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“My Mom is my hero”

With the first arc of Green Lanterns concluded writer Sam Humphries takes a pause to focus on the relationship of Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz in this week’s seventh issue.  The first part of “Family Matters” is a character study piece that will be hit or miss for the reader depending on what your looking for from a Green Lantern book.

So far Humphries has put major emphasis on Jessica Cruz and her many, many insecurities at the expense of her co-star and with Humphries making Baz look like a jerk so far this issue goes out of its way to humanize Simon which is long overdue.  Simon’s own insecurities are on full display and we learn a lot about why he’s made some of his poor life choices.  Humphries does a great job showcasing what’s going on under the gimp mask in what I think is his best work on the series so far.

That Humphries has put the interpersonal issues between Jessica and Simon is a double edged sword because even though the friction between them serves as a good source of tension and plot complication it also can become a crutch and undermine two characters who need to work together.  Here Jessica supports Simon when he’s vulnerable and seeing him open up to Jessica is a real sign that he’s moved on from his posturing when Hal Jordan first forced them to work together.  It does, however, seem a little too convenient that Simon thinks Jessica has proven herself so simply considering her performance so far.

The Green Lanterns take on their next challenge, baking

While the character work is the issue’s strong point it is also what serves as its greatest weakness.  There’s so much emphasis on character here that there’s little to no room for anything else.  If you’re like me and aren’t sold on the characters you may find this issue barely tolerable.  I get the need for developing Simon but there needs to be something beside that to round the issue out more.  It’s a one sided affair that has no balance with action or plot development.  And then there are some technical flaws which are just plain silly.

Last issue Rami revealed the Phantom Ring and implored the Green Lanterns to protect them both.  However Rami is left to the distant background meditating as the punchline to sight gags until the end of the issue when he abandons what protection he has crying like Paul Revere that the Dominators are coming.  I’m left scratching my head that the Green Lanterns, members of the Justice League, somehow thought that the best course of action was to let Rami scan the area for bad guys rather than take him to the League for protection.  And then Rami’s reaction to the approach of the Dominators was to flee in panic.  It’s just nonsensical.

I’ve also said it before that Humphries needs to dial back the characters introducing themselves and inner monologuing so much.  Let the art team convey some of those emotions or express some it in dialog, just mix it up a little already.  I’m sure Humphries is a witty guy but his attempts at humor in this book are dead on arrival for me.  Having the power ring tell Jessica that her attempt to call Darkseid went to voice mail isn’t good humor, it’s a cheap attempt to get a chuckle which makes no sense.  Are we really supposed to think that Jessica can contact Darkseid on demand?  That the power ring has a sense of humor now

Where this issue does succeed is in providing a multi-layered approach to Simon Baz

One of the things this series has struggled with is having a stable art team.  Originally Ardian Syaf was supposed to share art duties with Robson Rocha but so far we’ve had a number of artists filling in for Syaf and he’s no longer being solicited in any of the upcoming issues.  This time around Ronan Cliquet steps in and does a nice job overall.  With this issue being all about the humanity of the characters Cliquet conveys their emotions well.  It was a smart decision is keep Simon in his civvies most of the issue as that makes the job a little easier with the challenges that Baz’s costume creates a non factor.  I’m not sure what the deal was with Simon being shirtless all the time and if it were Jessica walking around half dressed there would surely have been an uproar.

While Green Lanterns #7 showcases the humanity of the titular characters it does so at the expense of everything else that makes up a good comic.  Combined with some questionable choices about what the lead characters do with their newfound knowledge of the Phantom Ring and clunky attempts at humor the bad outweighs the good in my opinion.  Five out of ten lanterns.

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