc. A rich, but complicated mythology. Earth One takes Hal Jordan out of all that, and starts again. So, who is this Hal? This Hal is no longer a test pilot, as per his 1950’s origin, but an astronaut. The characters still seeking adventure and new horizons, but updated for the 21st Century. Hal’s not happy though, as he’s stuck mining asteroids for Ferris Galactic, not quite the noble exploration he had planned. Hal’s luck though is about to change.

Hal finds a crashed space vessel, and boarding it finds a dead alien, wearing a strange ring. Also, a green power battery of some sort. A bit like a lantern. A green lantern, if you will. Against protocol, Hal and friend Volkov take the battery and ring back with them, something that has rather dire consequences for Hal’s friend and nearly Hal. Let’s just say they learn the ring and battery are connected. Hal becomes in effect Green Lantern when his ship explodes from the released energy, and he is encased in a special energy and uniform. Just when he starts to feel having crazy powers is pretty cool, he is attacked by the giant robot that had been aboard the ship, but seemingly dormant. Seems it doesn’t much like Hal. Hal has to learn on the fly, quickly, and seemingly kills the robot, but is knocked unconscious.

‘I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore’ is what Hal is probably thinking when he wakes up on an alien planet. Lucky a friendly face appears in the form of Kilowog Ev, a rather large purple alien who also seems to be sporting a green ring. Hal’s hopes to learn more are rather dented when Kilowog expects to find out from him some more information,as Kilowog lives on an isolated world. Hal learns though that he killed a Manhunter, and that the Manhunters in the past killed all the many Green Lanterns that operated across the universe as peacekeepers. The Manhunters now control pretty much everywhere, with a literal fist of iron. Probably not great they’ve turned up on Kilowog’s world then.

Outnumbered and outgunned, all Kilowog and Hal can do is escape. Hal realises they need help, and theorises that there must be more Green Lantern rings and batteries out there somewhere. So, in a classic heroic fiction trope, off they go on a quest to find others with rings, so they can form a force to fight back. Hal seems pretty relaxed about all this. They find Arisia, who has a ring but is not keen on helping, and locate another, where they learn a very uncomfortable truth. The Guardians themselves had built the Manhunters to destroy the Green Lanterns, also their creations. They had grown suspicious of so much power in others hands, and wanted dictatorial order. Eventually, as Hal and Kilowog travel, they are found by the Manhunters. Captured, they are taken with others as slaves to Oa, though the Manhunters know nothing of their rings.

On Oa, Hal makes a startling discovery. The giant power battery is still there, just hidden. A lone Guardian tells Hal if he can destroy the casing, lantern energy will flood across the universe and recharge dormant rings and batteries. Also, Oa could be destroyed, and with it most the Manhunters. Worth a shot, right? Hal’s message to everyone with a ring works, and dozens of ring holders arrive to try and free the battery, and defend against the Manhunters. Cue epic space battle. Things end well in the sense the good guys win, sort of, but enough plot threads are left to dangle that we know what to expect in the future. Was that a Sinestro cameo? Are those yellow power rings the rogue Guardian has created?

A great re-imagining of the whole Green Lantern mythos. Staying loyal to the science fiction roots of the character, re-introducing familiar faces albeit in slightly different ways, and using established Green Lantern history but adapting it to tell a new story. I liked the added aspect of making the Green Lantern Corps like Jedi’s, hunted down and almost killed off but remembered enough they can now make a comeback. Power rings rather than lightsabers, but same message. Good prevails, but sometimes it takes a while.

Story wise, I really enjoyed all 133 pages. The art I was a little more conflicted about. The art in its own right is very good. I liked the pacing, the changing panel design page to page, some great big splash panels, and the layouts in general. The art stylistically though was a little murky, and I also prefer nice, clean lines for science fiction. The genre seems to do best with that look. The colouring also made everything quite muted too, quite dark and murky, whereas clean and bright colours would have been better. Was it enough to ruin the book? No. The material was strong enough, the writing was good enough, and the art was pleasing enough to still make this an impressive book.

Not quite up there with Superman Earth One, but still a very good effort at making what’s old new again. I’d happily recommend this one.

****½  4.5/5


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