Deep Dive: The Green Lantern Issue 5 (2018)

The fifth issue of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s critically acclaimed Green Lantern series is more intimate than previous issues. In “Blackstar at Zentih” we zoom in on Hal Jordan as he runs a gauntlet through the vampire planet Vorr to earn a place on Commander Mu’s Blackstars.

From the cover of The Green Lantern #5

Here’s where you can find my previous The Green Lantern Deep Dives:

Let’s dive…

The Lanterns

Blackstar Parallax (a.k.a. Hal Jordan)

After four months of exploring the Green Lantern Corps this one is all Hal all the time. We get to see the Lantern of Space Sector 2814 face a gauntlet of horrors without his ring. It’s always nice to see the Earth’s Green Lanterns ringless because it’s usually an opportunity to showcase why they were chosen in the first place.

We also receive official confirmation that Jordan is, in fact, on this mission thanks to the direction of one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s been assigned to infiltrate the Blackstars and stop Controller Mu no matter the cost.

Jordan successfully navigates the planet of Vorr and successfully overcomes Countess Belzebeth’s three challenges. As a result, he receives an invitation to join the Blackstars and choose a “Blackstar name.” This was a weird moment for those of us trying to annotate this series because in five issues we haven’t learned the name of any Blackstars other than Belzebeth.

Hal Jordan Blackstar Parallax
Becoming Blackstar Parallax | Art: Liam Sharp | Words: Grant Morrison

Jordan chooses the name “Parallax” as his official Blackstar name. This moment completes a full circle moment for Jordan that started at the end of Green Lanterns. In that series, Cyborg Superman, a.k.a. Hank Henkshaw, returns to once again destroy Coast City. You’ll recall the last time this happened was way back in Green Lantern, Vol. 3, #46, when Jordan, Supergirl, and Superman all fail to stop Mongul and Henshaw from destroying the city (it was rebuilt). That event triggered a complicated series of events where Jordan, plagued by guilt and grief, destroys the Green Lantern Corps and becomes Parallax (which was eventually retconned to be an ancient entity of yellow energy that had infected the Green Lantern).

This time, Jordan manages to defeat Henshaw and protect Coast City. It’s a long overdue moment of redemption for Jordan. When Morrison has the Green Lantern reclaim the name Parallax as he joins the Blackstars it puts an exclamation point on the moment from Green Lanterns. It feels like closure for the ring slinger.

The Villains

Countess Belzebeth

The more time I spend with the daughter of Starbreaker the more I hope she sticks around the DC Universe long after Morrison’s finished with her. Her introduction made her seem like a one-note evil space witch but these last two issues have fleshed out her personality substantially. She values loyalty, she believes in justice (although a severely twisted form of justice), and, the biggest shock, she has a sense of humor. Nice dig at Overmaster.

Celibate Knight of OMEN
The Green Lantern #5 | Art: Liam Sharp |Words| Grant Morrison

In this issue we learn the energy sucking vampiric family of Luciphage the Starbreaker aren’t well respected by the bloodsucking vampires of Vorr. We also learn the Countess has a strained relationship with her father.

When Jordan assumes she’d be angry about the Justice League defeating her father she replies, “I want to congratulate your Justice League. I hated my father. You did our clan a favor.”

Considering she’s the Commander of the Blackstars this does make sense. Green Lanterns are Lawful Good (although I’d probably shift some of the Earth Lanterns closer to “Neutral Good”) while Blackstars (a.k.a Darkstars) are Lawful Neutral. They believe in justice at whatever the cost but they aren’t necessarily evil. Starbreaker, on the other hand, is Neutral Evil bordering on Chaotic Evil. If he was alive, his daughter would be driven to bring him to justice.


We see a some new Blackstars in a lineup toward the end of the book. We still don’t know any personal names other than the Countess (although is that her Blackstar name and not her real name? Annotating minds want to know).

We also know to become a Blackstar a person needs to make three sacrifices:

  • Blindness: See the world as it truly is
  • Assumptions: Don’t be led by your prejudgment
  • Ego: Surrender to the collective and depend on comrades

Honestly those aren’t bad rules for living.

Fun bit of editorial trivia: The internal title of this issue is “Blackstar at Zenith” but the cover says “Darkstar at Zenith.” Whoops.


I feel a little bad putting the vampires of Vorr in the “villains” category because all they’re doing is defending their home planet from two people treating it like a gameshow racetrack. I mean, Hal comes marauding through downtown Vorr during siesta! Of course they’re going to try to kill him.

Sharp has fun with the vampires and uses the opportunity to pay homage to several throughout film history. Most notable are up front. On the left we have Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise from Interview with a Vampire and on the right we have characters from What We Do In The Shadows.

I don’t know who the rest of the vampires are. They all ring with familiarity (including the one on the left who looks like Morbius and the one behind the speech bubbles who looks like Vampirella). However, I spent too many hours searching through vampire images without much success, so I’m giving up.

Really, all these vampires do is give Jordan and Belzebeth the stink eye.

Death Dealer

This isn’t Liam Sharp’s first dance with Frank Frazetta’s 1973 “Death Dealer” painting. In 1995, Glenn Danzig (yes, that Danzig) wrote a four-issue miniseries for his now-defunct comic book company Verotik based on the infamous painting. Sharp had illustration duties for issues two and three (Simon Bisley was on issue one and Arthur Suydam on issue four). Below we have, in order, Sharp’s homage from The Green Lantern #5, Frazetta’s famous painting, and Sharp’s work from Danzig’s Death Dealer series.


We covered Starbreaker in detail last month but I wanted to include him again due to Jordan’s reference to Justice League of America, Vol. 1, issue 98.

“I was there. My friend, the Green Arrow, just a guy with a bow, some arrows and an overdose of attitude, short your dad through the heart with a silver shaft…”

Justice League of America #98 | Art: Dick Dillin | Words : Mike Friedrich

Other People

Adam Strange

First Appearance: Showcase #17
Creators: Julius Schwartz & Murphy Anderson

The history of Adam Strange is almost as muddled as Hawkman’s history. It’s a complicated one that has changed numerous times over the last 60-plus years of the heroes existence. However, it seems the current DC iteration of Rann’s champion from Earth is more closely linked to Adam Strange 1.0 than he was in the aughts and during DC’s New 52 brand relaunch.

Morrison and Sharp, also, are clearly tapping into that Silver Age magic, so let’s discuss that history.

Before he was the hero of Rann, Adam Strange was simply an anthropologist. During a trip to the jungles of Peru, Strange was zapped by Dr. Sardath’s Zeta-Beam and finds himself on the planet Rann. His adventures start almost immediately when a race known as the Eternals attack Rann in search of a rare metal called vitatron.

After saving Rann, Adam is transported back to Earth when the Zeta-Beam fades. During the original adventures it took more than four years for the Zeta-Beam to travel from Rann to Earth. Thankfully, Sardath had been constantly sending out beams for years, so all Adam needs to know is where and when the next beam is scheduled to hit. That’s all. You know, he’s in Peru today and needs to get to Singapore for the next beam. Easy.

Amusingly, the beam also won’t necessarily dump him in the city of Ranagar, so he’s often thrown straight into adventures.

Strange, who would have been a mere mortal on Earth, finds himself in a unique position, With the exception of a handful of nation-states, like Ranagar, much of Rann is primitive. The most advanced city was Samakind which only appears once every 25 years as it waits for the rest of the world to become peaceful. The invasion of the Eternals forced Samakind to give up the previously mentioned vitatron which made them immortal. Dying off, they journey to Ranagar and give their technology to Sardath who uses it to give Adam a heroic advantage. Strange, thanks to his heroics, becomes one of the few outsiders welcomed on the traditionally xenophobic planet.

His time on the planet Rann is limited due to the unpredictability of the Zeta Beam. During his excursions, he develops a relationship with Alanna and the two eventually marr. The Rannians are sterile, so when Adam and Alanna have a child, Aleea, it’s kind of a big fucking deal.

I mention that because after the New 52 relaunch Alanna was retconned to be one of Adam’s human students. Not only does this make their relationship slightly inappropriate but it also removes the specialness of Aleea.

The Green Lantern isn’t the only place where Adam Strange has recently shown up. He briefly appeared in Action Comics #1008 where he’s enlisted to join the Department of Extranormal Operations. It’s a short enlistment. Shortly after he arrives the DEO is blown to smithereens by a mysterious creature. Adam Strange rescues a handful of people and flies away. He hasn’t shown up again as of issue #1009, so I’m not sure what happened.

Places and Things


Vorr is an all new planet in the DC Universe. This is, apparently, where fictional vampires go to be alone. Annoyingly for the vampires, the Blackstars, playing off the stereotype of vampires being bloodthirsty and evil, use it as a new recruit training ground.

The planet has a Vampire religion. One of the Saints is named Yorga after the classic vampire film Count Yorga, Vampire.

Vorr Bats

This is the second appearance of the bats of Vorr. The first time was in The Green Lantern issue 4 where one of the blood-sucking vampire bats could be seen as part of Crassius Qwipe-6’s menagerie.

The Scream in the Moon

Love this nod to Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

Giant Mandragorrax

Jordan gets poisoned by a plant that’s apparently in Earth’s plant genus Mandroga. Mandrakes, as members of the Nightshade family, are the gothiest of all plant families, so it makes sense they’d be rampant on Vorr.

Tribute to Jon Schnepp

As noted above, Jon Schnepp was a good friend of Sharp. He used this panel to pay tribute to Schnepp who passed away in 2018 due to complications following a stroke. His filmography is vast including work with Venture Bros., Metalocalypse, and 2010’s animated Black Panther.

Blackstar at Zenith

The title of this issue is “Blackstar at Zenith.” Zenith isn’t an uncommon word, so this is likely a coincidence. However, it seems worth noting some of Morrison’s earliest work was with 2000 A.D. on a character named Zenith. Morrison and Steve Yeowell created the character with help on character design from Brendan McCarthy. Zenith had regular stories in 2000 A.D. from 1987-1992 when Morrison began his transition to working for US comic book companies.

Further Reading and Reviews of Note

There are a number of people doing solid work around these issues. This section to acknowledges reviews and annotations providing deeper insight into what’s going on with this series.

Next Issue

The Green Lantern #6 Solicitation

Hal Jordan’s final initiation test to join the Blackstars? Kill Adam Strange! In this issue, Controller Mu and his Blackstar goon squad have invaded and occupied the planet Rann, and its protector is at their mercy. When planet after planet has fallen to the Blackstars — and these monsters at Rann’s gate — does the galaxy have any hopes to survive?

On Sale: April 3, 2019

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