by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
When talking about serialized narratives, we’ll often talk about how certain installments “put the pieces in place” — that is, it was saddled with setting up the next installment (often to its own detriment). But superhero comics represent a peculiar type of serialized narrative, one where “putting the pieces in place” often means putting things back where they belong. However far afield you may take Bruce Wayne, he’s always going to return to Gotham, return to his allies, return to fighting crime as Batman. These kinds of periodic resets are partially a vestige of a time when superhero stories were much more episodic than today but they also offer a straightforward way to keep the characters going into perpetuity. Often, that kind of reset is reserved for the very end of an arc, giving us just enough of the hero’s old status quo to restore some sense of normalcy. Occasionally, though, we’ll get a story like Green Lanterns 32, which takes time to remind us who our heroes are when they’re not busy dealing with a crisis.
And that really is what this issue is all about. Sure, Simon makes some progress in reconciling with Nazir, and Jessica manages to cope with her social anxiety enough to flirt with a dude, but this issue isn’t so much about advancing those plotlines as it is about reaffirming who these characters are. They’re working on their issues, but those issues are also part of what makes them so endearing. This is a “hang-out” issue if ever there was one, explicitly pausing the superhero action to hang out at a house party.
It makes for a shaggy issue — Jessica quickly trades in her flirting storyline for eating donuts with Sira and pranking some asshole storylines, and still finding time to chase down Simon and force him to deal with Nazir. Unfortunately, that shagginess leaves the issue feeling somewhat aimless. I’m all for just basking in these characters’ personalities, but this issue cedes valuable page space to meaningless beats like Simon attempting to run from Nazir; Jessica captures him in the span of a single page, and then without so much as a pep talk, he’s back in the room, reconciling with Nazir. It’s almost like the script was a few pages short, and these were just thrown in for padding. It was nice to see Jessica and Simon without a mission for once, but this series sure is a lot stronger when they actually have something to do.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?