“I carry a gun because I’m afraid”
This week saw the conclusion of the Green Lanterns / Batman team up in issue 17 of the Green Lanterns series as they try to take down the Scarecrow, who has somehow managed to find a way to weaponize the fear energy associated with the Sinestro Corps. Before taking on the bad guy writer Sam Humphries first needs to resolve the situation in the batcave as Alfred Pennyworth holds Simon Baz’s gun to his head, ready to pull the trigger.
Humphries chooses to provide some additional background on Scarecrow for the reader before tackling the heroes’ dilemma. The three page sequence does a nice job of portraying Dr. Jonathan Crane as someone who’s become some so numb to emotion that only fear is only thing that makes him feel alive anymore. Crane’s deputization during Blackest Night had a profound effect upon him and since then he’s been craving to feel that powerful again, leading him to somehow infusing his anti-Batman videos with a signal which triggers fear in the viewer.
From that beginning the issue takes several turns which undermine many Batman guest appearances and that’s the writer’s habit of propping Batman up at the expense of undermining the credibility of the rest of the cast. Humphries seems to forget that the power ring functions at the speed of thought and the protective aura of the ring is more than capable of stopping a bullet. However it takes Batman to save Simon from a threat which should be a minor inconvenience to a Green Lantern. Even worse, however, is when Humphries has both Simon and Jessica powerless to do anything when confronted with Scarecrow’s fear wave while Batman acts like it’s no big deal. Again, Green Lanterns are chosen for their ability to overcome fear and both Green Lanterns look poorly when they can do so little in the face of it while Batman is there to save the day.
Scarecrow puts up little offensive when it comes right down to it and in the end this threat was nothing that Batman couldn’t have dealt with all on his own. In fact he probably could have done better going solo on this one and avoided the fear wave altogether with a stealthier approach. In the end the whole purpose of this story is to serve two purposes – underscore the stupid idea of giving Simon Baz a gun and to elevate Baz in the eyes of comic readers.
The problems with Baz and the gun are many and that’s likely why writers got rid of thing before this series even launched. The one good thing about Humphries resolving it again is that artists will no longer be saddled with trying to remember to draw it in the future. The main reason for the existence of this story is to show Simon having that moment like Jessica did in issue 15 since he’s been given the short end of the character development stick.
Then there’s Batman’s eye roll inducing comment that Baz is someone he can “work with” that serves as that heavy handed moment where creative really wants to elevate the status of their character by having someone well regarded in the comic’s universe speak highly of them. Batman’s issues with Guy and Hal are a thing of the past so his comments here seem forced. But by saying them Humphries tries to elevate Simon in the eyes of the reader by trying to make it sound like he’s somehow better because Batman says so. It reminds me of the time that DC was really pushing another Green Lantern character at the expense of the rest by telling us he’d surpass them all.
Really what Batman is saying here is that Simon is easier to work with because he’s willing to follow Batman’s orders do whatever he’s told to do without exhibiting any will of his own. To rephrase what John Stewart said so well in Green Lantern: Rebirth, Simon’s easier to work with because he buys what Batman’s selling. That John defended Hal in Rebirth and Simon lets it slide without so much as a raised hand is more detrimental to the character than any propping up that the caped crusader’s words might do. So much for loyalty to the Corps.
Eduardo Panseca’s art this issue is pretty good overall. He does a much better job with Scarecrow than he did last issue and Batman looks great as well. However he overdoes it on Simon Baz, making the Green Lantern look well over the top emotionally in many sequences. A nod to Julio Fereira’s inking and Blond’s work with the colors as they both did a great job of contrasting the dark, muted Gotham environment with the vibrancy associated with the Green Lantern universe.
In the end Green Lanterns #17 is a prime example of what’s wrong with a lot of Batman appearances. A number of bad storytelling decisions elevates the caped crusader and undermines the titular characters making this seem more like a Batman book co-starring two new sidekicks who can’t hold their own. This is a pass unless you’re really a big Simon Baz fan. Five out of ten lanterns.