Green Lantern Vol. 4: Dark Days by Robert Venditti – Graphic Novel Review [Bane of Kings]
Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, covers the fourth Volume of the New 52 Green Lantern series, “Dark Days”, written by Robert Venditti and with pencils from Billy Tan, published by DC Comics.
“A book that sadly is full of wasted potential despite Robert Venditti’s strengths as a writer in his other work – Dark Days is a collection to stay clear of unless you’re up to date with everything Green Lantern and even then it struggles as a successor to Johns’ work. “ ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields
By Robert Venditti & Billy Tan
In this first collection from the new GREEN LANTERN team of writer Robert Venditti and artist Billy Tan from issues #21-26, GREEN LANTERN #23.1: RELIC, and GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #2, Hal Jordan becomes the leader of the most feared and hated group in the universe: The Green Lantern Corps! And while Hal struggles with his new role as leader of the Green Lantern Corps, he must solve the mystery of why the universe is atrophying! All this leads into “LIGHTS OUT,” as Relic arrives on Oa to douse the central Power Battery forever!
With the departure of Geoff Johns, Robert Venditti has had some pretty big shoes to fill on this book, the flagship of the Green Lantern line, focusing on Hal Jordan and company. It’s been a while since I actually read this trade but I can say right now that I was somewhat disappointed with this Volume, not enjoying it anywhere near as much as previous issues. Don’t get me wrong though, Venditti isn’t a bad writer –the first issue in his Flash series has started well and looks set to only get better, and his XO Manowar book has been fantastic – I just didn’t really dig this Volume of Green Lantern, which is a shame because given the fact that it is the flagship book of the series, you’d expect it to be stronger than say Red Lanterns or even the newly launched Sinestro. But it’s not.
Sure, after Johns’ run wrapped up in a spectacular way, I was kind of at fault for expecting something of similar quality. However, Venditti doesn’t quite fit the bill, and that’s mainly due to the Light’s Out crossover, which is the main focus of the majority of the book. That would be great if the Volume included all of the issues, but you have to be up to date on Green Lantern Corps and all the other titles involved to understand what’s going down here and read their respective trades, so as a result this book suffers because it’s not a complete event, which once again a shame because with the inclusion of new villain Relic it was an idea that had so much potential, and maybe the potential pays off with the knowledge of what goes down in other books, but reading this incompletely it’s easy to see why am I no longer following this book monthly and the end result is not as good as it could have been, especially if Venditti had chosen to keep the series separate for at least six issues or so before plunging them back into another crossover, especially so soon after the last epic event. It seems like the Green Lantern writers are trying to imitate the success that the Batman writers have had with the Night of Owls and Death of the Family – only it doesn’t pay off as well as those books.
The book opens with Hal Jordan becoming head of a severely depleted Green Lantern Corps. In order to bulk of the Corps, he releases several rings into the Galaxy in search of new recruits to train, but before things can even start, the Orange Lanterns attack – let by Larfreeze, plunging the Greens in a desperate fight for their homeworld of Oa. And that’s even before we get involved in the Light’s Out plot, so if you’re looking for action packed moments then Dark Days is probably going to be right up your street – it’s packed full of content from start to finish, with very dense action and on the surface, entertaining stuff.
Relic is probably the strongest part of Dark Days’ characters, and as far as I’m aware he’s a new addition to the Green Lantern mythos. A scientist from a dead universe, he has one goal in mind that will put him at war with the Lantern Corps – their destruction, believing it is necessary in order to save the Universe. This doesn’t go down too well with Hal and company as you can expect, and needless to say things go from bad to worse (again).
Another thing that I can praise about this book is Billy Tan’s artwork. It looks good. It’s strong, powerful and engaging. There are several great depictions of Green Lanterns in battle and manages to make every alien look distinctive and unique and not just like men dressed up in suits. On top of this, he pulls off the action incredibly well, so if you love some good artwork then you may get some mileage out of this book. If the writing had been as good as Tan’s panels then we would be looking at a different story, but sadly the book for the most part is cluttered and not very interesting making it arguably Venditti’s weakest work so far.
That doesn’t mean Venditti is bad writer though. As previously stated, he’s really impressed in XO Manowar & Flash – even though it is early days for the latter. If you’re looking for better examples of his work, go to those books, but sadly – despite the good artwork and the strong villain, Dark Days is something that I cannot recommend. Will I check out the next Volume though? Absolutely, because Venditti has written better and sometimes it takes a writer a while to find their stride on a series.