By: James Robinson (story), Yildiray Cinar (pencils), Trevor Scott (inks), Alex Sinclair, Dave McCaig, Allen Passalaqua, Lee Loughridge (colors)

The Story: What a waste of a beautiful woman with wings suddenly appearing on the balcony.

The Review: I’ve never understood the superheroes who go out with their heads uncovered or their faces exposed.  It’s just begging to draw the readers’ attention to unexplainable narrative gaps.  Take Alan Scott.  What?  Like no one’s going to get a good look at that lustrous blond hair, the chiseled jaw, and his hoarse whispers of “Sam, oh, my Sam,” and not make the connection?  But this, of course, is one of the basic indulgences we give to comics.

So usually, I would never spend a moment nitpicking at such a contrivance because once you start pulling at that loose thread, suddenly the entire world of the superhero comic starts coming apart at the seams.  That’s why I find it puzzling that Robinson would actually point out how easy it is to figure out the identity of this newest Green Lantern.  It’s not as if it took Kendra a series of mental gymnastics to figure it out:

“Train crash in China—one you ‘just happen’ to miss…where the first sighting of the Grene Lantern was reported.  Two plus two.  Not to mention your height, your physicality.”

Which is why it’s rather laughable that that Kendra attributes the feat to a “talent for this sort of thing.”  The topper is when she describes the process as “cracking the maze,” which is a bit like finding out where that weird smell is coming from in the fridge, and calling yourself Sherlock.

Anyway, it’s clear that Robinson probably shouldn’t make himself out as a mystery writer, but he can whip up some intriguing drama.  Strangely, none of it has anything to do with our Wonders, who are at this point mostly shallow characters with the barest scrapings of history, which marginally outweighs their personality.  Even worse, Alan is quickly turning into a grade-A jag right before our eyes, suddenly insisting on being a lone wolf.  “I’ve always followed my own path,” he claims.  You assume he’s not counting the lifelong commitment to monogamy he was about to embark on just before it blew up in his face.

No, the real tension lies in the “chess game” between Amar Khan and Terry Sloan.  It’s clear the former doesn’t have the genius of his foe, but that doesn’t mean he’s going to take Sloan’s crap lying down.  I rather like that he shrugs off Sloan’s inquiry as to how much he knows and the scene immediately cuts to Wesley Dodds and his Sandmen infiltrating one of Sloan’s secret bases at Khan’s behest.

Robinson defeats the most interesting part of the issue by going a bit light on the action-thriller stuff and heaping on the words.  It’s not news that Robinson’s one of the wordier writers in the game, but it still amazes me how unproductive he can be with all that text.  After pages of dialogue, only the smallest advances in plot and character develop take place, with the most unsubtle bits of exposition thrown in: “You being made head of the World Army Science Directive is a mistake.”

With four of DC’s most prominent colorists and Trevor Scott working Cinar’s pencils, Cinar’s work has never looked better, frankly.  Perhaps all Cinar ever really needed to shine was the right colorist.  The Sandmen sequence is lush and glossy, giving Cinar’s figures a depth I’ve never seen from them before, while the pages where Khan and Sloan walk through the World Army hangar is flat, looking more like the generic Cinar stuff of yore.  Besides, Cinar doesn’t have nearly Nicola Scott’s flair or taste in choosing the most dynamic and logical poses possible.

Conclusion: A dud of an issue with too much talk, too little substance, and too many narrative gaps.  On the plus side, Cinar turns out his best-looking work so far, thanks to intensive support.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Wesley mentions an “Emperor Lux and his Lone Star Scessionists.”  Don’t tell me that on Earth Two, the Texans have finally succeeded in…

– Fun fact: Wesley’s Sandmen consists of members from Canada, Mexico, Greece, Italy, France, and Spain.  So basically, they’re all NATO signees plus Mexico.