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“Seeds to spread the darkness”

With this volume of Green Lantern Corps coming to a close next month Van Jensen could have chosen to take the easy way out and ended his run with a story that had little meaning or impact on the characters, but Jensen’s commitment to the series is plain to see as he has chosen instead to push forward and provide some closure to Von Daggle’s search for his long-lost partner while giving readers an action filled story that adds some depth to newer characters like Jruk and Feska.  Issue 39 of the series also mines the rich Green Lantern history and adds a new element to one of the Corps’ oldest enemies.

The encroaching darkness on Zarox serves as the centerpiece of this issue and we get to see more of the familial dynamics between Feska, her mother and her son, Zep.  Jensen does a great job of making the characters seem real and while we’ve only seen them for a short while it was easy to feel a pang of loss for Feska when they were attacked and I found her parental instincts to be so natural that I gained a new appreciation for her character.  There’s also more hints that Jruk has strong feelings for Feska and seeing the brutish Jruk’s reactions to Feska’s loss provided some dimension to a character which lacks depth on the surface.  While I really enjoyed the horror slant that this issue takes I did find the demons to be a little one dimensional and the lack of information about them led to the impression that they were little more than your run of the mill monsters.  
At long last Von Daggle is reunited with his former partner
While I enjoyed the action filled moments on Zarox the more interesting developments for me were Von Daggle’s inevitable reunion with his partner, Asile.  Asile represents a deep commitment held by those who undertook secret missions for the Guardians only to be stranded unaware that their efforts serve masters who are no longer there.  As a reader I wondered how many other beings might be out there thinking they are serving the greater good, sacrificing their quality of life for a cause which has no purpose.  
As a Green Lantern mythology junkie I was of course pleased to see how Van Jensen tied Asile’s mission to the Empire of Tears, providing enough background information to provide newer readers everything they need to know and dovetailing the new information with what long time readers have understood about Abin Sur’s time on Ysmault.  While we don’t get to see what horrible plan in brewing beneath the surface of Ungara’s moon I have no doubt that it’s something monstrous.  My only concern is that the potential for this plot is one that I doubt can be concluded satisfactorily in next month’s issue.  Perhaps it will be a plot thread picked up by Robert Venditti or Cullen Bunn after Convergence runs its course, or Jensen has something awesome up his sleeve.  It did get me to thinking about the status of the Five Inversions, last seen way back in Red Lanterns #19, and a part of me is hoping that we’ll get to see them reunited with the little girl they corrupts all those years ago on Ysmault.
Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo continue there terrific partnership in the art department.  I know in the past I’ve been critical of Maiolo’s monochromatic panels and while I do still think their overuse diminishes their effectiveness I do think when used right they are a great visual.  Case in point is the first page of this issue where the monochromatic panels of the approaching threat change in size to reflect the growing threat.  Here the artistic choice to use them really added to the story and helped elevate the tension for the reader.  Other than the dreaded white boots Maro’s wearing on the cover the issue is very solid from an art standpoint.
Van Jensen sets John Stewart up for a final chapter where he set to face his greatest failure, the destruction of Xanshi.  I’m not sure how the aliens know of John’s history but I suppose those sorts of misfires have a long shelf life and you have to wonder if the story of the planet’s demise is one of those stories shared in alien dives across the universe.  It certainly seems that every writer who takes on John has a go at this facet of his past and while I’ve heard many people grumbling about beating a dead horse I am interested in seeing how Van Jensen plans on addressing it.  My hope is that he finally give this horse a decent burial and future writers have little reason to go back to the well and resurrect it again.
Green Lantern Corps #39 sets the stage for the series finale and Van Jensen isn’t taking any shortcuts at this stage of the game.  While I didn’t find the threat on Feska’s homeworld to be engaging the horror vibe and the action make the issue an entertaining one.  For me the strength of the issue came from the “b plot” where we get new details that add a new element to a revered piece of Green Lantern lore.  The art team also turns in a wonderful effort in what amounts to a solid issue.  Four out of five lanterns.
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