By: Peter J. Tomasi (story), Fernando Pasarin (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Gabe Eltaeb (colors)

The Story: This is space law—you don’t get no Miranda rights out here!

The Review: After a year in law school, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for America’s judicial system, believe it or not.  My property professor made the best observation about our courts and the way they handle conflicts: it’s an everlasting struggle between efficiency and fairness.  Try too hard to be sensitive to the intricacies of each case, and you make bad precedent for everyone else.  Stick too hard to the rules of law and a lot of people will be unjustly punished or deprived.

We definitely have the latter problem in the case of Alpha Lanterns v. Stewart.  While last issue had one of the Alphas make note of the stressful circumstances which led to John’s damning choice, this time around they can’t seem to see beyond the simple facts, which John himself admits.  We know nothing about the corps’ penal code, particularly in how it’s enforced against their own, which makes it all too easy for this case to proceed unfavorably against John.

And there are so many problems with the way this case is handled.  Consider the fact that the Alphas not only make the charge, they exclusively bring the evidence, and they alone deliberate and deliver the verdict.  And John astutely points out some gross deficiencies in the discovery process, namely how the Alphas got any footage of his crime if his ring was depleted at the time, and why they didn’t manage to recover any evidence of what led up to his act.

This all seems to hint darkly to another party manipulating the case, and we all know who does the best manipulation in the corps.  The Guardians may have removed themselves from the judicial process so as to emphasize the Alphas’ independence and impartiality, but this reeks of pretense.  In fact, their discussions behind closed doors tell you their recusal is more like a way to absolve themselves of any responsibility for the outcome of the trial, which seems perfectly poised to cause outcry and chaos within the corps.

In the meantime, Guy’s latest promotion puts him in the amusing position of peacemaker among the Lanterns, who understandably split into highly volatile camps over the affair.  If any of you had any doubt as to Guy’s capabilities as a leader, this should put your fears to rest.  Guy defuses a fairly ugly situation quite effectively, not even flinching when Vath challenges his courage.  And you don’t have to fear that he’s become the Guardian’s lapdog, either.  His loyalty to John gets full display, and his acidic words to the blue midgets results in them coolly discussing how soon they should have him “marginalized.”

Pasarin has shown us some amazing action sequences on this series, but this issue shows he has some tremendous dramatic chops as well.  Not only can he perfectly convey the most intense emotions in a scene, he can also call to attention the subtler ones as well.  You don’t often see anxiety, concern, and compassion on Guy’s face, but Pasarin communicates it perfectly without going overboard.

Conclusion: A pretty strong blend of space opera and courtroom drama, with Tomasi putting on his best Law and Order writer’s cap.

Grade: B+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – I know this doesn’t really apply here, but it seems like John’s fallen victim to the outrageously skewed penalization toward African-Americans.  Even in space, a black man can’t catch a break.

– I like that Malet Dasim goes against type by being a good guy, despite his corpulent, slimy, long-tongued appearance.