Written by: Neil Davies, Special to CC2K
Comixology has slowly been re-releasing comics that were printed before the wide acceptance of digital comics. So when I saw that they had finally uploaded my all-time favorite run of Green Lantern comics, I jumped at the chance to buy them, re-read them and write an article about them.
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Colors: Rodney Ramos
Green Lantern: The Power of Ion was written by Judd Winick, and illustrated by Dale Eaglesham and Rodney Ramos. The arc comprises issues #142 to #150 of the 1990 to 2004 run of Green Lantern comics, the titular character being the Green Lantern Kyle Rayner (my personal favorite.)
Winick’s story begins with Kyle Rayner absorbing all of the Green Lantern energy that had once resided within the Green Lantern Corps’ central battery, which has been amassing near the sun following the events of the Final Night event. Kyle receives near limitless power, and has to learn how to use these newfound abilities and evolve into a new kind of hero, a hero called “Ion.”
This comic quickly establishes a struggle between Kyle and Alexander Nero, the closest thing he has to an arch-nemesis. Nero, who is also vying for this fountain of Green Lantern energy, wields a yellow power ring, which he fuels with his horrifying madness made manifest by his nightmarish constructs. But, while this villain is both formidable and terrifying, Winick makes the decision to keep Nero’s involvement in this arc finite.
Readers will swiftly notice that this story arc isn’t about the classic struggle between good and evil. There’s no big-bad rogue or ultimate battle to save the lives of thousands of people. Instead, Winick crafts a story that centers on the life of a super-powered individual and how the influx of Kyle’s new abilities as Ion allows him the opportunity to help himself and others overcome their life-long struggles. Kyle is our hero, but he’s not a hero that has to outsmart a villain or beat him into submission, rather he plays the role of benevolent healer to the world and to those closest to him.
Winick is a natural storyteller and constantly writes miniature vignettes of seemingly unimportant individuals to establish major plot points. Rather than simply telling the reader, ‘the bomb is in this place,’ he weaves a tale of why a bomb has been put there, the individuals that it will affect and the tragedy that it will cause, and in doing so, makes the reader care about the people in this world. There are no cannon-fodder characters or expendable individuals. Winick creates a world full of people who have lives, families, motives and significance.
Kyle is surrounded by characters who have been damaged in their respective fights for justice. John Stewart is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair; Jenni-Lynn Hayden a.k.a Jade has been stripped of her natural powers; Hal Jordan is currently The Spectre and suffering from his actions that destroyed the Green Lantern Corps; the Guardian Ganthet is the sole-survivor of his race, living in solitude; and Kyle himself has been living with the scars of an absent father. One by one, we see Kyle use these god-like powers to bring comfort, change and relief to the aforementioned characters most important in his life.
Eaglesham’s artwork is spectacular. He straddles the line between ultra-realism ‘Alex Ross’ artwork and surrealistic creativity. Drawing Green Lantern comics must be a daunting effort, considering the sheer volume of constructs alone, however Eaglesham gives these constructs life and helps them feel as if they are somehow organic. The colors are vivid and there is life, honesty and raw emotion on these pages. If I only ever read comics illustrated by Eaglesham, I could die happy.
The biggest pitfall of this story is that it is a bit exclusionary. I often find myself wanting to recommend comics to first-time readers, basing those recommendations off stories that have caused an emotional reaction in me. This is a comic that has honestly made me cry; it has made me feel happiness, sorrow and relief for characters I have loved for years. Unfortunately, most of those feelings come from my personal knowledge of those characters over the years. This story-arc works well for those familiar with the Green Lantern universe, but could easily fall flat for newcomers.
Green Lantern: The Power of Ion is a beautiful story about people facing their demons and overcoming their personal struggles, and it exemplifies how much good a man can do if he focuses on helping others. Winick reminds readers of the tragedies in these characters’ lives and takes said characters on an emotional journey as they heal. I can’t recommend this story enough and can only hope that it has the same emotional resonance with other readers as it did with me.
Green Lantern: The Power of Ion is available through single issues on Comixology and in bound novel format on Amazon.
4.5 out of 5.0