Thursday, March 8, 2012

52 Catch-Up: Green Lantern Corps #1-6

Green Lantern Corps was probably the slowest-starter out of all of the Green Lantern titles DC Comics released as part of The New 52. But for what my money is worth, it is easily the best of the bunch. Why? Because it has done the best job of establishing its' characters, it has the best artwork and it is the most friendly to new readers.

The first issue
focused upon Guy Gardner and John Stewart - two Green Lanterns of Earth and the only two Green Lanterns from that planet who never bothered to maintain a secret identity. Their personalities, well-known to Green Lantern fans at this point, are smoothly established as the pair of them are seen applying for work outside of their usual jobs as space-cops. The issue closes as Guy and John are summoned to Oa and sent to the scene of a mass genocide, along with a hand-picked team of alien Lanterns.

The team quickly tracks down the beings responsible for the deaths but find themselves out-classed. Somehow, the black-armored assassins are able to resist the effects of a Green Lantern's energy blasts and constructs. Thankfully, Guy Gardner is able to get a distress call off in time for back-up to arrive. The bad news is the back-up, which includes a Green Lantern with natural-born teleportation powers, proves unable to retrieve the whole team when they try and make a fast escape. This leads Guy to form a new team to go back and rescue the lost Lanterns, including John Stewart. At the same time, John Stewart learns more about this mysterious enemy, their grudge against The Guardians and just how they became immune to the energies of the Green Lantern.

Tomasi's writing is top-notch as always. He's been writing Green Lantern team books for a while now and he's an old-hand at handling most of these characters. Despite the sizable cast and the focus upon Guy and John, he still finds time to add little character moments for all of the other alien Lanterns, rounding them out as real characters. He manages this with amazing subtly, with the details of the world being slowly exposed in the narrative as we uncover aspects of the Green Lantern mythos that have never been explored before. Such as where do the Green Lantern batteries go when they aren't being used? Or how a group of the most grizzled Green Lantern veterans created their own secret bar underneath the theme restaurant Guy Gardner opened up on Oa.

Another thing I like about this book is that it has something that has long been missing from too many comic books - boxes with notes from the editor. I'm a deep believer in the old Stan Lee dictum that every comic is someone's first comic and it should be written as such, with a recap of the events thus far somewhere in the text. Tomasi even manages to bring in The Martian Manhunter (on loan from Stormwatch) to act as Mister Exposition without it seeming like an info-dump. I also like the sly dig that J'onn gets in here regarding The Guardians who - in some versions of his background and presumably in the New 52 - were indirectly responsible for the death of the Martian people through negligence. Nice little bonus for the long-time MM fans.

Penciller Fernando Pasarin is a veteran at drawing Green Lantern books and it shows. His alien designs are foreign-looking but still capable of complex and unique expressions - a welcome change from the comics where the alien beings seem to have the same look on their face throughout, despite their current emotional state. Guest penciller Geraldo Borges, who filled in on Issue #3, also does a fine job - indeed, I didn't know there was a guest artist until I looked at the credits while writing this review to make sure the art team stayed the same throughout. But inker Scott Hanna deserves special praise for how well he separates the physical and ethereal elements of the artwork, making the ring projections and energy blasts stand-apart from the living beings. And the palette used by artist Gabe Eltaeb looks like liquid light poured onto each page.

This is easily the best Green Lantern book on the market right now and one of the best books DC Comics is publishing at present. If you've ever been curious about the Green Lanterns but never picked up one of the books before, this is the one to grab!

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