Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Green Lantern Corps 27, originally released January 15th, 2014.
Patrick: Fans of the Geoff Johns era of Green Lantern might consider Johns to be the architect of all conflict in the GL universe. It’s a regularly recurring conflict: basically, the past comes back to haunt the corps. This means a lot of fighting among the various corps (Blackest Night), fighting within the GLs themselves (Green Lantern War) or reckoning with some force responsible for their power in the first place (Volthoom, Relic). But all of this stuff stems from a prophecy that Alan Moore wrote decades ago – promises the eventual fall of Sodam Yatt, the destruction of Mogo, and Oa’s occupation by “demons.” We’ve spend tens of years reading those predictions into fruition, and it’s only now, as the Lanterns appear to have their own shit in order that they realize how utterly dissatisfied they’ve left the universe they swore to protect. For the first time since I can remember, that puts the corps up against a threat that’s ideological, nuanced, and –most importantly — not magical. There’s no single domino they can topple to quash a universe in revolt against them.
John and his team arrive at the ruins of Sector House 0422 to investigate what transpired there and who might be responsible for death/disappearance of the Lanterns within. The security footage has been destroyed, so they have to do it the old-fashioned ways – being forensic geniuses with the deductive reasoning prowess of a Cumberbatch-powered Sherlock Holmes. But the biggest, and most troubling clue, takes pains to announce itself: there are remnants of a weapon that sucks Light Energy, just like Relic had on him. Before anyone can jump to any wildly intuitive conclusions about what that means, our heroes receive Hal Jordan’s message to the entire galaxy. You know the one, it says “Green Lanterns are going to use Light Energy to stop everyone else from using Light Energy, even though we know it’s depleting the universe’s resources.” Then the calls for help come in as Sector Houses are being ambushed all over the galaxy.
This is where Corps distinguishes itself from Green Lantern. We get Hal’s speech in both, but GL was more focused on what it meant internally while GLC is more focused on the external response. It’s obviously not Hal saying this — Green Lantern 27 makes it clear that it is a Durlan in his form — but every word he says is absolutely true. I love seeing this tension between responsibility and privilege, but I’ll admit that it seemed like a bit of a stretch last week when reports of attacks on Green Lanterns came rolling in. I figured that they’d always been an oppressive force in the universe, so why should this be any different? Van Jensen wants to show us exactly why. It’s a short sequence, but we take a quick survey of the families, friends and cultures of our new recruits, and it becomes easier to see how the seeds of revolution have been planted.
That’s a clever spin on the story, and even though we’re seeing it from the perspectives of a bunch of crazy aliens, it humanizes the whole thing. It’s not just about the allied Khund / Durlan armies attacking the Green Lanterns, it’s about losing the hearts and minds of everyone. That’s a much more grounded scenario than I’m used to reading in my outer space beat-em-ups.
Weirdly, the art almost harkens back to a pre-Johns era with some relatively silly character designs. Both of the issue’s credited pencilers, Bernard Chang and Sean Chen, draw the rag-tag collection of Sciencell escapees, and there’s really no telling who designed any of these D-List bad guys, but they are really goofy. I realize that the main GL team in this issue contains both a snake-man and a lizard-man, but these guys are on another level entirely. It’s almost like someone took the contents of Mos Eisley’s Cantina and transposed them into the Green Lantern universe.
I can’t tell if I find these designs charmingly crummy, or just plain ol’ crummy. I like to think that they’d all be done with practical effects if we were filming a live action version of Green Lantern Corps 27 – big ugly masks, left-over armor from Game of Thrones and Battlestar Galactica. It’d be quirky as fuck. In the issue, I think it serves to cut through some of the heaviness of the concepts at play. Even if we’re working with a loose allegory for abuse of authoritarian power, we have to remember that we’re also working with a bunch of space-lizard-men. (Like, a bunch of them.)
I guess it all comes back to the idea that GLC should always be providing some context for the main series – and this issue succeeds in giving us both emotional and practical context. What more could a body possibly want? Oh, maybe a less-ridiculous forensic sequence, but I guess you can’t fault anyone for wanting to play with some cool CSI-toys, but it just rang a little false to me. Like, John — the guy who starts the “let’s do this the old fashioned way” stuff — is a former Marine. A quick survey of the rest of the team reveals a handful of soldiers (and one princess), but there’s not a detective in the bunch! I don’t know Spencer, am I making too much out of that, or did it seem out of place to you too?
Spencer: It didn’t necessarily seem out of place to me, Patrick, but that might only be because the title of the issue — “Forensics” — clued me in early to the fact that forensics would be the focus of the issue; in that sense, I was actually more surprised when the forensics thread got abandoned less than a third of the way through. I find this scene to be a fun idea, if only because it’s so different from what you’d normally find in a Green Lantern book, but I’m still trying to decide whether it really works or not. Since the actual GL: CSI work only lasts about two pages, let’s take a quick look at it in its entirety.
Okay, the Lanterns instantly realizing the scratches on the door were made by constructs makes the most sense to me; the Lanterns likely have a strong grip on what their weapons are capable of, and are perhaps even trained in this sort of thing. Meanwhile, identifying Kaa’s blood comes down to the magic ring, plain and simple. I’m unsure what to make of figuring out the circular burn marks on the wall are from the victims shielding themselves; I could chalk that up to common sense just as easily as I could to Cumberbatchian super-detecting. John realizing that the crew was eating and going for their batteries, meanwhile, is definitely a stretch, and discovering Relic’s last piece of technology is just dumb luck.
Breaking it down like that, there’s about an equal amount of this scene that works for me as there is that doesn’t, but truthfully, the bigger crime is the fact that it ultimately contributes nothing to the issue; John and his crew get all the information they need from their captive Khund at the end of the issue, making their entire investigation moot. Ultimately it’s only two pages, so not that big of a deal, but it is a strange little choice.
Fortunately, as Patrick mentions, the rest of the issue as a whole works much better. The conflict being set-up between the Green Lantern Corps and the rest of the universe is fascinating and complex, and won’t be solved easily, even when the Durlans and their allies are down for the count. Patrick covered this situation pretty thoroughly, though, so I want to focus in on a different part of the conflict: the tension between the Green Lanterns and the other colored corps, and between the various Green Lanterns themselves.
The fact that Hal feels comfortable basically declaring war on the other colored Lantern Corps is probably due to the Blue Lanterns — the only Corps who were consistently allies to the Greens — being out of commission, but this decision ignores the various allies scattered among the Star Sapphires, Indigo Tribe, and even the Red Lanterns (I wonder if Hal’s current strained relationship with Carol has anything to do with it?). We already knew Hal’s decision to police the emotional spectrum was rash and not fully thought-out, and that’s resulted in universe-wide tumult, but the possibility of yet another war breaking out between the various corps is making Hal’s decision look less and less rational every second.
Then there’s the conflict brewing among the Green Lanterns; in this case specifically, between Hal and John. John opposes Hal’s new direction for the Corps for several different reasons, and while this will more than likely be put on the back burner as both characters deal with the multitude of threats rising up against them and their charges at the moment, it’s something that will have to be resolved at some point. It’s a shame there has to be tension between these two Lanterns in particular, as I feel that a partnership between Hal and John would form the perfect leadership for the Corps, with John’s architectural and military experience putting realistic constraints on Hal’s imagination and John’s level-headedness tempering Hal’s impulsivity.
Alas, that may just be a pipe dream; regardless, it’s going to be a long time until it’s even a possibility. The universe is in turmoil, and there’s increasingly less and less the Green Lanterns can do about it. It’s a complex threat that won’t be easily resolved. I admit that such a long-term plot can be a bit daunting to think about, but I admire the risks that Van Jensen, Robert Venditti, and the rest of the Green Lantern team have taken by brining this plot to life. They promised that the world of Green Lantern would never be the same after Lights Out, and boy howdy did they deliver.
Also, this issue featured a Green Lantern snake man with truth-serum venom and John throwing around snowplow constructs, so, y’know, major bonus points for that.
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