Green Lantern Volume 3 #14 – 17 + Green Lantern: Mosaic #1 – 18
on September 25, 2013
In the early ’90s, the Green Lantern franchise got a new comic series appropriately titled Green Lantern. During the end of the previous Green Lantern series, the book was renamed The Green Lantern Corps and was a team book featuring three Green Lanterns from Earth; Hal Jordan, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner. At the start of the ’90s series, the entire Green Lantern Corps was disbanded, with the great majority of Green Lanterns losing their powers. The three Green Lanterns from Earth, however, retained their power rings.
This put writer Gerard Jones in an interesting position as he stepped up to guide the fresh series. He wouldn’t be writing about the Green Lantern Corps, but he had three characters on his hands who all bore the name Green Lantern and could lead the book.
He handled the situation interestingly by writing about all three of them. Hal Jordan was a friendless vagabond, Guy Gardner was a member of the Justice League, and John Stewart was… going crazy.
John Stewart was coming off a tough time. Writer Jim Owsley (later known as Christopher Priest) put him through the wringer during the late ’80s interim between the final issue of The Green Lantern Corps and the first issue of the new Green Lantern series, when Green Lantern stories were small features in the Action Comics Weekly title.
Not only did he lose the Corps and his powers, John Stewart’s wife was killed by the super villain Star Sapphire. That’s not all! In the mini-series Cosmic Odyssey, written by Jim Starlin, a re-powered John Stewart failed to save the planet Xanshi, due to his arrogance, and millions died. This shattered him emotionally and he contemplated suicide.
Gerard Jones was heading into quite a tangled web when he picked up the Green Lantern franchise. So tangled, he wanted to reboot it, but editorial insisted that he work from the old material.
Of all the work Gerard Jones did with Green Lantern, the Mosaic storyline stands the tallest. It is a broad, overarching sci-fi epic. Mosaic, in some way, shape, or form, is involved in much of Jones’ earliest Green Lantern stories. The seeds were planted in the very first issue of Green Lantern, Volume 3.
We’ll go through a brief rundown of what happened before we get into the meat of Mosaic. This Mosaic prelude, if you will, can be found in the trade paperback, Green Lantern: The Road Back.
Hal Jordan felt he’d lost touch with himself. Being Green Lantern consumed him to the point he felt he’d lost sight of Hal Jordan, and what it was to be a regular man. It’s typical fare for the character. He decided to go from town to town in America, not totally unlike what he did in the ’70s during the “Hard Traveling Heroes” story. Except, instead of searching for America, he was searching for himself and a place in the world.
He decided to go to Hope Springs, West Virginia to pay a visit to a girl he met long ago during his cross country trek with Green Arrow and Appa Ali Apsa, a Guardian of the Universe disguised as an elderly human. The Guardian was with them so that he may come to a better understanding of how humans think and feel.
Hal found the girl he was searching for – Rose Lewis. However, she was then known as Rose Hardin and had a young son named Toby. A widow whose husband died in a mining accident, Rose worked hard on her farm to make end’s meet. Hal Jordan and Rose bonded, but she sent him away when she discovered that he was a Green Lantern.
Jordan continued bumming around America while John Stewart, in his fragile state, journeyed to Oa to seek answers from his lone master, Appa Ali Apsa. His Guardian brothers departed from the regular dimension to be with their Zamaron mates. Appa, also known as Old-Timer, was appointed by them to stay and assist the Green Lantern Corps in protecting life throughout the universe. Though, as mentioned, the Corps was no more, leaving Old-Timer in true solitude on the lonely planet at the center of the universe.
There, John found that Old-Timer had gone insane due to loneliness, and he imprisoned John and created a mind meld between the two so that they could be together forever. John’s brain could hardly withstand the vastness of the Old-Timer’s memories and mind. In an effort to break the loneliness, the Old-Timer then used his incredible power to uproot cities he had visited across the cosmos and bring them to Oa, thus forming his own paradise. John was powerless to stop him.
Hal Jordan learned that Evergreen City had disappeared, and tried to stop Hope Springs from suffering the same fate, but he was too late. Hal raced to Oa to get to the bottom of the bizarre occurrences.
After a large ordeal, which saw the return of the Guardians, Appa Ali Apsa was defeated and killed. The Guardians claimed they could not send the cities home, because not enough energy was in the Central Power Battery. John Stewart was tasked with the job of helping the Guardians rebuild Oa, and being the caretaker of the new patchwork of cities on the planet until there was enough juice to send them back. Hal Jordan assured Rose Hardin of Hope Springs that he would do what he could to see her back on Earth, but he had his own duties and left her and the town in the trust of John Stewart.
It’s here that the Mosaic story begins in full force with issue #14 of Green Lantern. Part one of the four part storyline called “Mosaic.”
A young teenage couple from the city of Greenville (which was also abducted) is actually excited about their new home. The boy is filled with hope and views the situation as a special opportunity, and his girlfriend is equally enthused. They walk to the literal edge of their city and see alien structures across the open field. Suddenly, they spy beings poke their heads up above some fortifications, and the couple approaches the aliens, smiling. They tell how they come in peace, but the aliens respond by blasting the kids into oblivion with large bazooka-like weapons.
Within John Stewart’s dwelling, Gerard Jones establishes a lot about the character in only a few pages. We see he’s a deep thinker, a musician, and likens creating musical structures to other types of structures. This makes sense, seeing as he’s an architect. Gerard Jones does quite a bit to re-imagine John Stewart, incorporating several new aspects, giving the character a different flavor than he had under Steve Englehart in the ’80s. This is natural, though, considering what John has been through since the Steve Englehart days.
Gerard Jones re-imagines John Stewart as a contemplative intellectual with a strong love of music.
John is much more conflicted, more contemplative, and frequently muses on matters of philosophy. Jones turns John into a real intellectual, and it’s here where later writers like Geoff Johns get the idea that John Stewart is “the thinking man’s Lantern,” “the Lantern who asks the tough questions,” and also that unfortunate Lantern who is often caught in lose/lose scenarios. For the most part, Geoff Johns portrayed John Stewart terribly, but Jones is a master at handling the Lantern. Right off the bat, Jones puts John Stewart in one of those tough decision moments.
While John is thinking about structures, his ring suddenly alerts him that something’s wrong, and he departs to investigate the patchwork of cities, which, at some hazy moment in time became known as The Mosaic World. Sure enough, the humans are out for revenge against the aliens who killed the two kids, and a battle breaks out.
When John leaves his base to investigate, something very interesting is established. John is not with his fellow humans. He does not live with them, and doesn’t even seem to spend time with them. He chooses to live apart from them at the very center of the Mosaic. As we learn later on, John doesn’t feel like he belongs anywhere, and though he doesn’t want to be alone, it is a reality he accepts.
The fighting rages on and when John arrives, the humans think Green Lantern is on their side, but he’s actually neutral. He stops the humans from pressing their advance and they attempt to explain to him what’s going on. The aliens use this as a means of launching their own attack, and some people are injured and die in the blast.
John loses it.
He springs into action to stop the aliens while thinking, “Not again. Not again. They can’t put me through this again.“
I really applaud Gerard Jones for taking that terrible aspect of Cosmic Odyssey and using it to his advantage in this story. John is a different man than he was in Green Lantern Volume 2 #182-200, and it’s easy to understand why. Gerard Jones seizes this opportunity to really allow the character to grow and change, just like real people grow and change. Mosaic is special in part because a lot of it is about John growing.
John tries his hardest not to be a killer again, of the humans or aliens, but both sides make the situation trying. From quickly scanning one alien’s mind with his ring, John learns that the species has a hive mind, and their whole existence is centered around expansion and consuming other lifeforms they come across. There is not any malice behind their actions, it’s simply the way they work.
Green Lantern digs up a sizable amount of forest from the humans’ side and places it between the two settlements to act as a barrier and to impede the aliens’ advance. He places the humans back in their city, which they’re not happy with, and then asks the Guardians for help.
The Guardians refuse to help and more or less tell John to figure the situation out on his own.
Rose Hardin. Beautiful fiery haired hillbilly farmer who captures the hearts of Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart.
While that is going on, at Hope Springs, Rose Hardin is conducting a meeting with different aliens in hopes of bringing their species together in harmony. As she’s doing that, a radio report from the city of Greenville comes in asking for support, as they plan to launch another attack against the aliens. Word has gotten around about this race, called The Horde, killing human children, and many humans are literally up in arms. Rose reluctantly fetches her gun and joins the fight.
As the humans commence their attack, the aliens are ready for them and blow many of the Earthlings away. Meanwhile, John is hearing some strange voice in his head while he’s asleep. It rouses him with warnings of the trouble taking place!
And so ends the first issue in the great Mosaic storyline, titled “Structures.”
There is a lot to love already! It is a fascinating concept.
A broken man with godly powers looking for redemption, trying to settle things peacefully among all parties, and losing control. Many of the humans already believe Green Lantern is siding with the aliens, because he’s not being biased and siding with them. When you think about it, the humans have every right to be upset, as anyone would who was involuntarily plucked from their world, and whose children were killed for peacefully reaching out to their new neighbors. The aliens, however, just work that way. It’s their culture and lifestyle… their programming. It is really a mess of a situation… and from a story point of view, there’s no one better to handle it than Green Lantern John Stewart.
In the next issue, “Strictures,” John Stewart breaks up the fight by taking down the aliens aggressively and sending the humans away again. Just like before, the humans take this to mean that Green Lantern is on the aliens’ side. He just can’t win for losing in this situation. Since his little forest barrier didn’t work, this time he uses his ring to form a massive wall between the two outposts.
An alien is caught on fire in the skirmish and Rose Hardin assists the wounded creature. When she brings it back to Greenville, the people want it killed, but Rose defends it. She pleads her case to Green Lantern, who is surprised by her compassionate action.
She and Lantern go back to his place in the middle of the Mosaic and try to heal the creature as it rests in a coma. There, they talk and get to know each other better. Rose feels she understands John. She can tell he has figurative walls built all around him and that he won’t let anyone in. Her understanding of John and citing his weaknesses makes him uncomfortable, and to further escalate things, she compares him to the more easy going Hal Jordan, who fits in wherever he goes.
She knows John feels he doesn’t belong, and despite what she says, he feels that she could never truly understand him. Rose proves she does by letting him know that, while she may be a white woman, as a lower class hillbilly, she’s familiar with being ostracized because of the life she was born into. Once John realizes that Rose does understand, he admits he is the ignorant one, and the two recline while enjoying a pot of coffee. This scene between John and Rose is incredibly well written and revealing of both characters.
The second issue introduces a very compelling character named Moses Rockwell. He is incensed at this whole situation and is passionately speaking out against the Guardians of the Universe and Green Lantern in a church filled with like-minded humans. In the meeting, it comes out that Rose Hardin communicates with the aliens through a translator machine, prompting the humans to stop by her place with guns to confiscate the device.
What happens next is quite sad. Through use of the communicator, Moses and his crew of militant humans lure the peaceful aliens Rose communicates with to her home in Hope Springs, where the humans attack them. John Stewart, who is hearing more cryptic voices in his sleep, wakes up, and receives a vision of the madness going on.
Gerard Jones paints this picture so well. Now, the angry and scared humans are lashing out against all aliens, not just The Horde. He shows how a situation goes from bad to worse and worse again, as things start getting completely out of control with hysteria taking over.
The peacemaking aliens are injured, including the Xudarian known as Tomar-Tu. Green Lantern, alerted by his vision, arrives on the scene fast enough to save them, but Moses Rockwell manages to whack him over the head with the butt end of a rifle. Rose struggles with Moses, but eventually, the humans leave to regroup in Hope Springs and prepare an attack against more aliens. They can’t attack The Horde, because of the wall Green Lantern set up, so they’ll go after whatever other species they can.
War breaks out between the humans and aliens. Moses Rockwell leads the vanguard for the Earthlings.
The Xudarians, having heard of the noble Tomar-Tu suffering an unprovoked attack by humans, respond by sending a strike force against Hope Springs. The humans and Xudarians battle back and forth, with the conflict raging from Hope Springs to the Xudarian city. Meanwhile, Green Lantern recovers from the blow to the head, and takes to the sky, where he sits and watches the fighting. Rose hollers at him, asking why he doesn’t do anything to stop the carnage. Afterward, Green Lantern releases a massive blast from his ring, and in a huge act of will power, he creates tall walls that divide every species of the Mosaic from each other, and he also sends the wounded members of Tomar’s delegation back to their respective cities.
Much of the writing in these stories is very poetic. The dialogue and monologues are so powerful and beautiful to read, almost as if they’re lyrics. I think it is better show some of them to let them speak for themselves. When John erects the walls, he muses:
“… Walls around your bodies.
Walls around my heart.
Loneliness made the Old-Timer bring you here to Oa.
Responsibility makes his “sane” brothers want to see how you get along.
Sentiment made me want to help you join in peace.
Some misplaced liberal sentiment. Some self-deluded humanistic sentiment. None of that now.
Because none of you are human. Even you pink and brown bipeds from Earth. You aren’t human. You are little bits of madness.
Viruses of the Guardian’s madness. Infecting his planet.
I am your cure.”
Many of the passages in here are just awesome to read!
The Guardians of the Universe, who continue to do nothing about the situation, are disturbed that Green Lantern has taken on the solution of containment and isolation. They also know that keeping those large walls erected is an act of will he may not be able to survive or sustain.
Another part of what makes this story fascinating is that Green Lantern is presented with a problem that he just can’t blast away. Gerard Jones really make readers wonder how in the world he is going to deal with this great, chaotic mess.
Moses Rockwell continues being a firebrand and rallies people to attack the walls, attack the aliens, and kill Green Lantern. And he’s not the only one. Species all around the Mosaic are fed up with their situation and are getting ready to attack Green Lantern. They believe doing this will force the Guardians to send them home.
Rose uses her communicator and translator in more attempts to build peaceful inter-species relations before things really hit the fan, but none of the aliens want to here it. Meanwhile, Moses Rockwell learns that the other captives across the Mosaic are fed up, too, and decides to use their common disgruntlement to build an alliance with the aim of killing Green Lantern.
It’s hilarious, fascinating, and weirdly convincing that these beings who were once out to kill each other are now allies. Also interesting is that Moses does what Rose isn’t able to, except instead of using peace as his goal, he uses the prospect of violence, chaos, and destruction to bring the aliens together.
The crystalline people of Barrio III do some kind of vibration ritual to summon their own Green Lantern, Chaselon. They are confident that Chaselon will come and set things right, and strike down the Green Lantern of Earth. When Chaselon receives the signal, he’s flying around space with Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and Brik (the Guardians have been working at putting the Corps back together). Chaselon swiftly zooms off toward Oa to answer the call, and the other two Lanterns follow. At the conclusion of the third issue, we learn the voices Green Lantern has been hearing are of Appa Ali Apsa, the Mad Guardian who was killed.
John Stewart’s former master who he killed, Appa Ali Apsa, communes with John in his mind, even after death.
Things are even worse. Now, nearly the whole populace of The Mosaic World is against Green Lantern, and he’s not getting any help from the Guardians. He may even have Chaselon and Hal Jordan to deal with!
John Stewart is honestly one of the most fascinating characters in any medium I’ve ever encountered. Some of the things he says and thinks about you’re not going to remotely get from any other character.
He’s certainly not the idealized hero. In this story, there are multiple times when chaos breaks lose, and instead of quickly squashing it, John sometimes watches it happen while waxing philosophical in his own mind.
Yes, he is far from perfect, but he is deeply fascinating. He does address this issue, however, as we see him grow as a character. John realizes that he always thinks when he should act, and when he should act is now.
Gerard Jones smartly explains some of the bad writing in Cosmic Odyssey. It’s revealed that John wants to be like Hal Jordan. The shining lone hero. That unblemished hero cut from the Silver Age cloth. Therefore, he got cocky and acted quickly and resolutely… but it wound up ending in disaster, and a planet was destroyed. That is why John is like he is now. He’s so beaten… so defeated… so scared. He’s so damaged from the Xanshi incident and how he acted, that now he’s afraid to act at all. He’s a prisoner of his own past.
As his walls are being attacked by the different races of the Mosaic, John thinks to himself…
“Who’s insane? Them or me?
But aren’t they a part of me? Mad little monsters sculpted from my madness, hurling themselves against the walls that trap my pain?
This whole world is in my head, isn’t it? Isn’t everything in my head?
The little ones cowering in fear?
Aren’t they my fears?
The walls are my will.
Walls built since childhood by my guilt.
So the attackers must be my rage, mustn’t they?
My rage, my grief.
Grief for my wife. Grief for my life.
The Old-Timer appears in John’s head, taunting him, trying to make him feel guilt over his failures. John manages to block the dead Guardian out. Confused and exhausted, he goes back to his dwelling to try to think of a solution. The Horde member who was wounded by the fire is still there, and wakes up from his coma. John prepares for a fight, but the alien curiously tells him to find Rose.
John pays the farmer a visit. Rose was trying to contact The Horde, because John told her they all share one mind. If she could contact them, they could send a message to the wounded one, which could send a message to John. Rose wanted to tell John of Rockwell’s plan to smash the walls and cause a firestorm across The Mosaic. Rose and her friends bring up ideas for how John can stop this and get the aliens to compromise and work together, but nothing is getting through to him as his insecurities keep getting the better of him. Suddenly, Rose jerks John by the shoulders and tells him to let go of the past, and as she’s doing that, the walls dividing the colonies fall, and fighting breaks out all across the Mosaic.
Through Rose’s forcefulness, John realizes what he needs to do. He springs into action to break up fights, but just as he’s in the zone, he’s stopped by Hal Jordan. Hal wants answers. He knows John has been unstable and doesn’t trust his judgment. John gives him the classic line of, “We either do this my way, or you get the hell off my planet.” That seems to resonate with Hal and he concedes to John’s lead. Chaselon and Brik follow as well.
The commands come quickly and easily to John, much more like they did before Xanshi, and before his wife’s death. John knows exactly what to do and the Green Lanterns dissolve the tension among the assorted beings who are fighting each other. John fetches the ringleaders of the uprising, including Rockwell, and secures them in an Oan science cell, where the Guardians keep prisoners. He realizes he’s gone about this situation wrong. The Mosaic does not need walls. It needs doors and roads, and beings willing to walk them. John knows that Rose Hardin, and her ambitious efforts to bring peace to The Mosaic, are exactly what Mosaic needs. He tells Hal that he needs Rose to stay, and Hal doesn’t have much to say about that.
In one scene, we see John and Rose getting closer again, and Hal and Rose drifting further apart. John and Rose have a distinct goal, a new found purpose, and their fervor for their goal brings them closer together.
Green Lantern confronts the Guardians and it comes out that the Central Power Battery is fully charged. They could have sent those cities home whenever they wanted. They’re actually using more power maintaining the cities than it would take to send them home. They admit that the whole thing is an experiment to see how these species react when jammed together.
Green Lantern objects to the operation, but there’s nothing he can do. The Guardians give him the option of leaving and letting the inhabitants of The Mosaic fend for themselves. He decides to stay and help the creatures form a peaceful society. He gathers together the beings like Rose, who didn’t want to fight, and tries to put together a delegation of peacemakers.
Of note in the final issue of the four part storyline is that Green Lantern removes his white gloves, which are a pretty striking and consistent stylistic choice among many Green Lanterns. He says that he’s going to have to dig in deep and feel things with his own hands, and he can’t do that with white gloves on. It’s symbolic. What I would like to bring out is that many artists, even now, draw John Stewart without any gloves on. He’s the only human Green Lantern Corps member without gloves of some form. I think it’s a nice throwback to Mosaic, and shows that John still feels the needs to feel things with his own hands.
That is the end of the four part “Mosaic” series in the pages of Green Lantern. It sets everything up for the Mosaic Ongoing title. Though it is really different than the Mosaic ongoing in feeling and tone, it is extremely powerful in its own right and more action packed.
Mark Bright’s art is absolutely grand. His characters are well proportioned and distinctive looking, and there is a lot of detail in the landscapes, weapons, and constructs. The splash pages are immensely stunning, especially in issues #16 and 17. Tons of expression in the faces and body language easily convey sentiments, and the action scenes are dynamic. He does a really clean job that is very difficult to complain about.
Some of my favorite panels are in the first issue when John is playing piano and ruminating on structures, and in the second when he’s talking with Rose in his house. Those are more domestic scenes, but the way in which M.D. Bright gets characters across, teamed with Gerard Jones’ writing style, which is both contemplative and robust in its dialogue, makes for powerful moments.
The soft lavender skies of colorist Romeo Tanghel set a strong tone. They give Oa a true alien feel, which is entirely appropriate. What makes the look of this comic so potent is that there are regular looking landscapes with regular looking people plopped in this bizarre looking world.
Speaking of regular looking people, I particularly like the way M.D. Bright draws Moses Rockwell. His general look and expressions are very convincing. The character comes across really well, and is one of the best characters of this series. It’s so interesting that Green Lantern’s greatest foe, if you will, is a regular family man, driven by his (understandable) determination to get back home.
Another aspect I really like about the art and writing is that there are many really cool sequences of wordless panels in which actions take place. They make for a very neat effect.
M.D. Bright is a big step up from previous artist, Pat Broderick (who does art in The Road Back) who was really hit or miss. Some of Broderick’s art is extremely awesome, while other scenes are literally hideous. All of the art done by M.D. Bright is of a high caliber. One would be hard pressed to find a shoddy panel.
It’s hard to say that Bright’s pencils are worse than the incoming Cully Hamner’s. They are way, way different. This is understandable, however, because the Mosaic ongoing has a totally different feel than the four parter in Green Lantern.
Hamner’s art is so far out that it may take some getting used to for some readers, while readers of a certain sort will fall in love with it instantly. It honestly took getting used to for me, but there came a point when I realized Cully Hamner is perfect for Green Lantern: Mosaic.
Yes, Cully Hamner’s style is pretty shocking, but I’ve found that once taking Gerard Jones’ zany scripts into account, it all comes together.
The first issue of the Green Lantern: Mosaic ongoing shows us that the Mosaic World has settled somewhat. It’s not nearly as volatile as before. Reading and observing the first couple pages lets us know this book is much more surreal than what we saw in Green Lantern. The aliens are way more whimsical and everything has a more odd vibe, including the writing style. Throughout the entire issue, Green Lantern breaks the fourth wall and is talking directly to the reader, telling them about The Mosaic World and himself, and using quotes from many different sources to help illustrate his points.
Mosaic breaks out of the pages of Green Lantern and into its own ongoing series! From here on, the story becomes more surreal and experimental.
It’s made clear that Green Lantern is rather crazy. He keeps hearing voices in his head of many different people, most notably Appa Ali Apsa, whose memories washed into John’s mind when they mind-melded. He also feels he has “Something Red” within him, which is vague, but intriguing.
Yes, the Mosaic has come quite a ways from the war zone it was. Roads have been constructed to link the cities. A being from a group John has named “The Stiffnecks” is attacking the road, and Green Lantern goes old fashioned on him and takes the foe out with his power ring.
Readers take a bit of a tour of the Mosaic, but also of John’s mind. His feelings of loneliness, isolation, and not belonging are brought out more. He feels he does not fit in with humans, aliens, the Green Lantern Corps, with blacks, or with whites. When reading Green Lantern: Mosaic, we can actually legitimately see why John would feel this way. He’s so atypical, that he really doesn’t fit in with those molds. He’s apart from the humans. He doesn’t live with them, and they lashed out at him for taking the side of aliens (or so they thought he was). He’s apart from the aliens, because he’s a human. He’s not your typical super hero, and he doesn’t do your typical super heroing (as we’ll see further in this series), so he doesn’t feel like a member of the Green Lantern Corps. He’s a well read intellectual instead of a jive-talking soul brother, so he doesn’t feel like he’s fully accepted by blacks, yet he’s not white, so he’s not accepted by whites.
John Stewart truly is his own thing. Which is nice, because he’s just about as far from a stereotyped caricature as you can get.
It’s also brought out that he wants to be like Hal Jordan. He wants to be that square jawed glamorous superhero who always goes on exciting adventures, saves the day, gets the girl, and so on. But he’s not.
We have an extremely deep character on our hands here!
In the column Gerard Jones writes for the finale of the issue, he points out he’s aiming for a more artsy comic book than usual superhero fare, and he succeeds without seeming like a pretentious poser, which is very admirable.
The next issue is a pretty famous one. Now that we’ve seen how John and The Mosaic are getting along, Gerard Jones moves us along to a story about John’s old friends, and uses Mosaic comics as a platform for more of his poetic flair, which is perfectly fine, because it’s fitting and quite good!
As Ch’p, the former Green Lantern of H’lven hibernates, we’re given the narrative:
“In the rolling tide of dreams there is no day.
Dreams are left and joined again. Dreams are epics, dreams are lifetimes.
Dreams without end, amen.”
This story features Ch’p and Salaak, two of Green Lantern’s buddies from the glory days of the Steve Englehart Green Lantern stories. When the Corps broke up, Ch’p kept his ring, and he and Salaak went back to live on Ch’p’s planet, H’lven. Ch’p is just coming out of hibernation, and as a result, his memories are somewhat hazy.
Ch’p. John Stewart’s close friend from the old Green Lantern Corps.
Both he and Salaak are left broken due to not being Green Lanterns anymore. Ch’p decides to recharge his ring, for the first time in a long while, and in so doing, he discovers that there is a new Green Lantern Corps. He goes to Oa and brings Salaak with him to learn more about joining it.
They spend time with John on Oa. Ch’p is depressed that Hal Jordan, the one recruiting new members, decided not to offer him a place in the Corps, but John tells Ch’p that he can be of help on The Mosaic. Something keeps destroying parts of the road, and it only strikes when John is asleep. Every time he arrives, the creature is gone. Ch’p decided to help watch over the road.
When Ch’p encounters the creature, he is no match for it. We aren’t entirely sure what Ch’p sees, but when John arrives, Ch’p doesn’t tell him, and he runs from John into the street and is hit by a large yellow truck. Before he dies, he can only tell John that he saw “Something red.”
This is certainly a perplexing story, but at the same time, incredibly captivating. We don’t know for sure what Ch’p saw or what made him act the way he did. We’re left with more questions than answers.
As for Ch’p’s death, I’m a bit upset that he died, as I actually like the character. Sure, Englehart did extremely goofy things with him, but he doesn’t always need to be presented that way. Gerard Jones and Cully Hamner wrote and presented Ch’p very well. Though I am a bit saddened to see him go, Ch’p’s death winds up playing a large part in the developing Mosaic story, so it isn’t all bad.
Issue #3 is the first time Rose Hardin has an important role in the Green Lantern: Mosaic series. It begins with John carrying her up in the sky and almost forcing himself on her. He mistreats both Rose and Toby and Rose is hoping it’s just the strain of running The Mosaic World. John claims that there’s not enough order in Rose’s home, citing unwashed dishes, strewn about toys, and so forth. He leaves her house and returns to the road, where repairs are being done, but another fight is about to break out among the aliens. John stops it, but the aliens bring up a good point to him. They wonder why he’s there to stop them from fighting, but why he’s never there to stop whatever being is destroying the road.
GL asks his ring where he was at the time the road was being attacked, because he can’t remember. He finds out his ring’s record of that time has been blanked and realizes he was the only one who could have done that. The art Cully Hamner draws is particularly powerful when Green Lantern realizes that he is the one who has been destroying the road.
When John charged his ring at the Central Power Battery, Sinestro infected him.
This is the first time we see Mosaic have one of its internal mind battles, a regular staple of this series. John has a mental struggle with Sinestro for control of his body and loses.
Possessed by Sinestro, Green Lantern abuses Rose Hardin and other beings on The Mosaic.
It’s quite disturbing to see Green Lantern, who’s being controlled by Sinestro, mistreating the beings of the Mosaic, including Rose and her son.
In the depths of his mind, John’s consciousness rises back up and defeats Sinestro with the memories of his friends and family, like Katma, Rose, his parents, and Tomar-Re.
He regains control of his body and Rose and Toby actually see the spirit of Sinestro being exorcised from John. Fortunately, John explains everything to Rose and regains her and Toby’s trust. He and Rose become… I’m not sure. Their relationship is interesting. We never totally see it officially begin, but we have an understanding that they’re now boyfriend and girlfriend, which Hal Jordan, who still has his sights on Rose, does not know yet.
An interesting aspect of Mosaic is that it sometimes features other characters as protagonists, instead of always using John Stewart for that role. He’s a very central figure, but occasionally stories are told through the perspective of other characters. The first instance of this is when the sixth grader Frankie is featured.
Through Frankie’s eyes, we see the effect The Mosaic World is having on regular humans.
As we saw depicted in our four-part introduction in Green Lantern, there initially was a great panic and the people banded together to do something about their situation. As time went on, and as things stayed the same, many folks grew lax, apathetic, and immersed themselves in re-runs of old television shows to cope with the traumatic situation.
A group of children are interested in exploring The Mosaic. Frankie, Jaqlyn, Kelly, Shaffie, and his little brother Samosa venture into the night, in search of a city they heard was filled with kids. The Mosaic can be a dangerous place, and the group is attacked by a Stiffneck. Green Lantern arrives to save them, but not before Shaffie is killed. The parents of the young child are somewhat apathetic to his death, dulled by their odd circumstance.
Shaffie’s death doesn’t quell the kids’ urge to explore, and they set out again. They are about to be attacked by another creature just as they find the city they are looking for. Green Lantern saves them and is inspired by their need to learn about new alien cultures. He gives them weaker power rings than his own so that they can safely explore and help him with odd jobs around The Mosaic.
Issue #5 is when the ongoing series really hits its stride, and this particular issue is one of my favorite Green Lantern comic books. It deals with all John Stewart’s insecurities while highlighting how great a character he is. In the opening sequence, John is reflecting on how he sometimes dreams he’s Hal Jordan. He dreams of being the confident, quick and resolute ladies man hero that Hal Jordan appears to be.
The issues between Hal Jordan and John Stewart finally explode when Hal pays a visit to Rose’s house, where John is also at. Hal offered to take Rose and her son off The Mosaic, but Rose refused, which shocked Hal. She chose to stay on The Mosaic World and help John bring harmony to it. In Green Lantern #17, we saw this problem begin, but Hal is totally acting on it now.
Whenever Hal Jordan visits The Mosaic, there’s sure to be trouble.
He believes that John is using his power to control Rose. Part of it is that he knows John hasn’t been acting right in the head, and another part is that he can’t stand to see Rose, a love interest of his, with John Stewart.
Hal wants to probe John’s mind to discover the truth and find out what’s going on with him, but John is not going to roll over and permit such a wretched invasion of privacy. Hal insists and forces a beam through John’s brain and the two quickly come to blows. Rose Hardin becomes frantic, worried that her house will be destroyed in their fight. Therefore, the two Lanterns considerately use their rings to battle within the theater of the mind.
Hal throws blows at John’s confidence and self-esteem, unveiling all of John’s insecurities and guilt. He uses how John feels he let his wife Katma Tui and his friend Ch’p die, and how he killed his master, Appa Ali Appa. Hal delivers a crushing blow when he confronts John with Xanshi, the planet he failed to save.
John strikes back by showing Hal that he doesn’t know John as well as he thinks he does. Hal only sees one side of John, the insecure one, but John proves he’s a very multifaceted person. John creates multiple versions of himself, each manifesting as something different. One John Stewart is a large, aggressive, trash talking boxer, another is a priest, a bum, a pimp, an MC Hammer looking dancer, a beatnik, a baseball player, an architect in a business suit, and so on. To match John, Hal creates multiples of himself as well, but they’re all the same; Hal Jordan in his Green Lantern uniform.
John says to Hal:
“You fight to prove your rightness, you score your total victories, and you stride out as you entered. I never score a total victory! Each victory opens up another challenge!”
This is one thing I love about John Stewart – he grows as a character. He changes. He comes out differently with his losses and victories. Whereas Hal Jordan is always more of the same (unless he’s Parallax or Specter).
In the end, John defeats Hal, and Hal leaves. The two eventually reconcile. Despite Rose staying with John, he knows that sometimes in Rose’s dreams, he’s Hal Jordan, just like he is in his own. But when they wake, they wake to him.
One of the reasons this issue is so brilliant is because it symbolizes so much!
If I can think of a good reason Mosaic is a story that isn’t revisited much, it’s this issue. In fact it was at this issue, number 5, that Mosaic was marked for cancellation. Some people (like Green Lantern writer and raging Hal Jordan fan, Geoff Johns) will no doubt have some kind of problem with John Stewart legitimately defeating the so-called “Greatest Green Lantern,” even to the point where John gets the girl who was introduced as Hal’s love interest.
Steve Mattson’s colors are really to be commended. Yet another way in which Mosaic is captivating is in how much it contrasts itself. It’s dark and intense sometimes, and really fun and boppy at others, and a lot of that has to do with the colors. I love Mattson’s gradients, purples, cozy reds, and lime greens. He works great with Cully Hamner and his dynamic layout style.
Hamner takes a break for issue #6, though. Guest artist Chris Wozniak renders the story, and the first page is a splash of Green Lantern saying, “My god, why do I suddenly look so different.” It works really well, because in this issue, titled “Step Outside,” John leaves The Mosaic and journeys to the area of Oa near the Guardians’ Citadel and Central Power Battery.
Gerard Jones has a charming way of getting across that things on The Mosaic are not like how they are anywhere else. That’s partially why Cully Hamner’s nutty and exaggerated art works so well. It’s a story through the eyes of a guy who’s going crazy and in an environment that is being shaped by his madness, so it looks a certain wacky way. When one steps outside of it, things appear a completely different way. Also of note is that John Stewart debuts a new costume in this issue. It’s really not a spectacular one, so it kind of doesn’t matter.
Issue #6 is yet another one that explores the mind and steps out of reality. Kilowog brings recruits Boodika and Kreon to meet John. The two of them are quarreling and can’t get along because of cultural differences. Seeing as how John deals with things of that very nature on The Mosaic, Kilowog believes John can help in solving the matter.
This issue highlights how nuts John has become. He forces the trainees to face their greatest fears together in their minds, and if they lose the confrontation, they both die. Kilowog objects to the method, but John only claims that life has been different for him. In these two past issues, we see how people who exist outside The Mosaic can easily tell John is very different from the person they remember. This further explains why his personality is so different from when he was written by Steve Englehart.
Kreon and Boodika eventually realize that if they faced each others’ fears, they could win. John gives commentary that we’re all incomplete. When we face what we lack, we often either love it or hate it, because we know it can shatter our structure of self sufficiency. To keep that from happening, we have to step outside our fears and let our loves and hates meet.
The two trainees not only survive the exercise and learn to work together, but become closer as people, and Kilowog marvels at John’s effectiveness at solving the problem. This is a thought provoking story with an interesting lesson.
Back on The Mosaic, trouble strikes again when the Glad Girls are killing the Clergy Birds. The Glad Girls enjoy inflicting psychological pain that somehow ends up being harmless, but they never resorted to killing. The Clergy Birds are blaming the Crow Ridge Indian Reservation’s music and dancing rituals for causing the girls to go mad. The Indians are approached by the Clergy Birds and told to stop the ceremony. The two sides get into a verbal confrontation that gets violent when the Indians shoot at the birds, only to be deflected by the Mosaic Kids. They call Green Lantern to settle the issue.
The cool thing about this issue is that all the pieces of The Mosaic are pretty much in place. Gerard Jones spent a good deal of effort world building and introducing new cultures, and while he still does introduce new things, he now delves further into what has already been introduced.
John eventually realizes that sentient lifeforms that are musical notes are causing the Glad Girls to go crazy and the Indian tribe to keep their dancing and music going on. One of the most interesting aspects of the story is that, for the first time ever, John actually intentionally calls Appa Ali Apsa from the depths of his mind to give him the answer for stopping them. Appa created The Mosaic World and knows all about it. Appa warns John that he can’t just decide to know one thing, he must know it all. Then, Appa floods his mind from everything he knew as a Guardian. With things like this going on, it is really easy to understand why John has such a different personality than he had during previous runs.
Through the information overload, John learns how to communicate with the musical beings through notes and lyrical concepts in his mind. Once he’s figured the creatures out, they reveal themselves and lift him to another plain, where space is tone and time is beat. John calls them the Tonemen of Melodyland. Once he tells them what they’re doing to The Mosaic, and that he only wants to be their friend, the confused and misunderstood musical notes who were stolen from their world agree to back off.
Another incredibly thought provoking tale. A very fun sci-fi short story with a simple beginning and ending. It and the following story, “Low-Riders in the Sky,” are some of the loveliest in the entire Mosaic story.
Issue #8 is a five star comic to me. The art of Cully Hamner shines so well as he imparts so much character in facial expressions and mannerisms. Gerard Jones nails the voice of completely different types of people.
It begins with Mexican gangsters in Evergreen City coming into conflict with aliens that are copying them. The aliens are going around driving low-riders like the Mexicans, talking like them, looking like them, and acting like them. They’re coming in the Mexicans’ neighborhood, talking to the girls and showing up their cars with enhanced alien technology.
This is one of my favorite pages from Mosaic. I guess it’s because of the wild scene going on, and the way Jr. Santos is standing.
Things don’t get violent until the aliens graffiti over the gangsters’ graffiti, and the gangsters start shooting at them, feeling as if the aliens are taking over their territory. The aliens retreat, but return with a whole force of flying low-riders and begin shooting back at the humans.
Desperate, the Mexicans decide they need to get Green Lantern involved, so they find Frankie to summon him. Frankie assembles The Mosaic Kids, who feel they can settle the issue on their own. They convince the aliens to stop acting like the Mexicans, and then the aliens start acting like the kids. Frustrated, the kids finally seek Green Lantern’s help.
The issue is written in a really interesting way. It starts out with one of the Mexicans, Jr. Santos, narrating the tale, then it jumps to Frankie, and finally to Green Lantern.
John dubs the aliens Trendoids. Because Green Lantern isn’t settling things the way some humans would like, once again, they start believing that he’s fighting for aliens. Wars continue between gangs and Trendoids as Trendoids are only imitating the gangs. Then police find themselves defending Trendoids. News of this reaches across the human communities and that is when all hell breaks lose. The humans begin fighting each other, then open warfare breaks out between the humans and Trendoids. What’s funny is the Trendoids seem completely happy about the whole thing.
John pays the Trendoid leaders a visit and discovers they are a culture who was conquered many times. The ones who had the best chance of surviving under their overlords were the ones who could shed their uniqueness and integrate into whatever society conquered them.
This causes John to consider himself and how African Americans exist in a similar situation. John has a moment with Rose, where he’s deeply contemplating how to handle the Trendoid question. He wants to return them to their culture, but Rose says that they are how they are now, and it’s best to take them as they are and make them work. Their current culture is a culture unto itself.
It’s great to see Rose make such a difference with John’s outlook. He thinks so hard on things and she oftentimes seems to have the answers when her thinking is much less complex.
John journeys around to different cliques of human society and convinces them of how having Trendoids can be of a benefit to them. He then goes to the Trendoid leaders and convinces them to go all around The Mosaic and visit many different species, but in limited numbers, and only to copy certain traits.
Eventually, everyone wants a Trendoid when they see how having them around benefits their society. The lesson is that having people of different cultures around bridges cultural gaps. The Trendoids bring their alien technology and new methods and show that they can be useful to other cultures. It’s about bringing people together, which is what Mosaic is all about.
A spectacular issue. Steve Mattson’s beautiful spring greens and fuchsias makes it look so hip and stylish set to Cully Hamner’s art.