The past four months have built to this moment, the conclusion to the Rise of the Third Army. While there are a lot of differing opinions as to the quality of this event that isn't an event, I think most Green Lantern fans would agree that this week's Green Lantern Corps Annual did a great job of pulling everything together to bring it to a close while launching the next big story, The Wrath of the First Lantern.
The Story -
The story begins by rewinding the ending to Green Lantern Corps #16 a bit and replaying the bit where Baz, B'Dg and Guy Gardner are standing on the moon and listening to the recorded messages from Sinestro and Hal Jordan. Like John, Guy recollects recent history and connects the dots to draw the same terrifying conclusions his fellow Earth Lantern did. As B'Dg calculates that the Third Army will complete the utter assimilation of the universe in less than a month the Guardians call all the remaining Green Lanterns to Oa for a special "inoculation" that will render them immune.
Guy sets a plan in motion to return to Oa and reclaim a ring before laying into the Guardians, sending Simon Baz and B'Dg into the Book of the Black to bring Hal back. B'Dg constructs a suit for Guy and sends him on his way before the two enter the Book, seeing images of Mogo, the Third Army under attack and what appears to be Black Lantern Hal Jordan as they disappear down the throat of the First Lantern. The two pop up in the Chamber of Shadows face to face with Black Hand.
|The "B Team" make a perilous journey|
Meanwhile John and Fatality continue to help Mogo reform, and when the Guardians notice the state of Mogo's reformation they send the Third Army to assimilate the two so they can use Mogo for as yet unknown plans. Mogo pulls John and Fatality into it's core as Guy arrives on Oa with just enough energy left to make a rough landing in the foundry. Kilowog is there and he pulls Guy from a Guardian trap when he attempt to reclaim his ring from stasis while on the surface above them more and more Lanterns arrive for their inoculation only to find themselves immobilized.
Guy and Kilowog are joined by Isamot Kol, Vath Sarn, Iolande, Soranik Natu and Hannu and the group put together a plan to free the trapped Green Lanterns. As the Third Army arrives near the still forming Mogo, the largest member of the Green Lantern Corps using bits of itself to create an arsenal of projectiles which tear the Third Army to pieces. Once reformed Mogo releases John Stewart and Fatality.
|Luckily for John, Mogo doesn't appear to hold a grudge|
Back on Oa Guy launches himself at the Guardians with Krona's gauntlet and he succeeds in diverting their attention from his fellow Corpsmen, who've managed to free their ensnared comrades. Kyle and the New Guardians arrive and the battle rages on when the Guardians call forth the Third Army to join them against the uprising. The Manhunter army that Atrocitus assembled in Red Lanterns #16 arrive and their combined forces have the Guardians against a wall.
With their power being pushed to the limit the Guardians attempt to tap into the power of the First Lantern, but their gambit doesn't pay off for them and Volthoom is able to break free in the closing pages of the annual, unleashing the Wrath of the First Lantern.
The Writing -
Pete Tomasi has done most of the heavy lifting for Rise of the Third Army and he does a great job of pulling most of the elements together in this satisfying conclusion to the story which has run throughout all four Lantern titles since last October. The annual has a number of great moments from seeing the return of some of our favorite members of the Corps that have been missing for some time now to seeing Guy don Krona's gauntlet.
It was also a great bit of payoff for Kyle fans to see him momentarily lose his temper against beings that he admired and looked up to. But perhaps the greatest moment was the reunification of Mogo, who had been drifting in space ever since John blew him to bits during the War of the Green Lanterns. I couldn't help but noticed the slight grin on John's face when he and Fatality emerged and realized what had just happened, and the moment between them feeds the notion that the two of them will become a couple before long.
|Kyle's rage for his lost respect of the Guardians|
Tomasi does a good job of keeping Baz true to his newbie status when he questions whether or not he's really cut out to deal with all of this, and Guy's response what as much to inspire Baz as himself before he heads out to Oa. Of course there's also that bit about the vision that Baz and B'Dg see with most of it coming true before the end of the book - all except for that Black Lantern that looks a lot like Hal Jordan.
As we've come to expect Tomasi handles the frantic pace of the battle with bits of meaningful dialogue, never weighing the reader down too much, but then adding just enough to support the visuals that the art team provides.
The Art -
CrissCross handles the art for this issue and for the most part the issue looks good. There's the matter of Kilowog's size when he helps Guy stand that is way off, and Arkillo is sporting a Green Lantern logo at one point as well. But for those mistakes there's also that great two page spread where the Third Army seems to be reaching through the book to grab the reader that is impressive. I do wish that Mogo's return was given a bit more of the page, but given how much ground there is to cover it's understandable. I also loved the visual on the last page using the white space to visualize Volthoom's potential to undo everything the Guardians have ever done.
What Do I Think?
Even if you're not reading Green Lantern Corps this book is pretty much a must read if you want to know what's happening next in the Green Lantern corner of the DCU. That's not really a bad thing since it is a pretty cool annual with plenty of high points. Despite a few art boo boos this is a great book - four out of five lanterns.