This week’s Green Lanterns #23 takes what we knew about Green Lantern history and spins it on its head, revealing new information which challenges what we thought we knew about the origins of the Corps. This issue also tackles the training of Jessica Cruz head on while also showing Simon Baz challenged in ways he never has been before.
The majority of the issue is spent with Jessica and Simon as they face training at the hands of Green Lantern veterans Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner. Guy channels his inner Kilowog in his approach to how he treats Jessica, pushing her just as hard mentally as physically. Cruz’s inner monologue shows her disdain and lack of respect for her trainer, the usual trope we’ve come to see between a rookie and the hard nosed, grizzled, “you’re not good enough” superior officer who’s in the rookies face all the time. The sequence does no favor to the perception of Guy, however I fully expect writer Sam Humphries to show that Guy is only pushing her buttons so that she’ll be better prepared for duty – that is the way of the trope. What was interesting was seeing Kilowog playing the role of the kindhearted mentor, showing Jessica that she has the strength in her all the time.
Simon’s training at the hands of Kyle Rayner proved more interesting in my opinion as Kyle pushes Simon to challenge how he handles the ring, helping him see that the only limitation to its abilities are the ones he places on himself. I thought it was interesting that Simon was not changed to a “white circle” given he’s also never gotten training, but it must be that his time as a Lantern has gotten him a pass. What will be an interesting development over the course of the next couple of issues is how Simon and Jessica react when they learn of John’s new edict about pairing one Green and one Yellow Lantern per sector. Unless he makes an exception, which wouldn’t set well with Soranik Natu’s group, someone may be out of a job….or wearing a different color ring.
Jessica and Guy Gardner go all “Full Metal Jacket”
For me the most interesting part of this issue was the six pages where Rami/Volthoom reads through the notes Rami made during the creation of the rings. We learn of Rami’s apparent betrayal of Volthoom and the forging of seven rings which predate the Manhunters. Humphries ties the first Green Lantern to the Third World. Not being as well versed on my Kirby as I would like to be I’m not sure how this parses with DC history so I’m taking this at face value. We see the origins of Alitha, the first person to don a Green Lantern power ring. We’ll likely see the stories behind the other six over the course of the next few months, taking the story of Volthoom’s revenge plot and turning it into a quest for the seven rings.
For those not familiar with Lantern lore this notion really undoes what we’ve come to know over the years. The history as we knew it was that the Green Lanterns were created in response to the malfunction of the Manhunters at the hands of Krona. Rori Dag, who’s history made up our first Green Lantern 101 article found here, has always been considered the first until the “Sinestro Corps War” and the presentation of the biographies of a number of notable ring bearers. It was in the “Secret Files” issue that Rori’s history was changed from being the first Green Lantern to “one of the founding” Green Lanterns. Whether he’ll be included in the first seven or not remains to be seen.
Alitha makes her debut as the first Green Lantern
For me I’m trying to fit the pieces together and what I’m thinking at this early juncture is that for some reason the Guardians ditched the Green Lantern concept for the Manhunters, only to reverse course once again after their failure. Without knowing why it’s hard to have much of an opinion but I sincerely hope that we get the detail that this warrants and readers deserve. I’d be sorely disappointed should we leave this tale behind having altered our perception of this fictional history with that kind of detail a part of it. So the jury’s out on this part of the tale for me.
Eduardo Panseca’s artwork looks solid as usual this issue. The characters’ expression really help convey the emotions that Humphries’ script calls for, and the peek into history as we witness Alitha’s ascension to Green Lantern was as dramatic as one could hope for. There are a few blips on the radar like Kyle looking a little thick or the Green Lantern logo flipped ninety degrees on the power ring as it arrives on Galactica, but those are little things compared to how good the issue looks overall. Blond is the all-star this issue however as his coloring work is spectacular.
Green Lanterns #23 inserts a new chapter into the fabled Book of Oa which changes what we thought we knew about the origins of the Green Lantern Corps. Sam Humphries puts Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz through basic training, however those moments seem torn from the pages of the script of every military movie ever made. Seven out of ten lanterns.