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Simon Baz continues his journey of discovery while the Third Army continues to lurk below the shadows, but while the Guardians of the Universe are content to focus all their energy on their unfolding plan to replace the Green Lantern Corps there’s something interesting going on in the Chamber of Shadows that could very well be their undoing.  With the fourteenth issue of Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns covers a lot of territory and does a pretty good job of juggling things considering how many different plots are in movement at the same time.  

The Story –
On Oa the Guardians contemplate the current state of their plan, emphasizing that Hal’s attainment of a power ring despite being discharged from the Green Lantern Corps is indicative of how their four human Lanterns cannot be underestimated.  Their conversation draws the attention of the First Lantern which leads to a dialog about the nature of his history with the Guardians.  
The mystery of  the First Lantern deepens
Meanwhile on Earth Simon is suitable in awe of the Justice League and quite rationally offers to do whatever he can to allay their concerns about his seemingly terrorist background, but when he attempts to take off his power ring and subject himself to Wonder Woman’s lasso an imprint left behind by Sinestro lashes out and a confrontation erupts.  Despite his naivete with the ring Simon is able to escape the pursuing Flash and Superman by creating a multitude of car constructs.
While the League is busy looking for Simon he manages to meet up with his sister Sira.  Sira provides Baz with the address of the van owner and he vows to get to the bottom of the bomb that put him in hot water with the authorities as the Third Army continues to grow under everyone’s nose.
In the Chamber of Shadows the “Hidden Ones” make an assessment of their predicament and hear noise coming from beyond the adjoining chamber unaware that they have company.  Reegal, their leader killed by the Guardians in Green Lantern Annual #1, is reanimated by Black Hand and explains where he’s been teleported to.
Sinestro leaves a lasting impression on the power ring
As the issue comes to a close we journey into Hand’s Black Lantern ring where Hal and Sinestro are wandering around inside the “Dead Zone”.  The two encounter a mysterious hooded figure who recognizes Sinestro and tells him it is time for him to pay for his crimes.
The Writing –
For being halfway through the “Rise of the Third Army” it’s interesting to note that the story hasn’t really impacted the main title so far, and to be honest that’s okay with me since there’s so much going on that I don’t mind it too much.  If anything it reminds me that this arc is really a setup for something greater and I firmly believe that Geoff Johns is spending his four issues of this title to get things ready for that while most of the action takes place in other books in the Green Lantern family.
Where this issue shines is the characterizations and dialog.  Like many fans I’ve been trying to piece together the background of the First Lantern, and the interactions between him and the Guardians provide some more  information about his past.  While a neat fan theory exists that he is a time displaced Kyle Rayner I’m still of a mind that he’s someone completely new to us at this point and the slow reveal of his history has kept my interest piqued.  
Sinestro’s past is catching up to him, and Hal’s along to see him get his due.
Baz’s dealings with the Justice League was a high point of the issue for me, with Baz revealing a lot about his character with his willingness to cooperate with them.  Unfortunately he’s let’s his past drive him when he takes flight, and if I have a criticism of the issue it’s in how inept the Justice League is portrayed in their attempt to apprehend him.   Superman’s x-ray vision should have made it easy to see which vehicle Baz was in and the Flash should have had no problem checking all of them out in short order, so this sequence plays out a bit on the clunky side to me, Barry’s and Batman’s funny lines aside.
A lot seems to be made of Baz’s attempt to find the car bomber and one has to wonder if the amount of panel time between Simon and Sira will lead to the reveal that Sira is one of the people behind it.  It seems this could have been wrapped up quicker but I think Johns is building this up for a revelation of sorts and if Sira is involved in some way it could a defining moment for Baz.  
Black Hand’s appearance and his proximity to the Hidden Ones seems to further the notion that he and they will be crucial in the days ahead with the notion of a Black Lantern army on the horizon to perhaps turn the tide.  And with two of their potential numbers lurking about in the Dead Zone it seems all the more likely that that is exactly what we’ll see.  
Digging through the dim and dark recesses of my memory doesn’t reveal anyone as the mysterious shadowy figure, although a part of me is thinking of the dearly departed Starstorm from Green Lantern issues six and nine might be a potential candidate.  While it appears that the figure is alluding to the destruction on Korugar as Sinestro’s crime, if true it would have been really cool for the figure to be a hooded Arin Sur but the figure is far to masculine for that.  Hal’s great line that closes the issue gives me hope for next month as I’ve been missing not having Hal front and center despite liking the spotlight on Simon Baz.
The Art –
Doug Mahnke shines once again with this issue with some great visuals that punctuate Johns’ script in all the right ways.  The wide-eyed image of Simon Baz admittedly looks awkward taken out of context but is a wonderful bit of characterization when the reader puts himself in the position of Baz, turning to see himself confronted with Earth’s real mightiest heroes.  The two page splash of Sinestro bursting from the rings is suitably impressive and really conveys the power bottled up inside.
Mahnke’s art is colored beautifully by Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina, making great use of darker color palettes to contrast the brightness of the Justice League.  There is a bit of a coloring mistake during the Guardians sequence where the red and white of their robes are reversed, but other than that this issue is a visual treat.
What Do I Think?
Geoff Johns manages to spend just enough time on all the balls he’s juggling to give each their due and while the issue reads fast it is in part to wanting to find out what’s going to happen next with each one of the plots.  With enough action to quicken the pace this issue is mainly about character development with some interesting background information sprinkled on top to keep it intriguing.  Aside from the Justice League’s portrayal as a bit incompetent issue fourteen is another great read, getting four out of five lanterns. 

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