“One unstoppable wish.”
Controller Mu is an interesting foe. Conceived as a Space Cult-leader version of The Controllers, he’s the operator and overmaster of a separatist sect. He is no ordinary Controller, much like his operatives are not Darkstars. Leading the fearsome Blackstars and their deadly commander, Countess Belzebeth, the villain has been at the center of The Green Lantern‘s narrative thus far. While operating in the shadows and lacking panel time, he’s very much the embodiment of the idea the run has been tackling since day one.
As he himself puts it, he is The Controller. He is absolute control without exception. His will is the only will and all else are the controlled. Speaking in third person, the ancient relative of the wise Guardians of the Universe is a chilling antagonist. Across the entire run thus far, he has been collecting ‘components’ to build what he calls ‘The Ultimate Asset’. He requires four and he’s already collected three, with #6 revealing the fourth component. The creative team of Liam Sharp, Grant Morrison, Steve Oliff and Tom Orzechowski have carefully set up and teased out the nature of this mysterious device Mu and The Blackstars are attempting to build over the course of the story thus far. But this issue is where the biggest of teases and payoffs hit, and the end result is something truly special.
While Orzechowski is noticeably absent on this particular installment of the space serial, the brilliant Steve Wands takes his place and fills the big shoes nicely. Jumping right in and matching that retro-sensibility and aesthetic that makes the book what it is, Wands brings a bit of his own flair to the title while successfully approximating and sticking to the style and look Orzechowski’s developed for it. While the first few captions stand out as different from Orzechowski’s work on the title, they still match the identity it has admirably.
Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff have stuck to the pattern of reinventing the title every issue to varying degrees in order to convey a different sensibility, and this issue remains no different. If the previous chapter was a Warren Comics love letter, dripping in Gothic horror, this is a loving tribute to the ’60s citadels of Gil Kane and Mike Sekowsky. The wild, wondrous spirit of the Silver Age comes to life here with a Valerian touch, as Sharp and Oliff reintroduce us to the realm of Rann in a very striking way. It’s a textured space of impossible sci-fi designs, wacky hovercars and as one might expect from a world with three stars, it’s impossibly bright. The radiance washes over the reader and the pulpy colors pop off the page, with Oliff perfectly crafting a distinct visual identity for the book that tells a whole story on its own.
With every prior issue having built to this mid-season finale of the story (The Green Lantern is structured as 12-issue ‘seasons’), there are a lot of expectations for payoff here. And the creative crew delivers on each one. Leaping right off the glorious Al Williamson tribute cover by Sharp and Oliff, the book gives the readers its promised space duel. Reading like a cowboy contest straight out of a western, it’s quick, powerful and utterly exhilarating. Sharp thrives on character nuances and performance, with every doubtful stare, a confident wink or grim confidence giving the sequences the weight they have.
But after that, the story moves right to Controller Mu and grants him the focus he’s needed for a while. And that’s where things get really exciting. Mu’s thus far collected a Venturan Luck Dial, an Anti-Matter Heart, an Auran Star-Band and in this issue, he proclaims The Green Lantern Power Ring to be the fourth component he needs. Coupled with that, Belzebeth and Hal have a discussion in regards to the nature of the Asset and the team really sheds light on things here. With all the clues, the answer becomes blatantly apparent and obvious. Controller Mu and The Blackstars want to build The Miracle Machine, otherwise dubbed, Geh-Jedollah-The Absolute. Created in old issues of Adventure Comics and at the heart of Morrison’s own Final Crisis storyline, it’s the ultimate device of the DC Multiverse. A literal wish-granting machine powered by light and made by The Controllers, developed from Guardian technology, it’s a dangerous and deadly machine that can make anything real. It’s why only Superman was ever trusted to use it.
Both Mu and Belzebeth speak of a ‘dream,’ a ‘wish’ and an ability to change and create a new reality entirely. Their components are a probability device to alter results, a literal wishing ring (and Guardian technology), the ultimate light-absorbing device to power things and a heart made of Anti-Matter. Belzebeth even utters bluntly that Mu’s vision is ‘absolute’, which is very much the name of the legendary Controller device. If created and used by anyone even a touch less good than Superman, all of reality, the entire multiverse, could be in desperate danger. It’s a choice that also helps shed light on the tease of The Green Lanterns of the Multiverse from #1, for if The Miracle Machine is in play, so are legions of Multiversal heroes, as evidenced in Final Crisis.
But what is truly remarkable about The Green Lantern, which comprises all of this, is how it still manages to stay true to its core conceit of being an everyday space procedural. The story playing out is a classic cop-goes-undercover narrative and even in its developments, Morrison and Sharp never drag their feet. Their characters are just as smart, if not smarter, than we are. The story moves quick and at a lightning pace, always landing perfectly and moving to the next bit to provide the reader some variety. If one observes, there’s virtually no double-page spreads in the entire run thus far, save Hal’s debut in #1. All of that is in service of this everyday space serial approach set in the DC world over abnormal apocalypse events.
Beyond the macro-elements, the issue has a lot of other neat things. Sharp draws what may be the most Neal Adams page not drawn by Neal Adams ever, in a scene where Jordan has to deal with a bomb. His silent page sequences, built on four panels (a lot of the issue works off four and eight panels) are utterly powerful and raw. A standout page, which sums up Green Lantern succinctly, is one that follows the wrap up on Rann. Adam and Hal both depart and as everyone prays ‘May he return again’, the book moves to the next page, where in golden light (indicating fear in Green Lantern) slowly grows distant and then green light gleams (the light of will and safety), with the ring emerging. Hand that to anyone and they can grasp, on a gut level, what this core concept is about.Also worth noting is the fact that while the cover advertises Adam Strange, his partner Alanna Strange is the true star of the Rannian heroes this issue. Fearless, heroic, resourceful and inspiring, she’s a hero you do not want to cross, but would be forever glad to have on your side. And the conclusion of the issue and this first arc, which may leave most readers a bit puzzled, is also utterly intriguing. Morrison and Sharp have been slowly bringing back iconic Silver Age pieces of Lantern mythology and following Evil Star, this conclusion sees Myrwhidden (originally Myrwhydden, the issue alters the spelling a bit), an iconic villain of the past return. Scarcely used and barely known, he is, in practice, the Mr. Mxyzptlk or Batmite, of the Green Lantern world. It should surprise no one that Morrison and Sharp picked him to revamp.
The Green Lantern wraps up its first arc in striking fashion, delivering western action, police thrills, cosmic intrigue and human characters. It’s hard to not read the work and think ‘All-Star Green Lantern’, because it is certainly definitive in a similar fashion.