Blowing Up the Page in Green Lanterns 30

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Halfway through Green Lantern 30, Simon Baz praises Jessica Cruz’ plan to fight Volthoom. His narration says “A power ring requires incredible concentration. Volthoom has no ideas what he’s doing. Keep him off balance. All hands on deck. Never let up.” Her plan, like so many Green Lantern plans, boils down to “everyone punch him at the same time.” The dramatic subversion is that the plan doesn’t appear to be working. Artist Carlo Barberi elevates the drama by blowing up the format, only reining in it once our heroes are back in control.

Barberi’s paneling throughout the issue is fascinating. All of the action is presented in rectangular panels perpendicular or parallel to the gutters. He doesn’t mess around with any bizarre shapes or slanting panels, nor does he adhere to any kind of regular grid. Barberi takes a very “whatever’s right for the moment” approach, but for the first half of issue, that’s always confined to a page at a time.

Notice how he takes a little license with that fourth panel, allowing Volthoom’s rage to spill out into the (still very orderly) space between the panels.

When the Lanterns’ assault on Volthoom begins in earnest, Barberi transforms his canvas from the single page to the double page. Eschewing the GL tradition of big dumb double-splash pages, Barberi makes these double-wide pages a relentless battleground where the war keeps waging. It’s such a subtle difference — often, Barberi is still dividing the double-pages roughly in half — but by altering the rhythm of the page turns (and of the way the readers’ eyes traverse the length of the page), he’s sending a clear signal that this is a turning point for the characters.

Writer Sam Humphries has, of course, given Barberi just cause for doing so: it’s a character-salughter-fest.

These first lanterns start dropping like flies, a fresh death with every page-turn. I can’t say that I’m particularly rocked by any of these deaths — even though Humphries has been seeding these guys for a while, they are effectively red shirts with names — but Barberi sells each of these losses in a way that I can buy.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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