In these stories from GREEN LANTERNS: REBIRTH #1 and GREEN LANTERN #1-6, new Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz begin a new era of emerald excitement, tackling the universe’s toughest beat: Earth. These rookie Lanterns promised to protect others in brightest day or blackest night, but as the “Red Planet” begins to rise, the duo finds themselves confronted with the unimaginable threat of Bleez and the Red Lanterns!
Well, this was interesting to say the least.
When I first saw this volume, I didn’t realize there was an S at the end of Lanterns, which did confuse me at first. Who’s the woman on the cover, I wondered, and what happened to Hal Jordan?
That woman is Jessica Cruz, who, along with Simon Baz, are the latest recruits of the Green Lantern corps. I did start to wonder at the start of reading this volume how many Lanterns planet Earth actually needs, considering this a planet with a Justice League (and a Chinese one I never knew about), Teen Titans, and an extended Bat family.
Oh well, as long as the comic is good, I can suspend disbelief.
The plot is as follows: Rami, the Rogue guardian, flees to Earth after being exiled for creating a phantom ring. Meanwhile, Cruz and Baz are assigned to protect Earth from an impending threat from the Red Lanterns. The Red Lantern leader – Atrocitus – has his minion Bleez plant a Hell Tower on Earth, which will infect the human population with rage, thus ushering in the “Red Dawn”. If you’ve seen the Dragon Ball Z movie Tree of Might, the concept of the Hell Tower should make more sense.
The only problem is with the Lanterns themselves: Jessica Cruz is a full on coward, and at one point becomes infected with rage herself. Simon on the other hand is a gun toting jerk (by his own admission) who doubts his worthiness of the ring. Oh, and Jessica can’t create any objects with her ring.
I’ll start by being positive: The one strong point this graphic novel has is the artwork. What drew my attention to it was the name “Ethan Van Sciver”; apparently he was hounded off Twitter by an angry mob of SJW’s for daring to hold conservative views and voting for Donald Trump. Nonetheless, he’s only credited for Issue 1, but he does set a pretty high standard for the other artists to follow.
I suppose a Green Lantern story demands a superb colorist, and artists like Jason Wright and Blond definitely deliver. The colours on these pages jump out at the reader, displaying vibrant hues whenever necessary. Jay Leisten is a fantastic inker; splash pages riddle this graphic novel, so he must have had his work cut out for him.
I have to hand it to Robson Rocha, who takes on the bulk of pencil duties, but issue 3 required up to 4 people, and the art wasn’t exactly up to snuff compared to the other issues in this volume. That’s really the only nitpick I have in regards to the artwork, because imagine the care it must have taken to draw all if this.
And now I have to talk about the story.
The one thing that really puzzled me was why Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz were created to be the new Lantern recruits. On one hand, I love Geoff Johns, and the artists who co-created each – Doug Mahnke and Ethan Van Sciver specifically. However, I couldn’t shake this sneaky feeling that these two characters – especially Simon – was the product of internal politics.
I mean, we’re talking about a gun-toting Green Lantern (I don’t even think Guy Gardner was that extreme… was he?). He’s also a convicted terrorist, living in Dearborn Michigan – known for its Muslim population – AND a former Guantanamo Bay inmate. Really? It seems as though his Muslim background is really shoved in your face, to the point where he starts to come across as one of Marvel’s diversity characters, defined mainly by their race, culture, or religion (or all three, in Simon’s case), whilst being a superhero is more of a backdrop.
And what’s with the gun?
And then there’s cruz. Not only does she become infected with rage in this volume, but she spends most of the final fight with the Red Lanterns hiding. She’s a coward: she hid in her room for three years, like those hikikomori in Japan. But the weirdest part of this ENTIRE comic is when – upon ruminating over her fear and uselessness – she suddenly gains the ability to make objects with her power ring, when she was cowering in fear several panels ago!
The creators should have just made her a Yellow Lantern, because that’s how fearful she is.
Mind you, I don’t mind a good character development, as nobody likes a Mary Sue. However, I feel that – while the artwork was superb – there a bit too much emphasis on their shortcomings, and the way they overcame them was a bit rushed and confusing.
Oh well, this isn’t the official Green Lantern series, and perhaps it gets better later. Still, the aforementioned issues seem a bit to numerous to simply ignore, so hopefully these were fixed in Volume 2. Not that I’ll make a b-line for that…
So, the verdict: IF you love great artwork, then this comic does not disappoint. However, while the plot revolving around the red lanterns is intriguing, the character spotlight on Baz and Cruz isn’t really for me.
Maybe I should have read Sinestro Corps War or Secret Origins as a better intro to a character I never read much of as a child.