As DC Comics' most recognizable cosmic superhero, and fueled entirely by the power of its own imagination, Green Lantern is a hero who can go wherever its creative team dreams up for him. In the fifth issue of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp's The Green Lantern, the creative team has decided to take the new adventures of Hal Jordan into a decidedly deep dive into DC's horror realm while retaining the high-concept storytelling and pulp sci-fi sensibilities that have defined the relaunched title so far.
Picking up from last issue's cliffhanger ending, Hal has apparently gone rogue from the rest of the Green Lantern Corps and is attempting to prove himself worthy to join the fearsome Blackstars. Venturing to the vampire planet of Vorr, Hal is tasked with traversing the undead planet on foot to endure its terrors and nightmares in a bid to join the spacefaring criminal syndicate...provided he can survive the ordeal in one piece.
The issue marks not only the most horror-centric Green Lantern tale since Blackest Night, but also the most extensively Morrison has leaned into writing horror since his 2015 Image Comics miniseries Nameless. However, it still feels very much like a Green Lantern comic and, more specifically, a Grant Morrison-penned Green Lantern comic. Previously, Morrison had introduced such high-concept, psychedelic tropes as Hal Jordan teaming up with a volcano-headed Green Lantern or confronting an alien posing as the Judeo-Christian archetypal God. Here, Morrison pits Hal against the typical haunted house horrors as he comes to terms with his own inner demons.
As always with Morrison, however, this is never particularly easy to follow and demands a higher level of attention; it's easy to get lost while progressing through the story, especially for those not well accustomed to Morrison's writing style. Having said that, this issue is somewhat simpler to follow along with than several of its immediate predecessors, and Morrison still keeps the proceedings fun rather than heavy-handed, even amidst the horror tonal shift. And if Hal's actions in the preceding issues had seemed out of character, Morrison begins to reveal more about his approach and longer term plans for Hal Jordan here.
Fortunately, Liam Sharp's impressive artwork makes this mind-bending issue especially palatable and entertaining, even for those that may find the text itself overly esoteric or inaccessible. Sharp renders horror landscapes and characters as gorgeously as he had the starry cosmos in previous issues, and there are moments that visually feel as though they could easily double as heavy metal album covers. While breathtakingly gorgeous overall, embracing retro sensibilities of the title without coming off as dated, there are several panels towards the end where some of the faces are drawn a bit inconsistently with the majority of the issue, but these are just quibbles about another beautifully drawn issue as a whole.
For those not particularly enamored with Morrison's complex, dense writing style, The Green Lantern #5 is likely not an issue that will win them over. However, for fans of Morrison's previous work and new readers able to follow along, this is one of the most entertaining stories in the relaunched series to date, aided largely by Sharp's atmospheric and intentionally creepy artwork. A story that leans more into horror and fantasy tropes than typical sci-fi ones, the fifth issue is a welcome change of pace for the high-concept series reminding new and longtime fans of the character alike of Green Lantern's ability to fit in any kind of story, regardless of genre trappings. Trading out the usual willpower-fueled ring-slinging for an exploration into an extraterrestrial haunted planet, Morrison and Sharp have delivered a late Halloween-tinged tale while gradually revealing their bigger plans for the intergalactic space cop; come for the high-concept story, stay for the delightfully spooky art. And, as with the previous installment of their run, the creative team end this issue with a particularly big cliffhanger centered on a surprise classic DC character.
The Green Lantern #5 is written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Liam Sharp. It is scheduled to go on sale on March 6 from DC Comics.