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Friday, February 22, 2013

Review: Green Lantern #17



In the world of Green Lantern things seem to have constantly bounced from one event to the other since Geoff Johns has been writing the book.  Less than a month after "Rise of the Third Army" ended in Green Lantern Corps Annual #1, we have now begun the next huge arc effecting every Lantern book: "Wrath of the First Lantern."  How does the beginning of this new arc match up with the one that came before it?  Read on to find out!


With this issue of Green Lantern Simon Baz meets the always gentlemanly Black Hand after being sucked into a book with B'dg in Green Lantern Corps Annual #1.  Meanwhile, Volthoom, the First Lantern, begins his revenge on the Guardians by attempting to alter the past.

Event fatigue is a very real condition that comic companies can suffer from.  Ask Marvel readers.  Ever since Avengers Disassembled in 2003, Marvel has made it their mission to make sure that not a year goes by without some universe-spanning event.  While one could easily argue event fatigue is starting to settle in with Green Lantern, Geoff Johns at least gets some points for having "Wrath of the First Lantern" feel like a very organic story transition after "Rise of the Third Army."  While the latter certainly dropped many hints that a conflict with Volthoom was on the horizon, what effect will having both arcs come back-to-back have?  The answer to that will probably not be known until after "Wrath of the First Lantern" is complete, but I am already beginning to sense "Rise of the Third Army" is becoming somewhat meaningless.  After all, the arc itself only grazed the story going on in Green Lantern so at least "Wrath of the First Lantern" seems to already be having some visible effects within this book.  Johns also gets points for making sure readers do not have to pick up every single Lantern book to get the entire story.

So what kind of villain is Volthoom?  It is difficult to say with only part of the story being told at this point, but he is at least a bit intriguing.  From a design stand point, it would seem that Volthoom has some kind of control over every aspect of the emotional spectrum so I am hoping we get to see this taken advantage of in further issues.  There is a moment in this issue where Volthoom is able to, albeit briefly, alter the past.  This short moment was not only an interesting turning point, but also set up the general direction for the entire arc.  At this moment, I am pretty interested to see where this story could go.  Although, if I am being honest, I would have said the same thing at the beginning of "Rise of the Third Army."

Setting up the overall reach of Volthoom aside, it does not really feel like much happens in this issue.  There is an awkward Temple of Doom moment between Black Hand and Simon Baz, but it does not really go anywhere.  Simon is ultimately still figuring out what it means to be a Green Lantern.  We have certainly been given hints as to the kind of power Simon will be able to wield with his ring, but I wish we could have more of a clear direction for the character.  I realize that this issue is just the first chapter of a new story, but we have been with Simon Baz since Green Lantern #0 and I still feel like there is a very unclear direction for his story.  As all signs point towards Hal Jordan regaining sole protagonist duties on the book after "Wrath of the First Lantern," it would seem that Simon's story will have to be developed within Justice League of America.

The issue ends a note that we will finally see some things with Sinestro and Hal that have been hinted at for quite some time, so at least there is some progression on that front.  Overall, however, I am beginning to feel just as overwhelmed as Simon in that things are just happening so fast we as readers have not had the time to slow down and get to know this guy.  I like Simon Baz and I want to see him develop as a Green Lantern, but that can't happen when he is constantly throw from event to event.

Despite my problems with uncertainty in this book, it is by no means poorly written.  Geoff Johns is one of my favorite writers in comics and the fact that he is able to make a relatively uneventful first issue a decent read speaks a lot to his talent.  That being said, I am sorry that Geoff Johns' last story with Green Lantern is going to be yet another event instead of a moment of character development to set-up these characters for their next caretaker.  

On the art front, this is a beautiful issue.  Well, the parts of the issue which Doug Mahnke drew at least.  The prologue to this issue, while important for the arc as a whole, had some mediocre art that bordered on terrible in some panels.  Fortunately, this is only for the first four pages of the issue and the rest was able to be salvaged with Mahnke's work.

Overall, Green Lantern #17 is a good read and worth the buy, but I just wish that we could take a moment to slow down and appreciate the scenery/develop our characters before putting the pedal to the metal for the next event.


Rating: B

Summary: Green Lantern #17 provides an intriguing start for Volthoom and "Wrath of the First Lantern," but ultimately offers no real development for the book's main character, Simon Baz.
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