“One lantern will serve…the other will fall”
The Green Lanterns title begins it’s twice-monthly run with this week’s first regular issue and in it writer Sam Humphries depicts Atrocitus’ plan turning into reality while both Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz struggle to assert themselves as the Green Lanterns of Earth. While Humphries succeeds with the former it’s the latter that poses to be more problematic for the series’ initial outing.
I really feel for fans of Simon Baz who’ve been waiting for this character to really get a chance to shine only to see him portrayed the way Humphries is writing him. This version of Baz is a stark contrast to the one we’ve seen in the four years since Geoff Johns debuted the character despite the ludicrous assertion that he’s a rookie, and while I personally feel that he character is an unneeded addition to the Green Lantern roster it’s a shame to see Simon written so out of character. And for Ganthet’s sake get rid of the freaking gun – like it would do any good for him against the kinds of threats he’s faced and will face as a Green Lantern. And a Green Lantern who still doesn’t trust his ring after what he’s already experienced isn’t worthy of the ring, period. The ring hasn’t let him down for a LOOOOONNNNGG time and it’s time to move on.
I really have a hard time with the way in which Baz also dismisses the Green Lantern oath as the issue opens. If Rebirth is truly about embracing the legacy of the DC Universe Humphries clearly doesn’t get the mission statement. Mocking one of the foundational elements of the entire mythology isn’t hip or smart – it’s spitting on the legacy that this series is built on. Again, Baz isn’t the rookie that DC and Humphries so badly wants us to accept and the character knows the oath deserves respect. For all the new readers that have jumped on the hype train it’s not the best way to instill a healthy relationship with a mythology that helped revive superhero comics.
While I dislike the premise and the fusterclucked continuity this series is built on I do think that Humphries does a good job of contrasting Baz’s and Cruz’s inner monologue to their external dialogue, showing that they two are trying to function as a unit despite having trust issues with each other. But again those issues have their basis in writing Baz as a complete jerk rather than something more interesting and complex. Why not have Cruz distrust Baz based on the terrorist label he’s trying to live down and Baz distrust Cruz based on her loss of control to Power Ring? That would be far more interesting that what we have here in my opinion.
I also had to laugh at the Green Lanterns so easily ceding authority to Argus when it’s clearly more in their jurisdiction than that of a governmental agency. That Jessica thinks Hal wouldn’t want them to stand their ground shows how little both Cruz and Humphries understands how serious Hal takes his role, particularly when it comes to matters of the emotional spectrum.
Of course I can’t talk about this issue without discussing the new ability that Simon Baz demonstrates this issue, “Emerald Sight”. During Simon’s initial outing as the Green Lantern of Sector 2814, back when he really was a rookie, he was able to heal his brother-in-law Nazir and return him from a coma. At the time it was a way to show that Simon had something unique but it also looked like a cliched way of trying to put him over with readers. Here Humphries goes one further with giving Simon the ability to experience visions which again feels like an attempt to make Simon more special than his peers. The first time was a little cringe worthy but now we’ve gone into eye rolling territory. Hopefully it’s a one time thing that Humphries came up with to propel the story along.
The main narrative of this first arc is the Red Dawn and thankfully we have more detail being provided this issue. The Red Lanterns are dying and Atrocitus has reached desperation when it comes to keeping his army alive. It’s not the first time the Red Lanterns have found themselves in this position nor is it the first time the Reds have infected Earth but despite the regurgitating plot points from two previous stories it at least poses an interesting threat for the Green Lanterns.
This issue is the first for Robson Rocha and his art work is certainly not the worst we’ve seen on a Green Lantern title. His facial expressions lack subtlety but the reader clearly understands what the characters are experiencing emotionally which is a good thing. I do find that the sexualization of both Bleez and Cruz undermines DC’s goal of being more female friendly. Cruz’s body hugging clothing seems like a poor choice as does the visually distracting presence of Bleez’s backside and for a brief moment I thought I was looking at Ed Benes’ work. I also found it ironic that just panels after Baz claims that they’d have to cut his finger off to get his power ring that Rocha forgot to draw it on his hand while Simon had entered “Emerald Sight”. A good first effort in my opinion.
Green Lanterns #1 has too much past history for new readers who may find the plot hard to follow without knowing a considerable amount of backstory while ignoring enough history to make long time readers feel that what came before doesn’t matter. It’s a series built upon a muddled continuity and a forced agenda which dilutes the Green Lantern legacy. Four out of ten lanterns.