“There’s nothing I can’t achieve”
Since the Phantom Ring first appeared there have been several theories about how the new ring works, with the low hanging fruit being that the ring channels every emotion in the spectrum. With today’s Green Lanterns #10 writer Sam Humphries confirms the popular theory as Frank Laminski finally meets his destiny by stealing the ring out from under the noses of Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. Just like that the Phantom Lantern is born and the Green Lanterns are presented with their next challenge.
One thing I’ll give Humphries credit for right off the bat is the lack of the character self introductions which may have been a good idea for the first couple of issues but have gone on to be an annoyance. This issue jumps into the next chapter of the story feet first which is a good thing. Several issues since Rami met Baz and Cruz and finally someone is making some sense once the two Green Lanterns finally realize the gravity of the situation and realizes that this is bigger than they can handle. Sadly a simple diversion is all it takes for Laminski to come into possession of the Phantom Ring.
Laminski’s story is the compelling part of this arc so far and Humphries shows the reader how years of not being good enough have taken their toll on him – that or perhaps it’s just made him an easy target for the diminished Volthoom to influence. Either way his descent into his current state makes him an interesting study as his views on embracing the positive and searching for a brighter day clearly have become twisted by the need to be something more than what he is inside. His moral compass no longer points north and the sacrifice of a few people is not too high of a price to pay for the power that he feels he so richly deserves.
The way the ring reacts to Simon Baz and Frank Laminski are a study in opposites and one has to wonder if there’s a particular reason for it. As the issue opens Simon loses it as the ring rapidly changes from one emotion to the next, while the ring seems to act more favorably to Laminski as it shifts through the spectrum in a much more controlled manner. I also found it interesting that Laminski found it so easy to summon a construct in the first few minutes of donning the ring while Jessica still struggles to do so. Perhaps it is one of the things that Rami was able to put into the engineering design of the Phantom Ring and for now that’s the way I’m reading it. Humphries also uses the ring to create some internal struggles for both Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz as they both wonder whether or not they are better off with the Phantom Ring than their Green Lantern rings.
With the prodding of Volthoom Laminski and the ring become one and it becomes clear that the Phantom Lantern is critical to whatever plan Volthoom has in mind. Volthoom reveals the damage done to him in the past, becoming an emotional vampire which feeds on the what scraps he manages to scrounge up for himself. There’s still some confusion to be sure about exactly which Volthoom we’re talking about here – the First Lantern whom Hal defeated by commanding the Black Lantern Corps at the end of the Geoff Johns run or the one who’s ring chose Jessica Cruz to be Power Ring when Sinestro killed the Earth 3 Hal Jordan. Humphries’ narrative strongly implies the former which is an interesting choices as Jessica has experience with the latter which would seemingly be a more powerful story. Either way it will certainly be interesting to see how Humphries juggles that part of the plot.
Where the issue falls a little flat is in the distraction that Laminski creates for the Green Lanterns to lure them away. A simple house fire doesn’t require two Green Lanterns at all and it’s the over dramatization of the fire that seems forced here. Baz alone should have been able to deal with the blaze but Humphries instead wants to make a not so subtle statement about Jessica’s role in the DC universe by hitting the reader over the head with a message that finally girls have a Green Lantern to look up to. I found it to be cringe worthy to say the least.
Wduardo Panseca is on the issue doing pencils as the series struggles to find a regular artist to partner with Robson Rocha. Panseca does a nice job overall, really doing a great job with capturing the emotions of Laminski as he finally dons a power ring and the joy in realizing his life’s ambition. There’s the usual problems with Baz’s disappearing and reappearing gun but other than that the issue looks good from a visual perspective.
Green Lanterns #10 is a quick read to be sure, but it’s a good start on the second arc of the series. By leaving the established mythology behind and forging something original Sam Humphries is adding something unique to the storied lore of the Green Lantern universe. The art remains consistently inconsistent which DC would do well to pay some attention to rectifying. Seven out of ten lanterns.