The Green Lantern: Season Two (#1 – 12) – Grant Morrison

3 out of 5

From a macro-plotter like Grant Morrison, it’s probably not coincidental that his “Season Two” of Green Lantern seems to mimic his first season’s issues structurally, giving Hal Jordan a clear, dual remit (“You’re a space cop!” in season one is supplanted by “You’re an Earth cop!” here, in both cases bundled with some vaguely forewarned massive event) and then shifting from Silver Age team-ups and moderately isolated adventures in the first few issues to, in the season’s latter half, build up to a final, cosmos-shattering big bang. This also probably means I’ll enjoy Season Two more on a second go ’round – as I did Season One – and probably probably get even more of a benefit by comboing the two seasons together, since there are those mentioned parallels, and then also some aspects directly carried over from one to the other.

Hhhhhowever, prior to that reread, that also suggests the initial impact of these issues mirrors that of the preceding ones: much excitement; diminishing returns. And because this does seem to be the end of Grant’s GL run, and we’re no longer building up to another miniseries and more issues, those effects seem to be exacerbated – both positively and negatively – by the compression of wrapping things up. Morrison’s hyper-compacted writing style, which jams his Big Ideas and recontextualization of [all of comic book history] into punchy proclamations, is blown out to surreal extremes by the end of these issues, to the extent that I’m remaining vague on the bad guys and their cosmic threats because I’m not really sure I have any idea who and what they were. I mean, yeah, names were named and terms like Ultrawar and multiverses uttered, and at a high-level, I can see how this was structured around leveraging all the spectrums of the GL colorverse, and the character’s expansive legacy, to – as Grant likes to do – firstly celebrate the character, but also explore humanity a bit as well, which is a nice, grounded shift from Grant’s often more ethereal pursuits – but still: what actually happened in this book? And I’m sincerely not sure I can tell you.

Initially coasting on the energy of the delivery, and amazingly varied and detailed and fantastically phantasmagorical art from Liam Sharp (mimicking, at points, various noted artists or genres), storylines start to trail out across issues – Hal will start or end a book by saying “I’ll be right back,” and then deal with linked subplot A before returning to linked subplot B – and Sharp’s work starts to become heavily painterly and surreal, looking at various point like Simon Bisely, or Simon Davis’ Slaine stuff, or even Clint Langley’s digital / photo-reference stuff, and while each issue remains readable and visually fascinating, the cohesiveness, even when employing a kind of “let it wash over me” mentality I usually use for Grant’s wackier epics, is largely a miss; some epic battle presumably took place, I guess.

And it’s likely true that I’d cast a more critical eye on a lesser-known artistic quantity, but at the same time, I don’t think there’s a point when I feel like the book is all sound and fury; it is absolutely not form over function. Sharp is experimenting to some questionable extremes, and Morrison is off the already wayward rails on which he’s allowed to ride, but there’s a very clear desire to tell a story here that helps to keep the pages turning, which further makes that full-on Season One + Two reread a likelihood for sooner, rather than later.

At the end of the day – at the end of 24 issues plus an annual plus the Blackstars mini-series – I think this is what we want from Grant, to zip up decades of content and spit them back at us with the old stuff made as relevant as the new, and with a denseness that demands a bit more audience participation and engagement than the standard hero book. And it’s actually admirable that he hasn’t just repeated the formula exactly from his JLA days, but at each step – X-Men, Batman, Superman – Morrison has settled on a different tactic for whichever property. For Green Lantern, stretching across alien worlds and multiple universes, maybe it’s a bit much for my brain to handle – and for even these 28 total issues to contain – but it’s still a worthwhile rattling of that grey matter.