Green Lantern Corps number fourteen is one of those issues that helps to define how the creative team’s run will be viewed in later years. With the “Rise of the Third Army” reaching the halfway point, Peter Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin put forth an effort that is perhaps their best issue yet.
The Story –
Continuing from issue thirteen Guy Gardner and his squad are under attack from the Third Army near Saturn, having just lost Vandor to their new adversaries. With the odds against them the Green Lanterns try to fight back but their valiant efforts are for naught as the Third Army continues their relentless attack while lightyears away the the Guardians watch the conflict untold through the eyes of their new army. One by one the Third Army literally disarm the Lanterns before assimilating them into their numbers, leaving only a sorrowful Guy Gardner standing.
As Guy escapes the Guardians note that while their plan to have him eliminated has failed, it perhaps serves their cause more since they now have the ability to use him as an example and further destabilize the Corps. Xar is dispatched to Earth to kill Guy’s family with the promise that he will eventually get to exact a more personal revenge on him once the Guardians are done with him. What the Guardians and Xar overlook is Guy’s drive to protect his family and while he leads the Third Army away from Earth he has also used his ring to move his family to the Justice League satellite.
|The Guardians find a way to turn lemons into some very sinister lemonade|
On Oa Kilowog questions Salaak about the thinning number of recruits he’s been sent and when Salaak disputes the number the two Green Lanterns head to the foundry to discover that the Guardians have prevented rings from leaving Oa and finding new recruits. This leads to Salaak sharing his other discovery; that the Guardians are the ones who provided the damning and incomplete footage used as evidence of John Stewart’s killing of Krrt to the Alpha Lanterns back in issue eight. The two decide to keep this information to themselves with Salaak noting that B’Dg has been dispatched to Earth to find Hal Jordan.
Meanwhile Fatality finds her way across the galaxy to join John Stewart, busy on his mission to find out what’s been happening to the bits of Mogo floating about. The scene rapidly shifts back to Oa where Guy arrives to find himself being summoned immediately to the Guardians’ citadel and warned by Salaak to prepare himself for a confrontation. Making the long walk to the Guardians Guy finds himself on the receiving end of a major comeuppance.
|Kilowog and Salaak make a couple of startling discoveries that lead to a chilling conclusion|
The Guardians dress Guy down in cold fashion, blaming him for the deaths of his squad mates, abandoning his duty for personal reasons and then, to add insult to injury, for allowing fear to cloud his already questionable judgement. Making an example of Guy to the entire Corps the Guardians then go for the jugular by revealing that Guys actions not only led to the deaths of his squad, but the deaths of the peace delegation he abandoned and the Green Lanterns he left behind to safeguard them. The murders through that sector into upheaval, tainting the Corps reputation. To add icing to the cake the Guardians also add the charge of disobeying a direct order and call for Guy to resign his commission entirely and prostrate himself before the entire Green Lantern Corps.
As the issue closes Guy does indeed resign and in a crack of green energy is sent back to Earth.
The Writing –
Peter Tomasi really tightens the screws on Guy Gardner in this issue, and I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t find themselves feeling for Guy as he’s put through the wringer. The Guardians’ plan is masterfully executed as Gardner is really put in a “heads they win, tails you lose” scenario that advances their agenda more perfectly that if the Third Army had killed him outright. Tomasi’s writing of that whole sequence between Guy and Guardians is wonderfully written and almost painful to read as Guy’s character is ripped to shreds for all to see.
Tomasi adds a new element to what we know about the Third Army by revealing that the Guardians not only control their minions, but can see through their eyes, something that links up to the weakness discovered by Atrocitus in last month’s Red Lanterns number thirteen. The Guardians are also suitably vilified by Tomasi and if they are in fact acting completely of their own accord I don’t know how they could ever be trusted again after this story and the “Wrath of the First Lantern” is over. I’m not sure I’m convinced that they are and there’s still very much a part of me that desperately wants to believe that everything is not exactly like it seems.
While I thought that Stel was still in charge of the recruits it was great to see Kilowog get some much deserved panel time and his interactions with Salaak this issue prove to be very enlightening. It’s only a matter of time until they out the Guardians and we’re left to wonder if they will expose the Guardians’ treachery before it is too late.
|The Guardians’ dressing down of Guy is cold, brutal and totally ruthless|
I was pleasantly surprised by Fatality’s appearance and it will be particularly interesting to see how she and John tackle the mystery of Mogo’s bits in the months ahead. I almost wish there had been given a bit more panel time for them in this issue but I understand that it was needed to give the reader an update on what is going on with John without taking too much away from the main focus of the issue.
The Art –
Fernando Pasarin once again puts in a solid effort this month and in particular his work on conveying emotion in the faces of the cast did a superb job of supporting Tomasi’s script. The panel design work, especially when the Green Lanterns succumb to the Third Army, is great and conveys the swiftness of the brutal assault and assimilation well. I also have to praise Scott Clark and Peter Steigerwald’s cover as being perhaps the best cover to a Green Lantern book in several months.
What Do I Think?
We knew that Guy Gardner was headed for a downfall so while it wasn’t surprise to see it happen both the execution of the plot and the dialogue far exceeded any expectation I had for how the Guardians were going to move Guy off the chessboard. An expertly crafted script with artfully crafted visuals Green Lantern Corps #14 is in my opinion the best issue of the series thus far, earning five out of five lanterns.
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