“They know not the power they wield”
Jack Kirby is a tough act to follow but the writers for the Green Lantern family of books have accepted the challenge to re-define Kirby’s New Gods for a different era and a different multiverse with GodHead, a three month long event running through all five books in the Lantern corner of the DC universe. In what is no doubt the biggest story since Geoff Johns departure, GodHead makes an incredible first impression with today’s kickoff issue.
While the story includes participation from all five writers, Green Lantern / New Gods: GodHead #1 is anchored on a script from Van Jensen and Justin Jordan. The danger in a story that is so richly dense in DC lore lies in making the book accessible for those that aren’t familiar with the mythology while making sure it’s engaging to those who are. Happily Jensen and Jordan succeed by providing readers with just enough backstory to set the stage with everything a reader in either camp needs to know in order to follow the story with burdening us with too much information.
The retelling of the history of Apocalypse and New Genesis rings true with what long time readers understand about the New Gods struggles with Darkseid, yet while the characters seem familiar they are not quite the same. Highfather is portrayed as a regal, benevolent ruler obsessed with ensuring that New Genesis is ready for the inevitable final clash with Darkseid, yet his universe-view comes from such a perspective that his actions are easily perceived as less than noble. So little do we mortals seem to be valued that once Highfather decides that he needs a ring from each of the seven colors of the emotional spectrum he cannot be bothered to simply ask permission to have one and resorts to a strategy of simply sending emissaries to obtain them at all costs. While Highfather’s intentions seem good, the frightening reality is that there is little time to admire his seeming altruistic nature while being destroyed by his succeed at all costs mentality.
That drives the conflict that unfolds in this kickoff issue as the New Gods succeed in short order to collect the rings in hopes that together they will channel the Life Equation and allow them to gain the upper hand. I was kind of surprised that in the span of one double sized issue this was so quickly resolved; I had thought as I was reading the issue that the mission to collect the rings would take part over the course of the first month’s issues. While collecting the rings was accomplished quickly, it certainly didn’t happen without incident, leaving several ring bearers the worse for wear. With Munk free to be the murderous cur and Larfleeze left curled up in the fetal position the various lanterns amount to no more than ants being trampled upon by the feet of giants.
|Ethan Van Sciver’s opening visuals let’s us know that GodHead is going to be something epic
There were a couple of things that left me scratching my head, one being how Mogo is dealt with. It seemed a bit too convenient for his ring to be simply hanging from a tree branch, but I’ll chalk that up to artistic license. What I can’t figure out is why they didn’t simply just give him another ring once Orion made off with it. The other thing that didn’t parse well for me was the generic “last of the Red Lanterns” person who we’ve never seen before. Last readers knew in August’s Red Lanterns #34 was that Guy Gardner, Bleez and Rankorr were the last remaining Red Lanterns. We instead see a woman who I don’t believe we’ve ever seen before with no mention of the others, a major change to the status quo which certainly deserves some form of explanation. I suppose we could assume that there’s been a time jump of sorts and something did indeed occur to create this new dynamic, but regardless of the events readers of the ongoing series would be justified in feeling they’ve missed something major.
One subtle line of dialogue really piqued my curiosity and that came early on in the issue as Highfather and Metron were investigating Relic. At one point Relic mentions “The One” who was set loose when Kyle Rayner traversed the Source Wall. It’s easy to read past it and not pay too much attention on what might by gibberish, but I really think there’s something more at play here and the line is foreshadowing something major that will either come to play as GodHead unfolds or what the writers have planned for the Lantern verse in a future storyline.
|Saint Walker’s crisis of faith continues
There are five different artists on this one-shot: Ethan Van Sciver, Martin Coccolo, Goran Sudzuka, ChrisCross and Pete Woods. While some artists do quite well with their work being jammed together for the issue there isn’t a good sense of cohesion when it comes to the visuals. While I can’t say that the art is bad, the lack of a singular voice or style is a little bit of a distraction. The issue opens very strong with some spectacular work by Van Sciver, who’s rich detailed pencils perfectly suit the biblical tone of the opening retelling of the origins of the universe and the struggles between Darkseid and the New Gods. The fold out four page spread of the Source Wall is a wonder to behold and really sets the stage for the rest of the book.
Like the Sinestro Corps Special and Blackest Night #0, the Green Lantern / New Gods: GodHead one-shot bursts off the comic store shelf and screams, “read me!” Successfully establishing the New Gods in the New52 multiverse the issue does a great job in letting us know that something epic is about to unfold over the next few months. While the issue does have a couple of puzzling moments and doesn’t spend enough time establishing the personalities of the inhabitants of New Genesis as I’d like, there’s so much to like in how the issue sets up the event that it’s easy to overlook any shortcomings. Four (and a half) lanterns out of five.