Review: Green Lantern #21
“Dark Days Ahead”
Published by DC Comics
Written by Robert Venditti
Art by Billy Tan and Richard Friend
Coloured by Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina
To start things off, I’d like to share a link to a kickstarter project from two Nexus veterans that are from before my time. Hats off to these guys though, it takes a lot of guts to put your work out there for the world to see. Also, I’m definitely going to give this one a shot because as both fans and critics of the industry, I think they’ll have a good idea of what to put into their book. Check it out at:
In the near future, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Salaak, and some new recruits are under attack on Oa. Their power rings are at low levels and they make a run to refill them. However, they are surprised to find out what’s going on with the Central Power Battery. Back to the present and Hal approaches Carol at work and she begins talking to him about the unfortunate state of their relationship. Before the discussion takes an even worse turn Hal is called away by his ring. Over at the Evidence Vault on Oa, the new Guardians are looking at the weapons, etc. while Kyle Rayner is with them. The Guardians tell Hal what their immediate plans are and what they need of him in the meantime. Soon after, Hal is with Kilowog who is trying out a new position as Hal decides to let the rings loose to find new Corps members. At the same time, he notices Larfleeze rapidly approaching Oa. Larfleeze is surprised at how Hal approaches him and just then some of the new recruits arrive, which surprises Hal because he was expecting to get some immediate help.
Okay so my laptop kept acting up every time I started up this review and eventually it just flat out crashed (R.I.P. Joe’s laptop). Inevitably I ended up reading this comic about four times. In a way it’s a good thing that I did because I ended up enjoying this more. Let’s face it, this issue was doomed in some way before it was even printed. GL #20 was a pretty epic comic and there was such a sense of finality to it in some ways. There was so much working against this issue even though one of my favorite writers in Robert Venditti is writing it (he has been killing it over in X-O Manowar). This issue reminds me of the season finale in Game of Thrones. It was a fine and serviceable episode, but it seemed underwhelming in comparison to the previous week’s “Red Wedding Episode.” I liked how the status quo has been thrown out (at least for the time being). This is really the only way for this series to go and I honestly have no idea where this title is going for a change. For the past few years, Johns laid out breadcrumbs and clues as to what was going to happen. I usually had a good idea what was coming up because it was telegraphed well in advance. I’m not complaining about it because it did create some anticipation, but I’m ready for the new direction.
It’s been a story told before and even as recently as Green Lantern Corps Recharged, but I am looking forward to reading about new Green Lanterns coming into the fold. If done right, this can be a fun read, especially considering what Hal has to work with here. It seems as though we might be seeing more of Salaak in this book. He’s been a character I’ve always enjoyed even though he’s pretty much been shown in smaller doses. There were some good moments such as Kyle having Hal’s back during his discussion with the new Guardians. The battle between Hal and Larfleeze was pretty decent as I want to see what else GL can do now. I’m also good with Kilowog’s new role simply because it is something different. When I first heard that Tan was doing the art I wasn’t sure what to expect. I love Mahnke’s work and the only two suitable replacements for me would’ve been either Van Sciver or Reis. I have followed a couple of titles before with Tan at the art helm and I found it to look a bit flat. However, it seems as though maybe it was the colouring that had an effect on that because his work looked better in this issue than I remembered it. So I have to give a strong assist to Sinclair and Avina. There were some very dynamic pages in terms of colouring. There were some very nice angles that he tackled and he told a good story. There were panels that I didn’t care for, but all in all, I’m going to give his work some time for me. John Stewart only had two lines in this issue…that was a bonus!
So Hal and Carol are on the outs…again. She brings a bunch of issues that she has to the forefront, which includes some things like his lack of a place to live. She was there when Hal wanted to rebuild his personal life and he previously acknowledged that he was Green Lantern for so long without much of a break. Then Sinestro came and whisked him away and then the Army and First Lantern thing happened. Anyways, prior to all of this he was on his way to working on things and it’s not like he abandoned all of it just for the hell of it. Also, she was there when he was forcefully removed from his life as Hal Jordan. This has nothing to do with the story itself, but I can’t help to notice it since it’s two pages long. The two-page Superman Unchained ad annoys me a bit. It’s the title that makes me flinch every time I read it. With the reboot he was supposed to be a bit more edgy and this title implies that they are going this route again. Even after reading it (and enjoying it overall), I didn’t exactly feel as though Superman was “unchained” here. Just a poor title choice. And back to Green Lantern, this may be a baseless complaint, but I am concerned that we are not going to see enough Hal. His duties as Green Lantern seem as though they are going to override every other aspect of his life…again. I was enjoying his struggle to regain his personal life before and it was giving him more depth. I just hope that this aspect of his character isn’t ignored.
Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?
Buy It. This turned out to be a good follow-up to the epic ending of the Johns run. This issue had the unfortunate task of following the previous issue and it turned out to be better than I expected. I had faith in Venditti, but kind of felt a bit ‘meh’ about whatever came next because so much had been resolved (including where the characters eventually ended up in the future). Fortunately, some new plotlines have been introduced that have piqued my curiousity. I look forward to seeing where Green Lantern is going to go from here. This was purely a set-up issue, but it did a decent job of doing so.
Green Lantern Corps #21
Published by DC Comics
Written by Robert Venditti and Van Jensen
Art by Bernard Chang
Coloured by Marcelo Maiolo
John Stewart and Fatality are rushing towards the planet Kosh while somewhat discussing the status of their relationship. They arrive to find that something has already happened and try to scan the area for inhabitants. They find some beings attempting to take a substance known as Ruthenium from that planet’s core. They find that there is even more immediate danger present other than just the would-be thieves. Meanwhile over on Oa, Salaak is tendering his resignation to the new Guardians who talk to him about the old Guardians. Across the universe, we see glimpses of other characters on other worlds such as Dranx, Rojira, Zarox, and Rhoon. Over on Kosh, John and Fatality continue to fight, but are faced with the entire planet being in peril. Back on Oa, Salaak is facing some backlash from other Lanterns who believe he was in on what the old Guardians did. Soranik arrives to help him out as they prepare for a bunch of new arrivals (which include people from the previously mentioned planets). However, Larfleeze is also on his way to launch an attack as well. John and Fatality pursue their enemies, but are surprised to find that they are not who they seem to be. Then they are forced to split up as John is forced to return to Oa and Fatality continues on pursuit. Meanwhile the enemies reveal their true identities as well as the reasons behind their attacks.
I’m glad that we got a brief introduction to the new Lanterns that will be featured in this title. It was a brief glimpse, but I still feel like they were set up decently. I was ambivalent about Salaak taking some abuse from other Green Lanterns (wouldn’t they fully disclose what happened and why he wasn’t found to be an accomplice)? However, it did bring about Soranik Natu who herself has suffered an incredible loss as of late. I’m just glad about the thought that other Green Lanterns may be featured in this title. As a small child, I had the odd issue of GLC back in the 80s and they featured all sorts of different Green Lanterns. Hopefully they begin to do something similar like that here as well. They did a good job of building up the Lanterns Soranik, Vath, and Isamot and I hope that the new Lanterns receive as much attention. So far it seems as though they may bring some interesting perspectives and conflicts into the Corps. I also didn’t mind seeing an old familiar villain and what they will do in the near future. I also like how the new Guardians are being written in this issue, the old ones became such mean little dicks and these ones seem to be more insightful and want to avoid making the same mistakes. They also recognize some of the more recent problems with the Corps as well. I was glad to see how they handled Salaak. The titles are in sync thus far and they really complement each other, which is a good thing for now. The art was not a selling point for me, but this style is not the type that I usually favour. Therefore, I cannot say that it’s poorly done because it seemed fine for the style. At the same time, I understand the need to set this book apart from the other GL titles and the primary way to do so is with the art. The cover by Jones though was pretty damn fine though.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I am not a fan of John Stewart. Well I used to be, but that was before Justice League the animated series came out (which essentially started to fundamentally change the comic version). Well there’s an awful lot of John in this issue. To make matters worse, there’s a lot of back and forth about his relationship with Fatality. It really started to wear on me already. The large amount of John Stewart did tune me out though. I went into this title with a sense of not wanting to like it due to the Fialkov incident. I liked some aspects of this book more than I thought I would, but the whole “editorial interference” thing kept popping up in my head. Nothing in the story made me think of it specifically, but I kept thinking “What if.”
Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?
Borrow It. This wasn’t a bad issue overall, but it was so John-centric that it was a drawback for me. If other characters become more of the focus again (i.e. Soranik) then I think this title will benefit from it. I don’t necessarily think that we need an Earth-based Lantern to anchor each and every title as there are a host of other characters that, in some cases, are much more interesting. However, this is John Stewart’s title and this may not be changing in the near future.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #21
Published by DC Comics
Written by Justin Jordan
Art by Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy
Coloured by Wil Quintana
The new Guardians request that Kyle Rayner accompany them on their journey throughout the universe to learn more about it. Initially he declines, but then he is approached by Hal. They fend off some threat while having a discussion about recent events. Back on Earth, Kyle is packing up his apartment while visiting Carol. They both discuss their lives and he learns about her relationship with Hal. Soon after, Kyle accompanies the Guardians to see something called the Anomaly, which may have some interesting repercussions for the rest of the DCU. They encounter a being there known as Exeter, which of course leads to a brief battle. However, this conflict leads to the arrival of a familiar being (familiar if you’ve been reading the other GL titles).
I actually enjoyed reading this issue. The intercourse between Hal and Kyle was enjoyable and it felt true to their relationship. In this issue we also continue to see some growth from Hal. Even as a Green Lantern he seems to be maturing a bit. I also like the lighter nature of Kyle and it makes for easier reading. His perspective of recent events was bang on and I just generally enjoy a well-written Kyle. I liked how he acknowledged that his personal life is suffering from his Lantern duties. His expression when looking at his art supplies showed how much this is bothering him. His friendship with Carol is something that I am enjoying as they seem to be well-suited as friends. I like Kyle’s overall perspective in general, which is shown during his fight with Exeter. The attitude displayed by the one Guardian was funny because even though they renounced their predecessors they still show some of that Guardian know-it-all attitude. Their journey will be an interesting one because we rarely see the Guardians of the Universe interacting with the rest of the DCU. I am also very intrigued with “the Anomaly.” It has some potential for some very interesting storytelling. The reaction of the other ships around the Anomaly was very telling in how much damage needs to be repaired with the Corps overall. The cliffhanger showed strong continuity with the other titles and it didn’t come across as being forced. Walker’s art in this issue was a significant improvement for me and I his Kyle looked like Kyle. I also enjoyed the colours in this issue as Kyle’s White Lantern outfit looked pretty good. A solid issue overall this month.
I understand that Hal and Kyle have trouble trusting the new Guardians. However, they seem to almost seem to have a bit too much disdain for them. These Guardians were just as much victims as everyone else of the other Guardians’ actions. The new Guardians how shown a lot of differences compared to their predecessors and they are undeserving of such harsh judgement. There were some blips in the artwork and some panels that I didn’t like (some figures looked a bit awkward here and there). The one thing that I absolutely didn’t like in this issue was the Channel 52 segment. It was even more annoying this month than usual for me. I can’t believe that Matt Graham has been calling for a Channel 52 Omnibus. Okay that last sentence may be a fabrication of the truth.
Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?
…Buy It. This was a surprisingly solid issue for me this month. I’ve been enjoying Jordan’s work over in Valiant so I guess I shouldn’t be all that surprised. However, this has been my least favorite GL title and if it weren’t for the Green Army and First Lantern storylines then I would’ve been passing on it (editing note: it’s actually called the Third Army, which goes to show what I thought of that storyline in general). With the direction of this storyline I am feeling something that I have not throughout this entire series: anticipation. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a big step in the right direction.
The Final Word
So well after the departure of all the creative teams I have to say that I am confident in the overall direction. I think that in order for the GLC, NG, and RL titles to thrive creatively, they have to decrease the amount of crossovers. The build to the big finish is now over and I think that perhaps we will now see fewer crossovers. I truly enjoyed the Johns run and damn did that finale ever have some kickass moments, but I think that it was time for a new direction. The last two major arcs did some major dragging for me and it really limped at some points. There was definitely some stuff for me to like in the new issues though. The concept of taking new green (argh no pun intended there) recruits and having them learn through trial and error on the job is not a new story. However, it is a story that can be retold every so often because not all readers have had the benefit of reading this story. The possibilities for character building in the GL-verse are virtually endless and I’m glad that two of the titles are taking advantage of providing us with new characters. There is a true sense of continuity that comes without the sense of it being shoehorned into each title. What began as a sense of dread originally when it was first announced that the teams were all leaving each title has turned into excitement. I don’t know what the future holds for the GL titles and I’m glad that I don’t. It could completely fall flat for all I know, but based off of the first issues I think that good things are in store. The only weak link for me thus far was GLC and this could easily change with a simple shift in focus. The new issues weren’t necessarily jaw-droppingly awesome, but they don’t have to be that just yet. They are meant to set the stage for a new direction and I think that they did just that.