By: James Robinson (story), Nicola Scott (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Alex Sinclair (colors)
The Story: If you want to know how the man of the moon got there, ask Green Lantern.
The Review: Even though now I look back on my inglorious days as a college fiction writer with a lot of fondness, when I focus the lens a little tighter on those individual days, mostly I recall a lot of flop sweat. I think history will say that I was a much greater appreciator of writing than a writer, because I remember nothing I wrote satisfied me. Truth be told, I was probably harder on myself than anyone, which meant I was more sensitive to the missteps of others.
And that’s why when Green Lantern scoffs at the Grey, “You honestly thought my sadness at my lover’s death would be the opiate of my defeat?” it’s hard for me to resist a shudder. It has all the marks of—let’s not call it bad writing, but rather, overexcited. If you’re a new writer, it’s the kind of thing you’d put to paper, thinking in your head it’s lovely and dramatic, without once saying it out loud and hearing how awkward and so very, very lame it is.
The thing is, Robinson is not a new writer, and honestly should know better. The above line not only sounds clumsy, it also sums up another disagreeable point about the story thus far for me: the reduction of Sam to a pure means-ends character. It doesn’t really matter how tragically and poetically Alan waxes over his lover’s death (“I thought you were dead. That you were done. But you’re here, you’re mine to hold again. My Sam.”); all that emotion doesn’t make usany more invested in their undefined relationship.
Another problem is the series remains highly Alan-centric. His comrades basically have to fight around him in order to protect him, since he’s the only one who can access the Grey and he’s the only one who has the power to defeat Grundy, which he eventually does, returning to Earth so he can give the planet a “booster shot” for its healing. It’s not great that an entire arc should fixate so much on one character to the loss of the others. The sudden d-baggery of his personality at the end puts all this attention to waste; why focus so much on, as Kendra succinctly puts it, “an ungrateful, arrogant ass[?]”
While we don’t come away from this arc knowing the other cast members as much as we should, we do get the outlines of their personalities, and Robinson gives each some complexity. Jay may be a naïve pigeon, but he bristles at being pushed around as much as anyone else does. Kendra’s bossiness regularly gives way to concern. And though Al may be the very epitome of military jerkiness, he displays some regret in following some of his orders.
Robinson has also established Earth Two as the place where all the truly world-threatening stuff is happening. It’s almost comical the speed with which Grundy nearly destroys all the major city centers on the planet (at least, the ones that survived the Apokolips invasion—which Metropolis did not, apparently), but as an opening foe, it does bode ill for the difficulty of enemies to come. You have to wonder, too: will Sloan number among them? If he has only the world’s best interest in mind, as he claims, why look so disappointed when the Wonders succeed in saving it?
Even though I still think at the end of the day, it’s the story that should have greater weight in a comic, I’d never deny that art can be a major redeeming factor if the story has little to offer. Scott elevates what would be a truly mediocre issue into something that at least looks epic and, in certain moments, has some complexity to it. The expressions she gives to certain characters show a lot of emotional ambiguity, implying history and motivation beyond what you can see, even if Robinson gives no clue to any of that. Sinclair displays the best of DC’s style of colors: bright and vivid, proud of its escapist, otherworldly nature.
Conclusion: Although Scott’s art remains a treasure on this series, she’s disservice by Robinson’s uneven writing, which makes it hard to get attached to this Earth on its own terms.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Unless his space-cop counterpart, Alan loses power the further he moves from Earth. That’ll prove awkward in the next cosmic adventure.
– I still think the Hawk-people have some of the least exciting powers in the DCU. Assisted flight and some semi-deadly weaponry. Big whoop.