by Geoff Johns & Peter Tomasi (writers), Eddy Barrows, Gene Ha, & Tom Mandrake (pencils and inks), Ruy Jose (inks), Nei Ruffino & Pete Pantazis (colors), Steven Wand & Sal Cipriano (letters)

The Story: How Red Lantern Bleez, Star Sapphire Carol Ferris, and Orange Lantern Blume (the giant floating head) ended up in their respective lantern corps.

What’s Good: Bleez’s story is probably the best of the bunch this month, making me care about a character I knew little of. Johns does a great job of making things go horribly wrong while also adding new depths to the Sinestro Corps’ depravity.  It’s despicable stuff that makes Bleez sympathetic, but Johns also makes no attempt to paint Bleez as innocent or perfect: Bleez was nonetheless elitist and spoiled. This makes the Sinestro Corps invasion all the more effective, as it opens her world in a huge way, shattering her ignorance as it shatters her.

Barrow’s artwork was also absolutely superb, particularly in his depictions of Bleez’s homeworld and her angelic form. From page one on, it’s clear that this is Eddy Barrows at his best.

As far as Carol Ferris’ tale goes, I enjoyed the level of sentience and conversational ability that the violet ring possessed. Make no mistake though: this story is a showcase for Gene Ha and Pete Pantazis, who put out perhaps the best artwork of any Tale thus far. There’s almost a retro feel to it, lending itself well to the flashbacks, while Pantazis gives the entire story a fitting violet hue. It’s rare that a colorist asserts himself so well in the storytelling aspect of comic art.

Blume’s story is fun for what it is, with Johns’ “God of Hunger” concept being a really neat one. This is a rare case where I feel that the short page count of the Tales actually does the story favours.  At six pages, it doesn’t overextend itself or lead to questions of relevance. Rather, the cool concept alone provides enough mileage for the Tale, which aims to be nothing more than fast, simple fun.

What’s Not-so-Good: While it’s the best of the bunch, the Bleez tale is severely hampered by its low page count, as the pacing feels somewhat crushed, with one massive plot development following another with little to build-up. The Tale is excellent because of its larger scope, but it’s this very scope that also proves to be its weak-point, as the story would clearly have lent itself better to a full 22 pages. The invasion out of nowhere happens far too quickly and Bleez’s getting the red ring feels a little too convenient, giving the feeling that a ridiculous number of rings are floating around at any one moment. Also, due to the page count, Johns isn’t fully able to do a thoroughly convincing job of depicting Bleez’s rage. Yes, what she undergoes is horrible, but she doesn’t have quite enough lines to express her anger.

The Carol Ferris tale, while not bad, is probably the weakest of the bunch, only because it feels like something of a rehashing. It simply re-tells things we already knew or have already seen and thus feels a little more lifeless than it should. While not quite to the extent of the Son of Mongul tale last month, I just don’t feel like this story had to be told.

Conclusion: While the Saint Walker tale is still the best, this week’s offering is a better overall package than last week’s.

Grade: C+

-Alex Evans