WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Green Lantern: Blackstars #1, by Grant Morrison, Xermanico, Steve Oliff and Steve Wands, on sale now.
The cover for Green Lantern: Blackstars #2 gives a glimpse of the action-packed follow-up to the tumultuous events of the previous issue, where an antagonistic Hal Jordan is ordered to take over Earth -- and will, seemingly, have to go through the Justice League to do it.
The series takes place in an alternate timeline in which Hal is reimagined as a member of the Blackstars, an intergalactic police force who seeks to bring galactic peace through their fascistic rule and re-ordering of worlds. Readers will note that this storyline bears a strong resemblance to DC's Injustice series, in which a crazed Superman also sought to impose world peace through authoritarian methods.
Both Blackstars and Injustice deal with the aftermath of a villain's conniving plan to manipulate the heroes into drastically changing their moral barometers. In Blackstars, a new antagonist named Controller Mu tricks Hal Jordan into powering the Miracle Machine to rewrite the course of the universe. The cataclysmic event occurs as the conclusion of Grant Morrison's 12-issue run The Green Lantern, in which Mu carefully orchestrates the release of Hal Jordan's Anti-Matter counterpart, Qwa-Man. The ensuing fight leaves Hal on the verge of death and at the mercy of Mu, who seeks to use him as a battery to power the Miracle Machine. On his dying breath, Hal gives in to Mu's wish to reshape reality in order to spare the total destruction of the universe. Now, Hal serves as a militaristic Blackstar and is tasked to bring planet Earth into Mu's newly established regime.
Likewise, Injustice also saw the tragic transformation of a beloved hero at the hands of a villain's conspiratorial plot, although Hal's change is the result of a nobler last resort than Superman's descent into madness. Injustice has Joker play a similar role as Controller Mu does in Blackstars: manipulating Superman into killing Lois Lane and blowing up Metropolis in the process. He murders Jimmy Olsen to bring Superman to the edge of desperation, then laces Scarecrow's fear toxin with Kryptonite in order to make Lois appear as Doomsday to Superman. The final straw is when the bomb hidden in Metropolis detonates at Lois' death, finally convincing Superman that the only way to establish world peace is to impose a totalitarian new world order.
Superman and the Green Lantern, as a result of their perverse motivations, both commit heinous deeds in the name of peace and stability. Injustice follows Superman's increasing rage as he gradually becomes more ruthless in his quest for power. He gravely injures Superboy, incinerates a group of anti-Superman protestors, and breaks Batman's back in retaliation for resisting his rule. In one moment that is especially reminiscent of the events of Blackstars, Superman violently murders Kalibak, the son of famed DC demagogue Darkseid, and ferociously destroys the invading armies of Apokopolis. This ironically highlights the correlation between the fanaticism of Superman and Darkseid. Likewise, Hal Jordan takes aim at another villainous icon in DC comics, Mongul, overthrowing his rule and capturing his despotic planet Warworld for the Blackstars.
Injustice and Blackstars also wrestle with themes of total peace at the cost of freedom. Both storylines attempt to challenge readers' preconceived ideas of what makes a hero's actions morally justified. In order to enunciate this tension, Injustice pits DC's superheroes against each other, with Batman leading the resistance against Superman's government. Green Lantern: Blackstars seems to be headed in the same direction, as Hal Jordan announces an assault against Earth's heroes in the conquest of his home planet.
Writer Grant Morrison has also stated that he plans to debut "the cruelest portrayal of Superman" he's ever put to page, implying that the Blackstars universe's Justice League might not be the righteous heroes fans are used to. Injustice may, therefore, offer a glimpse into what this iteration of the League will be like: a broken and fractured group struggling to deal with a situation spiraling out of control.
Blackstars #2 goes on sale Dec. 4th.