Peter: I have always liked the idea of the Green Lantern Corps; an intergalactic peace keeping force run by a council of small, immortal blue aliens. Over the years, the Green Lantern mantle has been carried by several different humans, from Hal Jordan to Kyle Rayner. However, for a very long time, outside of large-scale events the rest of the Corps was rarely seen. With the advent of the Green Lantern Corps monthly we are given a look into the the workings of the Corps and a sometimes needed, always appreciated break from Hal Jordan and his ever-fluctuating mental structure. Peter Tomasi has begun to sculpt a new set of stories that are so far piquing my interest and are leaving me excited for the future of the Corps.
At the end of GLC 5, we see Guy ready to take on the Keepers and rescue his longtime friend and teammate John Stewart. After five issues of story and build up, we are finally ready for what is going to be the first major showdown of this book’s run, and the climax of the first story arch. It’s a long time coming, and we see Guy Gardner, who is about to go all Rambo on the Keepers, complete with a posse of the meanest, baddest Green Lanterns around, a large cache of Earth weapons, and two members of the Sinestro Corps that I cannot help but equate to a combination of Tweedledum and Tweedledee and Johnny Knoxville’s character from Men in Black 2. This feels like a western film and Guy Gardner is Clint Eastwood.
As John Stewart and his fellow Lanterns are being tortured for the codes to Oa’s force field, the Keepers tell the Lanterns a little of their past and about how they are powering their stargate with their own bodies. The interior of their building reminds me of a cross between the Death Star and the people harvesting fields from The Matrix. As Lantern Kirrt is about to give the Keepers what they want, the most surprising and shocking thing in this issue takes place; in order to keep Kirrt from giving the Keepers the codes, John Stewart snaps his neck, killing him, and sending his ring off to find a replacement. Shortly after this, John Stewart uses the last little bit of energy he has in his ring to get him and Vandor out of the Keepers hold. As the Keepers pursue them, Guy and his allies show up and attack the Keepers with their Earth weapons, inciting the action-packed battle that we have been waiting for. As the battle rages on, and casualties are taken on both sides, we learn why Guy brought along the Sinestro Corps members; to use them as a bomb to spread fear, and make the Keepers afraid of everything, thus winning battle for the Lanterns, and allowing them to do so without anyone else dying. The Keepers are sentenced to dig the graves of all of their victims as punishment.
This book is the climax of this first arc, and really it was everything I could have hoped for. While Green Lantern Corps is not as involved with character development as Tomasi’s other book (Batman and Robin), this is still a well written book. The best part in this book, comes when John Stewart breaks Kirrt’s neck. This is by far the most shocking thing I have read in a long time.
I don’t think I have felt the neck breaking of a comic book character like this since Spider-Man accidentally broke Gwen Stacy’s neck in The Amazing Spider-Man #121. This is a huge event for me, and for John Stewart. This is Tomasi building John’s character up a little bit, showing his willingness to kill for the good of the Corps, not unlike his actions during the War of the Green Lanterns arc prior to the reboot, where he kills Mogo. To me, John Stewart has always been a Lantern of the highest moral fiber and to see his character being taken in this direction shows that John is not as infallible and as strong as I thought. This is similar to Tomasi’s writing in Batman and Robin, as he is showing in those books that Batman is not as infallible as previously made out to be. This overarching movement of character construction fitting with the reboot which is taking many of DC’s characters and stripping them down and making them seem somewhat more human.
This book really is Guy’s big show. It seems as if the Rambo-style battle has been a long time coming for Guy and plays very well into his character. It also plays into the strengths of artist Fernando Pasarin who uses his incredible skill to render this issue of intense, action-packed battle with seeming ease, and without the usual clutter that accompanies them. This is most evident in this two page battle.
There are a few things that confuse me in this issue however. First, the use of the ‘fear bomb’ made from the two Sinestro Corps members. While I understand the Lanterns want to end the battle without many casualties, the only way I can see this idea working at all is that it is written off with Guy and the Machine. They are willing to do anything for the Corps, and this includes killing their own prisoners. It works well with their hard-nosed characters. But it still just doesn’t work for me.
The final thing is the Keepers having the dig all of the graves as their punishment. If the Guardians have been so busy lately planning out their next major play, how did they have time to deliberate and come to a decision of the Keepers’ fate? Especially since this didn’t seem to keen on their action against them as a whole.
Confusions aside, this issue is a great end to the first arc of Green Lantern Corps. I am looking forward to future arcs and how this is play into the Guardians’ new plan for the Green Lanterns and how these characters will play a role. While we have the Night of Owls coming up, and the Second Wave, I think that something else will soon be in the works regarding the future of the Corps, as across all the Green Lantern books it has been hinted at that the Guardians are up to something, involving this ‘Third Army’, which is a reference to their next plan for the galaxy, with the First Army being the Manhunters, the Second being the Green Lantern Corps, and the Third, who knows? I am excited for this evolution of the Green Lantern Universe and will keeping reading with great anticipation.
Patrick: Here’s where my confusion lies: John Stewart snaps Kirrt’s neck one moment and then jump-starts his ring the next. If it was within John’s power to make one last Hail Mary play, why the hell does he murder his bother in arms before exhausting all other possibilities? I suppose a case could be made that he needed the chaos and confusion that would result from killing Kirrt, but Jesus, that’s cold-blooded.
This is a regular portrayal of the John Stewart character – not reckless, but not one to shy away from causing serious collateral damage. You mention him taking out Mogo during the War of the Green Lanterns, and I think that event goes a lot further to define his character than this moment. For one thing, Mogo is awesome. I don’t know what it says about me, but I have a real soft spot for sentient planets, and I felt a visceral sinking in my gut when Stewart put him down. Kirrt, as a point of comparison, is a corpsmen I don’t know at all. Therefore, I feel very little about his passing, regardless of what it says about my second favorite Green Lantern of Sector 2814 (okay, third – behind Abin Sur).
And that problem of no being invested in the deaths as they’re presented is persistent through the series – and this issue in particular. The very last panel shows mountains of murdered manatee-people. Presumably, Parasin and Tomasi go out on this image because they want to convince me that these Keepers are bad bad bad dudes. But it doesn’t take a pile of nobodies to earn my ire. Many of the Recharge – War of the Green Lantern arcs would introduce a corpsmen for the sole purpose of killing them at the end of the run, but it works because the reader gets a chance to really invest in a character. It’s sad to see a character die, but it’s boring to see a red-shirt die. Making it an ocean-planet worth of red-shirts doesn’t do much to change this.
What’s sort of interesting here is that there is some murder in this issue that I am interested in: Fat Man and Little Boy. You mentioned that it seems particularly ballsy of Guy Gardner to sign off on a plan that involves EXPLODING prisoners that they illegally stole from the sciencells. I agree. And I think Guy’s willingness to do something like this speaks directly to your second question – that’s not the Guardian’s verdict. Guy is laying out his own personal brand of space-cowboy justice, the will of the Guardians be damned. This is where some of the most promising character work is done. Guy and John have stated their dissatisfaction with the whole Guardian situation in the past, but they appear to be increasingly cool with defying orders from Oa if it means achieving their own goals. Intriguingly, they are always able to recruit other Green Lanterns for whatever they need to do. If this turns into the Guy, John and the Green Lanterns vs. the Guardians and The Third Army, then I’m more than happy to see these battle-lines drawn so clearly now.
Drew and I are catching up with Green Lantern: The New Guardians next week and I’ll be interested to see if that series gives more hints as to where the GL universe is headed. While the GL series were enjoying a hay-day pre-re-launch, DC’s main focus has been elsewhere of late. I’m totally psyched for the Night of Owls, but there’s just no room in that story for our semi-magical outer space cops. Between the Owls and the return of Watchmen this summer, I’d guess that we’ve got another year or so worth of smaller stuff before the interstellar drama takes center stage again. Which is a shame, because Green Lantern Corps works best when it’s comically enormous stakes seem to matter.
Barely related question: why haven’t John and Guy checked in on Hal at all? I know they’ve been busy, but they went through a lot of shit together. As far as I can tell, the last time they saw him was in the aftermath of the War of the Green Lanters, and that was as he was transported off Oa and stripped of his power ring. They start this series on Earth! They can’t drop by and see how their buddy is doing since he lost the only thing in the universe that mattered to him? Jerks, that’s all they are.
Oh and because I didn’t get your Men in Black II reference, I looked it up on YouTube. This scene isn’t in English, but I like to imagine it illustrates your point rather well:
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?