Sunday, September 8, 2013

Engaging Readers Near The End Of The Green Lantern’s Reign, Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand Impresses!

The Good: Artwork, Character development, Plotting/Continuity
The Bad: Oversimplifies the character and plot conflicts.
The Basics: Geoff Johns continues his record of successful, engaging Green Lantern story when William Hand breaks loose from the control of the Indigo Tribe!

The Blackest Night Saga was what got me into reading graphic novels. For sure, I had been reading the Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight graphic novels before that, but what made me a regular reader of graphic novels was Blackest Night (reviewed here!). Geoff Johns led the charge of books with a fascinating concept – the resurrection of the dead heroes and villains in the DC Universe as an epic struggle of life and death . The Blackest Night Saga is one of the major crossover events in the DC Universe that confounds the whole conceptual reboot of the DC Universe known as The New 52. Because almost every character in the DC Universe participated in the Blackest Night crossover, that the long-running story in Green Lantern maintains the Blackest Night and its consequences, by the time Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand comes up, the New 52 concept is already showing some serious cracks.

So, DC’s awkward reinvention with The New 52 does not actually seem to include Green Lantern and the stories happening beyond Earth. That, alone, might be reason enough to recommend Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand! The consistency of the writing and the fact that it continues to explore the many layers of the Corps’s as opposed to wasting readers’ time with reinventing beloved characters makes Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand much more worthwhile than many of the other New 52 titles. Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand alludes heavily to Blackest Night and understanding the importance of Black Hand and the Indigo Tribe is integral to this volume. As it is, Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand picks up immediately on the heels of Volume 1: Sinestro (reviewed here!).

While Hal Jordan is trying to reconcile with Carol Ferris, Sinestro appears to conscript him in confronting the Guardians Of The Universe. Unfortunately, at that moment, Sinestro is abducted by the Indigo Tribe. Curious as to why they appear to need Sinestro, Green Lantern makes the journey to Nok, the hidden homeworld of the Indigo Tribe, to rescue Sinestro. There, he finds Sinestro brainwashed by the Indigo Tribe. Using William Hand, Hal Jordan breaks free and he finds the central power battery of the Indigo Tribe, as well as the guardian of the battery, Natromo. Natromo tells Jordan the backstory of the Indigo Tribe, which is intertwined with the story of Jordan’s predecessor, Abin Sur. When he destroys the Indigo central power source, Jordan releases Sinestro and in the ensuing conflict, he learns that Indigo-1 has actually been reformed by the power of compassion. Iroque, the child killer, is not enslaved any longer by compassion; she embraces the power of compassion and is eager to restore her tribe.

Unfortunately, the Indigo battery being offline gives William Hand the chance to escape. As the Guardians Of The Universe make moves to eliminate the Green Lantern Corps and replace them with their Third Army, William Hand recovers his black ring and returns to power as Black Hand, the only Black Lantern. After burying Hal and Sinestro alive, Black Hand is horrified that the Book Of The Black reveals that Hal Jordan will be the greatest of all Black Lanterns. With the Guardians releasing the First Lantern and using his power, they prepare to clean the slate and bring order to the galaxy once and for all.

Hal Jordan is a compelling protagonist who has just struggled to make some peace with no longer being the Green Lantern. Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand has him taking up the mantra of Green Lantern once again. He becomes the Green Lantern again and, because Johns wrote the other recent parts of the story, he keeps such details as Hal Jordan’s ring acting subserviently to Sinestro’s front and center. While Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand manages to keep the focus on Hal Jordan and Sinestro, it finally details the backstory to the Indigo Tribe.

In advance of and during the Blackest Night Saga, the Sinestro Corps, Blue Lanterns, Red Lanterns, and the Orange Lantern Larfleeze were all given stories that fleshed out the histories, beliefs and major characters for each of those Corps’s. While the Indigo Tribe came into the story at a crucial point in Blackest Night, fans of the Green Lantern section of the DC Universe have been waiting for their history to be detailed. Finally, in Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand their story comes out . . . and it was well worth waiting for.

Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand also returns Black Hand to the forefront in a way that is compelling for that villain. Black Hand started as a mediocre, often laughable, second-rate villain and in the Blackest Night Saga he was a force just long enough for the Black Lantern power battery to get charged to 100% and bring Nekron into the narrative. After that, Black Hand pretty much disappeared and he was not really missed. It almost seemed like an afterthought that the Indigo Tribe was seen taking him away in chains.

But, in Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand Black Hand becomes a true villain once again and his willingness to die rather than return to the Indigo Tribe makes it clear that the Indigo light does not entirely reform those with a truly evil heart.

On the art front, Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand features impressive artwork and all of the characters look like they ought to. There is a decent sense of movement in the panels and between panels. More than most books, Green Lantern requires vibrant coloring and Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand has beautiful coloring.

Ultimately, Green Lantern: The Revenge Of Black Hand continues a strong story, restoring Hal Jordan as protagonist to the heroic position fans expect and leaves readers clamoring for more.

For other Green Lantern-related books, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Green Lantern/Green Arrow – Volume 1
Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn
Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II
Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight - A New Dawn
Green Lantern: Legacy - The Last Will And Testament Of Hal Jordan
Green Lantern: Rebirth
Blackest Night: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns
The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern


For other graphic novel reviews, please check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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