Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Compelling Adventure Beyond A "Kill The Villain" Story Is Green Lantern: Willworld

The Good: Interesting story, Decent plot and character progression, Genuine surrealism
The Bad: The artwork is not as compelling as it could be.
The Basics: Green Lantern: Willworld creates a retro Hal Jordan story that is surprisingly engaging and worth reading!

There is a recurring gripe with me when I review Star Trek movies (the Star Trek movie franchise is considered here!), which is that after a certain point, all of the Star Trek films after Wrath Of Khan with the exception of The Voyage Home degenerate into simple “kill the villain” stories. Whatever highbrow beginning the movie starts with, it wanders into a parody of intellectualism as it becomes like whatever the prior Star Trek movie was. I write that at the outset of my review of Green Lantern: Willworld because I spent the entire graphic novel waiting for that sort of thing to happen. The Green Lantern franchise as I have encountered it in the last few months is pretty much a consistent collection of epic battles across the universe. It’s a violent cosmos, the DC Universe!

My local library has a habit of getting me in books I have never heard of, especially graphic novels that might occur outside the cannon or be limited one-shots. Like Wonder Woman: The Hieketia (reviewed here!), Green Lantern: Willworld is a story that takes place in a nebulous time and space in the overall Hal Jordan timeline. In fact, without ruining the end, there is no better way to describe it than that, though it is fair to say that Green Lantern: Willworld has a very retro feel to it. Unfortunately, it also has a fairly retro look to it as well.

Even so, Green Lantern: Willworld has a lot going for it in that it is imaginative, clever and tells a story that does not become a ridiculous repetition of every other Green Lantern book.

Hal Jordan awakens as a cowboy on a desert plain, riding a four-legged purple beast he calls Trigger. He has no memory of who or what he is, so he is instantly disoriented. He is met by a driver who wounds Trigger, forcing Jordan to kill the beast as a humanitarian act. In killing Trigger, a panel opens and a mini-Trigger pops out to accompany Hal and Mu-Fon to the Land Of Odd. As its name suggests, the Land Of Odd is a surreal place with floating heads, vastly different alien races and monsters blending into one another.

Jordan is not at his hotel there long before he meets with an Angel, Glance, who slowly begins to guide him. As time and space seem utterly without reason, Hal finds himself confused. His confusion begins to end when he becomes convinced he must find Mairwand and he learns that Mairwand has been abducted. Traveling from the Land Of Odd to Nowhere Land, Jordan slowly begins to recall both his power and his memory. As the realm he finds himself in falls under the darkness of the Whirlwind, Hal Jordan struggles to overcome all of the obstacles that challenge him!

Green Lantern: Willworld is a surprisingly cool book. The story progresses amazingly well. It is very clear, almost from the beginning, that Hal Jordan is in some form of other world or parallel existence. Green Lantern: Willworld does not try to insult the viewer by obscuring that, in fact just the opposite. Green Lantern: Willworld continues to escalate the weird in an attempt to truly explore the nature of imagination and the power of creativity. In the book’s final chapter, Hal Jordan encounters Mairwand in a form that surprises him and makes so much of the book make sense.

In fact, far from the letdown when the revelations do begin to flow in Green Lantern: Willworld, the reader is given a greater appreciation for the weirdness they have been experiencing. In fact, author J.M. DeMatteis captures perfectly the childlike sense of wonder in the universe and a sense of . . . well, that would be giving it away. Sufficed to say, for the first time in a long, long time when reading an Elseworld or alternate universe scenario, I was not disappointed by the resolution here!

What is a little more problematic in Green Lantern: Willworld is the artwork. Artist Seth Fisher has an amazingly difficult task with penciling Green Lantern: Willworld and he rises to the challenge well. The panels are packed with interesting creatures and character. I felt like I had seen some of the weirder things in Anime before this book, but much of the form looks good. Hal Jordan, alas, does not look terribly distinctive. Instead, he looks unfortunately generic and stands out on most pages solely as the lone human. While this makes it easy to follow Green Lantern: Willworld, it does not serve the complex, imaginative story as well as it ought to.

What Green Lantern: Willworld lacks is the coloring power to match the images and the story’s intensity. Instead, the colors throughout Green Lantern: Willworld are almost universally washed-out, as if they were done with watercolors. This serves to mute the impact of most of the panels and while it might connote that the entire book is simply a dream, it just seems like it is less vibrant as it ought to be and for a story that is clever on so many levels, it is very disappointing in this regard.

That is now quite enough to drag down Green Lantern: Willworld, though it does make me feel like it is not using the medium as well as it ought to be. With that in mind, this is one of the earliest comic books I actually recommend and was happy I read!

For other Green Lantern volumes, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Green Lantern Featuring Green Arrow – Volume 1
Green Lantern Rebirth
Brightest Day: Green Lantern


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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