With Volume Two of Green Lantern Earth One due out from DC Comics this summer, I thought I would take the opportunity to catch up with Volume One. Released in 2018 as a hard-backed, stand alone reinvention of the Green Lantern story, Earth One has visual and creator appeal.
Writer Corinna Bechko and artist Gabriel Hardman have produced some outstanding work in recent years, most notably Invisible Republic. This politically themed science fiction series, which also included Jordan Boyd as colorist, was an intriguing, impressively constructed narrative. The style and themes used in Invisible Republic are transferred across to Green Lantern Earth One which produces a more grounded superhero comic; in the beginning at least.
Hal Jordan is an outcast from NASA and working on an intergalactic mining operation. His team are searching for the mother-lode in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. What they find instead is a derelict spacecraft and potential proof of alien life.
Unfortunately for Hal, a disintegrating spaceship on a cold hard rock in the middle of space in just the start of his problems.
The opening of Green Lantern Earth One is atmospheric and hard on the science. Everything starts off very mundane with Corinna Bechko slowly introducing Hal Jordan to the readers through the character’s work colleagues. Bechko slips pieces of the astro-miners history into the conversations between workers, building up the man that many DC Comics readers will already know.
As the first act progresses it verges on horror, especially with the darkness that Gabriel Hardman brings to his artwork. The discovery and inevitable search of the derelict spacecraft calls back to 1979’s Alien movie. There is a real sense of claustrophobia to the scenes and the threat level is very high. Hardman’s dynamic inking and Jordan Boyd’s dark, oppressive colors trap the reader helplessly in space with Jordan and his fellow adventurer. There are moments where you will involuntarily stop breathing.
Act Two And Beyond
Once the famous Lantern and power ring are discovered an emerald green hue begins to seep into the artwork. This has a rippling effect that runs throughout the book with more and more color becoming evident, lightening the mood. Hardman’s art continues to flow across the pages with some outstanding panel designs. The shape and composition of the panels match the energy and the actions of the scene they encapsulate. It’s difficult not to be impressed by the sloping panels that appear as the derelict ship starts to slip down a cliff face. Hardman tilts the viewpoint like a camera, twisting and turning the reader with the action.
The artwork pushes the reader out into the depths of space, following Hal on his unbelievable journey. The design work begins to stand out with the introduction of new worlds and life forms. Everything becomes a contrast to the mundanity of the mining ship and it’s small, narrow visioned world. As Bechko drags Hal and the reader through a life changing adventure, Hardman and Boyd bombard you with visual delights and trickery.
As the narrative stakes get bigger, so it seems does the artwork. The pages and panels become more overwhelming with a constant increase in extra’s filling the images. The sequences become chapters, almost like single issues collected together, each gaining momentum as the threat level increases. Until the final, out of this world confrontation that would need a Marvel Movie budget to pull off on the big screen.
The review could end there with the additional line ‘if you’re a fan of Green Lantern then you will definitely love this book’, however I wouldn’t feel comfortable about it. This is because I don’t know if that statement is true.
Personally, I have no interest in the character and that turned into a large stumbling block for this book. The reason I bought Earth One was because of Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman, and by the end it still hadn’t created an interest in Hal or the Lanterns. It took me four weeks to read this book. I would read a few pages, put it down, and then pick up something else to read instead. There are elements of this comic I love but nothing about the character’s legacy or the Green Lantern Corps world captivates me. And, unfortunately, this did not change that.
As a result, I personally found the story tiresome, although the characters were well written. There are clearly references that I did not understand but fans of the regular series will probably lap up. Unfortunately, without a character to root for the story looses pace and any drama is replaced by a mild desire to simply finish reading the book.
If you love galactic superheroes and reluctant hero stories then this will appeal to you. It has creative worlds and a host of exciting aliens all linked together by glowing green lanterns. It appears to have all of the elements required for a good Green Lantern comic and it has some very exciting storytelling. This will probably appeal to fans of the character. Unfortunately, as soon as the lantern was introduced my interest died.
Green Lantern Earth One is a beautiful book. The artwork is impressive and there are storytelling techniques on display that could keep a fan of comics obsessed for hours. Unfortunately the story does not contain the same momentum and it is too easy to put this book down. It does not have enough appeal for non-superhero fans and will leave those readers out in the cold. Having said that, people who love their DC comics should be picking this, and Volume 2, up.