Today, Mark and Patrick are discussing Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion 1, originally released January 13, 2016.
Mark: I have to admit, Green Lantern proper and the continuing adventures of Hal Jordan in the New 52/DC YOU, has not captivated me for a few years now. I was, then, incredibly excited when Green Lantern: Lost Army launched in the aftermath of Convergence. Cullen Bunn and Jesús Saíz’s series started as one of the strongest Green Lantern stories in years, and I was very excited to see where it went. Unfortunately my initial enthusiasm was not universal, and the story kind of lost the thread as it went on. So despite DC’s editorial promise to let all of their new books run for at least 12 issues, Lost Army was a victim of DC’s panic in the face of flagging sales. Cancelled after 6 issues, DC promised to wrap up the story started by Bunn in Lost Army with a 6 issue mini-series: Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion, with the departure of Bunn and Saíz, replaced by writer Tom Taylor and artist Ethan Van Sciver.
Well, “wrap up.” Because, while it may have been explained away as a continuation of Lost Army, Edge of Oblivion is a new #1, for all intents and purposes it begins a whole new story completely divorced from Bunn’s work before. For better or for worse, Taylor has taken the base core of Lost Army (Green Lantern Corps lost in space/time), and gone from there. No more pyramids, no more Mogo being a source for the entire ring spectrum, no more flashbacks to John Stewart’s life on Earth.
The whole issue takes on a Star Trek-vibe. Stranded in space, trying to make their way back home, the Corps are faced with the ethical dilemma of whether or not to stop and save a planet filled with survivors of lost worlds. That’s basically the basis for every Star Trek ever. Of course, the Corps decide to see how they can help, but sinister, hooded figures work in the shadows to threaten the peace. It’s not groundbreaking, and the last half of the issue feels a bit rushed with so many new concepts introduced, but it’s a promising start as a team title Lost Army never really was.
It pains me to say this, but the weakest aspect of the issue is Van Sciver’s art. By this point, Van Sciver is intrinsically tied to modern Green Lantern, so I understand why DC has him on this mini-series, but I admit to missing Jesús Saíz’s work in Lost Army (and NOT just because his Guy Gardner is way hotter!). I know wonky faces are one of my common criticisms of comic art in general, but this is as good an example of that as any. In this instance, faces seem to be a symptom of a larger problem: weird perspective issues.
Dimsas, the dude Kilowog is hitting in the face here, is supposed to be significantly, significantly bigger than any of the Corps, but that’s lost here. I’m also not sure what Kilowog is supposed to be doing here. His posture makes me think he’s swinging his construction as a hammer, but the way it’s projected from his ring looks more like he’s throwing a barrel at Dimsas, Donkey Kong-style.
The sometimes off art doesn’t cripple the issue, but it’s a small detail that definitely makes for occasional Uncanny Valley-type moments when reading. Still, there are details I enjoy. Van Sciver at multiple points during the issue reflects the Green Lantern symbol in the pupils of Corps members, and it’s a neat, small thing that could easily be missed, but denotes his attention to detail.
What’d you think, Patrick? Am I being too harsh of Van Sciver’s work here?
Patrick: It’s possible you’re being a little harsh of the platonic ideal of Van Sciver’s art — when that guy is in peak form, there’s a very palpable sense of weight and movement, even to his light-based space battles — but I think you’re mostly right to criticize it here. There are some truly wacky scale issues in this one, including the Kilowog / Dismas (or “Dimsas,” it depends on who’s saying it) fight you pointed out, but there’s never really a good sense of how fucking huge it is that there’s this refugee planet on a collision course with Mogo. And actually, maybe that’s because Mogo himself seems way smaller than I think he should be. Like, I shouldn’t be able to see any Lanterns on his surface from orbit, right?
This is a problem of perspective – maybe they’re hovering a hundred miles above the surface of the planet, but like, how the hell would we ever know that? Also, I know we’ve got like a dozen lanterns all working in concert, but creating a planet-sized shield seems like a task that’s too big for them, right? It seems like this should the big rallying moment for the issue – like maybe John should be shouting orders, making sure the shield is architecturally sound, while Kilowog gets their nerve up and Salaak finds a way to strengthen the bonds between their rings. Or something. Instead, this moment — which we do linger on for like 4 or 5 pages — is resolved through no specific actions or efforts from our heroes.
So when The Lanterns finally make contact with this refugee world (very Star Trek, also very Silver Surfer), those generically menacing cloaked figures have to somehow match the intensity of Mogo under attack. That leads to the vine-y assassination of Lantern Mukmuk (great name) from Sector 687. I actually rather like Van Sciver’s design and execution of Mukmuk – his fishy form really highlights the vulnerability of the Lanterns without their rings, which is something Saíz explored with gusto through B’dg in Lost Army. I mean, this is about as impotent as you can get.
In death, Mukmuk goes damn near embryonic. Also, I’ve seen enough Green Lantern deaths that the seeing that error message is pretty unnerving. The ring can’t find the goddamn space sector because they’re in the wrong space!
Still, I’m not sure what kind of cliffhanger this is supposed to be. We know — or at least can assume — that those cloaky dudes killed Mukmuk. Their faces are shrouded, but like, who the hell could they possibly be? We don’t have any reason to think they might be someone meaningful to us. Not exactly a compelling mystery.
I’m also running hot and cold on Taylor’s dialogue. His style borders on too self-aware, so lines like “she’s the most beautiful thirty-foot tall anything I’ve ever seen” feels like a writer’s joke, while the more character-based interactions, like Guy being proud of his analogy working on Salaak, feel more meaningful. He’s also got a strong handle of Kilowog’s voice, which is at once powerful and sentimental. Also, I pointed this out parenthetically above, but there doesn’t seem to be agreement throughout the issue as to whether the male guardian’s name is Dismas or Dimsas. Look, man, new character names – I can’t care about them if the creatives don’t.
On the flip side, I am a sucker for seeing so many of my favorite C-List and D-List Green Lanterns, so maybe I’ll just withdraw all my complaints. Princess Iolande! Tomar Re! Isomat! Morro!
Ah, that’s better. Okay, let’s watch these guys get home.
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?