The Blackest Night, DC’s next major event, is starting with a Free Comic Book Day issue on May 2, and will continue in earnest in July. Here’s the first review in the series surrounding that event, covering a retelling of Hal Jordan’s origin.

General Information

Title: Green Lantern: Secret Origin (collecting Green Lantern Vol. 4 #29-35)

Author: Geoff Johns

Illustrator(s): Ivan Reis (pencils), Oclair Albert (inks), Randy Mayor (colors)

Cover Date: May – November 2009

Cover Price: $2.99 US each as issues, $19.99US or $22.99 Can for the collected hardcover.

Premise

Hal Jordan, general screw-up, has spent every minute since witnessing his father’s selfless death trying to prove something. In the process, he’s split his family apart, been kicked out of the airforce, and ended up the only pilot in the company he blames for his father’s death. Then Abin Sur, Green Lantern of Sector 2814, arrives on Earth with a very angry prisoner. The prisoner Atrocitus breaks free, mortally wounding Abin Sur and heading out in search of William Hand. Abin appoints Hal his replacement, and Hal starts his training as a Green Lantern.

High Point

Hal’s first meeting with the Guardians.

Low Point

Tom Kalmaku’s an asian now? He used to be the only Inuit comic book character I knew of. That heritage explained the politically incorrect nickname, and gave him one more unique element to his identity. That aspect just strikes me as a needless change.

The Scores

This is an original take on the origin in that it’s not just a retelling, but actually inserts all sorts of new information that wasn’t present before, helping to set up the Blackest Night event. It’s still a retelling, but it’s not like the umpteenth recap of a spacecraft escaping Krypton before it explodes. I give it 4 out of 6.

The artwork is great. Reis delivers very effectively, setting up characters here that he will continue to use throughout “Blackest Night.” Emotions are clear, rage in particular is set up nicely, and the colours nicely set everything apart in a series where colours are of vital importance. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story unifies the origins of Hal Jordan, the Manhunters, Ganthet, Sinestro, Atrocitus and his Red Lantern Corps, and Carol Ferris’ role in Hal’s life very effectively. It even connects Hector Hammond and William Hand into the mix, though the role the former will play is not as clear at this time. (He will, obviously, become the Green Lantern villain who has been around since the 1960s, but the timing of his origin leads me to suspect he’ll have a role to play in Blackest Night.) It’s an origin well told, and a nice jumping on point for those who become interested in the character purely for this summer’s event. I give it 5 out of 6.

The characterization of Hal, Carol, Sinestro, Atrocitus and the Guardians is the central aspect to the entire story. This is about why these individuals become who they are, and how they interact with each other. Each has a distinctive voice born out of their own experiences, and we get a very clear understanding of who they are and how they became so. I give it 6 out of 6.

The emotional response is very strong. Yes, it rewrites parts of Green Lantern history (such as the reason Abin Sur had a spacecraft when he crashed on Earth) but it does so in a productive and practical way. Unlike some rewrites, I suspect the original creators would approve. I give it 6 out of 6.

The flow is smooth, bringing the elements together from the past and setting up the future. The story marches nicely from scene to scene, despite spanning a considerable period of time. I give it 6 out of 6.

Overall, it’s a strong entry in the series, and can easily serve as a reader’s first exposure to Green Lantern while still rewarding long time readers. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Green Lantern: Secret Origin receives 37 out of 42.

Blackest Night Checklist

Preliminaries

The Main Event

  • Blackest Night #0 (Free Comic Day edition), #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, complete series
  • Green Lantern #43
  • Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1-3
  • Green Lantern #44-??
  • Green Lantern Corps #39-??
  • Blackest Night: Batman #1-3
  • Blackest Night: Superman #1-3
  • Blackest Night: Titans #1-3
  • more to come…