Monday, May 30, 2016

Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II #1 (1991)


Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II #1 (April, 1991)
"90 Days, Part I: The Powers That Be"
Story - Keith Giffen
Dialogue - Gerard Jones
Pencils - M.D. Bright
Inks - Romeo Tanghal
Letters - Albert De Guzman
Colors - Anthony Tollin
Assisant Editor - Kevin Dooley
Editor - Andy Helfer
Cover Price: $1.00

Depending on your mileage, today we're getting a bit sinful.  I can't seem to locate the exact quote, but it is said that Dan DiDio referred to the Emerald Dawn series' as a "sin" in that they portray a somewhat different Hal Jordan than we've gotten post Green Lantern: Rebirth (2004).

Newer fans only know Hal Jordan as the fearless ring-wielder who appears to have very little in the way of flaws.  In the post Rebirth (the old Rebirth) landscape, Hal was brought to the forefront of the DC Universe with many of his past transgressions either explained away or just plain retconned out.

Emerald Dawn (I and II) would be one of the latter.

The first Emerald Dawn miniseries ends with Hal turning himself in for driving under the influence of alcohol.  Couldn't imagine that happening to the contemporary Hal Jordan... Emerald Dawn II opens up with Hal owning up to his misdeed and being given his punishment... Did Hal's own sins transcend the comic book page?  Is this issue a sin?  Let's find out...

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Hal Jordan has just pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol.  He's guilty as sin (!!!) and he knows it.  He doesn't even have an attorney, having chosen to represent himself.  The judge reads Hal the riot act, and decides to give him the absolute harshest sentence possible... ninety days in the state penitentiary under maximum security.  The sentence will start at once, and our ring-slinger is whisked to holding straightaway.



Before being transported to his new digs, he is given a brief opportunity to confab with his lady friend Carol Ferris.  He regrets not having a high-powered attorney to try and fight this... and Carol offers that he's simply being made an example of, after all, "there's some public feeling against drunk drivers lately".  If only he drank and drove during the time when drunk drivers were embraced and held up by society!


That damned "public feeling"... ruining everybody's good time
Hal's loaded into the paddy wagon and is headed to the pen.  On the way, he overhears an armed robbery report coming over the police radio.  He whips up a "Hal" construct, and takes off in his guise of Green Lantern to see if he can be of any help.



At Coast City Savings, a crew of ski-masked jerks are in the middle of their attempt at robbery.  They load all of the workers into the vault... where one might assume the money would be kept... Green Lantern arrives, just in time to be hit with one hell of a threat.  Like seriously... check this out...


do wut now?
Moments later, likely after regaining his composure, Hal makes short work of these goofs.  He whips up several ring constructs, and ultimately entraps them in a cage made of the floor's linoleum tiles.  He frees the shocked civvies and flies off.  This is a time when Green Lantern was an unknown entity in the DC Universe, so villains and civilians alike don't really know what to make of him.



Hal makes it back to the police van just before it arrives at the state prison.  He listens in on the police radio, and hears the telling of an unknown savior who intervened and smiles to himself for a job well done.



During processing, Hal is instructed to leave all of his personal effects.  The officer noticed that Hal's green ring apparently vanished.  He instructs our man that they give all of their "magicians" a special prize... in the form of a strip search.  Hal's annoyed but not surprised... after all, this is his second kinky proposition in such a short amount of time.


Oh, the humanity...
Are you ready for the story to come to a screeching halt?  No?  Well, too bad... we're going to Oa anyway.  The Guardians are discussing the new reckless and untrained Green Lantern of Sector 2814.  They suggest pairing him with the Green Lantern of Sector 1417 for training... if those numbers are familiar to you, you know they're talking about one of the greatest Green Lanterns going... Sinestro.



We rejoin Hal in his cell.  His cellmate, a devastatingly handsome and well-spoken fellow with a missing front tooth, introduces himself as the King of Hell.  He gives Hal the usual prison tough guy talk... that is, until somebody outside the cell shivs him in the back.  This being prison, nobody saw anything.  Our DUI superhero is now being looked as a murderer as well!



Hal's whisked into an interrogation room to await a meeting with his caseworker... Enter: Guy Gardner... seriously.  Guy "the Pussycat" Gardner believes in Hal, and thinks he is innocent of murdering his royal cellmate.  Hal recognizes Gardner as a standout college football player, and asks what he's doing as a caseworker.  Guy shrugs it off and expresses an interest in dealing with people who routinely destroy their own lives.



In Sector 1417, the hyper-violent Sinestro is dealing with a intergalactic threat.  He may be violent and extreme, but he gets results.  He chases a race of lizard-like humanoids out of his Sector, and cleans up their wake.



He returns to his planet of Korugar, and receives a hero's welcome.  The entire citizenry appears to love and admire him, to the point where several youngsters (including one Katma-Tui) are part of a Young Lantern Brigade.  As the people celebrate, however, Sinestro steps on something... breaking it, and is "popped" out of existence.



We next find Sinestro standing in front of the council of Guardians.  They tell him that he's been tasked with training the young brash Jordan.  He begrudgingly accepts, and heads Earthward.



Back at the prison, Hal is sitting in his cell (now all by his lonesome) running through the events of the day in his head.  His thoughts are soon interrupted however, by his new trainer, Sinestro.



--

Man, do I feel like I gotta say about 15 Hail Mary's after reading that, or what?  So sinful... right?

No, no, no... this was a very good story.  This is a relatable Hal Jordan.  He's not perfect, he makes mistakes... what makes him heroic is his desire to own up to those mistakes and make everything right.  He says all he wants is a "clean slate"... having worked with many people like (this) Hal, I can tell you a clean slate is one of the more noble things a person can endeavor towards.

Is the transgression of having driven while drunk something that damages the character of Hal Jordan?  Of course not.  He's human... he made a (stupid and avoidable) mistake, and he's paying the price.  He's handling his business like a man should, and there's no reason why this needed to be scrubbed from the history books.

This is an almost perfect creative team for a Green Lantern book of this vintage.  I don't usually associate Keith Giffen with GL, but, damned if this isn't plotted well!  Gerry Jones and Doc Bright... jeez, this era Green Lantern just doesn't get better than that!

Jones has one of the great post-Crisis/pre-Emerald Twilight voices for Hal Jordan, while Doc Bright is definitely on my short-list for best Green Lantern artists of all time.  I first "discovered" (that is to say, took notice of) Bright during his time on Quantum & Woody (with another fave of mine, Christopher Priest), and it is always a treat to see his earlier work!

Worth your time?  Hell yeah.  It may not be in continuity anymore (or, maybe it is/will be... who knows?) but it's just an interesting character study on a very similar, but at the same time different Hal Jordan.  These issues are easily found in many'a cheap-o bin... however, if you want it all in one chunk (and have money to burn) it was collected in a now out-of-print TPB.  I have both versions, having lucked into the collection at a record store for about $5... I did get the whole thing in singles for less than the price of a current DC comic, though... so, you shouldn't have a hard time tracking it down, should you be so inclined.

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2 comments:

  1. Just boxed these up (Emerald Dawn's I and II and Emerald Twilight) for a move and damn if this doesn't make me want to unbox them. I LOVE Mark Bright's pencils. His Iron Man and GL stuff Blow me away. Great story in these and you are spot-on with your assessment of Hal and Giffen/Jones.

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    Replies
    1. Mark Bright is like one of those quiet "secret" awesome artists. Every time I see his stuff I wonder why he isn't working on the "big guns" heroes. He seems to get better by the page!

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