The Bats out of
Hellthe Dark Multiverse press on, as Dawnbreaker and Hal Jordan face off to decide the fate of Coast City—and everywhere! Will the Dark Knight who should not be defeat the Emerald Knight that is? Or can Hal succeed where his compatriots failed and gain some ground against the enemy? Find out in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32, as “Bats Out of Hell” rages on. Major spoiler about the outcome of this issue ahead
The tie-in problem
Metal is Scott Snyder’s baby, and it spans six issues (seven if you count Batman: Lost, also out this week). By my count, we have thus far seen two multi-title tie-in arcs: “Gotham Resistance,” which played out in Teen Titans, Nightwing, Suicide Squad, and Green Arrow; and “Bats Out of Hell,” which is currently in flight and has been occupying The Flash, Justice League, and, this week, Hal and the GLC. We’ve also been working through the Metal one-shots, each of which takes a closer look a one of the Dark Knights. In my mind, the one-shots have largely been wasted potential—but there was definitely potential. But these tie-ins, while at times fun, are hamstrung by the same thing that affects all such things: while they are permitted to expand the larger story, they are not permitted to advance it.
Last week’s Justice League #32 had the benefit of working with a larger cast—we got to witness the like-on-like confrontations between Justice Leaguers and the Bruce who most resembles them—with one exception: the book ended with the battle between Hal Jordan and Dawnbreaker still waiting to be contested. Setting DC’s clear lack of confidence in Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz (a disposition shared by many readers) aside, saving that battle for this week’s Hal put an enormous amount of pressure on Robert Venditti to deliver an issue worth the special focus. Now, to be fair, he set himself up, because he wrote that issue of Justice League, too; but it’s still a tight spot, and without a really compelling showdown, it would seem like a waste of an issue.
The final product is a mixed bag. Some people hate Hal Jordan, but I tend to find his cockiness tolerable, because at the end of the day, he fights for what’s right, and he’ll be the first to lay down on a wire to save someone’s else. I even find him somewhat endearing, because there’s personal tragedy undergirding his bravado. He isn’t being cocky because he’s a jerk—he’s being cocky because he never got a chance to learn how to be a man. He’s still a young boy trying to prove that he’s tough enough to make it without his dad.
On one side, I very much like Hal’s stubborn refusal to lie down. Venditti even had me convinced for most of the issue that this is where the tide will turn and Bruce’s friends will gain back some ground. I like Hal’s inventiveness in strobing his light to avoid having it sucked away by Dawnbreaker. I love Van Sciver’s long, dramatic figure work, Hal looking tall and defiant in nearly every panel in which he appears. The use of black panels—and really black space in general—makes the light shine brighter, and Wright manages to take a book populated with an outsized portion of green and keep it visually interesting. Hal is not just lit up—he’s on fire, and set against Dawnbreaker’s void, it’s inspiring to behold.
Over way too quickly
Unfortunately, just as Hal musters all of his resolve and prepares to battle Dawnbreaker’s desperate onslaught, we abruptly fast-forward to post-battle. Dawnbreaker has won, and he drags Hal off to join the rest of his fallen comrades. Venditti gave us Hal at his finest, refusing to lie down in the face of inevitable defeat. We saw Hal do what his friends could not: push back against a Dark Knight and show some chance of winning. And then we just skip the rest. If Dawnbreaker is indeed mighty enough to withstand Hal’s resolve, shouldn’t we see how he pulls out the win? By virtue of it getting punted from JL to GLC, this battle got special billing. It was implied that this showdown needed the extra space. But in the end, they used it poorly. We don’t really need the Coast City prologue, and we don’t really need another scene of psycho-Bruces encircling their Jokerized leader, twirling their mustaches. That’s seven pages that were spent on something other than the showdown between Hal and Dawnbreaker. And I think that’s a big waste.
- You like Hal’s stubbornness, cockiness, boneheadedness, etc.
- You want to see some fine Lantern artwork from EVS and Jason Wright. Liam Sharp is here, too, but best I can tell, it’s just for the aftermath pages. Those are still good, but they aren’t the main draw.
Without much advancement for the greater Metal story, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32 narrows its focus on a classic battle of will versus fear, light versus darkness. Unnecessary bookends rob the story of some much-needed story time, so what could have and should have been great seems to end rather abruptly. The artwork is still as fabulous as you would expect from names like Ethan Van Sciver, Jason Wright, and Liam Sharp, and the portions of the showdown that we do get to see are legitimately inspiring; so even if it isn’t a slam dunk, it’s a book worth checking out.