Today, Patrick and Shelby are discussing Green Lantern Corps 22, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Patrick: My little sister studied in Ecuador for a semester in college. She spent a couple weeks tromping around the rain forest and camping on a beach on the Galapogos and dropping her new camera into a river – y’know: normal stuff when you’re studying the biodiversity of one of the coolest places on the planet. Naturally, she came back with new perspectives on birds and insects and had a few anecdotes about hilariously adorable seal pups on the beach. But the part of the experience that she ends up talking about — and I trust the part of the experience that stayed with her the most — is just about the friends that she made while hiking the Forest in the Clouds. When I asked her about that, she shrugged and said “It turns out human beings are the most fascinating mega-fauna on Earth.” She was being flippant (as flippant as one can be while still using words like “mega-fauna”), but it’s an oddly profound statement: for all the wonders of the world, people are going to be the most interesting thing you encounter. DC’s galaxies are vast, and jam-packed with strange and wonderful things. Issue 22 of Green Lantern Corps features a lot of these wonders, but all without losing sight of the of the most interesting mega-fauna at the heart of it: John Stewart and Fatality.
Having successfully aided in repelling Larfleeze and his Orange Army, John marches up to Salaak to demand some time away from the corps. Only problem is, that’s not Salaak’s job anymore; it’s Kilowog’s. (That raises a “huh?” alarm from John.) But fair enough – John asks Kilowog for the PTO, but the request is denied. After all, someone needs to take these new recruits to stop a radioactive dam from bursting, and Guy can’t do it because he quit. (“Huh” alarm #2.) That’s enough to turn John’s request into a statement of fact, when Salaak hits him with the biggest “huh” alarm of them all: Hal’s in charge of the corps now. (THREE HUHS: RED ALERT!) John’s been around the block enough times to know that strange things are afoot at the Circle K, so he decides to stick around to see how this all plays out.
John takes the four newbies we met last issue to the distressed dam, but their rings fail them at a crucial moment. Luckily / unluckily, the Khund arrive in the nick of time and declare themselves protectorate of the planet. Oh and they’re totally going to kill these five de-powered lanterns as well. Meanwhile, Yrra has followed the shapeshifting Durlans to their moonbase in Sector 367 – she even manages to kill one of them because they discover and apprehend her. DOUBLEMEANWHILE, The Star Sapphire Power Battery is weakened from the prolonged absence of the Violet Entity known as The Predator. Predator, it turns out, is hiding out on backwoods planets, devouring whatever shitty love it can get it’s greedy jaws on. And just before The Predator can ruin some already-gross insect sex, the White Entity shows up and announces that they have to get the emotional band back together.
The emotional entities are awesome. For as much as I like the emotional spectrum, nothing really compares to the raw WOW of dealing with Parallax or The Butcher or any of the rest of the animal manifestations of the various corps. With the exception of Parallax’ show stopping cameo in Green Lantern 20, we haven’t seen or heard from these things at all in the New 52. Usually, these creatures are in a place of ultimate authority, but now it appears that they are need of help – whatever keeps shorting out the rings seems to be taking its toll on the Entities as well. Van Jensen invents such a quick, clear, funny concept to demonstrate just how desperate The Predator is to consume love – here’s what he’s about to consume:
Hahaha; gross. It’s the perfect little exchange to knock these mythical creatures down a peg.
Which all loops around to how clearly Jensen is stating his priorities in this series. There is a ton of wacky wacky outer-space comic nonsense in this issue: emotional entities, the Khund, the Durlan, aliens from four different races we just met last issue, plus all the usual Green Lantern bullshit. And while Jensen also seems excited to explore these concepts for their own sake, he’s quick to contextualize them all on human terms. Remember Maro from the previous issue? Last month I described him as a “diminutive outcast from a philosopher / critic society” but here, we learn that he’s not shy – he’s physically incapable of speaking. That’s a psychologically interesting stew to begin with, but John peppers in a little casual intergalactic racism to heighten the intrigue a little further.
Even if I’m not familiar with these stereotypes about Rhoonians, I get that John has a strong point of view that he’s expressing here, probably only because he’s frustrated. Sora’s also frustrated, but it manifests in this exchange as compassion.
The issue is full of these kinds of moments: Fatality pretends the Durlan’s aren’t a serious threat before killing one of them; John refers to the difference between marines and pilots as a sly dig at the different between himself and Hal; Salaak is double checking the defense systems of Oa to make none of them will rise up in service of the Guardians. It’s subtle, insightful characterization, all couched in Green Lantern nonsense.
Shelby, it feels to me like Jensen is laying out a pretty compelling mystery and has a great handle on the voice of these characters, so I’m actually more interested in this series than I’ve been in a long damn time. Plus, two issues in a row featuring Soranik Natu? Hell’s yes. What say you, my GL-friend?
Shelby: Honestly, my answer is a resounding “meh.” You are intrigued by the amount of stuff Jensen has going on this issue, I am overwhelmed. New aliens, new threats, old aliens, old threats, new recruits, star-crossed lovers, Zamaron, AND two of the entities? That is a lot to take in in 20-odd pages. Everything just sort of reduces to white noise, each subplot cancelling the next one out, until the issue is over and I’m not totally sure what I just read.
One thing I am happy to see is John’s new attitude. He’s been such a sad sack ever since he killed Lantern Kirrt, and the interminable arc that action spawned. Seeing him really become a man of action again is a nice change of pace. Jensen does a good job maintaining a balance between his desire to no longer be a “good little
soldier marine” and his sense of duty to both the Corps and the rest of the universe. He wants to do his own thing, but that boiling sea is a real problem, and someone’s gotta fix it. I’m also happy to see the repercussions of the Third Army spread throughout the galaxy. No matter how many of their own Corps-members were killed fighting the Third Army, in the eyes of most of the galaxy the Third Army was a creature of the Guardians, just like the Green Lantern Corps and maybe all the various Corps was. Therefore, anyone powered by a ring is not to be trusted.
That actually makes me wonder more about the Entities. They power the central battery and ultimately the rings of their entire Corps, right? Maybe the relationship is more circular than that; they power the Corps, but in turn are powered themselves by the huge displays of emotion each corps provides. If the entire galaxy is beginning to lose faith in the various Corps, they will in turn lose faith in themselves; perhaps the weakening of the corps is the threat the Entities are facing. Or maybe it’s the Khund. Or the Durlans. Or whatever Guardian horror Salaak is bound to awaken. I can appreciate Jensen wanting to jump in feet first with this title. I also understand that he’s got some big shoes to fill, and that with Villains Month approaching he doesn’t have a lot of time to lay down a baseline for where this title is going to go. I just wish he didn’t feel like he needs to do everything all at once. Maybe a few issues down the road everything will lock into place and I’ll eat my words, but with so much going on, I find I can’t focus on any one part of the story and it all gets lost in the shuffle.
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?