Green Lantern Volume 2: The Revenge of Black Hand
$24.99, color, 192 pgs.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Doug Mahnke, Ethan Van Scriver, Renato Guedes, Jim Calafiore
Collecting Green Lantern #7-12, Green Lantern Annual #1
This collection convinces me more than ever that Johns has revitalized Green Lantern not as a superhero book, but as a horror book.
The story here continues all the arcs and themes of the previous volume (and, truth be told, of the pre-New 52 Green Lantern). Hal Jordan is no longer a Green Lantern (and content not to be), but is pressed into service by Sinestro, once again a Green Lantern, albeit against his will and reluctantly on a road to redemption, as he perforce battles various evils that he himself once set into motion (like the Sinestro Corps). The Guardians of Oa have moved from enigmatic to downright villainous; they are planning to murder the Green Lantern Corps and replace it with something called the Third Army; they have revealed yet more morally dubious actions from their collective past; and they plan to wipe out free will throughout the universe to achieve perfect, static order. Also, all these events have been foretold in various books from the various colors of the emotional spectrum whose author or authors remain unknown, adding a long-term mystery to the mix.
In the course of this, we learn the history and terrible secret of the Indigo Tribe, which I will not spoil here (it’s pretty cool). We also learn of “The First Lantern,” who apparently wields the power of the entire emotional spectrum and has been guarded by a whole bunch of Guardians we never knew about (“The Hidden Ones”). Also, William “Black” Hand once again becomes a Black Lantern, no longer human and reveling in death and murder in an almost orgasmic way. (Quite a change from his Silver Age creation as a minor, not-really-super villain.)
That latter cements for me this book’s status as a horror title. Black Hand resurrects his family as zombies, as he does with an entire graveyard, to attack Jordan and Sinestro. The Book of the Black is constantly being re-written in a spooky way, its information revealed piecemeal by a hidden hand, like a Ouija board. Jordan and Sinestro are tortured and brainwashed in one scene, buried alive in another. (Shades of Edgar Allan Poe!) The Guardians’ new champion transforms its opponents into mindless copies of itself, like a zombie or vampire. All in all, a book based on light is constantly battling the darkest aspects of man.
Adding to this is the creepy art of Doug Mahnke, which takes some getting used to. Mahnke draws every line on every thing, making the world look tired and every character look older and more sinister. For example, it’s chilling when a character smiles, because the lips are obviously stretched, every single tooth is defined, and maybe even a little gingivitis shows on those laboriously detailed gums. But I have gotten used to Mahnke and think him perfect for this book, so it was a slight let-down – only slight, mind you – when Guedes, Calafiore, and Van Scriver take over for the last two chapters with slick, professional superhero styles.
But superhero art does not a superhero book make. The Revenge of Black Hand is a horror story, and a good one.