“There must be riders…and there must be steeds.”
Green Lanterns #42 brings us part three of Tim Seeley’s “Superhuman Trafficking” storyline as Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz go undercover to expose the misdeeds of the Order of the Steed. Their journey to the Barnard 33 is one of evidence gathering since the Order are protected by their religious status, but accompanied by Scrapp the two Green Lanterns get more than they bargained for.
Some of the strongest characterization work since Seeley took over this series takes place in this issue as he puts some energy into showcasing Jessica’s evolution from where she was at the start of the book. Jessica is far more self-aware than we’ve seen her in the past and her ability to step outside herself is a major step forward for her character. Even more interesting is Seeley’s take on Scrapps which shows her as someone who has no problem crossing the line when it comes to serving the cause of justice. Given her past with the Omega Men it’s certainly easy to see why she’s found it necessary to exercise lethal force. This reveals another side of the character and successfully makes her a far more dimensional character than we’ve seen in the past. Seeley’s attention to her makes Scrapps perhaps the most interesting character in this arc and in a way I hope she sticks around once this story concludes.
I can’t say as much about the Order of the Steed and the analogy to religious cults. In the end their motivations seem very simple and there’s an opportunity wasted here to make them something far more compelling than yet another group seeking more power in the universe. The kidnapped Earth heroes are reduced to a simple plot device and there’s little to no reason for the reader to care what happens to them. I frankly would rather have seen them turned into soldiers for the Order through reprogramming than to be simply turned into mindless drones at the whim of their leader. At least there’d be the potential for some real drama between Simon and Night Pilot when they finally get to a moment of confrontation.
I also found it hard to believe that the Order would allow Scapps to walk around with a weapon strapped at her side given the Basilica’s status as a sacred site. Given that there are armed guards I’d fully expect there to at least be security checks before pilgrims are allowed to roam the surface. But potential plot hole aside I just find the story, well, kind of boring.
Visually the book looks pretty darn good thanks to the work of V Ken Marion. He did some work on Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps last year and it’s good to seem his work appear on the pages of a Green Lantern book again. His work here is consistent from cover to cover and he does a great job of conveying emotion and telling the story visually.
Green Lanterns #42 exemplifies the strengths and weaknesses of the series. While there’s some good character work the issue falls victim to a weak plot. V Ken Marion’s artwork makes it fun to look at but even that isn’t enough to make this a worthwhile read. Six out of ten lanterns.