By: Geoff Johns (story), Doug Mahnke (pencils), Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen, Keith Champagne, Marc Deering (inks), Alex Sinclair & Tony Avina (colors)

The Story: Caring for someone so much and wanting to kill them—classic sibling love.

The Review: This issue pops up with almost every legacy character, but anytime someone new takes up the cape or mantle or mask, you’ll have waves of protest and rejection across the comic book readership—just scores of folks saying they’ll never accept this interloper and ridiculing him to fringe status forever.  Inevitably, of course, all that goes away and the new guy/girl ends up a fact of comics life anyway.

Some of you may hate to hear this, but in my head I’ve already begun accepting Simon as Green Lantern.  Certainly I don’t consider him as the Green Lantern (obviously it’s Hal, but in my heart I’ll always hope Kyle Rayner makes a comeback), but I know that when all this—whatever “this” is—is over, I won’t have any problem with him keeping the ring.

Much of it has to do with how credible Simon comes across in Johns’ hands.  Despite Simon’s rough background, he comes across as neither victim nor aggressor, but somewhere humanly in between.  We see that nearly every bad thing he’s ever done has been the result of pure impulse, a reckless decision made in the heat of the moment, not always for the best intentions, but definitely not because he wants to cause harm.  Now he has this ring which can turn every whim into reality; it’s an opportunity to make things come out the way he truly wants them to be.

It’s clear, however, he has no idea what he wants.  With his power, suddenly the whole universe and future are open to him, and yet he can only fixate on his immediate crisis: clearing his name.  At the heart of that goal is his desire to protect his family, particularly sister Sira, who suffers the consequences her brother doesn’t.  You’ll be just as interested in her fate as Simon’s, especially on the question of whether her love or resentment for him will sway her actions.

The amount of time Johns spends on Franklin Fed, the agent who interrogated Simon last month, indicates we should give an eye to this man in black as well.  Clearly we’re meant to recognize his upstanding moral code; he expresses relief that Simon’s escape saved him from having to break the principles he stands for.  Much as he’d like to walk away, he proves that on some level, he’s already in too deep with Simon’s story; maybe his sense of values will supplement Simon’s shoddy grasp on them.

My primary frustration with Johns’ writing has always been his pacing.  While I happen to like a slow burn story, I enjoy it a lot better when I have the entire thing actually in my hand.  That way, I can reward myself with a good dose of excitement after a long swath of building tension.  Still, you can’t really see Johns writing without his decompressed style and not losing the magic moments that come with it.  It just makes for a slow read from time to time, that’s all.

Mahnke gets across the humanity of all the characters so well, to the point where even the fantastic seems plausible.  You’ll have these long swaths of totally credible, dramatic scenes, and when the superhero stuff creeps in, it seems that much more eerie and believable, even though things like a man with glowing green shoulder armor made of light is commonplace by now.  If only you could take Mahnke’s vision of the world and transfer it onto a movie screen.  Wed’ have a much better-looking Green Lantern movie, I expect.

Conclusion: Sometimes a Johns series feels like it proceeds one hour at a time per issue, but like 24, that one hour sure packs a lot of material.

Grade: A-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – You know, I just hate the obligatory hero-fights-hero-due-to-misunderstanding trope.  Instead of leading off which a flying tackle, couldn’t the League just surround the guy with a friendly hello?

– I appreciate that “President Obama” trusts John Stewart the most of all the Lanterns.  Strictly because Stewart is a dedicated soldier, of course.