“I will never forgive you for this, Simon Baz”
Issue three of Green Lanterns is out this week and with the creation of the Hell Tower ramping up the big question is whether Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz can get out of each other’s hair long enough to put a stop to the Red Lanterns attempt to turn Earth into their new stomping grounds. This issue propels that story arc along while also reminding us about that mysterious Guardian and his even more mysterious cargo.
Writer Sam Humphries has so far spent a considerable amount of time fleshing out Jessica Cruz’s character and with this third issue he puts a bit more emphasis on Simon Baz as we see more of his background and motivations. Humphries’ depiction of Baz is schizophrenic, waffling back and forth between being an uncharacteristic hotheaded jerk to someone you can finally rally behind as he struggles to fight off the growing rage epidemic though sheer force of will. That and his interaction with Bleez are well written and if this portrayal of Simon was the one we saw consistently it would go a long way towards making him a more appealing protagonist.
Then there’s the introduction of yet another new ability for Simon. I totally get that Rebirth is about legacy and instilling some freshness into the DC Universe. The issue here is that Humphries, by making Baz somehow able to cure a Red Lantern, contradicts the lore we’ve come to accept regarding the nature of the emotional spectrum. While the cure is only temporary thanks to the naivete of his partner, the fact that he can even do this, in addition to healing people AND having Emerald Sight gives the impression that DC really, really wants Baz to be something special….and for me it’s having the exact opposite effect.
The one good thing about the healing of Bleez is that it provides moments that are some of the best character work by Humphries thus far and some of the best development we’ve had with Bleez in quite some time. The realization of her past actions as a Red Lantern and the sobering guilt that comes along with it are the issue’s best moments. Simon’s handling of the situation is a superb moment for him and it underscores for me the potential that many saw in this character back in 2012 when he was first introduced. By the end of their encounter it’s safe to say that Simon may have made his first major enemy.
Jessica Cruz is more of a hindrance here than a help and her continued inability to make a simple construct doesn’t do anything to show her worth to the partnership she’s been forced into with Simon. The inner monologue and dialogue for her seem rather forced and attempts at wit aren’t all that witty. Perhaps this is by design in an effort by Humphries to show Jessica’s lack of confidence verbally and at some point no doubt we’ll have a triumphant moment when Jessica finally summons enough will to make something with her ring, probably in a key moment when she needs to do something to save her sister.
Humphries revisits the strange new Guardian who pays a visit to Sira and Nazir’s house looking for a Green Lantern. He’s hoping against hope it’s Hal Jordan or John Stewart and no one is more disappointed than me that he’s not going to get his wish. The thing that seems obvious to me is that either Jessica or Simon are going to at some point be the wearer of this new ring and whatever new power that it represents. Given all the emphasis on making Simon super special he seems the likely choice, but I wouldn’t be at all surprise if Jessica ends up with it, either.
Somewhere in the narrative there’s the potential to say something about modern life on Earth and the rage that so easily fills the hearts of the people who live here. I was hoping that we’d see more of that in Humphries’ script but I put down the issue feeling like the opportunity was missed this time around. The meeting between Atrocitus and his followers and an old farmer with his grandson seemed like an opportunity to develop some interesting social commentary but the writer never pulled the trigger. I do hope that we get some exploration of a topic which has seemingly never been so timely as it is at this moment in human history.
Visually this issue is a bit of a mess with multiple art teams assisting Robson Rocha with the artwork. The results are very hit and miss with Rocha’s work being the standout imagery. Elsewhere mistakes abound with Simon’s gun suddenly being a construct instead of a real object…and then he’s using his right hand where it should be the left, something any artist should understand considering you just drew the holster on his left leg the panel before. In other places the artwork seems rushed and facial expressions stiff and unnatural looking.
Green Lanterns #3 continues to suffer from bad dialogue and this time around the art takes a hit as well with too many people sharing the workload. While there’s a sense of potential in this series it seems that, like Jessica Cruz, the creative team isn’t able to summon what’s needed to execute. Four out of ten lanterns.