By: Peter J. Tomasi (story), Chriscross (pencils), Scott Hanna (inks), Gabe Eltaeb (colors)
The Story: John displays a tradition of planets dying on his watch.
The Review: No one who works in a creative field can produce greatness all the time. We all know that, and yet it’s still a little shocking how someone can produce a masterpiece one day, then deliver a total dud another day. It’s even more baffling when someone actually does both in the very same day. A couple days ago, with Batman and Robin #18, Tomasi delivered what is now widely regarded to be one of the finest Batman issues of his or anyone’s career.
That same day saw the release of this issue of Green Lantern Corps, which presents Tomasi at his absolute worst. This is unfortunate on a lot of levels, not the least being that it reinforces John Stewart’s status as DC’s least-favored Green Lantern. In a title where he’s ostensibly co-leading with Guy Gardner, he already has a tough time competing with the more flamboyant and memorable antics of his partner. This was an opportunity to give readers an idea of what makes him tick, and Tomasi almost completely fails in that regard.
Why should this be? The premise and format of this issue is nearly identical to what Tomasi used in last month’s Guy-centric issue: Volthoom delving into his captives’ pasts, tweaking and twisting the most emotional wracking moments of their lives. Where does John’s experience fail to impress when Guy’s seemed to work so much better?
For one thing, #17 showed us brand-new aspects to Guy’s back-story we’ve never known, ones that gave him more dimension and pathos than we gave him credit for. In contrast, John’s entire life has been nothing but angst and pathos, and here Tomasi simply cycles through all of it again without adding new. You might call this issue John Stewart’s Greatest Hits: the destruction of Xanshi, the offer to join the Alpha Lanterns, the destruction of Mogo, the killing of Kirrt and subsequent death penalty.
But this is all old news for anyone with a modicum of knowledge about John’s life, and even for those without; Kirrt’s death and John’s narrow escape from execution both took place within the last year. The only new vignette—or at least one that hasn’t already been done to death—is the assassination of John’s politician mother. Unfortunately, crowded with all those other big moments in his life, the scene has little impact and it certainly does nothing to reveal something about John that we can hold onto.
It doesn’t help that we have to deal with Yrra’s past as well, making an already stuffed issue even more so. I don’t know if this is just because Fatality happened to be with John when Volthoom reappeared, or if Tomasi thinks John can’t support an issue by himself, but Yrra’s presence feels entirely unnecessary, even when Volthoom exploits the burgeoning attraction between the two of them—one that just feels weird and forced, by the way.
If Tomasi doesn’t seem here anything like the writer we had on Batman and Robin this week, then Chriscross is certainly nothing like Patrick Gleason. Besides the fact that his art style, with characters that look like their facial features have been inflated, already lacks conventional beauty, it seems as if he’s grown less interested in realism as the months go on, making dramatic scenes appear cartoony and outlandish instead. He exacerbates the problem with some fairly cheesy artistic choices: the blood forming a heart around John and Yrra’s lifeless bodies, the choice to make them both naked during this ordeal (when Guy managed to keep his clothes on during his bout with Volthoom last month). Eltaeb’s usually reliable colors can’t do anything to save this kind of art.
Conclusion: The law of averages can be a pain, huh? Tomasi very quickly erodes much of the street cred he earned on his other ongoing with one of the most pointless issues of GLC yet.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – It does kind of remind you that John’s been responsible for a lot of folks’ deaths in his time, hasn’t he? It might even give Hal (as Parallax) a run for his money.