Green Lantern: Lights Out

Lights Out

Today, Mikyzptlk and Spencer are discussing Green Lantern 24, Green Lantern Corps 24, Green Lantern: New Guardians 24, Red Lanterns 24, and Green Lantern Annual 2 , originally released October 2nd, October 9th, October 16th, October 23rd, and October 30th, 2013, respectively. 

Mikyzptlk: Here at Retcon Punch, we try our damnedest to cover all the cool stuff that’s going on in comics. The only problem is there are only so many of us and a shitload of great comics. That being the case, things tend to fall between the cracks every now and then, as was the case for the Green Lantern-centered crossover event, Lights Out. With that said, it’s up to Spencer and I to give this event the Retcon Punch treatment it deserves. Lights Out serves as a the first big event in the GL books since the new creative teams took command. Ultimately, Robert Venditti, Van Jensen, Justin Jordan, and Charles Soule deliver a story that seemingly picks up right where Geoff Johns and company left off, while shaking up the status quo enough to send our characters off in some new and interesting directions.

On Oa, the Lanterns have been attempting to figure out just what they heck is going on with their rings. They’ve been malfunctioning of late, and Hal Jordan wants a solution ASAP. Salak thinks it might have something to do with Ion, the Entity of will, leaving with the rest of Entities to go home and die. Out of nowhere, White Lantern Kyle Rayner teleports himself, Star Sapphire Carol Ferris, the Templar Guardians, and Saint Walker, the last Blue Lantern, to Oa. They have a message: Relic is coming. Kyle explains everything he knows about Relic to Hal, who refuses to believe that using the emotional spectrum will lead to the destruction of the universe. Relic appears and proceeds to drain the central power battery of its energy before blowing it to absolute hell.

Boom

Salak reveals that without the battery, Oa will simply begin to break apart. Relic then commands the Lanterns to give up their rings or die. John says he’ll stay behind with a small group to distract Relic, leaving the others to escape. In the end, John’s plan works, but Oa ends up completely destroyed. Hal and company decide to pay Guy Gardner, the new Red Lantern Corps leader, a visit. Their thinking goes that since the Reds rely on science and magic, the purely scientific Relic would be caught off guard. Before they head off though, the Entities (minus Parallax and Butcher) possess Kyle, turning him into the…Entity Lantern? Sure, let’s go with that. The Entity Lantern, in a rush to get underway with its mysterious plan, backslaps the rest of Lanterns to Ysmault. Kyle, with the help of the Templar Guardians, takes control of the Entities, and then reveals that…

Kyle Knows

So far so good. Venditti has done a fantastic job of creating a threat that is definitely large enough in scope to necessitate this type of crossover. Since the creative takeover of the GL books, Venditti and company have been building up the story of Relic, whose revelations shocked us all, I believe.  As a whole, Lights Out has been an incredibly fast paced event, and since it’s only five issues, it really has to be.

The creative team has definitely worked well together in telling a cohesive tale that did a good job of delivering one shock after another. Part 1 of the story saw the destruction of the Green Lantern central power battery, while part 2 delivered the destruction of Oa itself. Part 3 of the tale gave us another shock with Kyle revealing his intentions of actually helping Relic to succeed.

Each issue placed the appropriate spotlight on the main Lanterns as well. Green Lantern directed its attention mostly towards Hal, and his trademark stubbornness. Corps followed John, and his trademark military leadership skills. New Guardians followed Kyle, and his trademark ability to fall bass-ackwards into ultimate cosmic power. The event has been able to tell an exciting collective tale that manages to successfully highlight the main characters involved.

Of course, with the plot moving along at breakneck speeds, these character flourishes are all but momentary. It would be nice to take a break for a moment to spend some quality time with the main Lanterns, as the new creative team continues to handle their respective characters well. Even supporting characters like the Templar Guardians and the new Lantern recruits get some play, when they could have been easily overshadowed by the plot.

Spencer, what are your feelings towards the first three parts of Lights Out? Did you find it as entertaining as I did? An argument could be made that it was simply too soon for another Lantern-centered event. Do you feel that the new creative teams should have had more time to play in their new sandboxes by themselves, or do you think this early crossover is warranted?

Spencer: Back when Lights Out was first announced I would have definitely been shouting “too soon!”, but now that the event has ended, I actually think it was pretty well-timed. The new Green Lantern bullpen has shown that they have what it takes to throw together a successful — if not necessarily phenomenal — crossover, and more importantly, they used the crossover to promote all four of the books to any readers who might have been on the fence. In Rise of the Third Army and Wrath of the First Lantern I often felt like the supporting Green Lantern books were just along for the ride, swept up in the machinations of the flagship title, but Lights Out felt like a true ensemble effort, with the ongoing plots and supporting characters of each book receiving time in the spotlight and playing an important role in the resolution of the story. Perhaps even more importantly, Hal Jordan didn’t steal the spotlight simply by merit of being the “bestest Green Lantern ever!”; in fact, Kyle is arguably the hero of this whole event, which is refreshing after the very Hal-centric crossovers of Geoff Johns’ era.

Before I go any further, though, let’s sum up the rest of this story, ‘kay? Guy Gardner appears to be having the time of his life as he twists  the Red Lanterns around his little finger, but the arrival of Hal (and seemingly the entire GLC) on Ysmalt threatens to blow all of Guy’s plans. Irritated, Guy and the rest of the Reds refuse to help in the fight against Relic until Hal makes a shocking promise: he’ll give the Red Lantern Corps their own sector to patrol in exchange for their services. Kyle Rayner, meanwhile, steals the Red Entity, Butcher, from a mangled Atrocitus and confronts Relic. Relic is trying to penetrate the Source Wall, believing that the reservoir of emotional light is located behind its infamously impenetrable surface, but even with Kyle’s help, he’s unable to break through; so, of course, he attempts to murder Kyle and steal his power instead.

Kyle is rescued by Hal, Guy, and a fleet of Green and Red Lanterns; John Stewart, his rookies, and the Indigo Tribe quickly join the battle as well, and a battle royale ensues. The Red Lanterns are able to destroy Relic’s ship, and thanks to some clever strategy and the help of the Indigo Tribe, Hal, John, Guy and Kyle are able to leap past Relic’s defenses and defeat the monster once and for all. Kyle drags Relic into the Source Wall — where he finally finds the emotional reservoir and dies happy — and unleashes the Emotional Entities, who sacrifice themselves to replenish the reservoir. Kyle barely escapes, but he returns bearing some great secret that shocks even the Templar Guardians. The rest of the GLC, meanwhile, reconvenes on Mogo, where Natromo has reassembled the Central Battery. Hal tries to deliver a rousing speech, but the revelations Relic brought to life has left lasting doubts in the mind of the Corps.

Oh, right, that's still a problem...

As action-packed finales go, I thought the final part of Lights Out was quite exciting and effective. Taking it as a simple action story it works surprisingly well; we’ve complained in the past about fights in the various Green Lantern titles being hard to follow, light shows with little sense of space, but I didn’t have that problem during the final battle with Relic. It was very clearly established that constructs were useless and that the only way to fight Relic was to bypass his machines and attack him physically, and I thought it was especially clever how the Indigo Tribe pitched in to allow the others to stay within his range.

Alley Oop!

I’m a sucker for moves like that; we’ve got seven corps with unique powers, why not use them in fun new combinations?

Ultimately, though, there were some things about Lights Out that didn’t work for me. I haven’t really reconciled having both an Emotional Reservoir and the Emotional Entities floating around; I’m confused as to how they were related or why we even needed Emotional Entities if the power came from the reservoir in the first place. I kinda wonder if the Entities were bumped off simply to make the Reservoir a more palatable concept. I was also never fully sold on Relic as a character. In theory I think he’s fantastic — a villain who’s not only immensely powerful, but ultimately, also right — but he has so little personality that I just couldn’t get into him. He’s one note, his dialogue is stilted, and intentional or not, I felt like he dragged things down whenever he showed up.

Also, it’s a little disappointing that the central hook behind Lights Out — that the use of the Emotional Spectrum is slowly destroying the universe — was never really resolved. As the cliffhanger shows, it’s obviously still a concern as Green Lantern moves forward, but the idea that the Corps might have to change their methods somehow was the hook that had me most interested in this crossover — and I don’t think I’m alone on that front. It ultimately feels like the center of the story got brushed aside for more action, and as much as I loved all that action, there’s still something slightly, vaguely unsatisfying about that.

Lights Out is still a very solid showing, though, that has succeeded in altering the Green Lantern universe in a big way, and despite any faults I had a lot of fun with it. Mik, what did you take away from this story? Are you excited about where the Green Lantern books are going to go from here?

Mikyzptlk: Spencer, I’m itching to answer your questions, but before I do, let’s take a moment to recognize the artists of Lights Out. Billy Tan, Bernard Chang, Brand Walker, Alessandro Vitti, and Sean Chen, along with the rest of the artistic teams, did a wonderful job with this event. They all helped to craft an incredibly clear story, with a few jaw-dropping scenes along the way. If I had to pick a standout though, it would have to be Brad Walker. Let’s take a quick look at a two-page spread from New Guardians 24.

Spread EmColorist Will Quintana no doubt helps to bring this spread to life, but the image of the GLC being bitchslapped across the galaxy is a powerful one in the hands of Walker. This is the second double-page spread of the issue as well, the first one, of the Entities, being just as awe-inspiring.

Alright, back to the story. I had a few issues with the overall story as well, Spencer, but my main concern was with Relic. This guy is supposed to be a scientific genius on a mission to save all of reality. I mean, that’s honorable as fuck. Here he is in Corps 24.

RelicThis guy may be a bit obsessed with his mission, which is understandable considering what he’s gone through, but there’s no indication that he’s insane. So, it bugged me whenever he would almost immediately resort to violence in every single encounter he had with the Lanterns. In the end, Kyle was voluntarily lending his assistance, but Relic still totally betrays him!

ArgumentsSure, the Lightsmiths clearly refused to listen to reason. However, Kyle was ready and willing help Relic, but the dude just couldn’t help himself from using violence. These are not the actions of a reasonable man, a scientist, so I have to assume Relic was quick to violence simply for the sake of action. Either that, or Relic is just a mountain of dicks. 

While I enjoyed the crossover for the most part, and while I feel that it did a great job of following the main “Lantern Boys” equally, I’m hoping that the books will part ways for a while so that the supporting characters can get more of the spotlight shed on them. We’ve got a lot of new blood around now, so this is a prime opportunity to tell new stories about new characters. Not only that, but there’s plenty of fan favorite characters like Kilowog, Soranik Natu, and Salak that need some love too.

To answer your question, Spencer, my biggest takeaway is that not only is Hal the new leader of the Corps, but he’s now responsible for building a brand new corps almost from scratch. I can’t help but see this as intentional on Venditti’s part, as that’s exactly what he’s been tasked with doing since his takeover.

Ultimately, the new creative teams have successfully taken ownership of the GL franchise, and they are clearly starting to express their creative freedoms. In the end, Lights Out felt like a transition from the Johns era to the Venditti era, and I am definitely excited to see where the story goes from here.

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?

6 comments on “Green Lantern: Lights Out

  1. So what do we think of the Kyle/Carol stuff, guys? Throughout most of the Annual I loved the character moments–there’s a panel of Hal holding back a literally seething Guy that I absolutely adore–but the scenes where Hal acts like a petulant child about Carol just got on my nerves, even if I can understand why he’d be upset.

    I’m torn on Kyle and Carol as a couple. I can see the chemistry, but there’s also something appealing to me about just letting them be very close platonic friends. We don’t get that much in relationships between men and women (at least in comics), and it would help show that there’s more than one kind of love…

    • Well, wait a minute, doesn’t Kyle have to pretend like he’s still dead or something? Maybe I misunderstood the Templar Guardians, but I thought they said that he would have to keep his survival a secret so he could… I don’t know – do whatever a White Lantern does…

      • I thought about that too, and it’s going to be tough to keep that secret from Carol since she has that love tether thing going on with him. I imagine that Carol would and should find out about Kyle’s return. And, since she seems to be a pretty common character in New Guardians, it’d be the most logical way to keep her in the cast.

  2. I didn’t care for the KING PSYCHEOUT at the end of the event. It looks like Kyle’s been sacrificed to the Source Wall in an effort to save the emotional spectrum, but then he just gets out. Like, just does it. IT was such a cheat – I felt genuine excitement when it looked like they were killing off the White Lantern, but then Venditti just sorta backed off. I know there’s still a New Guardians series that has to follow him around, but like, come on – as Mike points out, there are more than enough characters to fill 3 GL books.

    • I would have been incredibly pissed if they killed Kyle off simply because he’s my favorite character, but from a strict storytelling perspective, I’m with you on the psychout. The only defense I can give it is that the purpose of the psychout was to give New Guardians a new direction. I’m interested to know what Kyle has learned, so I’m still on board.

  3. So, one of things that I talked about above was how I want to see supporting characters fleshed out more. I think that this is something all of the new writers are interested in as well, so I’m hoping that they will all be taking a break from this seemingly endless stream of end-of-the-world disasters in order to focus on characters other than the main Lantern Boys.

    There was a scene in Red Lanterns that I particularly liked, where Skallox says, “Just because we’re Reds, we can’t have interests?” I loved that scene because I think it illustrates that Soule knows that the Reds have been broken as characters for a while, and that they are in need serious development.

    Other supporting characters like ‘Wog and Soranik aren’t broken, but they could certainly use some more attention. I can only hope that the other writers are on the same page as Soule.

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