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The first skirmish between the Keepers and the Green Lantern Corps is over, but the war itself has just begun.  Issue four of Green Lantern Corps speaks to the nature of war and the effect on those who survive while both sides deal with their captive prisoners.  Writer Peter Tomasi also begins to reveal the history between the Guardians and the newest threat to the Corps.

The Story –
When we last left our squad of lanterns on Xabas in issue three they were surrounded by the agents of the Keepers.  Faced with a dire situation John Stewart dares their captors to re-engage in battle, but with their rings nearly drained of energy they pose no threat.  Vandor manage to gain the upper hand for a moment but is stymied when he learns that he cannot use the Keepers’ energy blades against their owners.

John attempts to surrender, but the Keepers drive home the point that their conflict is beyond the conventions of war by driving an energy sword through one of the ring slingers’ heads as another casualty of war.  Vandor cannot contain his fury over the senseless murder, but John asserts his leadership and reminds him that they are better off saving a confrontation for a better time.

The true face of the enemy revealed.

On Oa Guy Gardner interrogates the Keeper prisoner who his being prevented from willing himself to death so that Guy and Salaak can try to find out more about their mysterious new enemies.  Removing the mask Guy reveals the nearly transparent emerald skeletal form beneath, but Salaak is unable to identify the species in the enormous catalog of information at his disposal.  Guy tries to intimidate his captive, but nothing he does i able to reveal an information about their new enemies.

Elsewhere on Oa three of the Green Lanterns who joined John earlier are all dealing with survivor’s guilt in different ways.  Hannu takes his frustrations about leaving his comrades behind on Xabas out on the terrain.  Other members of John’s original team face similar challenges with Isamot Kol plagued by nightmares that force him to relive the events that led to the loss of his limbs, finding Sheriff Mardin unable to sleep as well.  While Hannu continues to pummel the rocks Isamot and Sheriff find consolation in the training chambers.

“The Green Mile”

Having teleported to the Keepers’ planet we see a clue to the past relationship between them and the Green Lantern Corps.  As they walk through the Emerald Plains we see familiar shapes in the ground that look like impressions made from power batteries.  We don’t know where the Green Lanterns are being taken, but it’s likely that wherever they are going they will be learning a bit more about the Corps than the Guardians want them to know.

Guy has reached a stalemate with his captive on Oa, but the Martian Manhunter arrives to pry the beings minds open.  By the conversation between the two it’s easy to say that the Martian’s history is one of those more affected by the Flashpoint relaunch as we see that Guy not only has no recollection of the Manhunter, but he has no admiration of the Corps, blaming them for not coming to Mars’ aid in its darkest hour. While he reveals some information to the Green Lantern, it’s made clear that once the Manhunter’s investigation for Stormwatch is complete and he has discovered the Keepers’ goal, the Martian plans on wiping Guy’s recollection of what transpires from his mind.

The mental probe by the Martian reveals that the Keepers once took care of the Green Lanterns’ power batteries when there were stored in a “pocket universe”.  The Keepers were responsible for taken care the batteries, but at some point the Guardians instructed the Corps to cease using that method to store them.  As usual the Guardians provided no explanation to their Green Lanterns but it is safe to assume that whatever caused the change in policy didn’t sit well with the Keepers.  The issue ends with the revelation that the Keepers plan is to capture the Central Power Battery on Oa for their own.

More secrets of the Corps exposed

The Writing –
The action in this issue slows down considerably and it needs to with the frenetic pace that the book has been on.  This time Tomasi takes the use of the much needed pause to establish more of the plot and he uses this opportunity to reveal what we need to know about the Keepers and further develop the cast all the while keeping the tension wrapped tight.

The notion that the the Keepers maintained the power batteries for the Green Lantern’s is a great revelation; I’d always wondered what happened when a battery was put there.  It’s no shock that the Guardians didn’t reveal the knowledge of the Keepers to the Corps as well as making sure no record of them exists, but what makes this really fascinating is not knowing why the Keepers did it and why the Guardians stopped using them.  With only two issues left in the first arc I trust that Tomasi will reveal at least some of the details.

I really liked how time was spent showing that the events on Xabas affected those who were there.  The ways in which Hannu, Isamot and Sheriff dealt with their guilt and frustration were revealing and added to their character.  I also found the appearance of the Martian Manhunter interesting since I haven’t been reading Stormwatch and didn’t know how his role in the new DC Universe might have changed from the pre-Flashpoint continuity.  The cameo did what was needed in getting us more information and reminding us that each book is a part of a larger universe without seeming forced in any way.

The Art –
Three distinct images in this issue stood out in my mind in particular when I think back on what I read.  One was seeing the death of the Green Lantern on Xabas, a construct sword thrust through his skull.  The second the reveal of the skeletal appearance of the Keepers and then the image of captive Green Lanterns as they enter the Emerald Plains and see the impressions of the power batteries on the ground.    All three of those images really stuck with me long after I put the book down and that’s a testament to the great work that Fernando Pasarin did with this issue.

What Do I Think?
Both Green Lantern Corps and New Guardians keep fighting for the number two spot in my Green Lantern food chain and this issue, while perhaps light on the action, was a great read in terms of plot and character development.  In the overall story the change of pace was needed so the story could breathe a little bit before the pace picks up again.  Five out of five lanterns.

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