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A number of writers have tried to construct a definitive John Stewart story to varying degrees of success, but in my opinion no one has come as close as Phillip Kennedy Johnson. As the sixth issue of Green Lantern: War Journal hits the stands you can look back over the run so far and see how much respect Johnson has for the character and how much he’s injecting the right ingredients into a book that finally creates an atmosphere where John is elevated by showing the potential he has.

The battle between John and the Revenant Queen is framed by Shirley Stewart reading a fairy tale to Ellie, who John recreated last issue as something far more than the construct we saw early on in the series. The fairy tale is a very one the nose representation of John’s conflict with the Revenant Queen to be sure, but provides as a vehicle for Johnson to let us know how John’s mother is doing while John’s away and it serves its purpose given that there’s not opportunity for John to be present with Shirley. And Shirley is the emotional anchor to the story, to be sure. That relationship between mother and son is the duty that John has chosen over that to the Corps which has been at the heart of this journey, with Johnson challenging John as to how he will juggle his personal duty versus the duty of the greater good which has come pounding on his doorstep.

Varron is about to find out why it’s not wise to push John’s buttons.

It’s the battle between John, Shepherd, a few Green Lanterns and the Radiant Dead which consumes this issue, and rightly so. It’s an uphill battle which presents John with a number of places to shine, albeit by the use of predictable military constructs. Fortunately Montos balances that out with some other creations which keeps them from falling too far into predictable territory. Varron returns to taunt John, which presents itself as a great conclusion to their short-lived rivalry. Varron using his Durlan abilities to recreate John’s father is very effective as showing the personal nature of his disdain for John. I’m actually a little disappointed as I think Varron is a great foil for John and I’d love to see this develop given more time to percolate, so I’m hoping his Durlan DNA saved him in the end and we get to see more of him down the road.

The protagonists suffer a couple of losses, one being Katanak, one of the Green Lanterns sent by Thaaros to find out what happened to Varron. An interesting bit revealed here is that Katanak is from Sector 1417, home of Sinestro, Soranik Natu, and, perhaps most importantly, Katma Tui. Princess Iolande is the Green Lantern of this sector, but one could presume Katanak is either her sector partner or she was assigned somewhere else and Katanak is her replacement.

Johnson has often used the analogy of Shepherd as being the Kyle Reese of the story, using the “Terminator” reference as being someone who causes the main character to become their destiny. When Shepherd first meets John he’s definitely meeting his hero, and the pedestal that he has put John on is one that Stewart hasn’t ascended to yet. However, Shepherd becomes the inspiration for John to begin to step into the role of Guardian and Builder that led to him being Shepherd’s idol, with John looking at the situation as he once looked at the timepieces he deconstructed to see how all the moving parts worked together to create the whole.

We’ve seen John ascend before, first with being the first human Guardian, then again during the Thorne run. So, to be honest, it’s a bit overplayed in my opinion. John can be an interesting character when written well, but it seems that we’re trying a little too hard to make him something he’s not. John Stewart is a great Green Lantern, but to make him something more is problematic to me. There are plenty of great stories that can play out with the Green Lantern universe that don’t require the hero going super cosmic on us. One thing I do agree with Geoff Thorne about is that John Stewart will forever be in the shadow of Hal Jordan so long as he’s a Green Lantern. What DC Comics seems to lack is the fortitude to make a change to the character and stick the landing. I’m not sure where Johnson is going to take John in the next six issues, which he has indicated will be his last, but I don’t feel that he’s ultimately going to get John to a place where he stand on his own before he leaves.

The battle with the Radiant Dead is far from over it seems.

We do get to finally find out more about the Revenant Queen and her origins. Prior to taking over the body of the female astronaut back in issue one, we learn that she possessed the body of John’s wife, the mother of John’s unborn child and a lantern in her own right. This, of course, hints strongly as that being Katma Tui, which is a great way to help build up the the dynamic between the Queen and John. The big revelation, however, is that the Queen is the “daughter” of Olgrun, an Old God that Johnson created during his “Superman: The Warwold Saga” during his run on Action Comics. It’s a great payoff for fans who read that storyline, and as someone who didn’t I did not feel that it’s something I had to understand to enjoy the issue. Granted, it’s now something I think I want to read since I love the mythology and cosmic lore of the DC Universe and it sounds like something that would be in my wheelhouse. I also have complete trust in Johnson to provide what I have to know in the context of this story even if I don’t, however.

Some people will feel let down that the battle doesn’t really end here, as John is dragged into a portal and into, presumably, another time and/or universe. While the war is not over, John seems to won the battle for Earth, although even that seems not to be the case. There’s the matter of a Darkstar logo left floating in the sky and the ominous words of Ellie that close out the issue which signals that the Earth still has a part to play. I’m again left to wonder why John didn’t forewarn the rest of the superhero community and it seems rather irresponsible of him not to at least let someone know about it. But, well, it can’t all make sense in the funny book business.

Montos gets to really unleash his creativity here and the issue just drips cosmic horror from cover to cover. The panel layouts are beautiful and the balance between the dark horror of the Radiant Dead and the brightness of the Green Lanterns harkens back to the best moments of “Blackest Night”, which is probably the best compliment I can come up with. I will say, however, that three issues in to seeing John’s new outfit it is a hit and miss with me. I like the upper have quite a bit, but those thigh highs are not for me.

Green Lantern: War Journal #6 doesn’t quite end the first arc of the series so much and serves as a pause before taking it to the next level. Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Montos continue to shine as a bright creative duo on the series, and this issue is another great example of their creativity unleashed. 8 out of ten lanterns.

One Reply to “Green Lantern: War Journal #6 Review”

  1. Love your review – the only bad thing about the Green Lantern mythos is that they have so many protagonists that it is hard to choose one as a favorite. while everyone loves Hal Jordan, John Stewart is my favorite…

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