As a crossover between the four main Green Lantern titles, “Lights Out” already feels like a different beast than past events. Instead of sticking to the grandiose space opera style Geoff Johns employed for nine years, Robert Venditti takes a different approach: packing a lot of character-driven story into each issue instead of drawing the narrative out to unnecessary lengths.
“Rise of the Third Army” is a perfect example of how decompression can hurt an ongoing narrative: it was positioned as a major crossover between GL family titles, only to be—in practice—a massive lead in to “Wrath of the First Lantern”. Conversely, “Lights Out” is a fun story that develops organically and brings introduces a new adversary to the GL mythos that isn’t rooted in the corrupt Guardians of the Universe or steeped in millennia-old prophecies.
Green Lantern #24 shows a new side of the Green Lantern Corps that doesn’t listen to reason and is threatened by new information. While not officially part of “Lights Out”, Green Lantern #23.1: Relic presented some very important backstory for Relic and the purpose of the light energy used to fuel power rings. Readers learned that there was a universe that preceded the current one which was destroyed by wanton use of the light energy that binds all of reality together.
Basically, Venditti’s story is one of survival vs. morality. Considering the facts and using pragmatic problem solving aren’t options here; Relic is completely biased in his own ethical diligence, and the GLC has a purview to defend their home and their way of life, as do the Sinestro Corps, the Indigo Tribe, Agent Orange Larfleeze, the Red Lanterns, and the remaining Blue Lantern.
The infighting amongst the colored corps has been vicious and destructive in the past, but their light was always the weapon of choice. Relic wants to remove the weapons altogether. He’s changing the rules because playing the game will cause the entire board to collapse. This is exactly the kind of story the Green Lantern family needs right now: something to pull these characters out of their own asses and into reality where their choices have lasting consequences. The Guardians of the Universe discovered, millions of years ago, how to harness emotional energy. But did they ever ask themselves if they should have, or what the lasting effects of constantly using emotional energy could bring about? These doubts are what “Lights Out” aims to confront.
For as well as Venditti outlines “Lights Out” in this opening chapter, he kind of drops the ball when it comes to dialogue between the members of the Green Lantern Corps. Mostly, readers get a lot of tactical talk about stopping Relic’s invasion of Oa with his light-draining machines.
Heading off an invasion force is reason enough for these characters to be focused on the task at hand, but Kyle Rayner’s arrival at Oa could have been the moment to really explore how Kyle and Carol Ferris’ knowledge of Relic’s history affects the situation. Instead, the moral ambiguity of this major event is somewhat glossed over in favor of prolonged action sequences. Most likely, the ethical implications of the battle between Relic and the Lanterns will be explored, but it’s a shame there wasn’t a more meaty sequence dealing with it in Green Lantern #24.
Green Lantern #24 is a fun, exciting first chapter to “Lights Out” that genuinely builds anticipation and brings some startling revelations. Robert Venditti has developed a story that isn’t defined by the past, but instead creates new mythos and a new way to look at Green Lantern.