Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing Green Lantern Corps Annual 1, originally released January 30th, 2013. This issue is part of the Rise of the Third Army crossover event. Click here for complete Third Army coverage.
Shelby: The Green Lantern Corps is having a very “out of the frying pan, into the fire” kind of day. This issue’s got a lot of moving parts, so I’m just going to dive right in.
For the first time since this whole Third Army train left the station, someone has finally figured it all out. On the moon with Baz and B’dg, Guy puts all the pieces together and traces the Guardians’ plan all the way back kicking to Hal out of the Corps. Speak of the lil’ blue devils, they send out a message to all the Lanterns that, hey, there’s this Third Army targeting them! The Guardians tell everybody to meet back at Oa to be “inoculated” against the invaders, and then order radio silence. It’s obviously a trap, so Guy heads to Oa while B’dg and Baz stay on the moon to look through the Book of the Black to find Hal. That goes about as well as you’d expect, as they get sucked in and end up in the Guardians’ prison with Black Hand. Meanwhile, out in the middle of space, Mogo is getting busy and reforming at a rapid pace. A contingent of the Third Army is dispatched to deal with it, but are totally pulverized by Mogo’s debris field. It’s yet another example of Peter Tomasi changing the rules of what it takes to kill these things, but it does mean Mogo is back, so I’ll allow it. Back on Oa, Guy, despite being ringless, leads an assault against the Guardians, with the help of a few familiar faces.
Holy shit, Iolande and SORANIK NATU? Where the fuck have you been? I’m gonna come back to that, I’ve got an epic battle to recap. Guy wears…some kind of battle suit to distract the “blueholes” while Kilowog does…something to disrupt the Guardians’ connection to the battery so the rest of the Lanterns are free. At that point, everyone shows up to the party: the Third Army, all of the Green Lantern Corps, Kyle and the rest of the rainbow brigade, Attrocitus’ Manhunters, it’s literally everyone. The Guardians try to draw more power from the First Lantern, but in doing so enable him to break free from his prison, and just like that we’re into the Wrath of the First Lantern.
For every little success in this book, there is some little fail cancelling it out; once you crunch the numbers, I feel like this issue has a net sum of zero. There was enough I liked to keep me from hating it, but there were enough problems with it to keep me from really liking it. Let’s start with the ultimately disappointing inclusion of Soranik Natu in the GLC uprising. Drew, you probably aren’t familiar with Soranik; she’s the first lantern from Korugar after Sinestro tried to subjugate them. She’s always had to balance her duties as a Lantern with her duties as a doctor and her duties to her people, who happen to hate the Corps and everything it represents. Also, **SPOILER ALERT** she’s secretly Sinestro’s daughter. I fell in love with her in Blackest Night for her strength and complexity and have wondered where she’s been since day one of the relaunch. I was initially thrilled to see her again, along with her sector partner Iolande, but instantly disappointed to have it be just a one panel cameo.
The same can be said of the art, for this issue done by Chriscross. It’s a refreshing change from Fernando Pasarin and his lumpy faces, but it’s not all peaches and gravy. On the one hand, his layouts are incredibly dynamic and clever. While this spread may suffer from too many dialogue boxes delivering expository story points we already know, the art is breathtaking. The Third Army corpsman(?) dividing the page into panels while he reaches for the reader for assimilation is brilliant and gorgeous.
On the other hand, sometimes he gets a little too excited about his dynamic panels, and the action of the scene is obscured. A perfect example is the beginning of the big battle. The panels of Guy dealing with the Guardians are cut with narrow panels of Kilowog doing whatever it is he’s doing to the battery. I know it’s supposed to build tension in the scene, like quick cuts in a movie, but what we end up with is a muddy narrative where the character’s actions aren’t clear. Does anyone else out there have any idea what is is Kilowog is actually doing at this point?
I hate to use this term, but this book is such a tease. It gives us nice moments, like breaking down the appearance of the Third Army (no mouth to talk back, no ears to hear any other orders, brains exploded outwards so they can’t think for themselves) to reveal the practical thought process of their design. Then it fails to deliver, plot-wise, with needlessly complicated and evil villain plots and bad-guy weaknesses that seem to change from issue to issue. It’s not bad, but it’s also not especially good, which is ultimately disappointing for a title that should just be Buddy Cop Adventures in Space. Drew, I know you’re less enamored with this title than I to begin with, what are your thoughts on this, the final issue of Rise of the Third Army/first issue of Wrath of the First Lantern?
Drew: It’s tough. I found myself excited by a lot of this issue, but I can’t help but feel disappointed when the EPIC BATTLE we’ve been building to over four titles for four months is over and done in 13 or so pages. The battle is decidedly the centerpiece of this issue, yet no space is really given to allow it to build tension. Every panel seems to introduce another faction that is somehow able to defeat the Third Army in a way that is totally different from the other ways umpteen ways we already to know the heretofore unstoppable monsters. It feels very overstuffed, and over far too quickly, but the way the issue concludes, it seems possible that the entire “Wrath of the First Lantern” event is simply an extension of this battle.
“Enemies uniting to fight an even bigger threat” is a pretty old trope in comics, but it’s so effective at upping the stakes, it’s hard to get tired of it. DC seems fond of that particular well recently, but I can’t really fault them for it here. Indeed, as nonplussed as I was with the whole specter of the third army, the thought that this was all prelude to the actual threat excites me a bit. I would never doubt that every step of this was well planned out in advance (not that I really care), but the seeds for the Third Army weren’t exactly sowed in a way that made it feel natural.
Take, for example, the “threat” that they posed. We were told that they were unstoppable from the start. Heck, we even saw them making pretty short work of a bunch of Green Lanterns — busting up every construct the GLC could throw their way — but their power-level was always pretty nebulous. By the time Green Lantern 16 rolled around, whole platoons of them could be contained by a single lantern, and apparently their heads could be blown up with a simple ring blast.
That kind of inconsistency for the sake of convenience always bugs me, but it was kind of built into the ill-defined, suddenly-produced, suddenly-threatening Third Army.
The First Lantern, on the other hand, has been bopping around since before the start of this event (remember that “Let me out!” business?), and the stage seems set to deliver something a little more impressive. We understand that he can exert power over ALL RINGS IN EVERY CORPS, since he temporarily depowered them so he could beg to be let out. We understand that the Guardian’s are terrified of him, going so far as to build a prison specifically to contain him, and telling their friends to kill them if they ever tried to get him out. And we understand that he HATES the guardians for imprisoning him for so long. With more familiarity with his motives and power-level, I’m already much more interested in this character than I ever was for the Third Army.
So maybe this issue mostly excited me as a prelude to the event I’m actually excited for. That’s kind of a bait-and-switch, since I picked up this issue ready to be excited for, you know, this issue, but what are you going to do? Mostly, I’m excited that something finally happened with this story. I was getting pretty tired of the slooooowly creeping threat of the Third Army, or John’s long saga of watching Mogo’s paint dry, so I’m happy for whatever punctuation this issue offered, even if I was pulling for a full stop. “Out of the frying pan, into the fire” may just be about upping the stakes, but I was pretty tired of the frying pan by now.
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