For those who haven’t been reading, this week’s HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #50 is the final issue of the series. But it’s more than a finale for the Rebirth-launched Green Lantern comic, it’s also the end of an era. Writer Robert Venditti is leaving the Corps for new projects (you’re reading HAWKMAN, right?) and concluding a run of suitably cosmic proportions. Let’s think about that for a moment. It’s easy to forget now, but when Venditti started on Green Lantern, he was taking over for none other than Geoff Johns (no pressure there). Six years has passed since then, and over that time, Venditti has followed boldly in Johns’ footsteps in redefining and reinvigorating the very foundations on which the Green Lantern Corps are built. He’s done this quietly and confidently, through different eras and a highly acclaimed reboot.
But to realize Venditti’s accomplishment, it’s important to remember exactly what makes the GLC important in the first place. You need to look back at the core of the Corps, if you will, and give a close examination at just what makes them matter in the scope of the massive and ever evolving multiverse. So, it’s a good thing that’s exactly what issue #50, the finale of the appropriately named “Last Charge” storyline set out to do.
If you’re coming into issue #50 after having lapsed on your GLC reading for a while, don’t panic. The Corps can feel a bit dense at times, but you don’t need to worry about going back and reading a full six years of comics to get the important moments out of the story. In fact, you could rewind the clocks just a bit, back to issue #42 and the start of the “Darkstar Rising” arc to get your feet under you and still do just fine here in the finale.
Much it has to do with a Green Lantern named Tomar-Tu. If you’re unfamiliar with him, here’s a bit of background. Tomar-Tu’s father was a legendary Lantern named Tomar-Re, who isn’t around anymore. For quite some time, Tomar-Tu has been struggling with his father’s legacy and some decidedly darker impulses surrounding his need for revenge and “justice.” Recently, Tomar-Tu found himself at a crossroads in confronting a ruthless and remorseless serial killer named Romat-Ru and took the extreme path, murdering Romat in cold blood rather than bringing him in to face an official sentencing.
When this was discovered, Tomar-Tu was brought in and stripped of his ring for violating the Corps’ strict rule against killing, but as you could probably guess, the whole event opened up a real can of worms for the GLC. Tomar believed that he had made the right call and would do it again if he had to. He had come to believe the Corps’ rules against capital punishment were archaic and ineffective—a band aid at best and at worst, a death sentence for innocent people who would wind up future victims to the criminals the GLC let survive.
At a surface level, it’s not hard to say Tomar is insane—he is—but his ideological challenge turned the screws on the very core tenants of the GLC and that question, whether or not murder and justice could ever be synonymous, became an ongoing conflict for everyone in the Corps.
That’s where the Darkstars come in. If you’ve never encountered them, that’s all right, they haven’t been around in a while. They’re essentially Tomar’s new methodology made manifest: a team of very Lantern-like entities selected by “mantles” that allow them to exact perfect, brutal and absolute justice on the galaxy.
This is, more or less, where “Last Charge” picks up as the ultimate showdown between the GLC and the Darkstars—two warring factions with two very different definitions for what it means to bring justice to the sectors of space clashing with one another for explosive (and surprising) effect.
It’s the perfect way to end an incredible run, and a story that is sure to go down in Green Lantern history as a definitive moment for the very soul of the Corps. After all, it’s not often that they’re forced to confront the very worst hypothetical parts of themselves—that’s kind of what the whole “willpower” thing is supposed to prevent, right? But the Darkstars—and Tomar-Tu—are a very special case.
And don’t think for a second this finale is truly the end. Though it may be the conclusion of an incredible run, things for the Corps are only just beginning in the post-Rebirth world. Jump in here now and prepare yourself for what comes next, brush up on your lapsed lore, or just get a feel for the current cosmic status quo because the future, much like Green Lantern’s light, is shining bright.
HAL JORDAN AND THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS #50 by Robert Venditti, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona and Tomeu Morey is now available in print and as a digital download.
Meg Downey writes about the DC Universe for DCComics.com and covers DC’s Legends of Tomorrow for the #DCTV Couch Club. Look for her on Twitter at @rustypolished.