Here it is, the last issue of Green Lantern before the poop hits the fan in the Green Lantern Annual. Gone from this issue is artist Doug Mahnke, with Renato Guedes and Jim Calafiore on hand to add to the visuals to Geoff Johns' script. Green Lantern #12 brings with it a chilling revelation that seems to add credibility to one of the big rumors about what's coming, but as always when it come to Johns the obvious isn't always what we get when the final page is turned.
The Story -
The Book of the Black is reunited with Black Hand after teleporting Sinestro and Hal Jordan from Korugar to Coast City at the close of issue eleven. Hand is taken aback upon opening the book to reveal that all the pages have changed to the familiar bleeding Green Lantern symbol from the cover of the aforementioned Annual and the words "Hal Jordan is not your enemy". Puzzled looks abound for a second until Hand recognizes Sinestro and lashes out, but his attack is stopped short by a very Sinestro-style tactic from Hal. Realizing he only has a few minutes before Hand returns, Jordan attempts to send a signal to Carol knowing it will take more than one color of the spectrum to deal with Black Hand.
Carol doesn't get the signal but we see that Amanda Waller is trying to get her hands on the ring as Hal realizes that his signal cannot get through due to the interference of Hand's black ring. Leaving the Hand family home Hal and Sinestro discover the house is surrounded by reanimated corpses.
|An odd piece of dialog, but surely not a throwaway line|
Meanwhile the Guardians have transported themselves to where they detected Sinestro's ring last issue and discover that they now have the location of Nok, which will be one of the first targets of the Third Army. The Guardians reveal that giving the ring to Sinestro was their doing, their way to disconnect him from his own Corps. Ganthet pledges to deal with Kyle Rayner himself and both John and Guy are their next targets in their goal to remove those who would pose an opposition to their plans. They believe that they've already gotten Hal off the table and before long everyone will be under their control.
As Hal and Sinestro attempt to deal with the undead mob surrounding them, Black Hand revives and commands the undead to attack while asking the book to reveal why Hal is not his enemy. The book reveals the answer to Hand alone, who is shocked by what appears. Meanwhile, outside, Hal is injured by Sinestro as the two fight in such close quarters that they nearly fall over each other. Without Carol Hal believes they don't have a way to defeat Black Hand, but Sinestro reveals that he still has his Sinestro Corps battery hiding in a pocket dimension. Retrieving his battery, Sinestro and Hal set out to use their rings to cause the yellow battery to explode. Hand turns to face his parents as Hal and Sinestro pour all their remaining energy into the yellow battery, detonating it and taking out the entire mob.
|The Guardians come Nok'ing on the Indigo Tribe's front door|
Hand and the two Green Lanterns survive, however it is only Hand who remains standing over the two unconscious men who no longer have any energy in their rings to fend off the Black Lantern. Hand then reveals to the reader on the final page what he has found so hard to believe, that Hal Jordan is not his enemy because he will be the greatest Black Lantern.
The Writing -
Well, where do I start here? The obvious point of discussion is the big reveal that closes out the book. However, I'm not sure that this is exactly what might be happening to Hal. By that I mean it's not typical for Geoff Johns to give away a plot point like this in such a clear cut fashion. I almost feel as though this is a black herring for us and he's betting we'll take the bait. I'm not sure what's going to happen, but there's a part of me thinking that someone else will take the bullet for Hal, and that might be Sinestro's redemption in the end. This would fit the image from the vision in Green Lantern #6 of Hal's body, bloodied by Sinestro's blade, lying beneath Black Hand as a ring leaves the dead body of Sinestro in search of a new owner, the new Green Lantern, Baz.
|The future is about to be revealed, or is it a bit of misdirection?|
What I found of even more interest was something the Guardians said and how it fits into a bit of speculation I have about the Third Army. And that's that the members of the Third Army are beings stripped of their free will, not newly created beings. The lines "Once the Third Army has risen, they will take this world. They will replace the Lanterns. They will replace everyone" just says to me that the Guardians' plan is to literally remove free will from everyone, leaving them with beings that they can completely control. It also fits in nicely with something the Guardians say over in Green Lantern Corps #12 and would explain the various colored eyes on the cover of Red Lanterns #14.
Speculation aside, the story moves at a pretty fast pace. I'm not sure of the significance of Amanda Waller at this point, but I don't see that as being a throwaway line knowing how Johns doesn't arbitrarily throw them out like that. I particularly liked the work with William Hand, who almost becomes a sympathetic character as we learn he ultimately wants to be like everyone else even if that means making them like him instead. The moment before the lantern explodes and he turns to face his parents is both macabre and poignant with the opportunity lost of any parting words.
The Art -
I'm not sure why Doug Mahnke was absent this issue, but I'll say that his presence was sorely missed. Not only do I find it a distraction to have multiple artists on a single issue when they do a poor job at making their styles work together, they both just went goofy on some of the art. Hal's hair style changes several times throughout the issue and at one point the lighting almost makes him look blond. The panel where Sinestro cuts Hal has the path of the sword looking unnatural in comparison to Sinestro's body movement, or lack thereof. Carol's ring looks woefully out of proportion and one of my favorite pet peeves makes an appearance - putting Hal's ring on the wrong hand.
Green Lantern is a a top ten book for DC and it's a crime to see the lack of attention to some very basic details in a book of this stature, especially in an issue which should be building anticipation for the Third Army story and bringing in some new readers checking out the series for the first time.
What Do I Think?
While Geoff Johns' script is action packed and filled with some juicy tidbits, the lackluster art holds the book down and made me lower my score for the issue. It's a real shame because this issue had the potential to really be a strong lead into the story that's been building since the relaunch. Three out of five lanterns.