By: Geoff Johns (story), Doug Mahnke (pencils), Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Keith Champagne, Tom Nguyen (inks), Alex Sinclair & Tony Avina (colors)
The Story: One doesn’t get on the Justice League’s good side by speed-racing alone.
The Review: This past year has really redeemed Johns as a writer in my eyes. Despite the anesthetizing Justice League, which remains mostly a wash, his work on Aquaman is proof-positive of the golden touch he has when it comes to reviving concepts and characters. Green Lantern, on the other hand, displays the virtues of his particular kind of craft on a monthly basis: good humor, even character work, bolts of action, and careful plot-juggling.
Often, though, he comes just shy of delivering an exemplary issue by hampering himself with redundant exposition and a frustrating reluctance to advance the plot more than an inch at a time. Even after all the different scenes and storylines we cover in this one issue, it doesn’t feel like we’ve gone much of anywhere since last month. Whatever new material Johns brings to the table seems far outweighed by recycling old news.
For example, the Guardians’ plans for their Third Army and the universe have been well established by now and really needs no further explanation. Yet for whatever reason, Johns feels a need to have them rationalize their actions once more, which only serves to remind you how extremely ridiculous they are. Even the First Lantern, whom the Guardians refer to as an “emotional sadist and reality-bending monster,” is appalled, which says a lot, really.
Even the most entertaining parts of the issue don’t quite move us that far away from our starting point. Still, some valuable groundwork is being made. Baz’s reaction to the League is rather wonderful, a good example of Johns’ laughing, gentle twist of expectations. Quite overwhelmed by the very idea of having to face off against them, Baz begs off, saying Superman alone can kick his ass. However, he adds, “Maybe I can take Batman.”
“He’s a Green Lantern all right!” Flash quips.* It’s safe to say that while Baz doesn’t exactly make a good first impression on the League, they come away from the encounter in doubt as to whether he’s genuinely a threat. So League membership may still be available to him—hooray.
Meanwhile, there’s a more pressing question: who made the bomb that put him on a terrorist watchlist? Prior to receiving his new bling, Baz was a pretty ordinary guy. Yet the placement of the bomb in the car he stole seems suspiciously particular. So who would target Baz, and why? It’s touching that if no else does, Sira continues to have faith that her brother will do the right thing. Yes, Johns portrays her as a little too saintly to be entirely credible, but it’s so rare to find that kind of unwavering devotion—from family, no less—in comics that you have to buy it.
At the same time, Johns pays due attention to several other storylines, which I commend him for. It’s significant that Johns is making such efforts to gives each of the Hidden Ones names and distinguishable appearances. Compared to the nameless sameness of the Guardians, you’re obviously meant to have a more personal connection to these Oans. It’s intriguing, too, what role Black Hand will play in such close proximity to the Hidden Ones, and how can you not be interested in what kind of trouble Sinestro and Hal can get into even in death?
The fact that it takes an army of inkers to work over Mahnke’s lines should tell you something about how much work and thought he puts into his art (and also how much of this title takes place in darkness, which I imagine drives inkers a bit crazy). Of all the titles within the DCU, Green Lantern’s action sequences come closest to delivering the heart-pumping, rock-blaring stuff you only wish a live-action movie will capture. When Baz races his car construct down the streets and Flash chases after, their speed comes through in breathtaking style, and every sudden turn reveals how much momentum they’ve developed. And the colors! If Mahnke delivers the superhero action of your dreams, Sinclair-Avina bring the spectacle.
Conclusion: Purely entertaining across the board, but slow to advance the plot.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: * When the League discovers a Green Lantern has died, Flash says, “I hope it was Gardner. …I’m going to hell for that, aren’t I?” Probably, but I like you a lot more, now.
– I admit it: I find the Hidden Ones just kind of cute to look at. They’re like blue hobbits in dwarf gear!