John Stewart has sorely needed a re-tooled entry into the DC Universe and with Green Lantern Corps #25 writers Van Jensen and Robert Venditti tackle John’s comic and television pasts and bring them into the 21st Century as part of DC’s “Zero Year” Batman event. An issue which features a flashback within a flashback, Green Lantern Corps #25 does the job well yet suffers a little bit with a heavy handed treatment of some timely and controversial subject matter. The issue dodges the question of how John got his ring and instead focuses on his days in the Marines, pitting John’s ideals versus the oath he took as a part of the military when those in power show that they’ve taken that power too far.
Juxtaposing John’s Marine mission is a flashback to his youth and the incredible impact his mother had on him in learning that standing up for the right thing is always the right thing during a civil uprising in Detroit during John’s childhood. The two situations echo similar themes when the civilians that John’s squad is there to rescue don’t cooperate thanks to the influence of Anarky, although they don’t quite line up with the events in Detroit’s racially tinged stand against the establishment.
Van Jensen does a good job of keeping John true to his moral compass, however it’s a fine line between standing up for your convictions when you think you’re right and being branded a traitor – just ask Sinestro. Luckily for John he is in the right this time and the seeds are planted for his questioning the direction of the Green Lanterns under Hal Jordan as the case is made here that Stewart won’t march to the beat of a drum that’s not in tune with what he feels is right.
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Artistically the issue holds up well in the absence of Bernard Chang, with three different pencillers stepping in to fill the void. Their differences in their styles are subtle enough to be easily overlooked and aided by the tonal differences between the two events, not to mention that the issue is inked and colored by one team which does well to maintain a nice level of visual cohesion. While the artwork is good, many of the facial expressions lack the emotional power to draw the reader in and I never found myself pulled into the story enough to get too invested beyond my built-in interest in John’s backstory.
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The story is good yet predictable on several fronts. A token cameo appearance from Batman and the ongoing presence of Anarky justifies the “Zero Year” banner on the front, but even though is the issue has an increased page count there’s a sense that there’s more to be told about John that there just isn’t enough room to fit into one issue. While I applaud Jensen and Venditti for giving us this issue I can’t help but wish we could have gotten more than this one shot to explore the character in greater depth.
Green Lantern Corps #25 is a good re-introduction to John Stewart for long time fans and a great primer on the character for those new to the mythology. It delivers on its promise of giving us a modernized retelling of a part of his past but doesn’t give us the full story that the character deserves. Three out of five lanterns.