“The ring gets heavier every day”
With October upon us writer Sam Humphries provides a seasonally inspired script for this week’s Green Lanterns #8 as Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz go trick or treating. Using the holiday as a backdrop the race is on to find the missing Guardian before the Dominators track him down and take the Phantom Ring for themselves.
For me the better parts of this issue were those which gave us a bit more background on Rami’s past with his fellow Guardians and what path led him to being yet another Guardian who was kicked out by his brethren. There’s a trickle of new information about the ring being able to channel more than the green energy of will, something which has been a popular fan theory since the Phantom Ring first appeared. Lantern lore aside the most intriguing part of the issue comes in the book’s closing as a mysterious individual heads to Dearborn, Michigan, with his sights set on making the ring his own.
Humphries does give some more character definition as we hear some more information about Baz’s childhood which adds more details to help define him. Jessica’s ability to suppress her anxiety about going trick or treating is completely overlooked which seems like a missed opportunity to show some growth for her. One minute she’s in control and the next she isn’t once the Dominator’s show up which I imagine it might be like for someone with her mental condition.
The emotional heart of the issue centers on Rami’s lack of trust in the two Green Lanterns that he’s forced to look to for safety. Humphries echoes Rami’s perspective in guise of three young people that Baz engages with and as their opinions on Simon and Jessica change so too does Rami’s eventually. It’s a little cliche for my tastes but it sort of works.
Where Humphries goes awry is in the clunky dialogue department and the attempts at humorous banter often falls flat or sounds forced. We also get the obligatory self introductions with self deprecating monologues to kick off the issue which have more than overstayed their welcome in this series. Then there’s how poorly Humphries has Simon Baz look as he attempts to tackle the two Dominators as if one Green Lantern couldn’t handle the simple task of two aliens armed with nothing more than simple ray guns. And through it all both of our lead characters continue to fail to utilize their Justice League ties in a logical way…..although Baz does think about it by getting someone to come and pick up the two incompetent Dominators.
I was at first pretty optimistic that the art for this issue would be a high point and that perhaps Ed Benes would help to lend a sense of stability to a series which has been hindered by inconsistency. While Benes is far from a bad artist you clearly get the best of him and the worst of him here. From a storytelling perspective the artwork does an adequate job but as they say the devil is in the details. Facial expression is not a strength for Benes and throughout the issue the characters seem emotionally vacant or disinterested and their positioning looks stiff and artificial.
For me the most frustrating thing is the lack of visual continuity. This issue runs the gamut in terms of mistakes that no one seems to catch from the artist to the editor. We have Jessica missing her eye “tattoo” on one panel and Simon’s gun continues to blink in and out of existence. The same goes for power rings – this is like drawing Batman without his utility belt and it’s simply not acceptable. Doesn’t anyone remember that Simon has a broken arm? It was a big deal just earlier in the day for Simon when he was struggling to make Maamoul and now there’s no cast in sight. Speaking of Simon’s arm – one of Simon’s most recognizable traits is the tattoo on his right forearm – you know the one that says “courage” in Arabic. Apparently he had it removed because we haven’t seen it since the fourth issue.
Green Lanterns #8 is more of a trick than a treat with a few brief interesting moments revolving around the history of the Phantom Ring and an the foreshadowing of the Phantom Lantern. The issue suffers from poor dialog and art inconsistencies that are hard to overlook. Four out of ten lanterns.