Monday, October 6, 2014

Outside A Few Moments Of Terrible Melodrama, Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1 Succeeds!

The Good: Good character development, Good overall arc, Moments of plot and artwork
The Bad: Simplistic artwork, Some terrible moments of dialogue
The Basics: The story of the fall of Hal Jordan in a darkening DC Universe begins in Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1 when Hal Jordan returns to Earth and finds trouble there.

Despite my last few years of studying graphic novels, there are actually very few older graphic novels that I have read. In fact, outside of Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1 (reviewed here!), Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Volume 1 (reviewed here!) and The Flash Archives Volume 1 (reviewed here!), I have not read any pre-Crisis DC Universe graphic novels. That has begun to change and while I am reviewing some of the New 52 graphic novels as well, today I am looking back at Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1.

Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1 is the first of a series of volumes that compile the Green Lantern comic books from the early 1980s, before the DC Multiverse was cut down into a single, rebooted universe. Picking up the story after a nebulously-defined year-long adventure in the Green Lantern Universe, Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1 interacts – in very mild ways – with the Trial Of The Flash storyline and laid the seeds for several superheroes that, apparently, never popped. But despite the lack of follow-through on some of the secondary characters in Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1, the only real issue with this graphic novel is in some of the unfortunate dialogue surrounding some of the most ridiculous new villains in the DC Universe – the Wrecking Team.

Hal Jordan appeals to the Guardians Of The Galaxy for his chance to return to Earth. After a year wherein Jordan was forced by the Guardians to patrol all of Sector 2814 outside of Earth, stopping an asteroid storm from devastating one of the other planets in his sector on the way to the meeting, Jordan makes his case that he must be allowed to return to Earth. Reluctantly agreeing to Jordan’s terms, the Guardians allow Hal to return to Earth where he is excited to see Carol Ferris again. Fearing Carol has moved on from him, Hal has to be whacked over the head by Carol before they can reignite their romantic relationship.

But romance quickly takes a back seat to economic pragmatism. Ferris Aircraft is under siege by a villainous Senator who bears a grudge against Carol’s father for the death of his father years prior. The Senator hires a criminal organization to steal the solar engine that Ferris Aircraft is developing. When The Javelin and his team encounter Green Lantern, Hal is unable to prevent the engine from falling into their hands. Jordan squares off against the Shark and when the Guardians recall Hal to save an entire planet, he makes the difficult choice to abandon Ferris Aircraft when it is under siege. With Ferris Aircraft’s entire facility being destroyed by a team of villainous contractors known as the Demolition Team, Hal Jordan must wrestle with the choice as to whether or not it is important to him to remain the Green Lantern of Sector 2814.

Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1 succeeds, when it does, because of the character conflict within it. Hal Jordan actually has to balance being a superhero with being a mundane test pilot. That internal conflict resonates and adds an air of realism to the book that a number of the more science fiction-based super hero comic books often lack. Jordan starts the book as realistically homesick and climaxes in a choice that shakes the Guardians of the Galaxy and their sense of an ordered universe.

The other successful element of Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1 is Green Lantern’s encounter with the Shark. The telepathic villain who absorbs the consciousnesses of his victims appears abruptly and Hal Jordan is unable to defeat him outright at their first encounter. That is a cool fight that transitions from a physical attack into a psychic battle that plays out well as a conflict for Green Lantern.

The artwork is fair, but even generally decent artwork is not enough to sell the Demolition Team as a good adversary. Enemies who fight using hot bolt guns, a steam roller and similar construction equipment are hardly compelling. That Ferris Aircraft has huge government contracts and none of the staff has firearms to defend the facility seems unrealistic.

The balance between the science fiction super hero story and the political storyline where government contracts being pulled threaten a big business in the DC Universe is actually surprisingly well-executed by Len Wein in Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1. As a result, Hal Jordan and Carol Ferris both grow and develop in Green Lantern Sector 2814, Volume 1 and the story is held together despite a chunk of the story featuring seriously defective adversaries.

For other Green Lantern books, be sure to check out my reviews of:
Green Lantern: Willworld
Green Lantern: Secret Origins
War Of The Green Lanterns


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

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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