Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Montos’ second issue of Green Lantern: War Journal was recently released, bringing the threat of the Revenant Dead to Earth while continuing to build a new life for John Stewart away from the Green Lantern Corps. These two worlds are going to collide as soon as this issue, sending John down a road that at this point seems be leading to heartbreak and ruin.
The issue starts out with Varron and a couple of Green Lantern lackies violating the quarantine against Sector 2814 yet again, this time by going to the crash site of the space station we saw the Revenant Queen destroyed in the last issue. Varron shows us that his snobby attitude isn’t confined to his dealings with John Stewart, but his delusions of grandeur are quickly shattered when the Revenant Queen emerges from the wreckage, laying claim to three more soldiers. I call them soldiers, but it’s still a bit unclear as to whether this is a possession or something else, and when Varron appears later in the issue it’s clear that this isn’t just a zombification of the living, Varron has fully memory of his previous encounter with John. I did find it odd that, with the sheer number of metahumans on Earth, someone didn’t beat Varron and company to the wreckage. But we’ll go with it being that the lack of a Justice League has left the superhero community a bit unorganized.
Shifting away from the emerging threat, we join John and his mother as they take a trip to Metropolis and a visit to Steelworks where John has an interview. The chemistry between John Stewart and John Irons is good, and the mission statement from Ironworks lines up nicely with John’s personal goals. I really liked that Johnson is exploring this part of John Stewart, and I hope it opens up the character to those who’ve only experienced the heavy military influence on the character.
The interview goes well and leads us to the heart of the issue as John and Shirley Stewart are on the train heading home. Shirley has a great moment of motherly energy, realizing that John isn’t living his best life while he’s burdened with her care. As a parent you want to see your child flourish and live better than yourself, and Shirley sees John not living up to the potential he has, both as a superhero and as a person. It’s heartfelt and bittersweet knowing that she’s in the final stages of her life. This is the stuff that John has been lacking as a character and, in my opinion, Johnson is doing a great job of providing a better foundation for Stewart than any writer before him has.
This leads us to the moment when the stuff hits the fan, as Varron and his now fellow Radiant Dead attack the train. As John is defending his mother and the other passengers we do learn something interesting that Varron lets slip. That’s that the Revenant Queen wants a weapon of some kind that John supposedly has, and that whatever ring she had before is not something she needs any more. It’s worth noting that myself and many other reviewers mistook the Queen’s ring as having a Star Sapphire logo on it – Johnson himself pointed out that it was actually a Darkstar logo on the ring, something I know I didn’t see because the Darkstars aren’t associated with ring to the best of my memory. That adds a new wrinkle to the identity of the Revenant Queen and what history she could have with John. I’m not well versed in the Darkstars, but the only two female members that spring to mind are Donna Troy and Carla White. I’d be shocked with it was another universe’s version of Donna, and if it were Carla it wouldn’t be some great revelation, so I’m not really sure who it could be. But, being that she’s from another universe, she could be anyone who could have had a connection with that universe’s John Stewart.
The cliffhanger ending of this issue leaves John in an awful position, albeit a predictable one. I’m not going to spoil it here, but after the first issue I expected this to happen, but not this soon. In putting John in this precarious position Johnson ups the stakes, leaving our protagonist in a predicament unlike any other he’s faced before. I’m eager to see where the series goes and what status quo John will have once the cosmic dust settles.
Montos does a great jobs on art again this issue, although I did find the fight scene on the train a little hard to follow and there were a lot of panels without any real background to them. I know that’s often done to keep the reader focused on what’s going on in the foreground, but it did lessen the experience for me a little bit. The strongest part for me in this issue was the character work between John and Shirley on the train prior to the arrival of Varron. The facial expressions really did a wonderful job of supporting the dialogue and adding to the reading experience. The scenes at Steelworks were also a highlight of the issue, with Montos doing a superb job of showing us the potential that John and Natasha Irons are building towards with their company and the bright future they could have with John Stewart added to the team.
Green Lantern: War Journal #2 does a nice job of balancing the character and world building aspects of the series with the overall plot. In fact, Phillip Kennedy Johnson is moving the series along faster than I expected, which isn’t a bad thing. Just as the future is looking bright for John Stewart, Johnson and Montos throw us a curveball, albeit a bit of a predictable one. Regardless, this series is another must-read Green Lantern book from DC. Eight out of ten lanterns.