Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Green Lantern Corps 16, 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: When they’re working properly, the Green Lantern Universe of comics is a breathless machine that pumps out fun, exciting narratives. But that’s it: the only speed these series know is HIGH. But when these stories abandon all pretense of depth or intelligence, they simply have to be fun. Otherwise, what’s the point? Oh, let me go back, that’s how I want to start this review: “What’s the point?”
Having learned of Guy Gardner’s incarceration, the Guardians redirect the Third Army in his direction. Lucky for Guy, his siblings are visiting him in jail when the body-snatchers breach the prison wall. Double-lucky: Baz and B’dg (who we were just reading reading about in Green Lantern) also show up to join the fight. They use some good ol’ green lantern nonsense to spirit Garder’s family and the prison inmates to safety while trapping and destroying the Thirdies. Meanwhile, John Stuart and Fatality liberate some pieces of the destroyed sentient planet, Mogo, from some bad guys that were using his rocky remains to power some kind of terrible weapon.
This issue takes a lot of opportunities to reiterate themes and concepts from elsewhere in the Green Lantern world, but every single time it does, it risks trivializing that borrowed nugget. It’s like writer Peter Tomasi got the thematic hand-me-downs from his big brother Geoff Johns. Let’s take John and Fatality’s quest to fix Mogo, because that story is a prime example of what I’m talking about. Okay, so some planetary terrorists have captured a piece of Mogo and are using it to kill people. That’s exactly what the Guardians have done with the First Lantern. Not only is this a strange concept that doesn’t really work rhetorically (how do you harness the power of a creature that thrives off it’s willpower against it’s will?), we’re already seeing this concept in action. And then, when they finish with their mission, Fatality tells John about what’s happening over in Green Lantern: New Guardians. She doesn’t lend him the trade, she talks about the events because she lived through them. The only purpose that serves is to tell John that Sayd is still alive, but for the life of me, I can’t remember why John would assume she had died. Plus it comes up in the most inorganic way possible:
Speaking of inorganic, it’s painful to watch Guy Gardner and Simon Baz interact. Anything mysterious or earned about Baz’ character is called out by Gardner within the first five minutes of their meeting. I guess that’s what Loud-Mouth Gardner is all about, but it reeks of redundant exposition when Gardner asks the questions “HEY, WHAT’S WITH THE GUN?” “WHAT’S YOUR NAME, AGAIN? I FORGOT” or “WHAT’S WITH THAT TATTOO?” I’m trying to image a world where someone is reading Green Lantern Corps but not Green Lantern — which is what this line of questioning implies. It’s even more frustrating that Baz just offers simple, bullet-point answers to Guy’s questions. And how weird is it that this encounter takes place on the moon — just so Baz can run the Apollo 11 American Flag through his fingers?
This issue also has presentational problems. There are way too many sound effects in this issue. During the Thirdies’ raid on the prison, the Gardners raid the armory and arm themselves with some guns that go “brakka brakka.” Naturally their last-stand has the word “brakka” printed all over it. But rather than lending this scene some chaos, letterer Dave Sharpe copies and pastes the same image of the word over and over again. Instead of being overwhelmed with bullets flying through the air, the page appears to just be cluttered with Word Art.
That may seem like a petty complaint, but you really can’t read a page of this thing without being inundated with extraordinarily unexciting sound-effects. The art here that’s being upstaged by the sound-effects is your typical GLC fare, which means I’m going to be immediately dismissive of it. Look, we’ve been complaining about Fernando Parasin’s puffy faces and crummy acting for almost a year.
Drew: You’re right, Patrick, this issue wasn’t bad, but I’m also finding it difficult to come up with much positive to say about it. I don’t think I’m as bothered by Parasin’s art as you are, but that’s pretty weak praise. Ultimately, I think I was more excited at the concept of this issue than the actual execution — a ring-free last stand against the Thirdies sounds like it has the potential to be a bit more exciting (or at least, something new), but instead, the whole conflict gets highjacked by the new Green Lantern. It kind of sounds like a microcosm of the Green Lantern title.
The thing that really frustrates me about the whole Baz ex machina scenario is that it ignores every encounter we’ve ever seen with the Thirdies. Remember how they’ve taken on entire battalions of Green Lanterns, breaking through their constructs with the greatest of ease? Here, B’dg is able to coral ALL of the Thirdies in a single construct.
This kind of flexibility with threats — impossible to defeat at one moment, imminently containable the next — has always bugged me about the Green Lantern universe. With rules so loosely defined, essentially anything is possible, which voids any sense of tension these stories might have.
Unfortunately, much of this issue features the same random logic. Take this odd monitoring room adjacent to the visitation room.
I understand the narrative convenience of having this room be viewable from the room our characters are already in, but this doesn’t make any sense. Even if I was willing to accept that this room was adjacent to the visitation room (splitting the attention of the guards between the monitors and the window), wouldn’t it at least be a one-way mirror? It’s convenient beyond credulity, which again serves to drain the scene of any sense of tension. As Patrick put it, what’s the point?
My biggest beef with this issue, though, is the Guardian’s decision to go after Guy at all. Their strategy essentially boils down to “we’ve effectively neutralized this threat — now let’s divert all of our resources to…further neurtralize it?” Like, the dude is in prison. He’s no longer a threat. Also, if you felt you needed to get to one man inside a prison, why would you go with a frontal assault? Literally any strategy would have been better. If they had just assimilated the guards one by one as they went off shift, they would have easily nabbed Guy. You’d think, as the champions of reasoned thought, they might consider, you know, ANY STRATEGY AT ALL. But, you know, why use a scalpel when you can strap a chainsaw to the front of a rocket?
Speaking of rockets, it’s pretty funny that Pasarin’s only photo reference for Tranquility Base still has the upper part of the Lunar Module attached (you know, the part that carried Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin back to the Command Module so they could return to Earth).
It’s an understandable mistake — the only photos of the site would have the upper part of the module — but one that would have also been easy enough to avoid. Oh, but it’s a Green Lantern title, so there are no facts — things just adjust to whatever has the most dramatic potential.
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?