By: Geoff Johns (writer), Doug Mahnke (penciller), Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin (inkers), Alex Sinclair (colorist)

The Story: Nok nok.  Who’s there?  Indigo.  Indigo who?  Indigo home!  Like E.T., get it?

The Review: As my last few reviews show, Johns has fallen into something of a slump on Justice League, where characters rarely venture beyond a string of clichés and catchphrases, while the plot simply clunks along. Aquaman is something of an improvement, but its mythos is still undeveloped, and Johns has less material to draw from.  It is in Green Lantern that the acclaimed Johns of old still lives and breathes, and this issue is a good reminder of that.

Take any issue of Justice League, set it beside the story here, and you can see the difference, clear as day.  The cast in this title have been so well established that they have nothing to prove anymore, meaning they spend less time trying to come up with smart remarks, witty comebacks, or melodramatic speeches and actually act like credible human beings—or credible alien beings, whatever the case may be.

Unlike the comically showy beats of malice Desaad and Co. went through last issue, the Guardians reveal theirs even without talk.  Newly imprisoned Lyssa Drak, under the silent stares of Ganthet and his lady-companions, demands, “What?  What are you staring at? What do you WANT?”  Her increasing tension reflects the dark aura of the Guardians even before they start idly discussing the merits of killing her.  “Lantern Voz will ask too many questions,” Ganthet says.  “Then we will eliminate Lantern Voz,” his companion replies matter-of-factly.

While it’s pretty clear the little blue immortals have pretty much given up even a pretense of benevolence, there’s reason to hope of the possibility, however slight, that one of them hasn’t completely fallen to the Dark Side, to use another sci-fi epic’s terminology.  The fact that Ganthet stays his fellows’ hands from coolly offing both a prisoner and prison warden may be a sign that our former pony-tailed Guardian may not be totally gone after all.

The writing feels especially natural when it comes to our principals, Hal, Sinestro, and Carol.  Unlike the eye-rollers we frequently got from Hal and the Flash (see Justice League #3), the jokes here are in tune to the script’s context, and don’t feel forced.  Hal tells Sinestro defiantly, “I’m never working for anyone again.”  “Not including me,” Carol corrects me.  “Not including her,” Hal agrees.  Beyond the humor of the bit, Hal may also be making a statement about his future as a Green Lantern; not that he’s ever been the Guardians’ lapdog, but it seems like even if goes back to cosmic policing full-time, he won’t be following their agenda anymore.

Of all the new color corps Johns has thrown into the DCU, the Indigo Tribe remains the least understood.  We usually like to think of compassion as a good thing, but the Indies seem more and more sinister each time we see them.  Certainly, the neck collars have taken on grimmer meaning since we saw them put one on the Black Hand, effectively lobotomizing him.  Sinestro and Hal aren’t likely to take too well to that treatment though, so it looks like we’ll finally have some answers about these former hooligans (if hints about Indigo-1’s origins in War of the Green Lanterns are any indication).

That double-page splash of Hal punching Sinestro off Carol’s apartment balcony into the nighttime skyline of Coast City, Carol’s after-lovemaking sheets flapping in the background (accented by the inking team, beautifully lit by Sinclair), is exactly the kind of action-packed, bursting-at-the-seams stuff comics are made for.  It certainly proves Mahnke as a guy who understands how the comics medium can have the most impact.  Beyond the splashy stuff, Mahnke also conveys plenty of suspense as needed, particularly in the way he projects menace in the characters’ eyes, whether they be Black Hand’s blank gaze or the Guardian’s cold glares.

Conclusion: It seems like no matter what else happens to Johns creatively, Green Lantern will always be a solid hit for him, especially if he has the superb Mahnke to back him up artistically.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I’m actually pretty excited to see Carol get into the game again.  Unlike a lot of other superhero girlfriends, she has plenty of personal experience in the field and she knows all the players.  Now that Green Arrow-Black Canary and Hawkman-Hawkwoman are broken up, it’s nice to have another power couple besides Aquaman-Mera out in costume together.