Green Lantern Corps #1
“Triumph of the Will”
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils: Fernando Pasarin
Inks: Scott Hanna
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Cover artists: Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US
While I try to avoid reading about comics I plan on reviewing before I get a chance to do so, I became aware of some of the violent excesses of Green Lantern Corps #1 through some reports online. As a result, I figured the best I could hope for from this comic was a so-so read. The criticisms about the overtly depicted, over-the-top violence are valid, but fortunately, there’s more to this first issue than its opening scene. Despite the fact this new series really just picks up where the previous volume (as well as Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors) left off, writer Peter J. Tomasi offers an accessible script with a surprisingly strong emphasis on characterization — namely, on GLs Guy Gardner and John Stewart. The writer explores what these men have in common, offering a logical reason for them to partner up and share the spotlight in this new series. Another pleasant surprise is the fact artist Fernando Pasarin delivers some of the strongest artwork we’ve seen from him in his short time with DC Comics. The creators don’t reinvent the green-glowing wheel here or anything, but they do offer a well-crafted story that manages to overcome the distraction of the extreme images with which it opens.
In Space Sector 3599, a mysterious but devastating threat eliminates the region’s two Green Lanterns with ease and then turns its attention to a nearby inhabited planet. Meanwhile, Guy Gardner gets an education when he applies for a job as a high school football coach, while John Stewart also tries to resume a regular career as an architect, meeting with clients to explain the benefits of safety improvements he’s made to a skyscraper design in case of a superhuman attack. The pair of human Green Lanterns compares notes on the challenges of their public identities before being called to investigate what became of their fallen comrades.
Pasarin’s work in this issue — especially in the Gardner-focused scene — reminds me of J.G. Jones’s style, and that’s high praise (just check out Jones’ covers on Mister Terrific and Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. to see what I mean. The opening scene, despite its brutal tone, boasts some sharp, clean lines and attractive figures as well, and it put me in mind of Chris (Booster Gold) Batista’s style. Either Pasarin has been honing his craft or inker Scott Hanna is bringing a much crisper level of detail and cleaner look to bear. I actually suspect it’s a combination of the two. I noted with interest that the depiction of Oa in this issue is unlike what we’ve seen in previous Green Lantern comics, but it’s a lot like what we saw in the Green Lantern movie this summer, not surprisingly. Colorist Gabe Eltaeb’s name is a new one to me, but he performs well here. Bright, glowing colors are vital for a GL comic, and he really brings the energy of the power rings to life.
Tomasi sets out to humanize the biggest blowhard of a Green Lantern that is Guy Gardner, and he does so adeptly. The eager, earnest side he shows in the job interview helps to balance his character, and it was easy to relate to his annoyance at the barrage of questions from a swarm of admirers before the meeting. Tomasi wisely doesn’t go too far. Guy is still Guy here. His attitude is maintained, but Tomasi is careful to show he’s not all bluster. He’s more of a character here than he is a caricature (as he was, appropriately, in the humor-era Justice League comics).
It’s interesting to note while the writer softens Gardner’s character a little, John Stewart is hardened, dealing poorly with his awkward attempt to re-enter normal, everyday life. I actually found Stewart’s behavior in the scene to be unreasonable and his treatment of his would-be clients crosses the line into assault. At first, I was put off by the scene, feeling Stewart is basically throwing a tantrum. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized his attitude makes sense given his traumatic experience during “The War of the Green Lanterns” storyline that preceded this relaunched series. Of course, Tomasi doesn’t touch upon those events in the script in an effort to make this seem more accessible. As a result, John comes off as… well, a dick. But it’s an interesting role reversal, with Guy being restrained and John being callous and abusive, but John’s behavior in the issue might be off-putting to some.
While this is much less of a relaunch than many other titles in this New 52 initiative, Tomasi manages to incorporate information about the Green Lantern Corps and about the power rings into the script in a logical fashion, and the brief bits of dialogue sum up the central concepts fairly succinctly, but the clear goal here is to maintain the franchise’s momentum. The creators succeed in that goal overall. I have some trepidation about the main story arc, as I’m worried the villain will turn out to be like other generic, forgettable antagonists we’ve seen in other recent GL stories (such as Zardor from the first story arc in Emerald Warriors, for example). Still, given the strength of the characterization and my hope that focus on Guy and John will continue in future issues, I’m more than willing to give Tomasi the benefit of the doubt. 7/10
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