The Green Lantern: Season Two #8 is one of the most novel issues in the Grant Morrison / Liam Sharp run, skirting the thin line between amazing creativity and unreadability. A character study of Qwa-Lah, the antimatter universe’s Hal Jordan aka Weaponeer 666, this issue challenges the reader to follow along in a story that runs backward, starting in the now and ending in the then.
Morrison and Sharp give the reader a couple of clues, with “The End?” in the lower right corner of the first page, and “It Begins” in the lower right of the last. To provide another nudge there’s dialog on the first page that says “Begin at the end!” – another wink and a nudge that should tip the reader off that this isn’t going to unfold like every other book by every other publisher that has a book on the stands this week. So, we begin with Qwa-Lan being tortured for the destruction of the Lightning Forge with no clues to help us other than the knowledge that Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps were headed to confront Qwa-Lah for the attack on Sector General.
As the story unfolds, backward, we learn what we need to in order to piece together why the Lightning Forge was destroyed and the kinds of sacrifices Qwa-Lah is willing to make in order to achieve his end goal of destroying his masters. If Hal Jordan is unpredictable in the positive matter universe, his antimatter counterpart is no less surprising in his methods. Sinestro, the anti-matter universe version we first saw back in The Green Lantern #11, makes another appearance here in a way that may shock readers. I don’t want to spoil anything here but let’s just say that if you thought the positive matter universe dynamic between Hal and Sinestro has a love/hate relationship, this one is very much on a similar if more deep vein.
In the end Qwa-Lah’s motive for attacking Sector General backfires when Hal chooses not to destroy the Lightning Forge, putting the Weaponeer in the position of having to do it himself while suffering an even greater personal loss. It’s only through experiencing the greatest pain that Qwa-Lah can gain the greatest power in his negative universe.
There are some really nice touches in this issue, such as the backward dialog for the positive matter Lanterns when they are on Qward. I’m sure that some readers will find this more of an annoyance than it’s worth, but I found it true to form to what I’d expect in this run. I also really liked seeing round two between Trilla-Tru and her antimatter counterpart as well as seeing both Volk and his antimatter version. I also rather enjoyed Liam Sharp’s design work and the wonderfully grotesque Weaponeers. One thing I would point out is that the panel layouts can make reading this issue in guided mode digitally a bit dodgy, so if that’s how you consume the content don’t be surprised if some of the issue is a bit hard to follow when you see panels that are actually a section of a larger image.
The Green Lantern: Season Two #8 is one that is going to challenge readers due to Grant Morrison’s creative choice to literally tell the story from an antimatter universe point of view. It’s wonderfully creative and requires the reader to do some thinking about how they approach the issue. I know I read it a few times before writing this review and having a great conversation about the issue in episode 178 of The Podcast of Oa, but with each subsequent reading, the story became clearer and clearer. Eight out of ten lanterns.