Green Lantern #12: Black Hand Backhand
Green Lantern #12 leads us further into the mix of Black Hand and the sinister (as well as lengthy) plot by the Guardians to wipe out the entire Lantern populace with their mysterious 3rd army. The next few issues for Green Lantern are crucial to the series not becoming a parody of itself.
Essentially we have two old plots re-emerging to create a new arc. First is the fall of a Guardian army which happened eons ago when, as it turned out, Krona helped reprogram the Manhunters into killing machines. The Guardians had to eliminate that army and gave rise to the Green Lantern Corps. We also have the involvement of Black Hand and the living dead from the Blackest Night arc. It’s not impossible to wean new stories from older ones, but writer Geoff Johns is going to have to be very careful.
Issue 12 opens with Hal Jordan and Sinestro confronted by Black Hand. The mystical Book Of Black has teleported the two Lanterns to Earth, where Black Hand’s dead family surrounds him. The Book Of Black has spelled out the words “Hal Jordan Is Not Your Enemy.” Though confused by the words of the book, Jordan and Sinestro address the more pressing matter of Black Hand’s advancing soldiers of the undead.
Meanwhile, the Guardians are moving the final (thank GOD) pieces of their diabolical plot into place. They have given false hope to Guy Gardner, played on John Stewarts guilt, stripped Hal Jordan of his power (so they think), forced Sinestro to question his allegiances and Kyle Rayner is being tricked in order for Ganthet to destroy him personally. With the best of the best on shaky ground, the Guardians are sure the rest of the Corps will fall to their 3rd Army. Back on Earth, Jordan and Sinestro defeat Black Hand's army, but it depletes their power. Then, in a decent bit of melodrama, the Book Of Black reads “Hal Jordan Will Be The Greatest Black Lantern Ever”.
Overall, issue #12 is a solid read. Yes, we have more “sinister” meetings where the Guardians discuss their plan as opposed to executing it, but I thought it was cool how they have driven a psychological and physical wedge between all the key members of the GLC. The scenes between Black Hand, Sinestro and Jordan are well paced, especially since they’re little more than Johns getting his story together. Personally, I think the Guardians are going to use the Black Lanterns as their third army, thinking the undead will obey mindlessly. When it backfires, the damaged key players will unite to battle the Black Lanterns and, at some point, Hal Jordan will use the power of the Black Ring to destroy the Black Lanterns and restore order. It’s just a hunch, but I can’t figure any other reason to bring the Black Lanterns back so soon.
If God is in the details, then he must be in the pencils of Renato Guedes. The work here is stunning, especially the attention to tiny aspects of every character. When the undead army rises, each one is unique. Guedes' human forms are top notch – finally, somebody draws Hal Jordan without making him look like a lame white guy from a Dockers ad. The panel placement is key here as well. Guedes knows when to cram multiple panels onto a page and then when to open it up and only use two or a splash page. It keeps the pace high and gives the entire issue a cinematic feel.
The second half of the art is taken care of by Jim Calafiore, who does a similarly wonderful job. Both artists have a solid love for detail, but Calafiore’s work is a little more fine-art inspired, especially his rendition of Black Hand. The combination of the two never feels off, it blends seamlessly. I also have to acknowledge colorist Alex Sinclair, whose work is exceptional here.
(3 Story, 4 Art)