Review: Green Lantern 2021 Annual #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Ryan Cady
Art: Sami Basri and Tom Derenick
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Jessica Cruz faces off against three members of the Sinestro Corps and … becomes one of them? Fear may mean something different in the hands of this former Green Lantern!
When Sinestro was first introduced back in Green Lantern (Second Series) # 7, Aug 1961, he was a clear villain. He had been discharged from the Green Lantern Corps for abusing his power and subsequently taken up a yellow power ring from the Weaponers of Qward in the Anti-Matter Universe. Over the past nearly twenty years, Sinestro has been portrayed more and more like an anti-hero than that of a true villain. While this has been extremely interesting, giving Jessica Cruz a yellow power ring is perhaps an even more interesting decision. With Green Lantern 2021 Annual #1, Ryan Cady presents some really deep seated philosophical story beats.
Perhaps, the first notable aspect is how Jessica comes to understand the way the ring works. Jessica doesn’t want to make people fear her, nor does she want to use fear to intimate other to get what she wants them to do. She is able to use the fear to help others. It turns out to be a very subtle use of fear. She’s doesn’t have to give in the fear, nor is she seduced by the power the fear brings, but rather she sees how fear can be used for a good end. (The road to hell is paved with good intentions!) In this way it seems thematically similar to the way that the Sith and the Dark Side of the Force operate in Star Wars. Additionally, Sinestro guides Jessica through her first uses of the ring so she understands how it works. It really gives further insight into Sinestro’s character, as well.
Even though Jessica comes to understand how it works and sees the potential to be used for good, at no point does she ever feel anything but enmity towards Sinestro. She’s willing to use the ring because she feels she can use it for good, but doesn’t appear to buy into Sinestro’s larger goals.
One of the interesting phrases that Sinestro uses in describing the Green Lanterns is that they “impose their will.” It’s a clever turn of phrase because it not only describes the Guardians’ desire for a lawful universe, but also uses the work “will” which is gives one power to use a Green Lantern Ring. Conversely, the Sinestro Corps Ring seems to be used to nudge people in a direction. Sinestro claims that it is using “empathy.” It’s another interesting concept that NEEDS to be explored.
Not surprisingly, when Jessica runs into Hal Jordan, he doesn’t see the possibilities that Jessica does. They part with an uneasy understanding between them. This furthers the idea that there is a place for using fear in the universe. There’s that feeling that Jessica has run afoul, but it’s not like she’s the only Green Lantern to ever turn to the Yellow Side. Besides, Sinestro, Soranik Natu fairly recently returned to the Sinestro Corps.
Yes, more Positives!
Jessica has already been seen in Green Lantern #5 as a Yellow Lantern, though she’s not revealed fully. It’s certainly more effective to tease her change and then allow the full story to be shared in Green Lantern 2021 Annual #1 than giving it all away in Green Lantern #5.
Sami Basri and Tom Derenick share the art chores on this issue and they both add much to the emotional and philosophical themes. Derenick leaves no doubt in the reader’s mind that he’s pissed when he sees Jessica as a Yellow Lantern. Hal even comes across as a bit unreasonable which deepens the sympathetic feeling for Jessica. Both Basri and Derenick depict Jessica’s introspection marvelously. It’s clear that Jessica is weighing this decision on a deep level and both artists communicate that perfectly.
Maybe you don’t like Green Lantern 2021 Annual #1 if you don’t like good comics…I guess?
While this issue fits into the larger story being told in Green Lantern, it also stands on its own as it introduces and examines some really intriguing themes that set up something further down the line. It’s a great character focused issue that just doesn’t stop. Just when you think you’ve figured it out, it goes a bit further and gives a whole new way of looking at Jessica and Hal Jordan. The ideas here go far beyond the current Green Lantern comic or the concept as such in the DC Universe. Fear is something we all understand and something that the world has been dealing with rather prominently in various ways in recent years.