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

The Story: Even in dead space you gotta watch your back.

The Review: A lot of people have already compared this Rise of the Third Army storyline as a thinly veiled rip-off of Blackest Night, and I can see why.  You are dealing with yet another series of dronish Lanterns who multiply by infecting others—and then you have the similarities to the Rot over in Animal Man and Swamp Thing, who are conceptually a hop, skip, and a jump away from Marvel Zombies, but for the nature themes.

So no, I won’t give much weight to Rise of the Third Army for originality.  Still, I’d be remiss in my duties if I don’t point out the slight, but important differences between these Third Army creatures and their counterparts elsewhere.  For one, it’s unclear if the assimilated people actually die in the process, notwithstanding the disposal of their hearts.  For another, the assimilation itself is a creepier, more traumatic experience for those involved.

So far, we’ve seen that a person’s transformation into a T.A. soldier is a rapid procedure with a lot of poking and prodding and flesh-bending and screaming throughout, so the physical pain is a given.  The defenses of a Green Lantern, however, prove a little trickier (though not much so), and watching one succumb to the invasion of the T.A. actually has a bit of horror to it:

“They’re trying to penetrate my body shield—my mind—I can feel them peeling back my mind! …I think—they’re—after—my—  …Guy—kill me—don’t let—thmmghh

I imagine, though, that the horror is more potent for the characters watching than for us, especially since every effort they make to fend off the creatures fails.  Again, this brings up a complaint I had with the Rot in Animal Man #13: since the T.A. seems completely invulnerable, even to multiple Green Lantern blasts at high power, then that leaves all Lanterns helpless right up until the climax, doesn’t it?  Lord help them if the T.A. can fly as fast as they can, too.

In contrast from this excitement in the latter half of the issue, the first half goes a bit too slow.  The Guardians’ pretense of honoring Guy echoes the more noble entities they originally used to be, but you’ve lost all trust in them and now their fancy words seem insincere, oily, and not worth hearing.  Add to that their release of Xar (the villain a young Guy defeated in #0), and it seems they’ve succeeded in besetting our fiery Lantern with threats from all sides.  As for John, the Guardians’ plan for him is a bit more mysterious, but you can guess they want to isolate him during his quest to revive Mogo.

After about a year, I think it’s time to voice a question that’s been nagging at me since the title relaunched: where are all the other Lanterns?  We’ve gotten plenty of page-time with the humans, and Kilowog and Salaak have made frequent appearances, but whatever happened to Sheriff Marsden, Isamot, Hannu, and the like?  On top of that, what happened to our alien favorites, like Arisia, Sodam Yat, and Natu?  I’m sure many of us would like to know their status in this new DCU.

I still find it amazing that Cafu hasn’t gotten a regular, high-profile gig at DC, given his talent, but he makes an excellent fill-in for Fernando Pasarin.  In fact, in some places, his work looks very close to Pasarin’s style, and this demonstrates for the first time to me what huge roles the inking and coloring have in the final look of the art.  Compared to the clean, slick, polished stuff Bit and Santiago Arcas offered on T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, Hanna takes a rougher, hatched approach to finishing Cafu’s delicate lines and Eltaeb’s colors seem pastier than it should be.  Overall, the art looks good, but not quite as good as I know Cafu’s art has the potential to look.

Conclusion: Setting aside the repetitious qualities of the premise, Tomasi once again delivers a tense look at how the Lanterns get along in the field.  Cafu’s art is slightly diminished from before, but still a great thing to look at.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Man, I’m reminded of the ridiculousness of the moment when John “sniped” Mogo.

– Interesting, that Xar spells out Guy’s name in English.