GREEN LANTERN #31 (Robert Venditti, Billy Tan) is what heroes are made of.
Geoff Johns blew out the Green Lantern mythology forever when he introduced the lantern spectrum during his eight year reign over the cosmic end of the DC Universe. From the Sinestro Corps War in 2007 to the Wrath of the First Lantern in 2013, the War of the Light has ceaselessly spilled over the cosmos, and Green Lantern as a property is all the better for it.
But now that Johns has given over his reins, it’s time for some new stories. The color-coded skirmishes of the Lantern Corps will always be a part of Green Lantern, but the universe is a big place. In GREEN LANTERN #31, Robert Venditti turns our gaze not towards the Lanterns, but those they have sworn to protect. And even in the depths of space, it comes as a breath of fresh air.
Too often, the sheer diversity of alien races in the DC Universe is all but ignored, in favor of the uniforms select members are chosen to wear. Venditti understands this, and gives two of the most interesting extraterrestrial races- the Klingon-like Khunds and the shapeshifting Durlans- their own well deserved time in the spotlight as they lead an uprising against the Green Lanterns, Hal Jordan’s now self-appointed galactic police force.
The issue features a battle over Alan Moore’s beloved setting/character Mogo, a feature which, barring any other virtues, already warrants a purchase. But the battle itself is exhilarating. Authority is challenged, clever gambits are put into play, and a rousing finale shows us all just what separates a Green Lantern from those who would oppose them. Fort Minor would never make it as a corpsman- it takes far more than fifteen percent concentrated power of will.
A Green Lantern comic is nothing without a good artist, though, and as he has since he began in GREEN LANTERN #21, Billy Tan continues to deliver. The eye-catching spectrum wars may be over, but there’s enough color in the galaxy to keep them wide open on every page. Any sci fi nerd will attest there’s no sound in space, but the visuals here scream with life.
As inspiring as the final moments of the battle over Mogo are, some awkward contrivances are made in order to get to that point. Considering all the threats a Green Lantern ring is crafted to face, Venditti invents here a flaw in the ring’s programming which would have been far too easy to exploit to be ignored until now. Raising the tension when you’re fighting an army that can do practically anything is difficult, but this raising of the stakes didn’t feel completely earned.
The problem with books of this scale is that often, stories which the reader can connect with on an emotional level must take a back seat to a battle for the fate of [insert high stake target here]. Venditti teases us with the appearance of races in the Green Lantern resistance’s fleet who have members in the corps itself, briefly showing us the dismay of those who have given everything to protect their people met with rejection and disdain, but pulls us away much too soon in the name of providing more real estate for the battle itself. This is only the beginning of a much longer arc, though, so we’ll see if this angle develops further in issues to come.
Pretty much everything you want in a Green Lantern comic, Robert Venditti provides. Lantern politics, ebullient personalities, cool aliens and cooler battles are all covered ground, with a new intriguing hook. It’s been pretty interesting to see a Green Lantern corps without the oversight of the Guardians, as Hal Jordan learns just how difficult leading a corps can be.
One recurring theme of Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern was the revelation that the Guardians of the Universe were far from infallible, and often made controversial decisions. Now that control has finally been given to those who seem to have the purest intention, it remains to be seen, as they are faced with similar challenges, whether they will make the same mistakes as their former leaders.
This six part storyline continues next week in GREEN LANTERN CORPS #31 (Van Jensen, Bernard Chang). I’ll see you then!