It's been a few years since legendary comic scribe Grant Morrison penned an ongoing series featuring one of DC Comics' premier superheroes. We've gotten a few visits here and there, but not since the New 52 relaunch of Action Comics has Morrison stuck around a flagship character for more than a handful of issues. Thankfully, that has changed with the release of the much-anticipated The Green Lantern #1 (which is to be the first of 12 issues). Joined by wonderful artist Liam Sharp (Wonder Woman), Morrison is diving back into the life of arguably the most recognizable human ever to wield the ring: Hal Jordan.
Let's begin by saying, Grant Morrison is a pretentious writer. Now, before you storm the comments section with torches and pitchforks, we don't mean that as an insult. Morrison just often writes with a level of pretense, expecting his readers to know something about the subject he's writing when they open the book. And if a new reader isn't familiar, he simply asks for them trust in his storytelling abilities, presuming you'll pick up things along the way. The Green Lantern #1 is filled with pretense. Even the title sporting a definitive article is, in its own right, a pretension statement. While Morrison says it refers to the main power source for the Corps, readers have and will automatically assume it's saying that Hal Jordan is THE Green Lantern. Not anyone else. This guy is the poster boy for this title, period.
The contents of this first issue play out like a lot of inaugural entries to ongoing Morrison comics; you pretty much get thrown to the wolves with zero warning. Characters and locations you may or may not be familiar with pop up all over the place, and very loose backstory references are made through exposition and context clues. Again, this is not a bad thing. Anyone familiar with Morrison's work is used to this by now, and most likely love the more obtuse aspects of how he writes well-recognized superheroes. He does so in a very special kind of shorthand for the initiated, but the language is compelling enough to have newbies stick around for the long haul. For instance, if his run on Doom Patrol wasn't as well-crafted as it was, we would have run for the hills about ten issues in (side note: Robotman is the one of the best characters in DC Comics; don't @ us).
The Green Lantern #1 is weird. Like, really weird. But its weirdness feels natural. Morrison utilizes strange otherworldly dialects and whirlwinds of dialogue between different alien races and the result if confounding and captivating. Despite how bizarre things get, it all feels strangely normal. Of course these different aliens would speak in strange cadences and use unfamiliar words. They aren't of our planet.
The plotting of the first issue is pretty straightforward, revolving around Hal Jordan investigating the release of something that could jeopardize Earth and the other Lanterns. We'll leave it at that to avoid spoilers, but it does feel like the beginning of a police procedural. The space cop has his case; now it's time to get out there and solve it. The issue even begins with a focus on tangentially related characters who have set things in motion, which is reminiscent of prologues to a lot of rouge police stories from the '80s, specifically movies starring guys like Stallone or Schwarzenegger.
Liam Sharp does a great job of playing to the scripts strengths. When we get scenes of Hal being your average Earthling, the line work is clean and the character designs feel ripped from classic pulp comics. But when things get more strange, the line work bends like his characters are made of Play-Doh. As the world expands, so does the dynamic structure of Sharp's work. He draws superheroes the way we love to see them: Often out of their element, facing things beyond their belief, and blending a touch of gritty realism to even the most fantastical elements of the DC pantheon.
In the end, you'll either be completely on board with this book within the first few pages, or you'll tap out. Like a scorched Earth college professor, Morrison is a comic writing virtuoso who doesn't mind leaving some readers in the dust and does so without being pedantic. It's the stuff that isn't explained that'll drive that stake through the dividing line between ayes and nays. Liam Sharp's frantic style mixed with classic comic layouts and superhero designs plays to the rhythm of the script with ease. Even with just one issue in, it's obvious this isn't going to be your run-of-the-mill Green Lantern comic. Of course, why should anything about the character ever feel simple. We're talking about a space cop with a magic ring here. With that sort of setup, there's no reason not to lean into the weirdness.