Saturday, June 2, 2012

Green Lantern Corps #7-9: A Review

When it comes to books with large ensemble casts, I am hard pressed to think of any author who has been so consistently excellent as Peter Tomasi.  If Geoff Johns can be said to be the brains behind the resurgence of Green Lanterns in the DCU, then surely Peter Tomasi is the heart.  For when you pick up a copy of Green Lantern Corps, you can safely bet that whoever the issue focuses on, you will get a fascinating character study that is second to none.

Issue #7 exemplifies this principle, being primarily focused on John Stewart.   In the opening arc of the series, Stewart and several other Lanterns were taken prisoner and Stewart was forced to kill Kirrt - one of his fellow Lanterns.  Kirrt had broken under torture and was close to  revealing classified information to the enemy before Stewart snapped his neck.  Afterward, Stewart lied about the circumstances of Kirrt's death, not wanting his final moments to cloud an otherwise exemplary record..  This issue focuses upon Stewart as he takes on the responsibility of cleaning out Kirrt's quarters and delivering his body to his family, all while coping with his own growing unease..

A soldier in the US Marines before being recruited for the Green Lanterns, Stewart is not unused to death and is no stranger to making hard choices.  He is also not unused to having to kill in the name of a greater good but that doesn't make the choices any easier to cope with.  Stripped of the science-fiction setting and the alien characters, this story could just as easily be portrayed in a modern military thriller.  Such is the magic of Tomasi's writing, that he so easily tells stories about characters that, though frequently alien to us, are all too human.

Tomasi's script is well rendered in this issue by guest penciler Claude St. Aubin.  Indeed, until looking at the credits while preparing this review, I was unaware there had be a guest penciler!  I don't know if St. Aubin was intentionally aping the style of regular GLC artist Fernando Pasarin or if their styles are just naturally sympathetic.  Either way, the artwork is well sketched and well emphasized by inker Scott Hanna.  

Issue #8 opens with a re-introduction to The Alpha Lanterns - the Internal Affairs department of the Green Lantern Corps.  Once wholly organic beings, The Alpha Lanterns were created by merging living Green Lanterns volunteers with the robotics technology used to create the Manhunters; a group of robotic police men who marked The Guardians of the Universe's first attempt at creating an intergalactic police force. 

To make a very long story short, The Manhunters started taking their directive to keep order too literally, having concluded that life, by nature, was chaotic and so the obvious solution to maintaining order was to start killing everything.  So if you're starting to think that bonding this technology to a sentient being and charging them to watch the watchmen is an incredibly bad idea, congratulations - you are smarter than The Guardians of the Universe!

Issue #8 delivers another sign that The Gods (or Guardians) Must Be Crazy, as they create a special command position for Guy Gardner - another Green Lantern of Earth, whose reputation for even-handedness and respect for others is non-existent.  Most would consider it charitable to say that Guy thinks with his heart.  Actually, most would consider it charitable to say that Guy thinks.

Surprisingly, given his hot-headed nature and general disrespect for authority, Guy seems to take The Guardian's request to mellow out to heart and later stops a potential bar brawl without brawling.  And in one of the best character-building scenes I've read in anything ever, John and Guy bond in the bar Guy runs in his off-duty time while John builds a small building out of toothpicks.  Even before Guy calls him out on it, this is a subtle sign as to John's true nature - that for all his warrior training, he is still, at heart, a creative spirit who would rather build than destroy.  And Guy, for all his blustering and bravado, is a far more empathic man than he lets on.

Things come to ahead in Issue #9, as the Alpha Lanterns - armed with footage obtained through a secret spy-cam in the deceased Kirrt's ring - arrest John Stewart on charges of murder.  Naturally, the literally-minded Alpha Lanterns care little for the circumstances behind the killing.  The letter of the law says killing a Green Lantern is wrong, even if he was about to betray The Corps and everything it stands for.

Most of the rest of the issue details Stewart's trial and the efforts undertaken by his fellow Lanterns, Guy chief along them, to defend their colleague's actions.  There are also some scenes which focus on Guy Gardner, as he butts heads with a group of Lanterns out to destroy Kirrt'smemorial statue in the Hall of Honor once word gets out about what he'd nearly done in a moment of weakness.  Anyone who doubts that there is more to Guy Gardner than a buzz cut and an attitude would do well to read this issue, as he defends both Kirrt's honor and John Stewart's decisions with intelligence and compassion along with the threat of a good ass-kicking.


Regular penciler Fernando Pasarin returns for Issues #8 and #9 and further cements his reputation as one of the best Green Latnern artists in years.  Pasarin's ability to draw unique looking aliens and detailed constructs is second to none but he proves equally capable, in these issues, of rendering even more mundane stories with a certain unique energy.  Again, Scott Hannah's inks and Gabe Eltaeb's colors help complete these images that seem to glow on the page.

I enjoy all the Green Lantern books published by DC Comics right now.  But if I were hard pressed to pick a favorite, I dare say Green Lantern Corps would be it.  The writing is consistently excellent, featuring some truly heart-felt tales and classical drama besides the amazing action.  The artwork is always eye-catching and memorable.  Really, I can't recommend this book enough.

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