Book Review – Green Lantern Earth One vol. 1

  • Title: Green Lantern Earth One vol. 1
  • Author: Corinna Bechko & Gabriel Hardman
  • Artists: Gabriel Hardman, Jordan Boyd (colors), Simon Bowland (letters)
  • Characters: Hal Jordan, Kilowog, Green Lanterns
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 05/12/2018

Green Lantern Earth 1 is a stand-alone graphic novel outside the current DC Comics continuity. It’s an Elseworlds novel, what DC calls it’s “what if” stories. In this story, in a dark future where NASA has been taken over by a for-profit corporation, all exploration, and scientific discovery have halted, and space stations have been weaponized and used by corporations to target Earth populations that don’t tow the line – Hal Jordan has left NASA and now works for Ferris Galactic. He’s part of a crew trying to find mineral deposits on an asteroid. While he and his partner, Volkov, are working, they get the word – a rival corporation has found a deposit – which is likely to terminate Ferris Galactic’s contract. Hal, still cautiously optimistic, continues to explore the asteroid he’s on, despite his partner telling him it’s not worth it. Hal and his partner discover a crashed spaceship, with a non-working Manhunter aboard. A few minutes later, they find the desiccated body of Amin Sur.

A message comes through from Ferris Galactic – the contract’s been terminated, they are going back to Earth, and no one will get their bonus. Volkov finds a green lantern and power ring – but it doesn’t exactly go well. First, the alien spaceship explodes from the sheer power of the lantern. This exposes the Manhunter to sunlight – which powers it up. Volkov and Hal make it to their lander, but something is seriously wrong. The lander doesn’t make it back to the Ferris Galactic ship. Volkov is killed in the explosion. The Ring seeks Hal, providing him with a shield so he can survive in space. Hal barely defeats the Manhunter on instinct. He has no idea what’s going on. Meanwhile, Ferris Galactic has decided he’s a liability – the radiation surrounding him is a risk, and he can’t be brought abroad their ship.

Hal wakes up in a hospital on Bolovax Vel, under the care of Kilowog, a Green Lantern and hospital tech. Kilowog starts to fill Hal in on galactic events. Once, the Green Lantern Corps were the police force of the galaxy. But the Guardians feared they were becoming too strong – so they built the Manhunters, which destroyed the Green Lanterns and Oa, the planet at the center of the Galaxy where the Guardians lived. All of this was so long ago, though, that Kilowog is a bit fuzzy on the details. He says the Rings are heirlooms, passed down through families. Some of the rings no longer work, others only work at a fraction of their original power, since the Great Lantern on Oa was destroyed. Kilowog also, when he’s forced to by events, admits his planet is totally isolationist. No one can leave the planet, and no other species is allowed on the planet. He helped Hal because he was a Lantern – even though he knew it was against the law. Of course, he informs Hal of this as the planetary police are closing in.

Hal and Kilowog leave the planet and set out on a quest to find out more about the Green Lanterns, the Guardians, Oa, the Manhunters, and to unite other Lanterns. Everyone tells them slightly different stories – some blaming the Guardians for the rise of the Manhunters. As Hal tries to put it all together and figure out who to believe, he and Kilowog are captured. They end up separated, but as slaves on Oa – slaves to the Manhunters. Hal, though, gets a message from one of the last surviving Guardians. He discovers that the Great Lantern wasn’t destroyed, it’s encased in an energy-damping dome that prevents its energy from reaching the galaxy and the rings.

Hal sends out a recruiting message, asking for help in attacking the dome. Some Lanterns actually think destroying the planet would be worth it – but Hal doesn’t want the slaves harmed. He finds a better way. The army of Lanterns destroys the dome and they are able to power their rings. Arista is nominated as leader of the new rag-tag Corps. Hal goes with Kilowag to his home planet to start him on the path of overthrowing the corrupt military coup government and bring the planet into the fold. Hal – heads back to Earth, and Ferris Galactic, for, essentially, the same reasons.

Green Lantern is usually a bright, hopeful book – full of space adventure, diverse characters, and fun. This book is dark. The first half of the book has very little dialogue, and dark panels set the stage. As the story opens up, we start to see the familiar green Lantern light – but completely out of control and dangerous. Hal isn’t the confident (some would say over-confident) hero Lantern we know so well – he’s a broken man, trying to do his best. Yet Hal still becomes a hero, because he’s the one who will find the Lantern on Oa and he’s the one who unites the few Lanterns and helps them to elect their own leader. Hal, it seems, will bring hope to the universe. So, ultimately, this is a good start to what may be a very different, and hard-hitting, but ultimately hopeful SF series.

Recommended. (Not for younger readers).