Green Lantern #44 is a Blackest Night tie-in issue. Hopefully, Johns delivers a nicely paced story that adds some depth to Blackest Night. It appears that the main purpose of this issue to let zombie Martian Manhunter trash Hal and Barry. It should be interesting to see Hal and Barry having to lock horns with their former JLA teammate. Let’s hit this review.
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Inks: Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Tom Nguyen and Rodney Ramos
Colors: Randy Mayor
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a black power ring smashing through the tomb of Martian Manhunter. We see Black Lantern Martian Manhunter break out of his casket. We cut to Hal and Barry investigating Bruce’s grave. Hal narrates that both he and Barry and cops. Hal says that Barry is the good cop.
Our heroes wonder who stole Bruce’s skull. Hal and Barry wonder who would know where Bruce was buried and who would know that Bruce was Batman. The two friends engage in a bit of witty banter. Suddenly, Black Lantern Martian Manhunter arrives on the scene.
Zombie J’onn says that neither Hal nor Barry should be alive. Hal’s ring scans J’onn and informs Hal that J’onn is dead. J’onn turns invisible and attacks Hal and Barry. J’onn says that Hal and Barry were his friends. J’onn says that he has come back to help both Hal and Barry.
J’onn asks Barry how he would feel if he had to leave Iris and Wally behind again. J’onn’s ring reads fear from Barry. J’onn then tells Hal that if he had died at the right time after being Parallax then Hal would have gone straight to hell. J’onn’s ring then reads willpower from Hal. J’onn comments that Hal no longer subjects himself to guilt and rage over being Parallax. J’onn says that once again Hal’s heart is full of willpower.
J’onn grabs Hal and is about to rip Hal’s heart out of his chest. Barry then launches himself into the air and grabs Hal out of J’onn’s clutches. Hal then uses his power ring to provide for a safe landing for our two heroes inside of a nearby building. Hal tells Barry that he saw a black power ring on J’onn’s hand. Hal then tried to contact Salaak on Oa. Hal gets no response. Hal tells Barry that communication with Oa is down.
Suddenly, the building begins to shake. We cut to outside and see J’onn lifting up the entire building. J’onn then flies the building into another building. J’onn says “I’m as powerful as Superman. Why does everyone forget that?” (Great two lines!)
We cut to Oa where Scar has the other Guardians trapped in black goo. The Guardians ask Scar why she would betray them. Scar replies that she is just finishing the Guardians’ mission that they started billions of years ago. Scar says that she is bringing order to the universe. Scar says that the Manhunters failed. That the Green Lanterns failed. Scar says it is time for a new army to step up and save the universe.
Scar says that the Black Lanterns are collecting hearts full of the splintered light. Scar says that soon it will be “his” turn to rise. Scar says that the Guardians need their rest for what is to come. Scar tells the Guardians to sleep. Scar then vomits up more black goo over the Guardians.
Hal says that J’onn distanced himself from everyone and that J’onn felt more alien. Barry responds that J’onn was not alien. That J’onn was alienated.
Suddenly, Martian Manhunter appears in front of Barry and tells him that Barry cannot outrun death.
Barry starts hammering away at J’onn with a ton of super speed punches. J’onn then says “Stop.” We then see that J’onn is really Hal Jordan. That J’onn used his telepathy to trick Barry into attacking Hal. Martian Manhunter then appears and quickly takes down both Hal and Barry.
Suddenly, thousands of black power rings come crashing into the scene. The rings say “Flesh. Xanshi. Rise.” John comments that this is not good. End of issue.
What I found interesting about the battle is that we have yet to see a Black Lantern use their power ring. In this issue, J’onn only employs his myriad super powers rather than relying on the black power ring. This certainly sets the Black Lanterns apart from the other colored Lantern Corps.
Johns crafts some nice dialogue. Of course that is of no surprise considering that Hal and Barry are two of Johns’ pet characters and he has a fine feel for both character’s personalities. The character work is also top notch.
I enjoyed the quality chemistry between Hal and Barry. Johns smartly plays up the fact that both Hal and Barry are cops. Johns delivers a great buddy team with Hal and Barry just like what you would see in any cop movie.
Now, I will openly admit that Hal Jordan is my favorite Green Lantern and that Barry Allen is my favorite Flash flavor. So, obviously, I loved seeing these two characters back in action once again. It just felt right.
I dig how Johns used J’onn to give the reader a bit of insight into the hearts of Barry and Hal. Naturally, Barry’s heart is full of fear over the possibility of him having to say goodbye once again to Iris and Wally. This is a perfectly natural reaction for a man who has just returned to life. I did not think that it made Barry’s character weak at all. Instead, it gave Barry a bit more depth to his character.
Since Barry’s “death” he has been built up to some perfect hero and has practically attained sainthood. This is just another way that Johns is showing the reader that even though Barry may be a true hero and the premier Flash that he is still just a man with the same fears as other men.
I liked that Johns had Hal’s heart full of nothing but willpower. No fear. No rage. Just pure willpower. This moment has been a long time coming. Ever since Johns brought Hal Jordan back Hal has been dealing with feelings of fear, rage and guilt over his past. Johns has certainly not hurried the healing process with regard to Hal’s soul. Hal has been beating himself up and dealing with so many conflicting emotions since his return.
I appreciate that Johns took his time having Hal come to terms with his past as Parallax. But, the fact is that it is time to move on and take Hal past this point in his life. And for that reason, I am glad to see that Hal has moved past the grief, the rage and the fear and embraced his role as the greatest Green Lantern in the Corps.
Johns did a great job with J’onn’s character. As a matter of fact, this handling of J’onn was better than any version of J’onn we have gotten in a long time. It is sad that it took death for J’onn to finally be written in an interesting fashion. Johns does a fine job impressing upon the reader that Martian Manhunter is in the same power class as Superman. Johns is correct; poor Martian Manhunter always seems to be overlooked when people discuss the heavy hitters of the DCU. Zombie Martian Manhunter certainly served as one seriously imposing villain and made for some good action scenes.
Johns gives the reader a small hint about the leader of the Black Lanterns. We learn that the leader of the Black Lanterns has not risen. Yet. Evidently, this should take place at the climactic moment of Blackest Night. We also learn that Scar is keeping the Guardians alive for what is to come. I am curious to see what Johns has in store for the captured Guardians.
Green Lantern #44 is crammed full of some fantastic artwork by Mahnke. Even though Mahnke is saddled with four different inkers in this issue, his art still looks impressive. The amount of detail that Mahnke pours into his artwork always makes this issue wonderful to stare at.
The Bad: Green Lantern #44 certainly had its share of warts. The pacing on this issue is slow. Green Lantern #44 does give the reader a little plot progression from the end of Blackest Night #1. But not much.
Also, Green Lantern #44 is a fairly thin read. There is not much substance to chew on with this issue. Green Lantern #44 is mostly a long fight scene with plenty of double page splash shots. The reader gets nineteen pages that focus on rise of zombie J’onn and his fight with Hal and Barry. We then get a little three page scene with Scar and the Guardians that will surely be repeated in Blackest Night #2. And we get a three page scene at the end of this issue that will also probably be repeated in Blackest Night #2. So, while the fight was fun, the reader is left a bit unsatisfied and unfulfilled due to the relative lack of substance of this issue.
Overall: Blackest Night #44 was a serviceable read. If you are a Martian Manhunter fan then you will probably enjoy watching J’onn smack around Barry and Hal. However, if you were expecting a bit of a deeper read that was going to offer more depth to the Blackest Night event then you will probably be disappointed.
Even though the short scenes with Scar and the Guardians and with John on Xanshi do offer some small plot progression, I am confident that Johns will repeat this information in Blackest Night #2. Therefore, Green Lantern #44 is not a must buy issue. However, if you are a completeist who wants to purchase every tie-in issue in order to enjoy Blackest Night to its fullest then I would recommend picking up this issue.