By: Robert Venditti (writer), Sean Chen (penciler), Jon Sibal with Walden Wong (inkers), Andrew Dalhouse with Will Quintana (colorists)

The Story: Proof that Hal Jordan is messing everything up for everybody.

The Review: Though “Lights Out” didn’t officially start until this month, it’s effectively been playing out in the pages of Green Lantern: New Guardians ever since this era of Lantern stories began. Ever since Relic emerged from his celestial cocoon, he’s been dreaming of this moment. And yet, now that it’s here, he seems oddly irrelevant. Relic plays an important role in the story, make no mistake, but, for better or worse, this issue doesn’t highlight him the way you might expect.

To be honest, I haven’t been the fondest of Relic. Though Justin Jordan found a good rhythm for the character and the situation around him was interesting enough, Relic never quite rose above it. It seems like Robert Venditti agrees on some level.

While Relic provides the point of the spear, the real danger for the Corps comes from their dwindling power levels. It’s a potentially divisive choice, but one that I applaud. Power drainage is a classic Lantern concern and subtle, basic fears like asphyxiation can do a lot where a giant yellow man fails. It provides the sense of a time limit, something that can be hard to do in the comics format.

It also avoids the problem of escalation rather cleverly. Though we’ve seen Relic survive an assault on Oa, it’s probable that an entire corps could handle him, given time. But once again, that’s precisely what they don’t have. Toss in a dangerous battlefield and the threat of a Red Lantern revolt, and you have a tense comic.

Unfortunately, Venditti doesn’t paint a compelling picture of our antagonist. The Relic in this issue has none of the sophistication or intelligence that he had in New Guardians or even in Green Lantern #24, instead feeling like a spoiled child.

Hal Jordan doesn’t always come off much better, but that, at least feels kind of intentional. Indeed, the senior Lanterns are showing the strain of their duties. While it’s interesting to see Hal pushed so far so early in his tenure as Corps leader, we don’t get to see the fallout this issue, leaving me hoping that the disorganized manner in which the Corps handles this mission will be addressed.

In the end, it’s the underappreciated Lanterns, Stewart and Rayner, who shine brightest in this story. Though even John’s practiced stoicism breaks down at times, he makes out a lot better than Hal, and who can blame him for losing his temper with Guy Gardener?

Kyle is the one character who mostly resists the temptation towards childishness, baring a couple of mediocre one-liners.

Overall, this isn’t Venditti’s finest hour. The pacing is solid, but dialogue is somewhat lacking. While it’s erratic, I will give credit where its due and say that Venditti absolutely nails the tone of certain characters, brining their voices to life every here and there.

The other thing I’ll say is that, like another finale to a large-scale crossover that was released today, the failings of this issue must be weighed against the numerous seeds that Venditti has planted. One early one involving Carol Ferris, in particular, holds tremendous possibilities if handled right but, as is the problem with such things, we won’t know for some time.

Sean Chen is our artist for this outing, and he does an admirable job.  Chen has the ability to blend slick, modern lines with careful shading to create a style that’s both versatile and iconic.  Relic’s giant creepy face actually adds a great deal to the character in this issue, thanks to Chen’s talent for drawing true-to-life expressions in a comics style. Hal gets more than one wonderful reaction panel, as well. Unfortunately, whatever disease that’s been afflicting John Stewart’s cheekbones is clearly not responding to treatment, but you can’t win ‘em all.

Chen’s panel arrangements are clever, varied, and energetic. I personally find his choice of angles to be a little hit-and-miss, but that’s hardly unforgivable, especially in the face of his many strengths.

Supported by a pair of talented inkers and the colorists who’ve been bringing Dick Grayson and Kyle Rayner, respectively, to life, Chen creates a rather beautiful issue that’s a fine close to this crossover.

The Conclusion: “Lights Out” strives desperately towards that vaunted category of epic, but ultimately comes up lacking. It does manage to hold onto the precipice of solid event stories, but it will need its reader’s help to pull its way up any higher.

By that I mean that whether this is decent but forgettable crossover or an unspectacular but satisfying one will depend on your own views. Fans of Kyle Rayner will have reason to celebrate, but I expect that your opinion of this issue will change not only based on your preexisting feelings about DC’s cosmic universe but by how into it you get on each read.

The art team’s triumphs are sometimes subtle but, baring a couple of reasonable weaknesses, the issue’s visuals are solid to the core.

Green Lantern Annual #2 doesn’t live up to the rare pedigree that “Sinestro Corps War” or “Blackest Night” belong to, nor does it try to shock you the way that “War of the Green Lanterns” did, but it proves that this franchise can survive Johns’ departure. Robert Venditti provides a satisfying conclusion to this event and lays the pipe for who knows how many stories down the line.

Grade: B-

-Noah Sharma

Some Thoughts

  • I know that this was Venditti’s show and that his set up will be a large part of it, but you can count me excited to see what happens in next month’s New Guardians.
  • Also, with all due respect…what does Robert Venditti think Santa looks like?