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The Green Lantern #4 Annotations

    
THE GREEN LANTERN #4

The Cosmic Vampire's Beautiful Daughter
 
DC Comics, February 2019, Color, 32pgs, $3.99
 
Written by GRANT MORRISON ; Art and Cover by LIAM SHARP; Variant Cover by TOM RANEY
 
In a bar on Rann, two shrouded strangers recount two blood-chilling narratives—one in which a Blackstar heavyweight demands access to a secret vault on planet Weirwimm, threatening its gruesome annihilation with Sun-Eaters; and the other about maverick Hal Jordan and his small cadre of GLs struggling to destroy those same Sun-Eaters. And the cliffhanger—as any TGL fan will tell you about this book—may stun you enough to buy two copies!


Annotations

 
Page 1 – Beautiful splash page from Liam Sharp here, very ‘Roger Dean Yes album cover’.

This is Weirwimm, I don’t think we’ve seen it before this issue.  It took me a few reads to really parse what’s being said here – Blackstar commander Countess Belzebeth, who we first saw back in issue #2, has apparently been here to Weirwimm many times, since the ‘ant-sisters’/ancestors days.  I’m not sure how to square that away with the fact that what she’s looking for must only have arrived fairly recently, via the Venturan pirates we saw back in issue #1?  Maybe the Weirwimms as an insect race are very short-lived? Or maybe this flashback is happening *before* issue #1 and this is where the pirates scored their haul from?

As usual, they’re denying her request to open their sacred vault but this time she’s brought a pal/family member along to help change their minds…

Page 2 – That ominous black cloud in the sky is a Sun-Eater, an immensely powerful amorphous blob that… well, eats suns.  Introduced in 1967’s Adventure Comics #352 by Jim Shooter - where its incursion into our solar system led to the death of the Legion of Super-Heroes’ Ferro Lad and the accidental formation of the Fatal Five - the Sun-Eater, a force of nature more than a villain per se, was historically portrayed as more of a weapon or piece of technology (usually directed by the Controllers) rather than a sentient being or beings.  Though they featured heavily in a number of subsequent Legion stories and in the 1997 crossover Final Night, it wasn’t until Morrison wrote them into his ‘Mystery in Space’ strand of 52 that they were depicted as an alien species proper, with Animal Man absorbing ‘migration maps’ and the ability to survive in space from a colony of Sun-Eaters that the heroes had used to help them defeat Lady Styx.

Subsequently, in 2009’s Justice League of America #34, Len Wein introduced the idea that the space vampire Starbreaker was the ‘adult form’ of a Sun Eater, something Morrison picks up and runs with here.

An ‘M-Sequence’ star is a red and relatively cool one, per the classification system invented by Willamina Fleming in the 1890 Draper Catalogue of Stellar Spectra.

‘Royal Blood’ Sun-Eaters are, presumably, those that share a bloodline with Starbreaker?

Belzebeth’s environment suit is pretty close to the recent Darkstars redesign seen in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.

Page 3 – Stone cold, man

Page 4 – The Hal With No Name and Sexy Sorayama Robot Belzebeth are hanging out in some flashy mezzanine bar on Rann, first seen back in the first Adam Strange story in 1958’s Showcase #17 by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky.  The architecture in the background is, fittingly, very Atom Age Infantino, as is the waiter’s outfit.  There’s a bunch of Thanagarian hawkmen here, which makes sense as Rann was transported from Alpha Centauri to Polaris (the Thanagarian star system) back in the 2005 Rann-Thanagar War mini-series by Dave Gibbons and Ivan Reis, part of the seemingly endless lead-in to that year's Infinite Crisis crossover.  Rann had three suns – as it does here - back before it moved, but I don’t know that it should still have them post-relocation.

Amongst the other clientele are a couple or three Xudarians – we met GL Trilla-Tru of Xudar back in issue #1 – and somebody dressed as Sun Boy from the Legion of Super Heroes (approximately 1,000 years before Sun Boy is born), hanging out with a lady with pink hair and a green guy in a bubble helmet (with four arms, per the rear-view of him on page 8), neither of which I recognize.

Hal, sitting in a bar trillions of miles from Earth and ordering... a pint of beer - a nice touch.

“My kin are the eaters of stars… I am first highborn of the Luciphage”  As intimated earlier, this confirms that Belzebeth is the daughter of Starbreaker, a cosmic energy vampire (and grown-up Sun-Eater) who first appeared in 1972’s Justice League of America #96, by Mike Friedrich and Dick Dillin.  The Sun-Eater part of his origin – as well as the Luciphage alias – were added by Len Wein in the 2009 JLA issue referenced above.  A couple of people guessed before this issue was out that Belzebeth might be the daughter of Mandrakk from Final Crisis, who is – in part at least – I think essentially a filed-off-serial-numbers Morrison reboot of Starbreaker anyway.  Given there’s a Multiverse story coming up, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some connection revealed between the two later in the run.

It’s probably worth noting somewhere (and here’s as good a place as any I suppose) that the cover of this issue is a homage to Neal Adams’ one for Starbreaker’s first appearance in Justice League of America #96, as was the first splash page of 2008’s Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1 by Morrison and Doug Mahnke.  That issue must’ve made quite the impression on 12 year old Morrison, back in the day…

Page 5 – “He is him from the inside-out!  He is all things done wrong!”  An Anti-Matter man?  A Bizarro??

Whoever it is, it’s a Superman judging by the hair, and most likely not a good one.  I think it’s probably Ultraman, but that seems to clash with what we saw back in issue #1 – the assumption most had then was that the Qwardian Weaponeer seen on the last page was the anti-matter cargo that incapacitated Maxim Tox right?  Whereas it implies here that *this guy* was the cargo all along.  Also if it is Ultraman, what's the matter with his face??

Ultraman’s recent history this last couple of decades is pretty complicated, with three or four distinct versions of the extra-dimensional evil Superman who first appeared in Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky’s Justice League of America #29 back in 1964 kicking about the DC universe.  The best course of action here – as is often the case – is probably just to ignore all the non-Morrison versions of Ultraman and just consider this guy (if it is him at all) to be the Anti-Matter Ultraman who first appeared in Morrison and Frank Quitely’s 2000 JLA: Earth 2 graphic novel.  He popped up a few years later in Final Crisis, where Monitrix Zillo Valla made him into a vampire (a move I didn’t really get at the time but have since read somewhere is another kind of anti-Superman turn, repelled by the sunlight rather than empowered by it, which is kind of neat actually).  He also appeared in the Multiversity Guidebook, maybe on Earth 3 (though that might be a different Ultraman), maybe on the vampire Earth 43 (ditto).  Told you it was confusing.

His sarcophagus certainly looks very Monitor tech-ish anyway.

Page 6 – Hal’s turn to spin a yarn.  That’s the two Green Lanterns of Sector 2812, Vanizz and Tagort, accompanying Hal in the bottom panel, both of whom we saw last issue.

Page 7 – ‘Smart Star’ Hyperia-3 and Sector 816 mentioned here are both new I think, though Hyperia-3 bears more than a passing resemblance in concept to Solaris the Tyrant Sun, a malevolent artificial star who first appeared in 1998’s DC One Million #1 by Morrison and Val Semeiks.

Great layouts from Sharp on these pages, like the Sun-Eater is eating the very fabric of the page itself.

Page 8 – Beautiful panel by Sharp there, reminds me of an old Sea Devils cover or something.

The Sandstormers and the Glass Giants were both mentioned in ‘Two Worlds’, Morrison and Jerry Ordway’s Adam Strange story in 2004’s DC Comics Presents: Mystery In Space #1, part of a series of one-shots published as a tribute to DC editor Julie Schwartz upon his passing.  I haven’t found any mention of them in the old Adam Strange Mystery in Space run so far, but there’s a decent likelihood they might be in there somewhere, as the DC sci-fi stuff is nowhere near as well chronicled online as the superhero books.

I’m about 95% certain that the Firefolk, or some giant fire-monster race very like them, are indeed from an old Adam Strange story, though I’ve yet to find it.  Any help on this one greatly appreciated.

Page 9 – Liam Sharp posted some scans of the original art for these pages on Twitter and they’re beautiful, using grey tones to really sell the scale of these space scenes.  I dunno if the colouring in the finished product (which to my mind has really been consistently one of the high-points of the series so far, perfectly balancing old-school flat four-colour with modern techniques) really sells it 100%, digitally at least, but it’s great to be able to see the process regardless.

Page 10 – Verging on the full Frazer Irving here, with Tagort still in the kind-of-flat blue.  I love it.

Page 11 – Jets and missiles, typical no-nonsense constructs for Hal.

Page 12 – “Grandfather Bloviatrum, dead?”  So the Sun-Eater we’ve just seen Hal and pals fighting is (or was) Starbreaker’s dad?  Do Sun-Eaters/Starbreakers fluctuate between the two forms?  Or are these Starbreaker’s in-laws and his wife/partner is a giant cloud of cosmic bad road?  Inquiring minds want to know…

Crassius Qwipe-6, a moustachioed intergalactic animal-smuggling lion-man in a stovepipe hat, is an all-new Morrison/Sharp creation for this issue, I’d guarantee it.  I wonder how long Morrison spends coming up with sort of reasonable-ish sounding names that produce no Google hits at all?  Maybe it doesn’t take long at all after all these years of practice.  Barnell Bohusk anyone?

I’ve not managed to really identify any of Qwipe-6’s alien menagerie, though I can say with some degree of certainty they’re mostly not Kryptonian beasts of yore or any of the many many space animals that have appeared in the Legion of Super Heroes strip.

The tiny caveman and woman under the dome in panel three might be two Bowerds, servants to the Mikrids, as seen in 1963‘s Green Lantern #20 by John Broome and Gil Kane.  Usually microscopic in size, it was a Bowerd (rather than a Venusian as I thought) sat next to the Mikrid at the auction last issue – thanks to Jesse Russell’s deep dive of The Green Lantern #3 for setting me right on that one.  It could also be a shoutout to the tiny robot Justice League that appeared inside a similar glass case in 1998’s JLA: Secret Files and Origins #2, apparently from an adventure where the League faced Toyman and Abra Kadabra that I’ve never been able to track down (or more likely, doesn’t exist).  That one’s a Millar short though, so unless Morrison ghost wrote it it seems an unlikely candidate for a hat-tip in 2019.  Other than that I’m at a dead loss here.  Useless.

While Rigel has featured quite prominently in the Marvel Universe it’s never got much play from DC; reduced to the odd mention in the Legion of Super Heroes and that’s about it.

This is the first we’ve heard of the No Zone, I think.  Sounds exciting.

Page 13 – Once again, I’ve got zip on the animals – I thought the croc might be a Kryptonian acid-dwelling crocodile but they’re not purple, sadly.  Not only that but I can’t even get an ID on the three Green Lanterns on this page that we haven’t seen before now.  Jeez Louise…

Top left of panel one, dunno, too far away; above him/her/them though is a flying Space Dolphin, probably the same as the ones that follow Lobo around.  They were apparently created by Len Wein and Joe Phillips in 1990’s Mister Miracle #13.  Bottom left is Venizz, who we saw earlier this issue.  To her left with the mask, unknown; doesn’t match up with anyone in the Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files book (normally a veritable Bible for this sort of thing).  Above her and to the right is Lashorr, who also appeared last issue.  Finally to her right is Volk, who we last saw back in issue #2.

The little pink devil guy stole the lion-man’s stovepipe hat, aww.

Hal made… a big gorilla?  Nice.  The gravity harness is to help catch the other Sun-Eater, as we see later in this issue.

The Eagle Nebula is a real stellar formation, about 7,000 light years away from our sun.

Panel three we’ve got Volk, Venizz, Medphyll - who we saw last issue – and an unknown skull-face/white hair guy who once again doesn’t seem to appear in the Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files book.

Page 14 – I didn’t realize Volk has a face until this page here pretty much.  Weird.

Great weird Euro layouts once again from Sharp over these next couple of pages.  Lovely stuff.

Page 16 – Our first look at Hyperia-3.

Page 17 – “…Was-- was the second of the Sun-Dragons killed?”, a *great* line for Belzebeth.  These are her family Hal is telling her about.  That’s her grandma.  Granny Tiamathrodon

Some great Moebius Blueberry shading from Sharp on Hal there.

Page 18 – The Antares Corridor presumably comprises Dhor, Alstair, Mosteel and Llar, all seen in Kanjar Ro’s first appearance back in Justice League of America #3.

“The inhabitants were drunk in charge of a planet” - Class.

Page 19 – Lantern’s Stewart, Baz and Cruz are John Stewart (currently appearing in the main-line Justice League title), Simon Baz (who doesn’t seem to be appearing anywhere at the moment following the cancellation of Green Lanterns) and Jessica Cruz (currently appearing in the mostly space-based Justice League Odyssey).

Ash-Pak-Glif of the Pereseen Debris Field - the Green Lantern of Sector 213 - was created by Scott Beatty and Graham Nolan in 2000’s Green Lantern 80-Page Giant #3

Page 20 – Starbreaker used his Mechanix robot armies to begin draining planetary energy in his initial 1970’s appearances in Justice League of America #96-98.  They also appeared when Starbreaker returned in Dan Jurgens’ Justice League America #61-65 in 1992. 

Page 22 - The story title/cover strap line – ‘The Cosmic Vampire’s Beautiful Daughter’ – is probably referencing Scottish psych-folk band The Incredible String Band’s 1968 album, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter.  Per band member Mike Heron, “"The hangman is death and the beautiful daughter is what comes after. Or you might say that the hangman is the past twenty years of our life and the beautiful daughter is now, what we are able to do after all these years. Or you can make up your own meaning – your interpretation is probably just as good as ours."

 *****

Cheers for reading!  Comments and corrections always welcome, please feel free to get in touch with me directly here or on the twitters anytime.  See you all next month for another one, chums!

 
  
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