Most helpful positive review
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
You have to have it!
on December 5, 2009
The concept of the Green Lantern Corps is one of the genuinely genius ideas in comics. Superficially similar in nature to the Jedi Knights of Star Wars, the Green Lantern Corps are essentially space police, and their tales chronicle the exploits of sentient representatives from various solar systems around various galaxies, given immensely powerful green rings that are powered by will. Lanterns know no fear, or are at least able to overcome it.
The ongoing Green Lantern series chronicles the adventures of Earth's greatest Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, a smart, tough, not-big-into-planning test pilot with a healthy scepticism of authority, a certain talent with women and an indomitable will. Green Lantern: Agent Orange, collects issues 39-42 of the ongoing series, and parts of Blackest Night 0, as well as sections of the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps mini-series, and is one of the best single Green Lantern or comic stories you'll read all year, and there are a lot by Geoff Johns. To be enjoyed to its fullest though, I would recommend also buying the previous volume in this series, "Rage of the Red Lanterns" which is fantastic. This is not essential, but will greatly enhance the reading experience.
(If you're new to Green Lantern and can't afford to start from the first volume "Rebirth," then I would suggest at least going as far back as Green Lantern Secret Origin. That triumvirate of collections should be enough to give you the sweep and scope of the characters and the worlds involved.)
The story pits Hal against one of the most intriguing "villains" to come out of comics in a while, and is a sly allegory on Geoff Johns' part for the obsessive comic fan (at one point, the character declares, in response to Hal grabbing his Lantern, "Don't you dare dent it. It's in mint condition.") Larfleeze, (a combination of "lard" and "sleeze"), is an upright boar crossed with a muppet; with long spindly arms and legs, constantly drooling mouth and a head perpetually ablaze with the orange light of avarice. (Green was taken!) He wields the orange lantern of greed, and is the sole living embodiment of that power, although, he manifests an entire corps of "orange lanterns" from the spirits of creatures he has killed or consumed.
Hidden secretly away in the star system Vega for millenia, Larfleeze is finally disturbed by foolhardly "Controllers," immensely powerful beings related to the Guardians of the Universe, founders of the peacekeeping Green Lantern Corps. Larfleeze had entered into a secret pact with the Guardians, a pact which has now been disturbed by the entrance of the Controllers, and aims to keep his promises no more. He threatens the Guardians with retaliation at their "betrayal" and the Guardians go to the Vega system to investigate. Hal, who is currently suffering from having both a green ring (powered by will) and a blue one (powered by hope) cancelling the other out, gets taken along with the Guardians on this errand. (The background to this development can be found in Rage of the Red Lanterns, the previous volume in the series.) Mayhem, adventure, some horror and much humour ensues, and the reader is delighted every step of the way.
The writing by Geoff Johns here is excellent and represents the best in graphic storytelling in the space opera genre currently being published. While the inherently silly concept of various colored lanterns powered by different emotions, and represented by a different color of the spectrum, would seem childish in lesser hands, Johns manages to bring a level of sophistication and gravitas to the concept that sells it well. Phillip Tan does an admirable job in the early chapters bringing the exploits of Larfleeze to life, but obvious difficulty with keeping a monthly schedule results in sometimes muddy results in the final two issues, and he has to be helped out by the equally capable Eddy Barrows, whose art style is similar enough that the transition between the two is nearly imperceptible. Tan does an excellent job of designing most of the characters in this volume though, and his lush and detailed pencils provides an air of claustrophia to the story that helps ground it and counterbalance its more fantastic elements. The characters and worlds he draws have texture, and his Larfleeze is at once fascinating and disgusting to watch on the page. Some pages though suffer from insufficiently clear panel layout, and like most young artists working today, clarity of storytelling is not always the main priority. Thankfully, there's more to admire here than to dislike, and the art overall on Agent Orange is actually pretty good.
With Green Lantern: Agent Orange, Geoff Johns builds yet another intriguing pillar in this massive and epic tale about the prophesied "war of light," between the various factions of the emotional spectrum. With Larfleeze, he has managed to create one of the single most intriguing, original and exciting characters to come out of the Green Lantern mythos in a while. The four chapters plus a few extra pages of story here seem a little slight if you're looking for a chunky, meaty cosmic saga to sink your teeth into. But on its own, the volume is completely entertaining and satisfying as a significant chapter in the overall Blackest Night saga Johns is working towards.
I highly recommend this!