With the zero hour upon us and the imminent arrival of the Green Lantern Annual inching ever closer into reality, the conclusion of the Alpha-War takes center stage in Green Lantern Corps #12. The story of John Stewart facing the consequences of his actions against Krrt back in issue six has taken a back seat to the larger story of the rising conflict between the Corps and the Alpha Lanterns and while that might seem like a bit of a cop out, the vision we saw in last month's Green Lantern #11 hints that the Guardians themselves will be stepping in to deal out the punishment he's been set up to receive. If fans have ever doubted how high the stakes are going to be with the Third Army, this issue serves notice that massive changes to the status of many of the characters may very well be the order of the day.
The Story -
With Guy and John's self made monster entering the fray and the end of the last issue the conflict between the Corp and the Alphas reaches a fever pitch, especially with the arrival of the rest of the Green Lanterns on Oa. The Alphas focus on the amalgam of technology assembled from the forge and destroy it from within and then set their sites on the rest of the Corps. With the distraction out of the way the Alpha Lanterns prove their superiority quickly, de-powering all of the rings and apprehending the Corps in two panels.
|The Alpha Lanterns decide to dish out their judgement without due process|
The Alphas intend to not only carry out their final judgement on John Stewart, but summarily execute as well, but it is Varix who realizes that the line has been crossed by his brethren and makes the decision to stand for what he believes in. With John and Guy's rings covertly recharged by Varix the two humans manage to forcibly rip the power batteries from the chest cavities, but before they can deal with the rest of the Alphas Varix takes the opportunity to attack his fellow Alpha Lanterns, killing them quickly and mercifully.
Varix realizes that the power of the Alphas was too much for anyone to bear but reminds John and Guy that they made huge sacrifices to serve the greater good. With the realization that he, too, had nearly completely fallen victim to the blind power he commands, Varix makes the ultimate sacrifice and kills himself. As John and Guy transport the Corp to the central battery to recharge, a voice calls to be let out, not unlike the one heard by Rankorr in Red Lanterns #12 which is pointed out to have some importance in the coming Annual.
|The plot thickens|
The Green Lantern Corps gather in the crypt as Morro performs the final rites for Varix with John and Guy noting that the Alphas should be remembered for who they were and not for what they were turned into. Meanwhile the Guardians find the situation has played out entirely in their favor with the Alpha Lanterns now out of the way with no implications to the Corps of their role in everything that's happening. With no more rings going to anyone, the entire Corps is within their grasp. As the issue comes to a close Guy ironically wonders who will be next to fall as the Guardians secretly spy on him.
The Writing -
As I said before, the focus of this story changed as John's action ended up being more of a catalyst for the conflict between the Alpha Lanterns and the Corps, and while I'm a little disappointed to see that plot unresolved by the end of the issue, the fact that it likely will be a part of the upcoming Third Army story reassures me that it will not be forgotten. I made mention on our podcast that I worried for the fate of the Alphas due to the nature of their superior firepower and not for the first time am I saddened to be correct. With this issue we say goodbye to three characters with a long history in the Green Lantern universe, Varix, Boodikka and Green Man. While they may not have been major players in recent years, the fact that the creative team has determined them to be casualties of war in an issue before the main event is a clear indication to me that the game changing proclamation about the upcoming Annual is not to be taken lightly.
While most of this issue is very action heavy and light on the dialogue, Varix is clearly given the best goodbye with his noble sacrifice and ability to remain true to his convictions. I found it surprising that he was given that role considering how much was made of Boodikka considering that she had been previously given quite a bit of spotlight not too long ago. The solemn scene carried out in the crypt was written well, serving as an suitable epitaph for the whole Alpha Lantern concept now laid to rest.
The sinister nature of the Guardians is well played once again and Peter Tomasi continues to inch their agenda forth while making the reader despise them for the cold and calculating posture. Anyone following the solicitations for upcoming issues knows that Guy Gardner is clearly in the Guardians' crosshairs, but those who weren't aware the closing panels paint an ominous picture about what lays ahead for him.
The mystery of the disembodied voice continues and for once I'm almost at a loss as to the identity of the being(s) behind it. There are only a few things that come to mind, one being the missing Hector Hammond, another being the entities of the emotional spectrum, and the last being the voices of the Guardians true essences themselves, perhaps separated from there bodies in the aftermath of the War of the Green Lanterns. Yeah, that last one might be a stretch but there's something nagging me about the nature of the Guardians since that event and how they've been portrayed over the years. I have a hard time accepting that this is their true nature and to me something has to have happened to them and having a part of them trapped in the central power battery of each color of the spectrum somehow seems natural, especially considering how DC has managed to reduce the number of the Guardians to the exact number of colors.
The Art -
I've said before that sometimes this book can be hard to follow graphically speaking, especially when the Corps is battling among themselves. This issue suffered a bit for this this reason and I just found myself being taken a little out of the story when I couldn't tell who was doing what to whom in many of the panels. There was some real opportunity for some epic images but unfortunately we didn't get them. I also have to say that the arms of the Alphas that are made of energy just looked out of proportion several times and I found it to be quite a distraction on more than one occasion. In my opinion the art did little to support the script and in fact was detrimental to the overall quality of the issue.
What Do I Think?
With this issue the Alpha Lanterns are no more, and while I think the script did a great job of closing this chapter on the Green Lantern Corps the pedestrian visual storytelling kept the book from being the momentous conclusion it could have been. While no means a bad issue, it ends up being an average book. Three out of five lanterns.