Green Lantern #11 is awesome. It shocked me how good it was, because the last ten issues of the rebooted series have been below average . Lame stories, the reduction of Hal Jordan to Sinestro’s bitch, Sinestro’s whole back-and-forth turn with the Indigo Lanterns and, worst of all, the fact that Abin Sur created the Indigo Tribe. It all seemed rushed and cobbled together, as if writer Geoff Johns decided to turn his talent towards Aquaman and leave the Lanterns out in the cold. Issue #11 seems to be making baby steps towards fixing that.
Turnabout is fair play, and Jordan does some exquisite turnabout with Sinestro. Using the former Yellow Lantern’s will to free him from the grip of the Indigo Tribe, Jordan has reversed their fortunes. Now Sinestro’s ring is submissive to Jordan’s will and Jordan’s ring is at full strength. Naturally, Sinestro shatters Jordan’s smug celebration by announcing that The Black Hand, the entity who brought forth Blackest Night, has returned. As the two Lanterns search for him, The Black Hand is seriously getting his creepy on.
First, he kills everyone in a Chinese restaurant by rotting them from the inside out. Then, with a bag of food in tow, he brings his dead family back to life. The undead crew then sit down to a dinner that is only slightly less disturbing than the one in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As the Black Hand Brady Bunch discuss their leader’s desire to rule the world, Jordan and Sinestro turn to the Book of Black for answers. The Book of Black is the doorway between life and death and the Gospel of the Black Hand. Cracking the book open proves disastrous for Jordan and Sinestro, as they’re instantly transported to the Black Hand family dinner.
What jumps out in Green Lantern #11 is John’s return to a crackling pace. The other issues dragged or were weighed down by scenes that went on for too long. Here, Johns seems to step in, tell his story, and get out. In doing that, he creates tension for the heroes and an ending cliffhanger that drives you to want to grab the next issue. At first, the return of the Black Hand seemed too easy, but the way Johns handles it brings a new freshness to the villain. Johns also regulates the entire subplot involving the Guardians replacing the Green Lanterns to one page. That storyline has dragged on for way too long, the Guardians need to get to it.
As good as the story is, the art from Doug Mahnke is once again the star. There are few artists in comics who have pencils as strongly pronounced as Mahnke’s. The pencils distribute the weight of the characters through their entire body. Some pencils allows the inks to be held in the arms or lower part of the body, Mahnke’s work is perfectly level. It gives each character a presence that they don’t get in other books.
Mahnke also kills it with his detail. The splash page where Black Hand brings his family back from the dead is stunning. In the smaller panels, the details remain just as tight. When Jordan and Sinestro return to the latter’s lair, the scope and size of the place is expressed clearly through the details, even in those smaller panels. Mahnke also leaves room for colorists Tony Avina and Alex Sinclair to work their magic. The two use colors for mood and texture, not just to fill in the empty spaces. The art across the board here is stellar.
Does Green Lantern #11 make up entirely for the last 10 issues? No, not by a long shot, but it is a step in the right direction.
(4 Story, 4.5 Art)