As he explained in his visit to The Podcast of Oa, writer Robert Venditti pitched Lights Out to DC when he was being considered as Geoff Johns’ successor on the main Green Lantern title. Today with Green Lantern Annual #2 the fifth chapter concludes that story and sets the stage for the next phase of the Green Lantern universe. Lights Out fundamentally changes some of the things we thought we knew about how the emotional spectrum works while also making some other changes which will have a lasting impact on the mythology for some time.
(Writer’s Note – this review and the analysis of the story will go into specific plot points which will spoil the issue for you if you haven’t read it yet – you’ve been warned!)
In Red Lanterns #24
Hal Jordan makes a deal with Guy Gardner to get his help in taking on Relic and the Annual picks up as they are getting ready to leave, but not before Hal cranks up Guy’s rage-ometer by revealing that John Stewart has been assumed to have perished when Oa was destroyed back in Green Lantern Corps #24
. Tensions turn to awkwardness when Carol points out that she can feel Kyle out there and Hal Jordan conjures a different sort of green eyed monster construct. Jealously doesn’t suit Hal well and Carol calls him out on it given the bigger picture.
The scene shifts to the Source Wall as Relic continues to fail in his attempts to breach the wall and reveal the source of the emotional energies, hoping to replenish it with what he’s collected. One has to wonder why Relic stopped after destroying Oa and didn’t continue on to gather more energy from the rest of the spectrum, especially when it’s apparently a lack of power that’s holding him back. My hunch is that the rest of the spectrum, being further away from the center and more volatile, simply might not be compatible with blue and green and might hinder Relic’s efforts more than help. That’s the story I’m telling myself and I think that the lack of addressing the subject in the confines of the story lessens it to some degree.
Relic does, however, turn against Kyle and the New Guardians, harnessing their energy and that of the emotional entities to renew his efforts, but his plans are cut short when Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner and their respective Corps arrive on the scene in a nice two-page splash. With the fate of the universe at stake, Hal leads the combined forces into a desperate battle with their rings running on fumes.
|The cavalry arrives in the customary nick of time
On Nok John Stewart displays his tactical approach to the situation, plotting with Natromo to do a little construction work for the Green Lantern Corps. Somewhere along the way the Indigo Tribe have lost the ability to speak anything but Nok-ese, but they seem to understand what John is asking of them and with their help they enter the battle as it reaches its climax. Artist Sean Chen does a great job in making the closing moments of the struggle one of epic proportions as Relic meets his fate.
With the Earth Lanterns clearly in his face they push Relic into the Source Wall to be absorbed with Kyle making the sacrifice and plunging into it along with Relic and replenishing the Source for another bazillion years. Rather than drag his “death” out, we see the White Lantern return at the end of the issue with no memory of what he saw on the other side, but we do know that the entities are gone, sacrificing themselves to refill the emotional reservoir, all of them except for Parallax who is still out there somewhere. Paalko gains some knowledge of what Kyle saw, but apparently it’s too much for anyone to know but it leads to him telling Kyle that his return must be kept secret.
Despite some of the rash behavior we’ve seen from Hal throughout Lights Out his truer colors come through in the final battle and in what may be his final moments with Carol. In all honesty I’ve been a little concerned about how Hal has been portrayed in this event, giving the impression that some of the character evolution under Geoff Johns has been ignored. But here I get the impression that Venditti is painting Hal as the same man, just one who gets in his own way sometimes and where I have concerns is just how often those times are.
|Once again the Indigo Tribe prove themselves valuable allies.
With the battle over John reveals his big plans as the Indigo Tribe transport them to their new base of operations, Mogo. This was something I speculated
when Oa was destroyed so while I didn’t find it a moment of tremendous surprise it was a rewarding moment for me as a reader and I felt that this was John Stewart’s best moment given his history. Carol Ferris doesn’t make the trip to Mogo, presumably she was sent back to Earth while the Red Lanterns returned to Ysmault on the Indigo Express.
There is something of a celebratory moment with Hal leading the Corps in their oath, but the moment is dampened by the decision by some of the Corps to step down in recognition of the implications of what was learned about the source of the emotional energy and their role in consuming it and the issue comes to an end with all four Lantern books given plenty of new material to explore.
Now that Lights Out is over there are some things which have dramatically changed for Green Lantern mythology, chief among them the understanding about how it all works. Since the relaunch of the Green Lantern back in 1959 we’ve always operated under the notion that the central battery serves not just as a conduit of the emotional energy, but as a collector of the emotional energy created by the living beings of the universe. A source of energy that is infinite so long as the emotion is present in the universe. As Geoff Johns expanded the notion of the emotional spectrum he continued that rationale, even introducing the entities as avatars for the various emotions.
|Relic gets some measure of satisfaction at a significant cost
The implications that this is no longer the case shakes the very foundation of the mythos but doesn’t necessarily contradict what we’ve come to know. The dawn of our universe and the initial arrival of the entities still plays out with this new information very well and what’s left for us to ponder is whether the Guardians knew the truth or not. Being that they are immortal one would tend to think that they were wrong in their understanding, but given how they’ve been painted of late it’s no stretch to think that they deliberately withheld the truth. Venditti hints that the later may be the case with the dialog he’s written for Paalko and I think it was a smart decision to leave it a little nebulous. The Guardians’ reputation has already been completely trashed and there’s no need to sully it any more. And Parallax still lives!
With Mogo the new home for the Green Lantern Corps and the resignation of a few long standing members they are once again in rebuilding mode. Mogo takes on a much greater significance by becoming a mobile platform for the Corps to operate from and it will be interesting to see how this is played with in the month’s to come. He will, after all, have to socialize now.
Guy Gardner walks away from this no longer an undercover cop, but a leader of an angry group of cutthroats with a sector of his own. Throughout the annual you could see him wrestle a little bit internally with the direction of his life, especially once John is proven to be alive, thanks to the wonderful facial work by the art team. You feel that he almost regrets the road he now has to walk, but Gardner is never one to embrace regret in any form. With Kyle “gone” and the Blue Lanterns no more Guy will have to play with the hand he’s been dealt – at least until Saint Walker recoups and hires the Natromo Lantern Construction Company to do a job for him.
|Will Kyle’s return remain a secret with Carol Ferris around?
Carol Ferris may very well find herself on the bench for the time being. She has some soul searching to do and has to figure out what her heart really wants. One does have to wonder how Kyle will remain hidden if she is able to sense him and hopefully that will be addressed in short order. Whether she has deep admiration for Rayner as a human being or something more is completely up in the air. Given the cyclical nature of the Hal / Carol dynamic this phase of their relationship is very recognizable and should the writer’s decide to explore a Hal/Carol/Kyle triangle or not is up in the air.
My own opinion is that Carol might run into someones arms to punish Hal, but she’ll never find true happiness that way. She loves Hal, but he’s not someone she can change into her perfect man and she needs to accept him as the flawed human being he is. Likewise Hal needs to be honest with himself, decide what it is he really feels and then make that whatever priority it is. But if he can’t then he needs to cut the cord so Carol can move on permanently.
In the end Green Lantern Annual #2 was a fine ending to Lights Out even if it didn’t quite pack the emotional punch that the destruction of Oa and the Blue Lanterns did. Venditti has put things in motion that spin out of the event to help shape the entire Lantern family of books. Sean Chen’s artwork looks great although I had some nervousness when I got to the title page and saw a goof up on the Green Lantern logo and Carol’s star emblem changed, but those small concerns quickly disappeared with each passing panel. Four out of five lanterns.