Posted by: erikmona | October 10, 2011

NEW 52 REVIEW 34: Green Lantern Corps #1

Green Lantern Corps #1
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Fernando Pasarin

I’ve been a bit harsh on the Green Lantern family of titles, mostly because (rightly or wrongly) I judged them from afar as representative of the worst excesses of DC’s publishing strategy. Rife with gimmicks. Thick with obscure and off-putting continuity. Exploited beyond recognition and drained of the iconic value that made them interesting in the first place. DC’s decision not to reboot Green Lantern seemed to fly in the face of what I’d looked for in the New 52: a fresh start, free of some of the worst mistakes of the last decade.

Geoff Johns answered my concerns in Green Lantern #1 with a story that was, if not exactly unburdened by past continuity, at least not dragged down by it. The issue seemed to introduce a “new normal’ for the title, with Hal Jordan exiled on Earth without a ring and his arch-villain Sinestro back as a member-in-good-standing with the Green Lantern Corps. The story was easy to jump into for new readers, but there was a certain cheapness to it that undermined its value as a “true reboot” of the series, even if that’s not really what they were going for. Green Lantern #1 introduced a new normal, but it was so transparently temporary that Johns started undoing it by the final splash page. It’s a cool Green Lantern story, and it might be good for an arc, but Hal Jordan is going to end up back as the Green Lantern of Earth. In that way Green Lantern #1 isn’t a great introduction to the themes of the whole series. It’s just another Green Lantern story. A fun story. An accessible story. But just another story.

By contrast, Green Lantern Corps #1 isn’t quite as fun of a story, but it does an excellent job of introducing its lead characters, as well as the concepts and themes of the series as a whole.

The comic opens shortly after a battle in Space Sector 3599, where two alien Green Lanterns are finishing up the details after arresting a boastful alien brute. An invisible creature kills the captive alien, and then gruesomely murders the two Green Lanterns. Within the first three pages of this comic, we see one Green Lantern beheaded, and another sliced in half, complete with red guts hanging out and a vacant, open-eyed expression. DC seems uniformly committed to pushing the envelope with violence, even on titles that don’t really call for it. You expect to see police officers shot in the face in a comic like Batgirl (I guess), but you don’t really expect to see dismemberments in comics like Static Shock or Green Lantern Corps. Or at least you didn’t used to. Progress! (?)

This cuts to a nice pair of scenes featuring second-tier Earth Green Lanterns Guy Gardner and John Stewart. Guy tries awkwardly to get a job as a high school football coach, while fending off fans and the knowledge that he can never really balance normal life with his galactic responsibilities. Stewart tries to bring the same inflexible ideals to skyscraper architecture that he does to being a space cop, with disastrous results given the corrupt local government. Both fly up and have a seat on a satellite, and have a conversation that confirms their suspicions that they will never fit in on Earth.

So instead they decide to go to Oa, to spend some time patrolling space for the Green Lantern Corps. This puts them on the trail of the mysterious killer from the first scene, who has now mopped up a total of six Lanterns. Guy and John gather a group of five weird alien Green Lanterns, and they are off to the drained water world of Nerro for a confrontation with the villain.

It’s straightforward and there’s not much “new” to this comic (beyond gruesome violence), but it delivers exactly what it says on the cover, contains two amusing Green Lantern leading men with a lot of fans (and with strong personalities enhanced by Tomasi’s script and Pasarin’s facial expressions), and looks very, very nice.

Ultimately, I’m not sure if I’m all that interested in the stories this comic is going to tell, but the first issue was fun to read and I’m willing to stick around for a few more months to see what they’re going to do with this book.

Status: We’ll See.

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