Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Preview: Green Lantern Sector 2814 Volume 3

It always amused me, during the period in which Hal Jordan, the second DC character to bear the name Green Lantern, was spending a decade dead for tax purposes, to hear or read self professed fans of the character decry how badly DC had treated Hal and demand his resurrection and reinstatement as Green Lantern.  Where, I could not help but wonder, were these supposedly die-hard fans during the twenty five years between 1970 and 1994 when Hal Jordan seemed incapable of supporting a solo series for more than a handful of months?  During that period, lagging sales inevitably would lead the writers and editors of the book to desperate measures to revive interest in the book and lure in new readers.  That quarter century saw Hal saddled with a co-star, replaced as Green Lantern, made part of an Earth bound team of Green Lanterns, forced to share his title with the rotating adventures of  Earth's two other Green Lanterns, replaced again and ultimately killed off.  These ploys met with varying degrees of success.  Let's not forget that during this time, his magazine was canceled twice.
Cover of GL 200 by Walt Simonson, which will serve as the TPB's cover
I mention this because, besides just wanting to get that off my chest, I recently learned that this coming December DC will be releasing Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Volume 3, the third (obviously) in a series of trade paperbacks collecting issues of Green Lantern from the mid-1980's tenures of writers Len Wein and Steve Englehart, including the first time Hal was replaced, that time by his designated back-up, John Stewart.  The issues to be reprinted in this third volume (#194 through #200) include those that crossed over with DC's universe changing Crisis On Infinite Earths limited series, which Englehart used to set up yet another major change in the title's, and Hal's, status quo.  Effectively, these also constitute the final seven issues of the Silver Age Green Lantern title, as the new direction brought with it a new name for the comic as of #201, with the book's second cancellation to follow within two years.
These issues are also significant for re-introducing Guy Gardner and beginning his evolution into the arrogant jerk soon to be a mainstay of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis' Justice League, and for containing, in what Englehart contends was merely a throwaway line of dialogue in #200, the seeds of DC's third major crossover event (after Crisis and Legends), Millennium.
Green Lantern, I believe, tied in more closely to the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths than any other book not set on Earth 2.  This only makes sense, since the backstory of the Crisis, as related by Harbinger in Crisis #7, is deeply rooted in the Green Lantern mythology.  However, these stories are not so closely tied to Crisis that they cannot be enjoyed on their own.  A comprehensive knowledge of the history of the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps wouldn't hurt, though Englehart does a pretty good job of fairly unobtrusively filling in the reader on what he needs to know to understand the current proceedings.
The stories in this volume begin with the then current Green Lantern of Earth, John Stewart, being recruited by Harbinger to go off and fight the forces of the Anti-Monitor.  On Oa, home of John's bosses, the Guardians of the Universe, a rift has developed among the immortals as to how to deal with the Crisis.  The main body of little blue guys has decided to stand back and do nothing.  If the Multiverse is meant to end, they reason, then so be it.  On the other hand, a more proactive rogue faction of Guardians decide to take the fight to the Anti-Monitor.  To this end, they bring Guy Gardner, now somewhat brain damaged, out of the coma that he had been in since the latter days of Denny O'Neil's run on the title and bring him to Oa.  As they bestow a ring and power battery upon Gardner, a wave of anti-matter sent by the Anti-Monitor kills all but one of them. (This actually occurs in Crisis #9) The surviving rogue Guardian dispatches Guy to gather up a team of villains including the Shark, Goldface, Sonar and Hector Hammond to destroy the white spot on the black moon of the planet Qward in the Anti-Matter Universe from which the Anti-Monitor arose in hopes of destroying the villain. 
Meanwhile, what with the woman he quit the Green Lantern Corps for, Carol Ferris, having turned into Star Sapphire permanently and gone off to live with Zamorans, the alien Amazons who transformed her, as their queen, Hal Jordan is beginning to regret giving up his power ring.  He is soon recruited by the last surviving rogue Guardian and given a new ring so that he may accompany Guy and his team on their mission.
Then Sinestro shows up. He convinces John that Gardner and Hal have to be stopped, as their mission would cause more harm than good.  John flies off to Oa to get help from the Guardians and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps.  It turns out that Sinestro's offer of an alliance was merely a ruse to get John to take him to Oa so that he could get his revenge on the Guardians. However, after Sinestro is defeated, the Central Power Battery, which powers all the Green Lantern power rings, speaks to the assembled Guardians and Green Lanterns through the person of Tomar Re, Green Lantern of the planet Xudar and the first alien GL that Hal, and thus Green Lantern readers, ever encountered.  The battery reveals that Sinestro was right, and Gardner and company must indeed be prevented from succeeding in their quest.  Thus, the entire Corps heads off to the Anti-Matter Universe to confront Guy, Hal and their team of villains.
After the ensuing battle has ended and the Crisis is over, Hal Jordan is reinstated as a Green Lantern, and the Corps gathers on Oa to hear an announcement from the Guardians that will change the Corps forever...or at least until subsequent writer Gerard Jones reversed the change in the next volume of Green Lantern a few years down the line.
I have read Green Lantern #'s 194 to 200 several dozen times since I first bought them back in 1985.  They are some of my favorite Green Lantern stories, featuring some of Englehart's best writing and the usual beautiful art job from Joe Staton. Many great artists have worked on the various volumes of Green Lantern over the last half century, from Gil Kane to Neal Adams, Mike Grell, Dave Gibbons, Pat Broderick, Mark Bright, Darryl Banks, Doug Manke, and many more, but to my mind, Staton remains THE definitive GL artist. Sector 2814 Volume 3 is definitely something that any Green Lantern fan should want to read, and makes a nice companion volume to Crisis On Infinite Earths.

1 comment:

  1. He's another internet comics fan weighing in on Green Lantern and explaining for those of us who are confused, what happened in among Green Lantern fans when Hall Jordan was killed off:

    but wait, there's more!

    I found this video commentary useful and you may as well. I apologize in advance for the advertisements watching such videos incur...