In last month’s issue fifteen
we finally learned the identity of the First Lantern, Volthoom, who in pre-Flashpoint
continuity had a great deal to do with Power Ring and the Crime Syndicate. In the final entry for the main Green Lantern title prior to seeing Volthoom wreak havoc in the Wrath of the First Lantern
writer Geoff Johns literally pulls the hood off of one of the other great mysteries in this arc with the surprise revelation of who has been accompanying Hal and Sinestro in the Dead Zone.
The Story –
Following the Third Army’s attack B’Dg helps Simon Baz to begin to comprehend the larger universe and his potential role in it. With Fed now believing that Simon had nothing to do with the bomb, Baz is encouraged to learn more about what it means to be a Green Lantern. Still on his mission to locate Hal Jordan, B’Dg helps Baz find a power battery and recharge his ring before setting out to unlock the message recorded on the ring that will hopefully lead to information about what has happened to Hal Jordan.
Baz’s distrust of a ring which can run out of power results in him keeping a pistol for emergencies despite the questioning by the veteran Green Lantern, and in trying to play back the message B’Dg surmises that Hal and Sinestro shared the ring while explaining a bit about both men’s history to the new recruit. Baz is able to separate the two messages and hears them both; Hal and Sinestro give conflicting directives but B’Dg, clearly not forgiving of Sinestro’s past actions, chooses to ignore the Korugarian’s orders.
|Hal’s message to Baz is sincere and heartfelt
The Book of the Black is recovered, but before the two Green Lanterns attempt to use it to find Hal and Sinestro, Simon chooses to make a pitstop at the hospital to see his comatose brother-in-law, Nazir. With his sister Sira by his side Simon attempts to use his ring to heal the man who’s fate Baz feels responsible for. Despite B’Dg’s protestations that the ring cannot function in this manner Baz pours everything he has into the ring in a desperate attempt to put things right.
When Baz’s attempt fails Sira tries to console him before Nazir awakens, back among the living. A television report covering Guy Gardner’s actions in Green Lantern Corps #15
; news which immediately attracts B’Dg’s attention and, figuring that the Guardians must be behind Guy’s fall, leaves with Simon Baz for Baltimore to help the former Green Lantern.
The scene jumps to the Dead Zone where Hal demands that the mysterious hooded figure show himself and explain what is going on. The man reveals himself to be none other than Tomar-Re, the first Green Lantern that Hal met when he first donned his ring. In the closing panels Tomar-Re tells the two that they must stop Volthoom before he is able to change reality as well know it.
|Tomar-Re makes a surprising entrance
The Writing –
It’s been interesting observing how the Rise of the Third Army has played out in all four of the Green Lantern titles and for the main series in the group the Third Army has been on the periphery for the most part. This issue, which serves as the last issue for the title for this arc, continues with the trend, spending the bulk of its time continuing to introduce us to Simon Baz. This issue in particular was a good one for the newest Green Lantern in terms of providing us with some good character development for Simon and the power of his personal story does a great deal to expand his appeal.
We learn that Baz, like other Earth men to wear the ring, has some unique abilities that he brings to the table, in Baz’s case he is able to use his ring to heal. Johns does a great job of building the drama for Baz as he tries to use the ring to help him move past one of his greatest regrets and right a wrong that has burdened him for some time. It’s a powerful moment for Baz, perhaps undercut by the cliche’d delay in the ring actually working, but something which further defines Simon’s character.
|Baz’s personal story is compelling and really allows Doug Mahnke to shine
Knowing Fed’s connection to Amanda Waller and in turn her connection to the new Justice League of America makes it easy for reader’s to see how Baz will likely end up on this new team and I think it’s great that Johns has found a way to weave Baz’s origins into the greater DC Universe and making the eventual team up an organic part of the ongoing narrative of the post-Flashpoint continuity.
B’Dg gets a lot of panel time much to my enjoyment. He serves partially as the punch line for much of the issue’s humor, but his experience and guile do a great deal to round out the character and I think it’s great that a character who has been underutilized for the most part gets to be the mentor for Baz and serve as his introduction into Baz’s new norm.
I have to admit that I had no
clue that Tomar-Re was the hooded figure, in fact he wasn’t even on my radar of possibilities, but I’m glad to see him show up as something other than a Black Lantern. Looking at how Johns has chosen to re-introduce Tomar-Re to the mythology has me wondering just how much of the post-Rebirth
continuity is still intact after Flashpoint
despite DC saying that Green Lantern was left largely untouched. While the Silver Age Hal Jordan did indeed meet Tomar-Re first, Johns’ retelling in Secret Origin
has Hal arriving on Oa to see many other Green Lanterns flying about, but his arrival at basic training introduced him to Kilowog and his fellow recruits some time before Tomar-Re met up with him to inquire about the fate of Abin Sur.
|Murdered by Goldface
Likewise, Tomar-Re’s death as we know it had only a remote connection to Sinestro, if any. During the fabled Crisis on Infinite Earths event Tomar-Re joined John Stewart and several other Green Lanterns on a mission to Qward to stop Guy Gardner, Hal Jordan and a band of villians from succeeding in their own efforts which they had believed would stop the Anti-Monitor. In a tie-in issue of Green Lantern, volume 2 issue 198 to be exact, Tomar-Re meets his end at the hands of Goldface when the two sides clash. Sinestro wasn’t there, but of course the Weaponers were but they had to direct impact on Tomar-Re’s fate, either.
I realize that was three Crises and a Flashpoint ago and we don’t have a modern take on what exactly happened to a character who is my favorite alien member of the Corps, so I have absolutely no issue with that bit of rewriting of history and in fact I hope we get to see what the new history is. But like the implications of Kyle’s first visit to Oa in New Guardians #15 the tinkering with Secret Origin is a little disconcerting when we’re tampering with a recent history which we’re led to think is still viable. While I’m not one of those fans who’s going to try to hold a creator to something which happenend thirty years ago, I do have an expectation that a writer will follow a history they created themselves and not editorially changed.
The Art –
Doug Mahnke really has an opportunity to shine this issue because personal storytelling is really one of his greatest strengths. His pencils add so much richness of emotion to this issue in particular. I’m not sure what the cause, perhaps the coloring work, but there are a number of times when the mask seems too flat and it’s the one part of the costume that has yet to make a positive impression on me.
What Do I Think?
The main Green Lantern title seems to have had very little to do with the Rise of the Third Army and more to do with being Simon Baz 101. This issue wraps up most of his background details in a very satisfying manner and sets the stage for the newest Green Lantern’s involvement in the Wrath of the First Lantern. As much as I’ve enjoyed the introduction to Baz I will be very honest and say that I sorely miss seeing Hal and Sinestro being center stage. There may be more room in the Green Lantern universe for another Earth man, but there isn’t enough room in three titles to do them the justice they deserve. Four out of five lanterns.