Green Lantern: Blackstars (#1 – 3) – Grant Morrison

5 out of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed Grant Morrison’s first twelve Green Lantern issues, but it admittedly also carried something of a burden of my not being too familiar with GL lore, and so as Morrison began toying with that lore – as per his m.o. – I found myself a little lost as to what was happening, making me hesitate a bit before picking up later issues.  …And, I mean, my confusion was to the extent that I wasn’t entirely clear what the setup for this Blackstars mini-series was to be, and re-experienced that hesitant sigh before cracking the covers.

But then I blazed through each issue.

Maybe it’s that it was compressed, and that that compression gave it focus, but I also think that Blackstars is the fruit borne of ‘The Green Lantern’s first ‘season,’ which means it’s the sweet spot of a Grant run when things whatever madness he’s been plotting comes together.  I automatically was able to backfill what I didn’t quite grasp, just from the first few pages’ context, and had no problem keeping up: that Controller Mu’s actions have led to a new reality where Hal Jordan has “wished” for Mu’s plans for worldwide peace to become true, and thus: there are no more Lanterns – as in, there never were – and now Hal, as Parallax, is working alongside these Blackstars to spread Mu’s word.  Partnered with vampiress Belzebeth, that often means via destruction, but it seems to be working: even Mongul is brought in to line, and in this new world, Earth is now ‘the depressiverse’ (yuk) and Bats and Superman can hardly juggle the world’s ills for all of their own interpersonal struggles.

And Grant doesn’t cheat this.  We don’t get the secret winks that tell us that this madness is actually all going according to some GL planning, rather, Hal keeps questioning his recurrent dreams and thoughts of a place called Oa and some other version of Earth, and it’s his tried and true rebelliousness and persistence that eventually leads him to the truth, in a wonderfully badass Morrison sequence of events.

Artist Xermanico and colorist Steve Oliff are quite an amazing pair.  While Liam Sharp brought a particular heavy look to his run, his use of computer effects and weird zooms sometimes seemed to miss the cues and scope of Grant’s writing.  Here, Xermanico and Oliff somehow balance the mass of characters and massive clashes of this mini with the more grounded “beat cop” pitch of The GL; the book maintains a deep humanity while its spiraling off in various galaxies, which is certainly quite a feat.

After zipping through and loving the series, I ended up rereading the leading up 12 books – as predicted on my initial readthrough, they’re much clearer a second time through, and so much more fun as a result – and then actually reread the Blackstars series to boot.  Yes: it was even better the second time through.