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Having toyed with most of the main characters in the Green Lantern universe this week it’s John Stewart and Fatality’s turn to be the focus of the First Lantern’s “This is Your Life” show.  What results is a bit of lopsided journey to past lives filled with tragedy and loss and pain.

The Story –

As we’ve seen throughout the Wrath of the First Lantern so far, Volthoom is continuing to toy with people and feeding off of the anguish he creates by showing alternate life paths to them.  The First Lantern gets a two-for this issue by tormenting a naked John Stewart and Fatality.  Starting with John we learn for the first time that his mother was killed in pursuit of a career in politics and we see how an alternate timeline would have led John away from his military career filled with pain.
Of course we couldn’t play “It’s a Wonderful Life” with John without visiting some of his most defining moments like the destruction of Xanshi during Jim Starlin’s Cosmic Odessy mini-series.  In Volthoom’s version John is incapable of moving passed his failings, committing suicide.  This leads to Volthoom switching focus to Fatality and the path this put her on, showing  her and John killing each other.
In another life John lost his will to live
We then get a familiar scene for John Stewart as we did last issue with Guy, only this time John has accepted the offer to become an Alpha Lantern and then for some reason killing his comrades.  The War of the Green Lanterns is next on Volthoom’s replay list and we see what Mogo would certainly have found a happier ending had John allowed Kyle to try his solution rather than killing the largest member of the Corps.  As the issue closes John sees how Kirrt would have snapped his neck had he been the weaker one and tried to reveal the access codes to Oa and how his life would have ended had the rest of the Corps not broke him out of jail when he was tried by the Alpha Lanterns.
The Writing –
John Stewart has had a life filled with tragedy and tough choices and Tomasi does a good job of mining that history to give Volthoom plenty of opportunity to recharge himself.  I’m not sure why creating this event with his mother was necessary especially given that Fatality was most in need of some new history from the First Lantern to exploit.  It makes it appear a little lopsided in that regard.
In this life Kyle prevents John from committing Mogo-cide
I’m left scratching my head a little bit since we don’t know how Volthoom captured John and Fatality.  Given their wardrobe my assumption is that they must have left Mogo and were getting it on, but I’m somehow left unsatisfied that we didn’t learn anything more about what happened to Mogo in light of its triumphant return.
The troubling part of this issue is that after we’ve seen this same formula played out last month as well as in Green Lantern: New Guardians #17 that now it reads as a cookie cutter issue and lacks the punch that it should have.  Added to all the exposition and it just doesn’t carry the weight that one would expect from Tomasi.
The Art –

A cosmic Romeo and Juliet

CrissCross is the fill-in artist for this issue and there’s a number of things that took me out of this issue from an artistic point of view.  One thing in particular was the seeming ignorance of Fatality’s past, choosing to use her Star Sapphire outfit when she and John kill each other as well as inexplicably making her look like the Alpha Lantern version of Boodikka rather than the familiar outfit she wore during her time as a villian during the Kyle Rayner era.  I also don’t know if John’s Darkstar or Mosaic Guardian days were excised as a part of the relaunch of if it is just another case of negligance.

Other than that and some of the questionable art on the faces of John and Fatality the artwork was pretty good.  The visual of their blood forming a heart around their dead bodies was macbre but very fitting.
What Do I Think?
Uncharteristically, this issue is a bit of let down if only for the repetetive nature of the story and the lack of overall forward momentum for this arc.  While it was interesting to see how John’s life might have been different it lacked in originality.  Tomasi is a great writer and I guess I expected him to tell this story differently than he did last month to prevent the cookie cutter comparisons.  That combined with some art issues result in me giving this issue three lanterns.

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