Green Lantern 16

green lantern 16-3rd

Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Green Lantern 15, originally released January 23rd, 2013. This issue is part of the Rise of the Third Army crossover event. Click here for complete Third Army coverage. 

Patrick: At the beginning of this issue, Simon Baz takes a thorough tongue-lashing from (adorable) veteran Lantern B’dg. The little guy is all about the accusatory questions: “Who are you?” “Where’s your lantern?” and, my personal favorite:

b'dg thinks Baz is a bad green lantern

But Baz isn’t bad; he’s just new to the position. Everything from fighting bad guys to trusting his powers to meeting the Justice League is new to him. And in a medium so caught up in what is old — and especially caught up in the task of making old things new again — it’s interesting to see what such a fresh character is capable of.

After they’re clear of danger, Baz abandons Agent Fed — and thus abandons any chance at clearing his name — in order to seek out all-important Answers. Baz and B’dg wind up at the Coast City Cemetery, where they’re able to retrieve two things: 1) Baz’ lantern, which triggers the twin “help me Obiwan Kenobi” messages in Baz’ ring, and 2) The Book of the Black, which B’dg tucks nicely in his purse for safe-keeping. Both Holo-Hal and Holo-Sinestro urge the new ring bearer to Stop the Guardians, each offering their most trusted friend in the universe – Carol Ferris and Arkillo respectively.

But before any of that outerspace junk can happen, Baz stops by his brother-in-law’s hospital room and uses the Green Lantern ring to bring him out of his coma – a feat B’dg had claimed (and continues to claim even after it happened) was impossible. Okay, now it’s time for space adventure? NOPE. The volume on the TV gets cranked up like 50 notches, and our heroes hear that Guy Gardner is in trouble. So, we’ll get to outerspace eventually, by way of Baltimore.

When we first met Simon Baz in September, I made the claim that he is was a modern Green Lantern – there to replace the outdated models that seemed to spring from a world that doesn’t really exist anymore. Baz is a product of his time and culture, all of which exist right now and in real life.  This is all still true, but I left out an important part of his character – this identity is new. And I mean that holistically: save the logo on his chest and the ring on his finger, there’s nothing old fashioned about Baz, inside or outside the narrative. The ideas get a little more abstract — and quite a bit more sensitive — so bear with me.

First, there’s the issue of Baz’ race and religion. Take a look around the American-entertainment-landscape and you will see devastatingly few people like Baz. Unless of course, they’re terrorists. I read a lot of criticism of this character when he came on the scene that it was racist for Johns to take the story of a Lebanese Muslim living in Michigan in a post-9/11 world and immediately introduce DHS agents that suspect him of being a terrorist. But that’s not who the character is, that’s what the world he lives in is. Further, we see in this issue that Baz isn’t going to let suspicions that he’s a terrorist define him – it is decidedly not the story that Simon Baz is interested in taking part in.

Also, do you realize it’s been almost 20 years since Kyle Rayner was introduced? That means there hasn’t been a new Green Lantern from Space Sector 2814 since 1994. So even though we razz Geoff Johns for creating YET OTHER Earth Green Lantern, it’s actually been kind of a while since the last.

But the newness that excites me the most is the in-narrative newness. Baz has never been trained in ring-slingin’, and B’dg is too darned busy being adorable to provide him with proper instruction. Rather than making him a terrible Green Lantern, it means he doesn’t have to adhere to the Green Lantern rules. Green Lantern rings can’t heal people? Baz just made it heal someone. Green Lanterns revile Sinestro? Baz isn’t so keen to drink that kool-aid. Green Lanterns have urgent business fighting an undead army in space? Cool, Baz will be right there – he’s just got to stop in and say hi to family first. Green Lanterns don’t carry extra weapons?

Baz packs heat

Johns is crafting this wonderful outsider persona, that will fit nicely among the other weirdos in Justice League of America.

But that’s most of what this title has become in the last 5 months: an introduction to Simon Baz. There are occasional cutaways to Guardians rubbing their hands together and laughing maniacally, or Hal and Sinestro holding hands and skipping through limbo like old pals, but this story arc is all about Baz. Johns has a history of aggressively cutting between discrete groups of characters, but that’s largely been missing from this run. Tellingly, nearly every panel in this issue contains Baz’ face – it’s only in the epilogue that we leave him. But check it out: there’s never any Baz voiceover narration. The classic crutch for getting to know your superhero is totally absent. It is a patient introduction of this character, and all of his personality traits are conveyed through his actions. I may find myself asking when they’re going to get to the fireworks factory because we’ve seen so very little little of the Third Army (this is where we were supposed to show up if we wanted to see the Third Army, right?), but at the end of the day, this kind of character study has more lasting value.

The notes at the end of the issue inform me that we’ll be following Baz into Green Lantern Corps 16 and now, with this exhaustive groundwork laid before us here, I’m ready to see the man in action.

Shelby, I got caught up in a couple layers of abstraction here, so I neglected to mention… basically everything that isn’t Baz. Hey, how about B’dg? He’s fucking weird, right? Is it too goofy to you that he can talk to squirrels? How about Baz getting frustrated at the two messages playing and one time and demanding that the “good guy” goes first? Or, if you’re feeling up to it, how about Tomar-Re making a Dead-Zone cameo?

Shelby: If the only thing we get out of this whole Green Lantern event is Simon Baz, then it’s worth it. I love everything you have to say about Baz as a truly new character for this universe. His problems are problems we recognize in the world around us, and you all know how much I love comic books with characters I can relate to in a realistic way. I think the most realistic thing about Baz is the gun. You and I know a Green Lantern doesn’t need a gun; hell, John makes gun constructs all the time. Baz has every weapon at his disposal, as well as a Lantern to charge his ring with hiding where he can get it at almost any time, but he doesn’t trust it, doesn’t believe it. You know why? Because it doesn’t make any sense. If a talking squirrel told me I didn’t need to bring a gun with me, I’d say, “sure thing, sweetheart” in the most patronizing way possible while checking the safety was on before holstering every gun I could get my hands on.

I find I forget about everything else happening in this universe. Oh yeah, the Third Army. Right, Hal and Sinestro are trapped in the Dead Zone. First Lantern, sure thing. All I want to know is how is Baz getting on? I think this is the Geoff Johns book I am most enjoying right now, and it’s because of what he’s done with Baz. Johns has become known as “the man with the big ideas” around the non-existent Retcon Punch offices for his huge events and epic, cinematic story arcs. It’s easy to forget that Johns has done some great character work; both the Hal and Barry Rebirth stories made me love both of those characters. I’m looking forward to all these events and arcs and minis finishing up, so Johns can sit back and build on this complex and contemporary character he’s created, and I can reap the rewards.

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?

21 comments on “Green Lantern 16

  1. Baz is great! We all love Baz. I couldn’t agree more with the praise given to him here as it’s well earned.

    Patrick, you mentioned B’dg so I wanted to say that I really enjoyed seeing him here. He’s usually just a funny background character, but he’s also been around for DECADES, so it’s great to finally see some characterization out of him. Shelby mentioned that Johns gives some great character work and I’d put his treatment of B’dg in that category. Was it silly that he can talk to squirrels? YES, but it was also funny and seeing as how he’s inherently a goofy character, it totally worked for me. Plus, who knew that his species was referred to as “H’ivenite?” I didn’t, so it was fun to learn that detail. Oh, but to answer your question, he’s fucking weird as hell!

    Also, I’m not sure exactly how you were questioning this, but when Baz asked the ring to let the “good guy” go first, I was a bit puzzled by that at first, but then I realized that the ring played Hal first because of who Baz considers to be a good guy. B’dg just got finished telling him that Sinestro betrayed the Corps. It’s clear that Baz immediately considered Sinestro to be a “bad guy” because of that betrayal which makes sense considering how loyal a guy Baz has been shown to be.

    Finally, I was a bit disappointed to see Tomar-Re under that cloak. I had been hoping it would be Abin Sur because I think it would have been interesting to finally learn what he thinks about both his replacement, and his former best friend who ended up becoming an enemy of the GLC. Though, I guess it’s still possible to see that as there were quite a few dead dudes surrounding them in that last panel. Also, is this really supposed to be the afterlife? I mean, Tomar-Re was a hero! Does he really deserve to spend the rest of eternity in the bleak, dark place? I hope they address that in some way. Maybe this is just some kind of purgatory?

  2. Whereas I’ve dropped all DC titles except Batman this month so couldn’t disagree more. This whole New 52 Green Lantern makes me feel that every story before that I invested time and money into that Johns has done has been a waste. And let me be clear…Green Lantern with Hal, Kyle, John, and Guy was the whole reason I started reading DC in the first place. It had felt as if this was something building to a bigger whole but in the end it is like Johns refreshed all of these old tropes and fleshed out these huge stories only to drop it to almost nil and boredom in not just Green Lantern but everything he is doing with DC now. I know I”m going to get attacked as some hater but the fact is that some of these reboots and explorations make sense in a timing scope. This makes little to no sense at all and I find people that accept these things could be using their time reading titles from much better writers and artists that get half the lip service most of the Big 2 is getting these days. Johns went from a writer of substance and depth to a panderer to adolescent male power fantasy. I used to admire Johns. Now I revile him.

    • We definitely have some Johns fans around here (though I believe their patience may be wearing thin), but I’ve never been fully convinced. Bear it mind: my exposure to any Green Lantern before the relaunch was pretty limited, but at worst, I’ve only found things to be mediocre. There have been glimmers of brilliance, but I’m generally pretty lukewarm on his work in the New 52. Your point that our time, money, and interest may be better spent on all kinds of great comics we’re not reading is well taken — and something we always try to focus on here. With that in mind, what should we be reading instead? I doubt we’d ever drop this title, but I’m always interested in hearing what people would rather be reading, knowing full well that our pull list has some pretty big blind spots. Any suggestions? (I hope this isn’t coming off as combative — I’m genuinely interested in what’s better out there.)

      • While I’m sure this isn’t the kind of suggestion Jack had in mind, I’m grabbing this opportunity by the reins and suggesting “Young Avengers” by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, whose first issue just came out this week over at Marvel. Excellent story and art, very new reader friendly, one of the most breathtaking two-page spreads I’ve seen in ages, plus it features everybody’s favorite Hawkgal, Kate Bishop!

        As for the Jack’s comments on the current Green Lantern universe, I really felt like very little changed in the series’ from pre to post New 52. It’s obvious they let Johns keep his toys and keep the trajectory on the story he’d been building for close to a decade. Whether the quality of the stories has changed is subjective, and I don’t feel like enough of an expert in the GL Universe to say, but I don’t think it’s invalidated any of those past stories. If you loved them you loved them no matter what the future brings, plus I don’t think the end point of Johns’ stories (if he has one) was changed any by the reboot. That’s just my two cents though.

        • Lots of good thoughts here.

          a) Young Avengers – I have heard good things and will likely throw it on the ol’ read-pile.

          b) New Stories Invalidating Old Stories – I totally agree with your assessment. To trot out the oldest example in the book, I still love watching The Empire Strikes Back, no matter how bad the prequels were.

          c) Drop in Green Lantern Quality – I’ve read Green Lantern since Rebirth – every issue of every series (plus as much Blackest Night and Brightest Day as I could), and I think the dip in quality came immediately at the end of Blackest Night. Prior to that, the series (and Green Lantern Corps, which I LOVED at the time) were breathlessly introducing some of the most inventive mythology I’d ever read. But as soon as the prophecy of Blackest Night had already come to pass, it was like it should have ended. I still sorta liked Hal teaming up with Sinestro, Walker, Larfleeze, Indigo-1, Carol and Atrocitus to find the entities, but it was clear that Johns was sorta spinning his wheels, which is more or less what I feel like is still happening.

          It’s just frustrating that there have to be four Green Lantern books right now and none of them are killer. New Guardians comes close, but I think time will tell on that one.

        • I have been disappointed by Johns’ work in the New 52 repeatedly so far. Even the acclaimed new arc on Justice League with Throne of Atlantis I’ve found to be underwhelming. He hasn’t sold me on the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship and I have not found his portrayal of Hal Jordan to be compelling at all. I’ve read the first arc of his Aquaman run and thought some of the scenes with Mera were a bit ham-fisted in their execution (does anyone remember the scene in the grocery store with the misogynistic store owner?). Can anyone tell me whether Aquaman improves in quality after that first arc?

          I think the one bright spot in his work has been Baz. I could be completely biased because I’m Muslim and this has been a really positive portrayal of someone who is Muslim in the media. Baz is also really down to earth and smart, which I wasn’t necessarily expecting from Johns. I’m dropping Green Lantern after Baz leaves the title and am looking forward to his appearance in JLA.

        • I’m also obviously a pretty big Baz fan – I barely talk about anything else in this write-up – but I totally agree with you regarding the rest of Johns’ work so far in the New 52. That opening arc of Justice League is especially disappointing because the Dark Seid invasion is one of those Big Things that happened in the Universe – everyone refers back to it as a situation they need to be prepared to happen again in the future. Like it’s such an important moment in this universe’s history, but it’s boring as hell (and all the heroes are characterized like assholes).

          And I absolutely loathe the way Johns has been writing Mera since the N52.

        • Also, how funny is it that that event doesn’t bear on the lives of literally ANY of the Leauge in their own titles. I kind of like that JL pays lip service to what’s going on in the rest of the DCnU, but NOBODY reciprocates.

        • It probably should be that way, though. Solo books are there to tell great, imaginative stories featuring the character in question while the team book is there to give us a sense of connectivity within the universe

    • I can see where you’re coming from; I started reading comics because of Johns Rebirth and Blackest Night. When DC launched the New 52, I only intended to read the Johns titles. Ah, to be so young and naive. 🙂

      There’s been a lot of Johns stuff I’ve been disappointed with the last year, especially in the Aquaman/Justice League arena. But his work on this title has, in my opinion, remained pretty consistent with the Johns who brought Hal back from the dead. Hal’s “I’m done bullshitting around” attitude and Baz’ situation and have been refreshing: one is a new outlook for an old character, the other a new character who actually reflects the world we live in. Of all the Lantern books, this is the one I’m enjoying the most right now.

  3. Real quick question, since Baz is rising up my favorite character’s list: I’m curious since I’ve heard different pronunciations, how does the Retcon Punch team read/say his name? I went to my Muslim friend and laid the new GL’s story out there, as well as inquiring over his name… she claims to say Simon Baz’s name correctly is to say “Simone Baaz” according to his heritage.

    I think I’m settling at a middle ground though, ala “Simon Baaz”

    • Being born, raised and educated in Wisconsin, I am saying “Simon” as in the Chipmunk (with Alvin and Theodore – I don’t know why that’s my first example) and “Baz” with the longest possible “A” (imagine a Minnesotan mom saying the word “bag” but put a Z on the end). I’m fully prepared for my prononciation of the last name to be wrong, but I think the character is supposed to have an anglocized first name..

    • You know, I’m not quite sure how to pronounce it. As far as I know, Baz is a Lebanese last name (which makes sense because the Lebanese population in Dearborn, MI is HUGE). Simon is a biblical name and does not have any particular origin related to Islam or Arabic.

  4. I’m loving this arc and I’m actually kind of dreading that there won’t be a Johns/Mahnke Baz solo once Hal gets his book back and Baz takes his real publication spot in JLoA. I’m less excited about a Finch-drawn Baz who shares pages with a team of other, more famous characters. Because I met Baz via that beautiful first page of GL #0 and now I’ve seen his smile as he’s recusitated his brother there is some part of Simon Baz’s soul that is, for me, intertwined with Doug Mahnke’s artwork. Though, admittedly, I’ve never been shy about being huge Mahnke fan and I’m not so hot on Finch (I actually prefer his protege Fabok, and even then I’m not nuts about the aesthetic.)

    Also, the idea that this event is “ending” soon is a fake-out since the immediate, next event is “Wrath Of The First Lantern.” And I see that Volthoom-focused event title as being a near-confirmation of the Crime Syndicate theory; we also know Reverse Flash will be appearing soon so that would fill the anti-Flash spot on that team. Shazam will be joining so Black Adam is a built-in anti-Shazam. Ocean Master could be the anti-Aquaman (although Johns said in an interview a long time ago that Manta and Orm were actually working for a brand new Aquaman villian that hasn’t been revealed, so that’s the MORE likely anti-Aquaman.) But the one that will be interesting to see is if they can convince Azzarello to introduce an anti-Wonder Woman in his solo… he seems to be doing his own, epic mythology thing and I don’t know how well he’d take to editorial taking the wheel from him

    • Wait, maybe Zola’s baby is the anti-Wonder Woman? There’s a lot of hooplah surrounding the baby so there’s a good chance it could get Trunks’d/Franklin Richards’d into an adult at some point. Do we know if the baby is female? I forget

      • Can’t wait for more Barbara Minerva Cheetah in the New 52… hopefully Azz will even find a reason to use her eventually, that would be awesome

  5. So the news is out that Geoff Johns is leaving Green Lantern with issue #20. I’m in total shock since this run has gone on for Claremontian lenths so far. He doesn’t appear to be easing out of writing comics at all, so I hope this just means we’ll get like 8 more years on Aquaman

    • It certainly is surprising. One of those “as sure as the sun rises in east, so too will Geoff Johns write for Green Lantern.” I’ve got a lot of feelings about this one. And a lot on anxieties about who’s going to take his place… maybe we need a chat cave…

      • Haha, yup. I love the chat cave, it’s a sure sign that something of import is happening in the world of comics. “Guys, we need to talk.”

      • I’m pulling for Joshua Hale Fialkov (I, Vampire). I would actually read it as an ongoing even if GL goes back to having Hal Jordan as the main character.

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