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It’s the calm before the storm in this week’s issue of the Green Lantern Corps and as both side prepare for war the mystery of the relationship between the Keepers and Guardians is exposed.  Guy assembles his strike force while John and the rest of the captive Green Lanterns are submitted to all matters of torture in an attempt to pry the information the Keepers need to breech Oan airspace.
The Story –
Where’s a Snake Plissken reference when you need one?
Guy Gardner inerrupts Kilowog’s training to get information about the toughest members the Corps has to offer (outside of himself, of course), but little does the human know that four of the roughest members have a secret hangout underneath Warriors and have been making liberal use of the bar’s stock.  After discovering the hangout of the “Mean Machine” Guy recruits the four members unwinding there: Lee, Bronchuk, Aldo and Flint.  
Gardner’s team, the four members of the Mean Machine, Hannu, Sheriff, Isamot Kol and Brik, are briefed by the Martian Manhunter, who shares the history of the Keepers.  Urak was a world with a unique structure that allowed the Guardians to tune the power rings and batteries in such a way that a portal would allow Green Lanterns to store their batteries on the planet’s surface to be summoned when needed.  This was a measure that  answered the problem caused by the need for a recharge at inopportune times for Green Lanterns; a situation that led to more than a few deaths.
However Urak was inhabited by a species who was barely surviving on the sparse resources that the planet provided, so the Guardians struck a deal with the Urakians wherein they would be provided for in exchange for  tending to the power batteries.  The batteries in turn provided energy that fed the planet and allowed it to thrive while also infusing the force of will into the Urakians’ DNA.  Then, for some unknown reason, the Guardians removed the batteries from Urak without notice, leaving the Urakians to fend for themselves on a rapidly dying world, leading them to respond by stealing the resources of others and now plotting to regain their connection to the power of will by taking the Central Power Battery.
With that the Martian Manhunter disappears and the team begins to think that the Keepers might be able to be overcome with fear, prompting Guy to think of using one of the Sinestro Corps members as a fear bomb.  They’ll also need some guns, so after stowing their living fear bomb on an Interceptor the team sets out to get some weaponry.
Meanwhile the leader of the Keepers is torturing John Stewart and his fellow imprisoned Green Lanterns on Urak.  The mission of the Keepers is a very personal one for them having lost so much and survived the harsh existence that they have faced since the Guardians reneged on their agreement.  Promising to remove the ring finger from every Green Lantern and plant them in the Emerald Plains all the Keepers need to execute their strategy is a way to break through the forcefield surrounding Oa, but the resolve of John and his team continues to be a barrier that cannot be broken.
The scene between John and his captors is a highlight of this issue
The Green, the Bad, and the Ugly!
In deep space the Interceptor and her crew inserts themselves into a cosmic arms deal and achieve their goal of stealing the weapons they need to take the war to the Keepers and free their fellow Green Lanterns.  With that the issue comes to a close, promising an action filled conclusion to the first story arc in next month’s sixth issue.
The Writing –
 This issue has some great high points and the reader can’t help but see the connections between the Man Machine and the casts of action films over the years.  So since we’re going there, here’s the Good, the Bad and the Ugly about this issue from a writing perspective.
The Good – The whole sequence between the leader of the Keepers and John’s team is superb.  After witnessing the well told story of the Keepers it’s very easy to understand and empathize with their plight despite the severity of their response to being stripped of the existence they had as a result of their good faith agreement with the Guardians.  The leader of the Urakians in particular is a character I hope survives the melee to follow next month.  Likewise I really enjoyed the dialogue between Guy and Salaak about taking extreme measures to fix another Guardian mess, a recurring problem that hints that there is so much more going on behind the scenes that we don’t know yet with regard to the Guardians and their actions both past and present.  
The Bad – While I think the references to old action movies is kind of a neat idea I’ll admit that I found it distracting due to the heavy handedness of the characterizations, names and likenesses of the Mean Machine.  Lee, Flint, Bronchuk and Aldo are such obvious amalgams of people like Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood, Charles Bronson and Arnold Schwarzenegger with perhaps some Lee Van Cleef, Chuck Norris and Brad Pitt’s character Aldo from Inglorious Bastards thrown in for good measure.  It’s not clever like Geneva spelled backwards in the “Treaty of Av-eneg” in issue four or Isamot being Tomais backwards and it just comes off as lazy writing to me.  We know not everyone is going to survive, gee what characters might that be?  And don’t get me started on the Fat Man and Little Boy……
The Ugly – Last month the Martian Manhunter stated he’d be wiping Gardner’s mind when their encounter was over and in this issue you get the impression that he he did just that when he leaves the team behind and  Guy’s conversation falters, but later on Gardner references J’onzz in his dialogue with Salaak – a bad case of not following your own continuity.  Do Green Lanterns really need to resort to guns other than to complete the action movie shtick?
The Art – 
Like the writing the art has some ups and downs this issue.  I love the character design work Fernando Pasarin put in on the leader of the Keepers and the work on him really drives home the intensity of the Tomasi’s dialogue.  Likewise the whole sequence where we learn the story behind the Keepers is very engaging and the panel design work is very creative.
On the downside I have a problem seeing the Mean Machine look like they walked off the set of a war movie and slapped a Green Lantern logo on their clothes.  These are not men who would be a part of a galactic peace force in my mind and the terminator like appearance of Aldo just pushed the cheese factor over the edge for me.  Likewise the weapons resemble Earth weapons waaaayyyy too much for my tastes.
What Do I Think?
Issue five had a great potential to be a great build-up for the conclusion of the first story arc for the Green Lantern Corps title, but it falls short with the heavy handed way that it compares this story to war and action  films of American cinema rather than letting the reader do that themselves.  What I’m sure was planned to be a great penultimate chapter in an outstanding story instead reads like a bit of a lazy effort depending on  how much leeway the reader is willing to give the creative team.  Three out of five lanterns.
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