By: Robert Venditti & Van Jensen (story), Bernard Chang (art), Marcelo Maiolo (colors)
The Story: Nothing like dating the lone survivor of the planet you murdered to add some spice to the romance.
The Review: I must admit, the discovery that Venditti has his name on both of the biggest titles in the Green Lantern franchise filled me with no small amount of consternation. Green Lantern #21 was a pedestrian read by most standards, despite its attempts to shake-up the status quo and hit the ground running. To think that issue’s writer will get to plot this series as well (admittedly with Jensen’s help on scripting) is discouraging, to say the least.
I hoped this issue would prove me dead wrong, but instead it only proves me sick-but-rapidly-recovering wrong. If it functions at all better than GL #21, it’s probably because the choice of ensemble, and what Venditti-Jensen do with them, is slightly more interesting than whatever’s going on with Hal in his starring title. I applaud the decision to make John Stewart the central figure of the series, with Salaak and Soranik Natu as features; these guys (and especially this girl) have not had much love since the DCU relaunched.
At the very least, the romantic entanglement between John and Yrra has more potential to go someplace new than the overdone Hal and Carol thing. Yes, the relationship was hastily formed and even now feels inexplicable and creepy—I mean, how does a couple get over the hump of where he’s indirectly responsible for the death of her planet?—but it does have some interesting dramatic possibilities and it forces the usually stoic John to show a little heart. You just have your doubts whether Yrra is really as enlivening a partner as Guy Gardner once was.
It’s also very interesting to think of Salaak in a more hands-on sort of role within the Corps, now that he’s resigned from his administrative duties. But the idea of Salaak blaming himself for not catching the Guardians at their dirty work is just excessively martyred; he got entombed for his suspicions, for crying out loud. So to have him engage in this kind of angst and then pile the scorn and suspicion of his fellow Lanterns on top of that just leaves a bad taste in your mouth. It doesn’t help that these scenes just sound like Venditti-Jensen ground them out of the drama factory. “You got some nerve, showing your face,” remarks one Lantern to Salaak.
Salaak, naturally, pleads for understanding. “I swear I didn’t know the Guardians had turned against us. How long have we been friends, Shorm?”
“Long enough to know that Salaak sees all, hears all, and knows all,” hisses Shorm before twisting the knife. “And there is no ‘us,’ Salaak.”
Story-wise, Venditti-Jensen may be on to something, especially if these new recruits from various troubled sectors work out. What I find inexcusable, though, is Venditti using the luxury of writing both Green Lantern and GLC to cut down on his narrative responsibilities for both. I had a major complaint about GL #21 just shoving Salaak’s resignation and Kilowog’s placement on us without any explanation, and I definitely have a problem with this issue underplaying Larfleeze’s arrival on Oa simply because Venditti already went big with it in GL.
Chang isn’t the most inventive of artists, but he’s always proven a solid performer for DC, providing a nice balance of both expression and all-out action. Green Lantern is a franchise that calls for spectacle, which allows Chang to stretch his wings and take some uncharacteristic flights of fancy, like the title splash, with John slamming a construct of a steel beam through the ranks of his enemies while Yrra shields herself from attack with floral constructs. Maiolo is a kind of rising star among DC colorists, and he’s an old hand at working with Chang’s distinctive art style, so even if this issue doesn’t occupy your mind, it dazzles your eyes.
Conclusion: A slightly better outing than its companion series, but still dampened by an uninspired plot and some questionable storytelling choices.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: - You know, I really miss the Lanterns Pete Tomasi introduced at the start of the new volume of this series. Whatever happened to Isamot and Sheriff Mardin or Hannu? For that matter, I haven’t seen Arisia and Sodam Yat in a while, either.