We are into the second month of DC Comics’ Rebirth initiative and to start the month off is Green Lanterns #2 wherein we learn a little bit more about Atrocitus’ plan for Earth, the “Red Dawn” in which the Earth is targeted as the new home base for the Red Lanterns. Writer Sam Humphries doesn’t provide a great deal of information up front as to why Red Dawn will save Atrocitus and his followers, but the opening sequence, aided greatly by Robson Rocha’s art, does a nice job of portraying the nature of the threat. As Humphries’ first story arc unfolds we’ll hopefully find out more about why the Red Lanterns are dying and why Ysmault is no longer a suitable base of operations.
Of course this plot should sound familiar to readers who’ve been around for the past couple of years. It wasn’t so long ago that Earth faced a similar “Rage Plague” in the pages of the Red Lanterns series (issues #38-40 to be exact). Simon Baz was Earth’s Green Lantern then as well, and since he’s supposedly only had his ring for a month or so this must have just happened so it should strike a familiar cord with him as well. Like that story this one also relies on the reader ignoring the fact that there’s a whole superhero community on Earth who would find it rather difficult to overlook a whole bunch of the population suddenly raging out. I turned a blind eye to this particular part of the plot before and will do so again, however the similarity between the two stories takes some of the punch out of Humphries’ premise for the first arc of the series.
This issue is fast paced with the bulk of the issue spent moving from one action sequence to another with a bit of character work sandwiched in between. Unfortunately the issue is bogged down by way too much time devoted to inner monologues which not only undermine the pace of the action, but are written too clunky for my taste. There’s way too much exposition here and I don’t need to be constantly hit over the head with Jessica’s anxiety disorders and self doubt. On the positive side the flashback showing Jessica and Sara provided more on their relationship which reinforced Jessica’s desperation to save Sara, however it comes with some very corny dialogue.
Simon Baz is another story all together. Humphries continues to do a disservice to Simon, who is written tragically out of character when you look at how he’s been written in the past. Baz is admittedly one of my least favorite characters but I nonetheless take exception to the clichéd approach Humphries uses with him. While I’ve gone on record with how much I disagree with DC’s direction I don’t like seeing Simon relegated to the role of pompous jerk just to make readers rally behind Jessica. It’s a cheap amateur tactic as far as I’m concerned and it is a major turn off for me as a reader.
Robson Rocha’s art on the other hand is one of the few things I can say I like about this series so far. His Atrocitus looks properly menacing and the design work on some of the new Red Lanterns is inspired. I also liked the page of Jessica’s recounting of her history that created a checkerboard pattern on the page between panels which had a more muted color palette and a sketchier visual approach. Kudos to Rocha, inker Jay Leisten and Blond on his color work there. In contract there’s something about the facial work on Jessica and Sara during the flashback that looks off; I can’t quite put my finger on it but their faces seem unnaturally elongated to me.
In the end I find Green Lanterns #2 as much of a test of my willpower to get through as making a construct is for Jessica Cruz. The issue is weighed down by poorly written superfluous inner monologues and clichéd characterizations of the lead characters. Four out of ten lanterns.