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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Review: Green Lantern #18

Two weeks after the last issue of Green Lantern, a new issue is out as "Wrath of the First Lantern" continues.  Does this issue work to fix any of the problems from the previous one, or does it create its own new set of complicated problems?  Read on to find out!

Hal Jordan is back!  In Green Lantern #18, Simon Baz finally meets both Hal Jordan and Sinestro in the Land of Death, where both bicker over who should have control over Simon's ring.  All the while, B'dg and a few Guardians attempt to bring Simon back to the land of the living by using Black Hand.

As I mentioned in my last review, "Wrath of the First Lantern" will be the final Green Lantern story for Geoff Johns.  In order for this to happen, Johns will have to tie up all of his own loose ends before leaving the title to a new creative team.  This is not an easy task when you have been writing Green Lantern as long as Johns.  That being said, Johns appears to be doing his best to slowly get the book back to a state where a new writer could conceivably take over.  While I think Johns begins to do this with some success in this issue, it does not come without its own set of sacrifices.

The cover of this issue mentions that Green Lantern #18 is Part Five of "Wrath of the First Lantern" (the previous issue was Part One).  Fortunately for those of us comic readers who don't have a lot of money to spare, "Wrath" has thus far been a story where you do not have to pick up every single chapter.  On the one hand, this means that each Lantern writer is able to tell their own story related to the on-going saga of Volthoom without having to worry about what is going on in the other comics.  This issue, however, is an example of how this can go badly.  Green Lantern #18 is a good comic.  I feel that it is important for me to say that I actually enjoyed this issue quite a bit.  My problem with the issue is that, despite being labelled as Part Five of "Wrath of the First Lantern," the book does absolutely nothing to further the story of that crossover.  Tomar-Re (in zombie-like form) is able to give us a bit of exposition about Volthoom's origin/importance while also giving an idea of what he is doing elsewhere in the cosmos, but not a single thing happens in this issue to take Volthoom's story to the next chapter.  By the end of the issue, my immediate thoughts were, "Well, this was better than last month's, but why is this part of the crossover at all?"  Let us move on to what actually makes this an enjoyable issue and I will touch back on this later.

It was very nice to finally see some development on the Hal Jordan and Sinestro front.  The two of them have been in this Land of Death for some time with little hope of escape.  During their time among the dead, it would seem that Sinestro has become even more bitter than he was going in (which is saying something for Sinestro).  Sure, the two of them had their arguments before in this series, but Sinestro has grown tired of sharing his ring with Hal.  Things are only made worse when Sinestro realizes that the ring they left behind chose yet another human.  I felt that these moments between Sinestro and Hal and especially between Sinestro and Simon were the strongest in the entire issue.  I am going to be very surprised if Sinestro remains a Green Lantern after this arch, especially considering what happens with he and Simon towards the end.

I also felt that this was actually a decent development issue for Simon.  While we did not learn much else about his character, it was nice to have him finally witness more than one Green Lantern (sort of) working together.  I like seeing Simon having to figure out the inner-workings of the Corps on his own. When Sinestro finally forces Simon to use the gun he has been mocked for carrying, I felt this was a very subtle, yet great development for the character.  Until now, it had seemed that Simon carried the gun more as a last resort.  It could certainly be argued that he had no other choice in this issue, but I still felt it was very revealing that he 1.) decided to shoot Sinestro, and 2.) felt bad about it later.

While the writing is improved with this month's comic, the art is really where this issue shines.  Szymon Kudranski does a beautiful job of making a grey landscape like the Land of Death very vivid.  His art is so engrossing in this issue that the few moments of color are very striking in their contrast, causing the eyes to make an unsettling adjustment mid-issue.  The Land of Death may not be a fun place to be, but the art makes it a very beautiful landscape to behold.

Overall, as I have mentioned, I felt this was a pretty well-written book.  Johns makes his first steps towards tying up his own loose ends by finally developing things he had been hinting at.  My biggest frustration with this issue is that I felt there was really no reason for this to be associated with "Wrath of the First Lantern" at all.  Sure, such an event is something which may or may not have ramifications throughout each of the Lantern books, but I feel that Green Lantern could have told a much better story without being tied down by yet another crossover.  It would not have taken much adjustment for this issue to stand completely on its own, and, had Johns done this instead, it may have made his finale a bit more effective.  I will reserve my final judgment on this problem once "Wrath of the First Lantern" ends, but I have my doubts these feelings will change.

Rating: B+

Summary:  While Green Lantern #18 does a good job of beginning to tie up loose ends, it ultimately does not feel like it is living up to its true potential as it must be tied to a crossover event.

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