Creepy Uncle Hector
In Brief: Hector Hammond causes some trouble for Hal and Carrol, who have their respective bacon saved by Sinestro. Then Hal and Sinestro go on a little Atrocitus hunt.
The Writing: This is definitely one of those 'rising action' issues. It has more action than any other previous installment. This has the effect of gearing the reader up for the soon-to-happen conclusion. However, true to John's excellent writing style, the action is never un-motivated. Un-motivated action I would define as gratuitous explosions, an issue consisting of panels and panels of nothing but "whack! thok! slam!". We do not get any of this with Johns, whose action sequences move like a film. Proof? William Hand is about to find out just how cold dead bodies are. He hears a 'krik' behind him. The reader thinks "waitaminute, isn't that the sound that Atrocitus' doohickey made?" Turn the page and "krrkkkshhh", Atrocitus comes bursting through the window. Frankly, its surprising, it reads like a horror movie! And that is just awesome, a true testament to Johns' ability to organize action, keep it interesting, keep it motivated (every action sequence moves the story along, its what we have come to expect from a tightly woven narrative).
The other place where the writing just makes my jaw drop? The conversation between Hal and Sinestro. Sinestro has just saved Hal from Hector, and the two of them are hauling green butt through the desert. In these two pages (before Abin comes back from the Force to talk to Sinestro) the teacher/student dynamic between Hal and Sinestro really comes out and it is so well done. Hal is this young, idealistic, inquisitive, confrontational hot-shot. He finds his perfect foil in Sinestro- mature, seasoned, a little bitter and jaded, knowledgeable. BUT, the two are also incredibly alike. Sinestro sees himself in a young Hal, both in terms of the questions that he has and his method of approaching those questions (kind of the shoot/accuse first and back it up later method). This adds so much more both to their relationship and the entire GL universe. When you start seeing Hal as starting on the same path as Sinestro, having many of the same characteristics, you start seeing whole new levels of meaning in these stories. And that is just cool.
The Art: It is so nice to see an artist and a writer come together so well. So Johns writes and organizes his comics like a horror movie, right? Well, that is exactly how Reis draws them. Just take that incredible scene earlier with William Hand getting surprised by Atrocitus. If you pick up this issue, just notice how the panels progress- just like a movie. We have an establishing shot- the exterior of the mortuary. We then move in to see William acting as an usher at a funeral. Notice how close Reis frames everything. So claustrophobic! We are always close to William, our perspective never leaves him. It makes the 'krik' he hears behind him that much more ominous because Reis (and Johns) have really given us no other hints that this is the moment Atrocitus is going to strike. Again- a horror movie. You know the murderer is coming for this kid, you just dont know when or where but you know it is soon. Atrocitus looms so large in each and every panel, the detail and the framing is incredible each and every time.
The Star of the Show?: Ah, again! A toss-up! Sinestro or Hammond. Hector, well, he is just so darn creepy! In terms of writing and art he was just so perfectly done. The little bit of drool coming out of his mouth, the veins on his head, his obsessive nature, everything combines to make a great villain. But Sinestro. Ah, Sinestro. From taking down Hector to the unflappable way that he does everything, each and every frame you just like Sinestro more and more. This makes it all the more heartbreaking because, even if you are brand new to GL with this series, you KNOW something is going to happen to him. And even if you have a tenuous grasp of GL and you have an idea of what happens to him, when you see him in this issue you start to wonder how he could ever go so far. And that makes for a great story.
Overall: Another great issue- the Green Lantern initiate will love it! So pick it up for Sinestro, for the creepy portrayal of Hammond and for the start of what promises to be an awesome fight.