Green Lantern Corps #22 Review

on July 11, 2013

The outer space action continues and it does not disappoint!

One thing I’m enjoying about “Green Lantern Corps” under the new creative team is that it takes me back to a time when I was younger and would wake up really early in the morning to watch action cartoon shows. I don’t think any other comic book has made me feel this way as much. It may have something to do with writer Van Jensen using Larry Hama’s classic G.I. Joe comics as inspiration.

When I think about G.I. Joe, I think about how much awesome stuff would be crammed into one adventure with so many incredible characters wherever you turn. Flint. Scarlet. Zartan. The Crimson Twins. Destro. And dear lord, Cobra Commander! That’s not even scratching the surface. When G.I. Joe is really cooking, there’s not an ounce of dead space. It’s a blast from start to finish, and that’s the type of quality Jensen brings to “Green Lantern Corps.”

So far the stories have not been particularly deep, but they have been incredibly entertaining! Don’t mistake not being deep for being shallow, however. They’re written very intelligently and with amazingly tight storytelling. It’s interesting, but at the same time not terribly surprising, that the guy not used to doing this stuff (“stuff” being monthly superhero comics) is showing up many of the seasoned veterans.

His stories do not wander, they stay on focus, they don’t make you scratch your head as to why something was included, they’re very well paced, and he knows his characters.

John Stewart shows off some flashy power ring tricks while giving the recruits and any new readers a rundown on how Oan power rings work.

And his main character is Green Lantern John Stewart. In the review for issue #21 I mentioned that Van has the best grasp on John than anyone’s had in a long time. And how right I was!

As an example, John returns to Oa to answer a distress call, but by the time he arrives, the battle is over. He sees some new recruits trying to clean up the post-battle mess with their rings and doing a poor job of it.

He makes some impressive constructs and cleans up a huge portion of wreckage instantly. He’s blunt with the recruits. Not a complete jerk, but he does not have kid gloves on when dealing with them.

This particular bit of character can be seen in “Justice League.”
On that show, John initially -and somewhat arrogantly- saw himself as above the other heroes, due to him being an authorized peacekeeper. He viewed them as well meaning amateurs. He eventually loosened up once he came to trust and respect the other leaguers more. On “Justice League Unlimited” he’d sometimes be critical of Supergirl, but underneath that exterior, it was clear he had a soft spot for the Girl of Steel. Jensen gets that characterization spot on. He knows John’s voice.

His depiction of Soranik Natu is impressive as she counters John’s attitude. She is more compassionate and motherly than John and even gives him a bit of reprimanding over his view of the new recruits. Going along with her tenderhearted attribute, she is especially worried about Salaak, who is probing around beneath the Citadel. He has become especially paranoid due to the Guardians’ betrayal. Drawing further contrast between Soranik and John, John does not seem notably concerned about Salaak. He’s just down to business.

Soranik and Salaak don’t play big parts in this issue, but Jensen utilizes the small space they take up so effectively that it seems like they make a big difference. Both play off John really well and are mechanisms to introduce certain aspects of the developing situation on Oa.

While John is off on Oa, Yrra follows the foes from last issue to a mysterious moon where the plot thickens!

John meets up with Kilowog, the new protocol officer, and debriefs him about the situation on Kosh.

Through conversation, we learn that Guy Gardner has left the Corps and that Hal Jordan is now in charge. John is dubious about blindly following orders anymore, which might open up some tension between him and Hal Jordan. Just then, an alert comes up. A dam in Nellewel 3 is about to break and unleash a boiling sea on some of the inhabitants there. Kilowog needs John to secure the dam and take the new recruits with him. John reluctantly does so, as he already has his hands full with the Kosh incident.
This is when the issue really picks up!

A simple dam repair becomes a real problem when the rings give out again. The boiling sea threatens to poor out over the mining colony there and the Lanterns themselves. Fortunately and unfortunately, Khunds arrive and save the day. Running with the theme that the universe no longer trusts the Lantern Corps, the Khunds accuse the Green Lanterns of invading and sentence them to death. And so the action begins!

John uses his brain to take out some Khunds and proves that, “There’s more to him than just a fancy ring,” when he breaks open a water main and blasts incoming Khunds with a spray from the boiling sea.

Just an excellent scene. I mean, look at his face!

Ergann -the old nomad seen last issue- has a great moment when he lies down and gets ready to die in face of the oncoming Khund attack, because he can’t keep pace with the retreating Lanterns. John picks him up and runs with him across the field.

Jruk really shines here, with such dialogue as, “Jruk will take the thirty-seven on the left. Can you handle the other two, human?” Watching Jruk in action is the best moment of the whole comic. The way in which he dispatches three Khunds is pure awesome!

One aspect from last issue that some found fault with was Yrra’s characterization. Some believed she wasn’t fierce enough, in light of her past history as an efficient spear wielding Green Lantern slayer. That is definitely rectified in this issue. Yrra gets down and dirty when she kills a Durlan disguised as John by stabbing it with her light spear. She also tells some other Durlans off, going on about how she doesn’t bow to anyone and how she’s a warrior. So, yeah, there’s still some Fatality underneath all that violet.

Jruk is better than I expected him to be. He may be the stereotypical brute, but that doesn’t stop him from being pretty amazing.

Once again, Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo give us a feast for the eyes with their wonderful visuals. Interestingly, Bernard Chang has a background in architecture and it seems to really help. The big splash page of Oa’s city and the Central Power Battery looks stunning. And those constructs I mentioned John using look great. Kilowog looks cool and the Yrra’s facial expressions all throughout the issue are convincing.

The malfunctioning rings prove to be crucial in this issue, as it causes the Lanterns to get captured by the Khunds as well as Yrra, who is captured by the Durlans she was trailing from last issue.
Jensen does hint at the upcoming “Lights Out” crossover event in the very beginning and end of the issue. The Zamarons’ central battery on the planet Zamaron is going dim. They say that they need to restore the Predator entity to their battery. Predator is found on some planet and is very weak. I can’t say I’m a fan of the emotional spectrum, so I don’t particularly care to see any of this, but I’m sure it had to be put in, and I am intrigued about what affects “Lights Out” will bring.

Though this issue isn’t as great as the last, it is still decently above average, and the comic is moving along at a very brisk pace. As far as overall quality goes, this is currently the Lantern title to look to. As the obvious John Stewart fan that I am, I take pride in Van Jensen showcasing the character so well, and answering the challenges posed by those who say such things as “he can’t hold down a title” or “he can’t lead.” I’m usually for accepting other people’s “opinions,” but I won’t accept that because it’s hogwash. Within the pages of DC Comics, he just hasn’t had the opportunity to do much of anything in years and years… aside from now.

So far, so good! The creative team proves that Green Lantern Corps #21 wasn’t a fluke. The series moves forward with excellent characterization, great character moments, dazzling visuals, tight pacing, and simple, yet surprisingly well executed and fun stories. It strengthens its position as the most impressive Lantern book and proves the series can get by fine without Guy Gardner and that it’s in good hands.

We look forward to seeing how this all plays out. Until then…
See you next mission!

4 out of 5 stars.

Read Green Lantern Corps #21 Review.