Willworld Review from Indigo Tribe Blog

[The following is a review of Willworld from the Indigo Tribe blog, dedicated to all things Green Lantern! It's from May 2011. Thanks to Liquidcross for permission to host her review. You can see the original here.]

Green Lantern: WillWorld

Cover Date: July 2001

Story: J. M. DeMatteis
Art: Seth Fisher
Cover: Seth Fisher

A stranger is traveling through the Land of the Odd, with no idea who he really is. Dressed as a cowboy with a green eyemask and sporting a strange ring, the stranger interacts with the diverse populace, but he’s the only one who notices that they’re all different. At one point, a group of green-uniformed creatures wearing similar masks is seen floating in bubbles, but not even the stranger can identify them. He remembers that his name is “Hal,” and he tries to fly an antique plane up to the bubbles, but fails. Hal also needs to rescue someone named Mairwand from the insidious Head-Quarters, and arranges to break in with the help of Odd’s ruler, Kat’aa Peelar. By becoming a Head himself, Hal infiltrates the complex, but he’s seemingly killed by the Head Head. Hal dreams of more strange beings in green uniforms, and when he awakens, he’s being “repaired” in the Machineworks. He escapes and uses his ring to travel towards Nowhere Land, but is attacked by monsters in an oasis. With a burst of willpower, Hal quotes the Green Lantern Oath and breaks free in uniform, but still doesn’t know what any of it means. He finds himself in Nowhere Land, where an assault of images threatens to shatter his mind. Mairwand calls from a nearby house, and once Hal arrives, he recognizes the place as his own from long ago. Mairwand was a prince he pretended to be as a little boy, but as Hal remembers, the forces of evil come crashing through and head towards Odd to remake it in their own image. Hal follows them, and wonders why so many of his memories and dreams have been taking shape, and finally figures everything out. It’s all part of a training exercise ordered by the Guardians, wherein Hal entered the Central Power Battery and created Willworld as a final test in order to master his power ring. Hal believes he passed the test, but the forces of evil attacking the Land of Odd are his unconscious mind. Hal defeats them by absorbing Willworld back into himself, and emerges from the Battery victorious. Fellow Green Lantern Sinestro, however, is not impressed.

If you’re looking for classic superhero action with clearly defined heroes and villains, you might as well quit reading. However, if like me you love character-driven stories, then Willworld is right up your alley. It’s a deep philosophical tale, and J. M. DeMatteis knows that stuff like the back of his hand. His highly underrated run on The Spectre (Vol. 4) serves to underline how skillfully DeMatteis can meld the superhero and fantasy genres. DeMatteis was writing that book while he penned Willworld, as a matter of fact, enabling him to delve even deeper into Hal Jordan’s head. Aside from crafting an entire world based on fragments of memories and emotions, Willworld really lays bare what makes up a superhero’s psyche.

The real selling point here, though, is the stunning artwork of Seth Fisher. His intricately detailed work is reminiscent of Geof Darrow, and the sheer amount of weird shit in Willworld is result of either genius or madness. Or perhaps a bit of both. Regardless, Willworld is a veritable feast for the eyes, and every time you read it, you’re bound to discover something new. For example, did you notice that Hal gets more and more of his costume back as he slowly remembers who he really is?

I even enjoyed Fisher’s simplistic take on the Green Lantern power ring. Sure, there’s no symbol or anything; but in the world Hal created, why would there be? It’s meant to be as nondescript as Hal himself is at first, and only over time does he truly realize what it is. That said, a Willworld ring would be a unique addition to any fan’s collection. (C’mon, sculptors: get on that.)

Sadly, Fisher died in 2006, and it’s a shame such a tremendous talent was lost to tragedy at such a young age. (You can read more about his life and work on Flowering Nose.) Green Lantern: Willworld is a beautiful part of Fisher’s legacy, and the story belongs in every fan’s library.

Green Lantern: Willworld is being reissued this week with a different cover as a DC Comics Presents edition. This is a bit odd, as the ol’ Hal-entering-the-Battery twist certainly does not fit into modern continuity at all. (There’s quite a few stories like that, actually.) Still, the new release can be found at the dirt-cheap price of $7.99. Considering that the original hardcover went for $19.99, this is a goddamned steal, and you’re a fool if you don’t pick this up. If nothing else, it’s a fine tribute to Fisher’s memory.