By: Geoff Johns (writer), Doug Mahnke (pencils), Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen (inks), Randy Mayor (colors)

The Story: War of the Green Lanterns, Part One: Krona has left the rebellious Green Lantern Hal Jordan with the six other leaders of the other rings corps on the planet Ryut with the Book of the Black. In the meantime, the Guardians send a posse of Green Lanterns to catch Jordan. Problem is, the book is real bad news and nobody’s asking where Krona has gone with his forces.

What’s Good: Mahnke and team pull off some pretty good visuals in this issue. I especially want to point out some awesome color work by Randy Mayor. From Lyssa Dark and the mists over Oa, there is some beautifully subtle color work, but the arrival of the color napalm (for lack of an official term) really blew the doors off the barn. Every emotional color was represented, but they blended beautifully with one another and had these eerie, watery cores. The effect was stunning. Other action and reversals were fun to watch as well. The Oans getting up in the wreckage, Krona with his seven hounds, and the explosion around the book: all beautiful and evocative. And, this is to say nothing of Mahnke’s normal strength in alien devices, settings and physiologies (check out the “impurity restored” panel for an example of all three). In terms of layout, I think Mahnke chose a broader section of panel layouts than normal, but didn’t do anything with the layouts that I hadn’t seen before.

On the writing, despite a few weak moments (a bit of distracting alliteration and a bit of clunky dialogue), the story itself (plot, events, motivations) was very solid and promises a strong story arc suitable for the inevitable task of capping off Blackest Night and Brightest Day. The drama and tension were on high notes the whole time, leaving me with the same feeling I get in a summer blockbuster: like I can’t get popcorn because I’m going to miss something critical. The whole issue felt like that. And in terms of expanding the Green Lantern mythos (Johns’ specialty as a writer), the scope of John’s vision keeps getting bigger and bigger and the events of now are directly affected by events from near the origin of the universe. It doesn’t get much more cosmic than that.

What’s Not So Good: While Mahnke regularly delivered some fine action work, there seems to be a critical density of characters after which it’s difficult to follow what’s going on in his panels. Whereas Ivan Reis can keep dozens of superheroes and lanterns distinct in tiny panels (while they’re all fighting zombies), I got lost in a battle between nine green lanterns. Could the editors have given Mahnke a bit more support on this? Probably. I think they could have suggested less people per panel or a more dispersed battle (not tactically illogical considering lanterns can fly super-fast and can shoot green force fields…). I think the editors could have also tasked their excellent colorist Randy Mayor to find ways to make those panels clearer with color creativity. While I can forgive a couple of tinny written moments in Johns because the story is still clear, it’s harder to give that leniency to the art and editorial team on panels that are unclear.

Conclusion: Definitely buy it. Go now. This is looking like it’s going to be awesome.

Grade: A-

-DS Arsenault

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