First, the bad news: there’s remarkably little in the way of plot when it comes to “Flashpoint: Hal Jordan” #1, part of the reason why it’s such a fast read. A lot of the “Flashpoint” mini-series are starting off with large amounts of back story for their premieres, and this one is no exception. But yes, the story quotient here is rather small.
The good news? As a character study it’s not bad. And as a series of two-page spreads from Ben Oliver, it’s beautiful.
Adam Schlagman takes his cues from both old “Green Lantern” comics as well as “Top Gun” to paint us a portrait of the headstrong pilot who is desperate to fly. We get glimpses of his childhood, his attempts to become a pilot, and that time when a shark jumped on top of his plane. No, that last bit wasn’t your imagination. It’s there that the comic gets rolling, and while some of Hal’s solutions are a bit ludicrous (to put it mildly), it’s hard to say that you don’t get a strong impression of Hal being a maverick in every sense of the word.
But the big draw here is Oliver’s art, which (along with Allen Passalaqua’s colors) looks like it was painted into the pages. Oliver lays out the majority of the book as a series of two-page spreads, with diagonal lines running across and down the page to slice it into a geometric pattern of panels. It’s a nice-looking technique, feeling almost like a montage of earlier moments that all come together. The book is full of these diagonals, swooping and zooming across the page in a way that somehow brings across the concept of speed. For a fighter jet pilot, that’s exactly what the book should look like.
The characters themselves have a smooth texture to their faces, but with smudges of shadow covering them. It’s an interesting look, and while it’s been a while since I’ve read a comic drawn by Oliver, as soon as I saw it, memories of his style came flooding back. It’s a distinctive look, and he’s able to pull off things like making Aquaman (in a one-page glimpse) feel dangerous in such a way that somehow feels easy.
“Flashpoint: Hal Jordan” is just an all-right opening in terms of script (although hopefully, like so many of the “Flashpoint” mini-series, now that the set-up is over with we’ll see a bit more pep in the remaining issues) but those pages from Oliver are top-notch. Come if you like the character, perhaps, but stay for the way in which he’s drawn.