Green Lantern #24 Review

on October 2, 2013

Green Lantern #24

Green Lantern #24 marks the beginning of the “Lights Out” crossover. If you’ve been reading the Green Lantern line of comic books, you likely saw this coming. For those of you who haven’t, here’s a short recap:

The Lanterns’ rings have been acting wonky. The power is on one moment, and then inexplicably off the next. It’s made the rings rather unreliable. Meanwhile, it turns out there is an ancient being named Relic who existed in the universe before the current one. His universe was destroyed because those who utilized the emotional spectrum in his time ran it dry. Relic managed to survive the destruction of his universe, and now he’s trying to stop the same fate befalling the current universe. He already destroyed the Blue Lantern Corps with the exception of Saint Walker, and now he has his sights set on Oa.

GL 24

The crossover event “Lights Out” begins here! Relic arrives at Oa, and he means business.

This issue’s story begins where Green Lantern Corps #23 left off. John, Kilowog, and Salaak are still inspecting the Central Power Battery, but they’ve been joined by Hal Jordan. Salaak confirms that the battery is the source of the malfunctioning rings and believes that the green entity Ion is the cause. In Green Lantern Corps #23, Ion came out of the Central Battery looking rather ill. Some of the other entities appeared and took Ion away, claiming it was their time to die.

Suddenly, Kyle Rayner, Carol Ferris, and the New Guardians teleport on to Oa, appearing right before the other Lanterns. They’ve brought a wounded Saint Walker with them. They’re coming from the battle Relic had with the Blue Lantern Corps, and fill the Green Lanterns in on what happened.

The exposition is long winded and much of it isn’t necessary. Readers of Green Lantern should know who Relic is from the September “Villains Month” issue, Green Lantern #23.1. The redundant dialogue could stand to be cut down, allowing the issue to get into the action sooner. There are five whole pages of recap, which is a hefty fourth of the entire comic.

Relic arrives on Oa, complete with his massive space ship. He gives the Lanterns a chance to surrender, but they’re not having it. Rather than take the offensive, they let Relic shower them and the Central Power Battery with small robotic bugs. The metal menaces begin draining the emerald energy out of the Central Power Battery. Hal Jordan tries to blast Relic, but the Ancient sends out dish-like objects that absorbs the blast and sends it back at Hal.

Afterwards, the Lanterns talk to each other even more. It’s kind of strange that they stand there, knowing the Battery is being drained, and don’t immediately take some kind of action. They don’t alert the other Corps members, they don’t instinctively begin destroying the obviously threatening bugs, or try another attack on Relic. They stand around talking about how Relic wants their energy some more. More exposition!

This is a good example of the major problem with Robert Venditti’s Green Lantern. Over in Green Lantern Corps, this boring slowness would not be happening. This book’s pacing is just off. Venditti feels the need to take readers’ hands and explain every little thing, instead of letting the story just show readers what they need to know.

GL 24

Boy, does Kyle Rayner look silly when drawn by Billy Tan.

Hal eventually gets around to giving the other Lanterns objectives. Carol Ferris and Kyle Rayner are to destroy Relic’s bug-like energy collectors. Kilowog is supposed to lead all the other Green Lanterns. John Stewart and Salaak are to secure the armory, where the smaller Lantern batteries are located. Hal decides to battle Relic himself.

Despite some pretty cool panels (particularly of Kyle and Carol) when the action gets under way, the sense of scale of the battle is rather small. Relic is attacking the Green Lantern Corps on Oa -their home base- and it seems like there are maybe only fifteen Lanterns around to offer defense.

Hal Jordan attacks Relic again, and, not surprisingly, it doesn’t work. Relic absorbs his constructs and nails Hal with them. What is also curious is that Relic is a really big target, and there are only so many of those dish-like objects he uses to absorb ring energy, yet only one Green Lantern is engaging him. Perhaps it would make more sense to overwhelm him… or at least try to. What I’m driving at is this battle is so weird because the Lanterns don’t seem to put up much of an intelligent fight. If the energy isn’t working, then try to hit him with a building, or something…

It turns out the bugs are equipped with cannons and they use them to take the offensive, blasting streams of lasers everywhere. Faithful readers will know this is where the very beginning of Green Lantern #21 starts. The Lanterns begin to break in the face of the bug offense.

John and Salaak can’t keep all the bugs out of the armory and gather as many Lantern batteries as they can and retreat back to meet Hal Jordan. Hal, John, Salaak, and some new recruits make a break for the Central Power Battery, but by the time they get there, it’s completely drained. Relic has his bugs target the Battery, and they blast it in full force, blowing the Central Power Battery to smithereens!

Salaak confirms that the destruction of the Battery means the literal destruction of Oa, and the book leaves us to pick up Green Lantern Corps #24 to continue the tale.

Something really big happens in this issue, but it does not contain a captivating story, unfortunately. It’s like there is a punchline, but there is no good joke leading up to it.

In New Guardians, I got more of a sense that a really good, desperate fight was going on when Relic attacked the Blue Lanterns. The sense of scale was appropriate, because there are fewer Blue Lanterns than Green ones. Here, it’s kind of hard to get into the battle, which is strange, as all the most important Green Lantern characters are present, sans Guy Gardner. It just isn’t handled all that well.

What could have greatly improved this issue is stronger dialogue, less boring exposition, better character moments, and a larger scope for the battle. This issue is merely an event where something important happens, but there is not a whole lot of substance. One can actually skip to the page where the Central Power Battery explodes, read the last page where Salaak says that’s going to cause the destruction of Oa, and close the book. There’s the story for the most part… or all the worthwhile parts of it, at least. There’s no new insight on Relic. No real humanizing of Relic. No interesting interaction between Relic and the Green Lanterns, aside from him giving them the opportunity to surrender. The only character moment worth speaking of is when Hal gave commands to the rest of the Lanterns, showcasing him as quite natural at it. The only clever dialogue comes from the new recruit Two-Six, just because her manner of speaking is original and charming, but she doesn’t get much dialogue.

Judging from his work on Green Lantern so far, Robert Venditti is not a terrible writer in the sense that he puts out consistently bad content. Robert Venditti is a seriously middle of the road writer. He never does anything horrible, yet he never does anything great. He just… does. And for your money, there are better comics to get.

GL 24

I appreciate that Robert Venditti gives John Stewart a decent role. If Geoff Johns had written this, John Stewart would say only one sentence, would be way in the background, and wouldn’t do anything useful… or he would blow up a planet.

The pacing in this issue is strange. It begins incredibly slow, then there’s a fight that seems like it should be much larger, and then BOOM! Something happens and it ends. The issue feels very lopsided.

Billy Tan’s art is… serviceable. Similar to the writing, it’s not terrible, but it’s also not especially great or even notable, generally speaking. There are nice moments. The splash page of Relic’s ship descending on Oa is impressive, the sense of largeness and grandeur he gives to the Central Power Battery is nice, Relic cuts quite a figure when he is seen stepping out of his ship, and Tan has a really good grasp on Kilowog. The only thing that is really bad is how he portrays Kyle Rayner. Other than those specific moments, the art is just okay. It somewhat gives me a ’90s Image Comics feeling. It’s scratchy, there are a lot of… lines, and the characters often have overly sharp features.

I don’t have a lot of faith in this particular creative team. Robert Venditti has had five chances and has yet to put out a good issue of Green Lantern. Not even a great one… just something better than okay. I think mediocre eventually becomes bad, even if nothing bad ever does happen, because nothing great ever happens, either. So, why even bother with it?

I’ll hand it to Venditti. I feel Geoff Johns did get to the point where he regularly wrote bad comics, with horrible elements; stuff that’s really stupid. Venditti hasn’t done that. He just hasn’t done anything good. If the Green Lantern book has gotten better since Johns left, it’s only been by a small amount.

It remains that if you want your Lantern fix, Green Lantern isn’t the place to turn. Any other Lantern title is preferable (though I can’t speak for Larfleeze, as I’ve never read it). The only people I would recommend this title to are really big Hal Jordan fans who will follow the character regardless of the quality of the work.

Green Lantern
continues to be a strong seller. To Johns’ credit, he did raise the book to being a consistent top 20 comic, but now it’s due to name alone. The quality isn’t there and hasn’t been for quite some time.

I can’t recommend getting this comic. All you need to know is the Central Power Battery gets destroyed, which means Oa might be destroyed. Nothing else of interest happens.

2 out of 5 stars.

Read Green Lantern Corps #23 Review.