By: Geoff Johns (story), Renato Guedes & Jim Calafiore (art), Alex Sinclair (colors)

The Story: When it comes to vaporizing the undead, what you really need is teamwork.

The Review: If there is an art to John’s writing, it has little to do with his use of language, his imaginative ambitions, or his understanding of character.  You can distill his art to that of the ever-continuing story, the tale that persuades you to give it your attention for just another issue, one month at a time.  Often, he’ll write nothing worth remarking upon for an entire issue, then he’ll end with a twist that guarantees you’ll come back to see what happens next.

For anyone who followed the original rise of the Black Lanterns in Green Lantern pre-relaunch, the battle with Black Hand feels distinctly like a rerun.  Both Hal and Sinestro know that in a game with someone who can’t be killed, all strategies boil down to stall tactics, so there’s a certain air of “been there, done that” to their actions, futile as they might be.  For the uninitiated Lantern fans, this issue may offer some interest, but the veterans can skip through most of it and not miss a thing.

The only moment worthy of note may be Sinestro’s voluntary sacrifice of his personal Yellow Lantern.  He tells Hal not to make much of it, that he can always make himself another, but with his corps all locked up—by his own call, no less—what would be the point?  He may not admit it, but he’s firmly entrenched with the Green Lanterns now, even teamed up with his old partner.  He’s no longer commandeering Hal solely for his own agenda anymore; he’s allowing Hal to take point, even backing off when Hal asserts himself.

But if Sinestro has ceded control over some things, which is a pretty radical step for him, he may not have reached this point all on his own.  We saw in Green Lantern Corps #10 that the Guardians have seized control of the power rings’ programming, preventing them from finding new recruits.  Here we discover the Guardians went even further than that, calling into question the whole notion of Sinestro’s worthiness as a Green Lantern.

Johns leaves no doubt as to Hal’s right to Lanternship, however.  To be honest, it’s been extremely annoying seeing Hal become the focal point of nearly every Green Lantern story, even though there are three others on active duty now.  No less irritating is the implication that Hal would be top dog in any other corps as well, as we’ve seen him dressed in other colors (though, happily—or sadly, depending on how you swing—we haven’t seen him in a Star Sapphire swimsuit yet), and now we can may add yet another to the list.

It’s the Book of the Black’s assertion that—spoiler alert—“Hal Jordan will be the greatest Black Lantern” that really takes the cake in Johns’ relentless Hal-worship.  Astonishing as it may be, the prediction is so wildly out there, so packed with compelling hints of what’s to come, that you won’t resist picking up the series in the next few months to see how exactly it plays out.  And there, my friends, is the Johnsonian art of comics.

As for the visual art of the issue, Guedes and Calafiore provide some fine work, but we may have grown too accustomed to Doug Mahnke’s bold, in-your-face figures to give our guest artists the appreciation they’re due.  I don’t know Guedes from Adam, but I recognize Calafiore from his respectable run on Secret Six (the very mention of which makes me sigh with wistful nostalgia), and somehow, he comes across less impressive here.  There’s a hesitating, thin quality to his and Guedes’ lines that barely holds up under Sinclair’s colors, and their general use of mid-range shots makes the action less dynamic than it can be.

Conclusion: An effective primer to recent Lantern mythology if you needed it, but for the rest of us, the issue rehashes material we’ve seen before, redeemed yet again only by an irresistible cliffhanger.  Curse you, Johns!

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Carol’s not an idiot, right?  She’s got to know there’s no way Waller believes she’s not in possession of her Star Sapphire ring.  I hope Johns plays out that plot threat, by the way.