“Someone has to go beyond”
Like last month’s first issue, Future State: Green Lantern #2 features a John Stewart led lead story by Geoffrey Thorne, with two backup stories. This time the main feature is supported by stories featuring Teen Lantern Keli Quintela and Hal Jordan. While much of Future State shows possible futures, this book lines pretty well with what we know is coming down the road with the Green Lantern franchise.
The “Last Lanterns” lead story continues to be the weakest link when it comes to this two-issue series. For someone who feels that John Stewart is the best of the lanterns Thorne’s writing is less than inspired and very much “paint by the numbers”. When all is said and done I couldn’t find myself caring about any of the characters and I’m unsure why the story exists other than because DC needed a Green Lantern book to publish. I guess we’re supposed to be amazed by the identity of the “God in Red” when Orion shows up, but it was more of a shoulder shrug and an “okay, I guess” reaction from my perspective. Clearly, John knew who it was, but I fail to see the reason to wait until G’Nort (and presumably Salaak) are both dead to do that reveal when it could have just as easily brought the entire conflict to a screeching halt much earlier. All in all, this story felt like a wasted opportunity to do something, anything, interesting with John. For the lead story, this one was extremely weak and pedestrian.
Art is a subjective thing I know, but there’s something about Tom Raney’s art that just doesn’t resonate with me. He does do a good job with the action sequences, but his body proportions seem wrong and some of his facial work seems very distorted and unnatural looking, particularly with the Imskians, and especially with the character of Kenz.
The second story is a little bit better. We check-in with Keli Quintela as she and Mogo head out on a mission to meet up with Jo Mullein in the search for the origins of Teen Lantern’s gauntlet. This story in particular seems to dovetail with the plot proposed for the first issue of the new Green Lantern series which debuts in April. I have a lot of reservations about Teen Lantern, and frankly, I think it’s one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard of. The idea of John Stewart thinking it’s okay for this kid to walk around with potentially volatile stolen Oan tech is completely out of character. For the Young Guardians to play nice about it is also hard to swallow. I had a difficult time buying into the selection of Somar-Le way back in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #25, but at least in her case, she was chosen to wield the ring. At this point using Green Lantern technology is no longer special, all one has to do is be in the right place at the right time and you. too, can be a part of the Corps.
Josie Campbell’s script captures Quintela’s youthful energy right at the onset of the story, but it’s not long before things take a very dark turn. Teen Lantern and Mogo are traveling through a void in space when the power battery goes dark, leaving the duo stranded with only what power Keli has stored in her gauntlet to get by with. With Mogo offline and no sun to warm them, Keli and Mogo are in dire straights when hostile aliens show up. The two face an uncertain fate and almost give in to fear when Keli realizes she can use the power she has to keep Mogo going and deal with the alien threat. It’s an okay story and certainly better than the lead, but it’s not terribly good, either. I did rather enjoy Andie Tong’s artwork, though.
The last story is an odd one to be sure. Originally this issue was solicited with a Hal Jordan story by Christopher Priest and Dexter Soy where Hal meets up with Oliver Queen. Instead, Priest has been replaced by veteran Green Lantern writer Robert Venditti and a completely different story featuring Hal. The other odd part about “Recon” is that it’s a story that provides much needed context for what’s going on with the Green Lanterns, yet someone chose to use it last rather than at the beginning of the first issue where it could have been much more valuable to the reader.
The crux of the story is that Hal has once again taken it upon himself to seek out what’s left of the Green Lantern Corps. If that sounds familiar it should because Venditti wrote a similar plotline during his time at the helm of the Lanternverse. It’s almost comedic when you sit back and realize that the basic premise behind Future State: Green Lantern is a retread of where we’ve been before…several times. I don’t blame Venditti for going this route because I almost feel like he was a last-minute replacement and that this story was dictated by editorial – again, something we’ve seen before.
There are some things I like about this particular story, though. While this feels more like an ad than an actual story, Venditti nails Hal’s voice, and despite the travelog feeling, Hal’s motivations are on point. Hal would be the guy who’d strap himself in a ship with a jury-rigged power system to go out there and scout for danger while trying to find out what happened to the Corps. Venditti’s scripts allow us glimpses of what is going on in space, including foreshadowing the Khund devotion to the “God in Red” and checking in on some other familiar factions in Green Lantern lore. The story ends with a bit of a tease when Hal meets Jo Mullein for the first time, hinting that this plot would continue in the main Green Lantern series. Again, it feels more like an ad than a fully formed story.
Dexter Soy’s art is wonderful in this, although I think Alex Sinclair’s colors did not compliment the pencils very well. If it’s possible to have too much green in a Green Lantern story this one accomplishes that goal. In one place it looks as though Sinclair just scribbled some green over Soy’s finely detailed pencil work, completely obscuring Soy’s work in the process. One art hiccup that jumped to me immediately was near the end where Dexter had Hal’s ring on the wrong finger. A nitpick to be sure, but putting a Green Lantern’s ring on the wrong finger ranks up there with white boots on my list of art peeves – this is like replacing Superman’s S with a different letter in my book!
Future State: Green Lantern #2 is another weak entry in the Future State event. Backup stories should never have to rescue the main feature, yet both issues in this series have failed in that regard. At $5.99 readers should rightly expect a strong story, and this just doesn’t have it. Four out of ten lanterns.