Best Shots Review: GREEN LANTERN / SPACE GHOST ANNUAL #1 'The Exception to the Team Up Slump' - 10/10

DC Comics March 2017 solicitations
Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Green Lantern/Space Ghost Special #1
Written by James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela and Howard Chaykin
Art by Ariel Olivetti, Howard Chaykin, and Wil Quintana
Lettering by A Larger World Studios
Published by DC Comics
Review by Justin Partridge
‘Rama Rating: 10 out of 10

Saturday morning gets Brave and Bold in the Green Lantern/Space Ghost Annual. Detective Comics scribe James Tynion IV and rising star Christopher Sebela deliver a stirring buddy-cop comedy as Hal Jordan finds himself trapped in a Nice Guys-like alliance with Space Ghost. Just on paper, that sounds like a ball, but Tynion and Sebela really go all out with it, delivering a gruff but funny chemistry between the two heroes, mining real pathos from their Star Trek-esque plot of a world on the cusp of first contact with the universe.

Future Quest pinch hitter and former Space Ghost mini-series artist Ariel Olivetti returns to the stars for this special and promptly knocks it out of the park. Opening with wide CinemaScope like double-page layouts of the vastness of space and smoothly moving on to tight action blocking, Olivetti draws this special like a seasoned director returning to one his favorite characters. Capped off by a wonderfully cynical “Ruff N’ Reddy” backup from the legendary Howard Chaykin and fan-favorite colorist Wil Quintana, the Green Lantern/Space Ghost Annual #1 rises above name recognition to deliver a rousing tribute to the “Hard Traveling Heroes” of DC’s past.

While this one-shot does inevitably fall into the pre-team-up fight trope that most team-up books fall into, Sebela and Tynion quickly let the reader know that they are only using it as a means to an end. Evoking the films of Shane Black, the heroes’ initial hostility toward one another fosters a palpable energy between them. And, honestly, why wouldn’t they get along? They are both, in essence, space cops. As the story unfolds, Hal and Space Ghost settle into a wryly funny and effective “Jackson Healey and Holland March of Space” vibe that produces some of the issue’s best jokes and makes the plot feel all the more vital. Both Tynion and Sebela here lately have proven to be writers who put character first and it is nice to see that serve them well here.

And the plot in itself is a sneaky bit of emotional storytelling. Both heroes have been tracking a mysterious message portending the coming of a great “weapon” that will destroy a distant planet. The pair learn that the “weapon” is just a ship that will take the population of said planet to the stars, which their government denies is inhabited. Tynion and Sebela run Hal and Space Ghost’s forming alliance alongside the planet’s, allowing them to serve as ambassadors from the stars, taking advantage of their positions as galactic authorities — something I love from Green Lantern stories and something we haven’t seen much of since Space Ghost’s return to DC. I know that you wouldn’t exactly plan on getting a stirring bit of emotional science fiction from a story starring some well known cartoon characters, but Tynion and Sebela give it to you anyway and the special is all the stronger for it.

While artists like Doc Shaner and Steve Lieber have been doing fantastic work on Future Quest, for my money, nobody draws Space Ghost and his universe better that Ariel Olivetti. The opening pages of this one-shot are full tilt space opera as Olivetti lays the inky expanse of space across the entire width and length of two pages, carefully guiding the reader’s eye through the action his stony, lantern-jawed characters are undertaking. But Olivetti’s eyes aren’t always affixed to the stars. Once the action goes planetside, Olivetti’s action blocking and character work takes center stage, along with his lightened color style that goes from an oily painted texture in space to focused watercolors on the planet. Lots of artists have one character that just seems to fit into their style, and I think Ariel Olivetti has found his in Space Ghost.

Fans of Lethal Weapon and shows like Life on Mars will find a lot to love about the Green Lantern/Space Ghost Annual. James Tynion IV, Christopher Sebela, and Ariel Olivetti really go for the gusto here and it pays off big time thanks to their tight scripting, snappy banter, and sweeping science fiction visuals. Team-up books like this are usually a mixed bag, but thankfully the Green Lantern/Space Ghost Annual #1 quickly stakes a claim to being the exception to the team-up slump.

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