Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn
By Jim Owsley, Keith Giffen & Gerard Jones(Writers); M.D. Bright (Penciller); Romeo Tanghal (Inker); Anthony Tollin (Colourist); Albert T. Deguzman (Letterer); 2003
Only the fearless can be entrusted with a Green Lantern’s power ring, the universe’s most powerful weapon. When Abin Sur, the Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814, crash-landed on Earth, he knew it was time to pass the Emerald Mantle to a deserving human. After quickly studying billions of people, the ring selected test pilot Hal Jordan, who was busy making a mess of his life. Now gifted with an incredible trust, Jordan needs a crash course in both using the ring and what it means to be a Green Lantern. And he had better learn fast — Legion, the alien marauder who has already killed four Green Lanterns, has arrived on Earth to hunt down his fifth.
Emerald Dawn is another book I’ve had for a while, originally picked up to better familiarize myself with the Green Lantern character and mythos. I’ve barely read a handful of Green Lantern comics, so I have a rudimentary understanding of the series.
Published by DC Comics, this volume collects a six issue limited series that ran from December 1989 to May 1990. Originally collected in 1991, this edition of Emerald Dawn was published in 2003 with new cover art by Alan Davis and Mark Farmer. The story retold the origin of how Hal Jordan became the Green Lantern in the new continuity following the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline. Certain details of this story have since been retconned by the 2008 story arc Secret Origin written by Geoff Johns.
This book didn’t offer as much for me in terms of story as I’d hoped. It’s an origin I was familiar with enough going in that finally reading this version didn’t really expand my understanding. The writing felt a little dated to me, especially in terms of the pacing. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the plot pushes itself forward in the beginning especially disjointedly and the dialogue feels more unnatural than what I’m used to. I never felt like I got enough time to get a solid sense of the world and the characters before things kept bulling forward.
Hal is also presented in a rather unfavourable light, not at all contrasted with any competence. Within the first few pages of his story as an adult we learn he’s once again been fired from a position as a test pilot and gets in a bad accident from driving drunk. He’s given little time to showcase any redeeming qualities or skills before Abin Sur whisks him away and grants him the ring. While Hal himself constantly expresses how he feels he doesn’t deserve it, I ought to have felt he did despite himself, but I never really got that sense. The story seemed to depend too much on some prior understanding of the character to get by.
The villain Legion felt like a bit of a throwaway, but the story gained some momentum once it got more involved with this conflict. I did like how the villain’s backstory cast the Guardians, the leaders of the Green Lantern Corps, in a poor light. While I don’t question it’s doing the wrong thing, its reasons come from a sympathetic place. Thanks to the Green Lanterns’ weakness when it comes to the colour yellow, Legion was actually quite formidable, though the reasoning for it is a little silly. Nevertheless, it was enough to add some much needed tension.
The art was the most dated aspect of the book for me. I find the traditional style of comic book art is less appealing in general as well. The colours are a little too loud, the panels are more simply laid out, and everything just looks a tad too cartoonish and silly. I’m sure for a lot of people this isn’t a problem, but it just doesn’t work for me. It’s good for what it was at the time, but I find it more of a chore to read. Many of the characters looked too similar as well. I notably found it hard to actually identify Hal when first introduced to him among his friends. I had to scan the panels a lot longer than I should have in order to pinpoint which person he was.
This book contains no extra content.
If you’re interested in specifically reading stories from the era of the late 80s and early 90s then Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn is a decent starting point for the character. Don’t expect too much from the story, however. It’s pretty straightforward and was a more pedestrian retelling of his origin. It was at least interesting to see some of the ideas I’m familiar with in newer comics at this earlier stage, and once Hal got involved with the corps the story did gain a lot more traction. The dated style just doesn’t appeal to me that much, however, and it seems there are more modern origin stories that probably have more to offer for the modern reader.