A Green Lantern: Revenge of the Black Hand Review – The Line Between Hero and Villain…

Green Lantern, Vol. 2: Revenge of the Black HandTITLE: Green Lantern, Vol. 2: Revenge of the Black Hand
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Doug Mahnke, Renato Guedes, Ethan Van Sciver.
COLLECTS: Green Lantern #712, Green Lantern Annual #1

FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $24.99

RELEASED: January 2, 2013

While the Blackest Night throwback is a high point in the latest Green Lantern volume, the real draw is one of the most heinous villains in all the universe attempting to to be a hero again. Or at least his version of a hero.

When Sinestro is abducted by the Indigo Tribe, Hal Jordan must travel to the tribe’s homeworld of Nok out to rescue him (remember, Sinestro’s a Green Lantern again). Once there, he not only learns about the origins of the Indigo Tribe, but about how they’re connected to the Guardians, as well as Abin Sur. He also finds Black Hand, his old nemesis, and the harbinger of the Blackest Night. Before it’s all said and done, Hal Jordan and Black Hand will collide, and the dead will rise again.

Green Lantern Vol. 2 Revenge of the Black Hand, image 1Geoff Johns continues to tease Sinestro’s redemption in Revenge. While he’s hardly an upstanding citizen at this point, Johns tugs at our heart strings through Sinestro’s relationship with his protege-turned-nemesis Hal Jordan. At one point, while under the influence of an indigo ring, he flat out tells Hal: “I’m sorry for all I’ve done to you.” We also flash back to the relationship he had with Arin Sur, Abin Sur’s sister. We see his heart break when she dies, and how much pain he’s still in over her. And perhaps most importantly, we see that Hal has hope for him. Is Sinestro about to side with the angels full time? Probably not. But that’s not necessarily the point. In expanding Sinestro’s backstory like this, Johns is turning him into a tragic figure. The type of villain to be hated and feared, but also pitied for all he’s lost. He’s allowing us to relate to the character on a more human level, and as such invest in and root for him. Thus, when he inevitably heels on us again, there’ll be a heart-wrenching, and all the more tragic aspect to it.

Green Lantern Annual #1, 2012, interiorWhenever I think of Black Hand, I can’t help but think of 2009′s Green Lantern #43, which was also done by Johns and Doug Mahnke. The issue revamped William Hand’s origin story, portraying him as a bizarre character fixated on corpses and the dead since early childhood. The most memorable part of the story was a full page shot of Black Hand laying in a puddle with some skeletons, as peaceful as if he were in his own bed, caressing one as if it were a loved one. Johns and Mahnke gave the character a creepy, almost perverse vibe that’s fascinating to read about. We get more of that here, as Black Hand resurrects his family and seats them around the dinner table, taking to them as if they were alive. There’s a great sci fi/horror feel to it all, which works great in a Green Lantern story.

While all this is happening, the Guardians are plotting against not only Hal Jordan and Sinestro, but the entire Green Lantern Corps. As far as this book is concerned, it’s a bit early to judge that particular plot line. What we see does look interesting, but I’m reserving my judgment until we’ve seen more.

Green Lantern #7, 2012, Sinestro punch outWhile this is likely the best book Johns has done in the last few years, it’s not flawless. The backstory of the Indigo Tribe and how they’re connected to Abin Sur, the Guardians going crazy, etc., all seems a little too convenient from a plot standpoint. Also, as I’ve mentioned before, the Hal Jordan we see in this book doesn’t quite match up with the one we see in Justice League. I’d be more forgiving on that front of Johns weren’t writing both. It seems like the guy we see hear is the real Hal Jordan, and the guy in that other book is being forced to act like a cocky douche to fit a traditional team book role.

On the plus side, I gained a new respect for Doug Mahnke as a result of Revenge. Three things in particular stood out to me here from an art standpoint. The first is the Black Hand content, the second is a two-page shot of Hal punching out Sinestro on a balcony (shown above), after he interrupted a quiet moment between Hal and Carol Ferris. The third is the lovely new character of Natromo, an elderly dwarfish character involved in the inception of the Indigo Tribe.

In terms of the Hal/Sinestro dynamic, we may have to be patient in terms of how that develops. Green Lantern #0 introduced us to Simon Baz, the newest Green Lantern of Earth, and his adventures with the ring. But thankfully, it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere in the immediate future. That’s a very good thing.

RATING: 8.5/10

Images 1 and 2 from comicbooked.com. Image 3 from gamespot.com. 

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