“This gun in my Robin”
This week’s Green Lanterns #16 is the first of a two-parter teaming Batman with Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz as they take on a new threat from the Scarecrow. After the one-shot story in the last issue it seems odd that Sam Humphries doesn’t return to the Volthoom story immediately considering the sizeable cliffhanger of Rami’s possession that he left us with. Of course the cynic in me wonders if the Batman team up is an attempt to create a bump in sales considering the greater than 50% drop the series has had since its debut.
The premise of this story seems artificially created to me in part because Batman just isn’t the sort to call in for help, especially from outside the Bat family of characters regardless of the nature of the threat. The initial threat of a raving man with a baseball bat who nearly takes out two Green Lanterns immediately got under my skin – this isn’t something that should make any ring bearer break a sweat let alone get knocked on his or her backside over.
That the big bad is Scarecrow is certainly no surprise considering his previous role during Blackest Night when he was a deputized agent of the Sinestro Corps and him being the obvious choice with fear being his weapon and all. So when the Scarecrow is finally revealed in the last page it doesn’t create any sense of surprise whatsoever and when you step back after finishing the issue you realize the whole first half of this story accomplished very little in terms of having a narrative.
Then there is an overplayed argument between Simon, Batman and Commissioner Gordon over Baz’s gun that consumes a fair amount of page time. Gordon raises a great point about the legality of Baz carrying the gun from jurisdiction to jurisdiction which is probably not registered. Baz’s response, and that to Batman, lacks validity and he ends up looking pretty stupid. The mere fact that it’s taking place now after Batman has had plenty of time to confront Baz about it in the pages of Justice League makes it seem artificial. How Humphries makes such a big deal of it makes the whole sequence look forced for the sake of filling pages in a story who’s plot is very paint by numbers and suspect in the first place. With each passing issue where Simon’s ring doesn’t fail him the purpose of carrying a pistol becomes more farcical. At the end of the day superheroes don’t use guns and having a Green Lantern with one is pretty ludicrous.
Visually the book fares much better than it does in the writing department with Neil Edwards doing a nice job overall. His work is expressive and makes it easy to know exactly how the characters feel. With Simon’s pistol being a central focus of the issue I think this may well be the very first time that it was consistently present throughout the entirety of the book. About the only criticism I have with the visual is the Scarecrow reveal at the end which looked more corny than creepy.
Green Lanterns #16 starts the Batman team-up on shaky ground with a paper thin plot and too much emphasis placed on forcing tension between the caped crusader and Simon Baz. Visually the book is pretty to look at but there’s not much else to make this interesting. Five out of ten lanterns.