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Now that John Stewart has survived his infection from the Radiant Dead and taken Varron’s power ring in the last issue, it’s time for him to go on the offensive. At the start John surveys the situation from on high, and it’s not a pretty picture. The Radiant Dead are infecting the Earth just as it did John, starting in small, isolated areas of the planet where the infection will go unnoticed, unnoticed until it reaches a degree where the majority of human life will never know what hit them when the end game comes.

John returns to Metropolis where he learns that Shirley Stewart is conscious after the attack, but the encounter has worsened her condition and she’s begun hallucinating, creating a reality in her mind that perhaps reminds her of better days. John’s arrival crashes that fabrication, and the blow of reality hits hard when it comes. The relationship between John and his mother is the emotional anchor of the series, and Phillip Kennedy Johnson once again gets everything right here. John goes to the extreme to protect his mother, in part from the impending doom of the Radiant Dead, but in larger part to cushion the emotional toll of her condition. Ellie Stewart is created from a part of John’s very essence, a constant companion that will provide comfort and protection when needed while John is away. I’m not sure exactly how I feel about Ellie’s creation here; it’s certainly a little bit creepy and disconcerting, but knowing that it’s coming from a place of love is at least a little comforting.

John learns of him mother’s declining mental health in a scene of pure heartbreak.

The partnership between Johnson and Montos is perhaps at its most effective in these moments. The transition between the traditional orderly panel structure to those which look like shattered glass are potently effective at representing the unravelling of Shirley’s mind as her fabricated reality is torn down in favor of the tragic truth. Likewise Montos’s art elevates Johnson’s script and perfectly conveys what both John and Shirely are going through emotionally. Once Ellie returns to Shirley the familiar panel structure returns as Shirley’s reality returns to one of comfort and love.

Returning to the Amazon, John and Shepherd find themselves surrounded by growing army of the Radiant Dead. The symbol of the Darkstars is found everywhere, and John creates constructs representing members of the Darkstars from when he was a part of them back in the ’90’s. As we know from the solicitations, the Darkstars from the Revenant Queen’s universe are tied into all of this, so it’s good to see reminders of that here. While John’s been on the trail of the Radiant Dead, some of Varron’s fellow Green Lanterns have been on the trail of Varron’s ring, leading them to the Amazon rainforest and a confrontation with John and Shepherd. Green Lantern Katanak end up as fodder when the Radiant Dead decide to make themselves visible, with the Revenant Queen all too eager to add some more Green Lanterns to her already lethal army. The issue ends just as the battle begins.

John summons allies from his past to cover his back.

The issue is building towards the end of the first arc of Johnson’s run, and it seems like the next issue is going to be the big battle for Earth with the Radiant Dead. I do feel like this issue was a little oddly paced, with too much time spent in Metropolis. While I wouldn’t reduce the amount of time spent with John and his mother, I don’t think we needed two pages with the John and Natasha Irons. While I enjoy the interactions between them and John, I felt the ending was a bit rushed and the story would have been better served with perhaps one less page with them in favor of more with the Revenant Queen. Five issues in and we don’t know much more about her than we did in the beginning, and I would like more background on her and some more time spent building up the dynamic between her and John.

I do also have an issue with a threat this large being left off the radar of Earth’s rather large meta human population. While John may want to tackle this on his own, certainly at least making the rest of the superhero community aware of a looming planet-wide infection might be something John would want to do before taking on a mission where he might not make it out alive.

Green Lantern: War Journal #5 is another good issue from Montos and Phillip Kennedy Johnson. The series is building towards the conclusion of the first arc, and the stakes are certainly high for the planet. I think the pacing is a little off, but for the most part is certainly a must read book for me. Eight out of ten lanterns.

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