“Enjoy your sunset”
I have to preface this review with an admission that I don’t think I’ve ever spent as much time on the review of a single issue in the twelve years I’ve run The Blog of Oa. I usually know pretty quickly whether I like a book or I don’t but I think I’m struggling to make sure I approach this from as much of an unbiased place as I can. There’s an internal battle I’m having between the lifelong Green Lantern fan in me that just wants to love every single thing to do with the franchise, and then the person who values their own credibility and can’t find it in myself to support a series written by someone who’s shown such personal hatred for the lead character of the franchise.
I know I have issues with series writer Geoffrey Thorne, who has from the very onset of the announcement of this book been shown to be toxic in his views on the Green Lantern mythos. I’ve never been anything but honest with myself and I know I can’t overlook what’s been said in the past, even if it’s “as a fan” because no matter what the context at the end of the day you still said what you did. I can’t in good conscience back this series because, for me, Mr. Thorne’s self-professed bias taints the experience. I did some research in prepping for this review and if I’ve done the math correctly this is the twentieth “first issue” of a Green Lantern related ongoing series in the eighty-one year history of the characters. I missed Alan Scott and Hal Jordan’s first issue for reasons beyond my control – I wasn’t born yet. But I’ve been there for all of them since…until now. I did not buy this book and I can’t imagine I’ll be buying it for the duration of his run – but I will read and review it and I’ll do my best to see the good in it because I know people come here to read a Green Lantern fan’s perspective and I’m going to give it to them.
That out of the way I want to start with what I liked about this issue. I can’t think of a single time since Green Lantern: Mosaic ended that any writer has made use of John’s short stint as a Guardian and I think Thorne did a nice job of using that as a way to give John Stewart something unique. In my opinion, writers have mostly failed in finding ways to make John anything more than a carbon copy of the animated version of the character. While many often point to the Justice League animated version of John as their Lantern, for me I think the success did more harm to John than good because the character has always been more than a stoic, business only Marine. Here Thorne labels John as “the bridge”, someone who forsook the powers of the Guardians to keep his humanity, but benefits from the experience of having had that perspective.
I also think that Thorne did a nice job in showing the brotherhood between John and Hal Jordan. Of all of Earth’s multitude of ring bearers, they have the deepest relationship and have been through the most together. I liked seeing Hal noticing that John was troubled by something and, like the true friend he is, made sure that John knew Hal was there for him. The other thing I liked was seeing that Thorne’s United Planets has members from planets like Jekuul that debuted in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #37 and Graxos IV, the homeworld of Green Lantern Arisia Rrab.
I think the concept of the United Planets and how the Guardians of the Universe fit into it has some interesting potential. For eons the Guardians have been that governing body in large part because the rest of the universe hasn’t matured enough to manage themselves. Now that one section of the universe is the Guardians have to re-evaluate where they fit in and how they work with the United Planets as they navigate their way to self governance. I did think it somewhat odd that the United Planets seems to have no issue with letting the Dominators, New Korugar, and the Red Lanterns in but are balking at the Guardians, but who’s to say that they didn’t face a similar debate off panel.
However, from a story perspective those were the only positives I took from this issue. Overall I just found the issue dull, uninspired, and packed with too many ideas that failed to build towards anything. As a first issue I don’t think it was new reader friendly and lacked some information that could have made for a better experience for anyone who hasn’t been reading the greater DC catalog. A few editor boxes would have helped fix that.
I had major problems with the scene between the Guardians and Keli Quintela. Why the Guardians would tiptoe around this obnoxious kid is beyond me. Take the effin gauntlet off of her and get it over with already. I hold by my opinion that Teen Lantern is one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever seen in reading comics for nearly a half-century. I can’t see John being okay with some pre-teen with an attitude walking around with a weapon of mass destruction no one understands strapped to her back. And the Guardian, well they wouldn’t accept it either and they certainly wouldn’t walk on eggshells around her.
While Thorne has a good grasp of John’s voice I don’t find the character as Thorne writes him to be very compelling or entertaining. Adding probably everyone’s least favorite Green Lantern, Simon Baz, doesn’t add much, either. John needs someone more charismatic to bounce off of and Hal, Kyle, or Guy would have served the story better. All three would have provided much needed character to what is otherwise a very flat story.
While the Brigade is an interesting addition, I think not using L.E.G.I.O.N. is a misstep as Throne could have built upon the history that already exists between them and the Green Lantern Corps. I do like their Thanagarian leader, Ameyra Khalan, but feel she’s a little too similar to the animated series version of Shayera Hol and I’m not interested in retreading that relationship. Thorne has said that John doesn’t really have time for romance in his plans for this series, so perhaps that’s one bullet dodged.
When A’Tmatentrym is called forth all hell breaks loose on Oa, threatening the gathering of the United Planets. Thorne’s plot has John and everyone else attacking A’Tmatentrym until a mysterious stranger arrives in a very Lantern-esque outfit, nebulously providing John with the clue he needs to overcome the challenge. The A’Tmatentrym is another piece of never before revealed history which in itself isn’t bad, it’s just not very good either. The part about this issue’s conclusion that was more problematic to me was how John chose to respond to this challenge.
If we are to believe that John is more than just a soldier with a weapon on his hand we need to see him thinking. Not once during the fight does he even consider to have his ring evaluate the threat, he just responds with violence. One of the things that makes Green Lantern interesting is how each ring bearer uses their ring to overcome adversity. John’s response lacks any critical thinking on his part, he’s just a hammer rather than a tactician who uses the tools at his disposal to his advantage. While the power ring is the most powerful weapon in the universe it’s not just because of the destruction you can dole out. It reminds me of a line from Green Lantern: First Flight when one of the Weaponers explains to the Sinestro what the weakness is to every weapon – its user. My expectations for the “Four Corpsmen” is that they would have more next level thinking than what we see here.
I take some exception to the death of one of the Guardians in this issue. Guardians just aren’t that easy to kill and the quick dispatch seemed like it was just done for shock value. It’s a cheap trick which doesn’t land with any dramatic impact because he wasn’t even important enough to warrant us knowing who it was. I doubt Thorne’s following what Morrison did in his run, so who knows how many Guardians there are at this point? I know I should feel some loss, but the script never gave me a reason to care beyond the fact that it was a no-name Guardian. Hopefully there’s some follow-up, but at this point it comes off like your typical death stunt.
From the art side of things this issue is pretty great when it comes to the imagery that Dexter Soy, Marco Santucci and Alex Sinclair serve up. It was interesting to see some familiar characters sprinkled around, like Rot Lop Fan. There were also a number of characters that were dead prior to the formation of the new Omniverse that have returned, like Zilius Zox and MukMuk. I guess the mantra that “everything happened” needs to be changed to “almost everything happened”. Not that I mind seeing some of these characters again, but it does feed into the notion that death doesn’t mean anything. I don’t have much criticism of the art itself, it’s technically well done.. Some of the design choices are questionable, though. Teen Lantern’s head is way too big in my opinion and the facial design scream chibi to me. Those Sinestro dress outfits – yikes! Dex-Starr reimagined as an anthropomorphized feline humanoid is also an image I’d like to erase from my mind.
In the end I feel like Green Lantern #1 was a huge miss for me. There’s potential here, that’s for sure, but the execution falls flat for me. The dialogue seems forced and there are a few too many plot concessions for my tastes. Six out of ten lanterns.