Appreciating Volk, a Green Lantern with an erupting volcano for a head
There are many unique creatures among the ranks of the Green Lantern Corps. You’ve got a member who is a sentient virus, another that is a living planet, and also Guy Gardner. If any sentient being can become a member, then why should the characters be limited to bipedal humanoids? With membership that spans the universe, and the main prerequisites being an indomitable will and the ability to overcome great fear, the Corps is an ideal breeding ground for crazy ideas and interesting character designs.
Surely one of the greatest of these is Volk, a Lantern whose head is an erupting volcano.
Shout out to my boy Rot Lop Fan, too.
Appearing in this week’s The Green Lantern #2, Volk was created by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton way back in 1985, so he is not unique to this new series. He may as well be, though, as his traits fit with some of the outlandish ideas that series writer Grant Morrison has had over the years.
And that’s what I like about this guy… other than, you know, the obviously amazing volcano head. Volk is weird, just like The Green Lantern. He’s a perfect example of how Morrison and series artist Liam Sharp have made their case for this newly relaunched book after only two issues.
Saying that a creative team of this caliber needs to “make their case” would seem a bit odd. After all, Morrison alone has written the greatest Superman story of all time, one of the greatest Batman runs, and helped reinvigorate series like X-Men and Animal Man. Sharp is an industry mainstay as well, with a decades-long career that has seen his work appear in books like Heavy Metal, Wonder Woman, and Man-Thing. The pair are the very definition of a “superstar creative team,” so having to justify a title they’re involved with is almost backwards.
It’s not the quality of this book, though, but the quality of the books that preceded it that makes that decision so curious. Green Lanterns was a great “buddy cop” title that played rookie Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz off of each other, with each growing as characters along the way. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, by contrast, was an ensemble book, focusing on the “Four Corpsmen” of Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Hal Jordan, along with the diverse group of creatures who make up the Green Lantern Corps. Both books were very much Green Lantern titles, yet they approached their stories and subject matter in unique ways that felt fresh. Ending both titles to relaunch a Hal Jordan solo book felt like a strange move, to say the least.
Yet as different as Green Lanterns was from Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, The Green Lantern feels completely different from both of those books. It’s a police procedural at its core, but it leans heavily into the idea that most aliens aren’t going to look and behave like humans. They’re going to have their own languages, their own anatomy, with different cultural norms and ideas about morality and justice.
This is a series that opened with a group of non-human Lanterns engaging in a fight with a giant spider-creature, leading to a scene with a rodent-like alien finding a “luck dial,” all against architecture and locales that were as gorgeous as they were unfamiliar. Assuming the book’s title is in reference to Hal Jordan, “the Green Lantern” doesn’t appear for a dozen pages. This is Morrison and Sharp stating that while Hal may be the Green Lantern, he is still one among many.
That includes aliens with volcanoes for heads, which is so wonderfully weird I can’t help but love it.