Green Lantern Corps #35 Review

on October 11, 2014

Van Jensen bounces back from last month’s so-so “Futures End” issue of Green Lantern Corps with seeming ease and grace. He, and his usual accomplices, Bernard Chang on art, and Marcelo Maiolo on coloring, deliver an electrifying issue of Green Lantern Corps that has great character moments for John Stewart and his team of Lanterns, as well as for their adversaries, the New Gods. The plot of the overall “Godhead” storyline doesn’t move a lot with this issue, but there are so many cool moments between the characters, such great action and beautiful art, that I won’t knock it for that. This issue’s story, titled “Reckoning,” is a huge success in of itself.

A particular point I like is how intelligent Van Jensen portrays John Stewart, which is in huge contrast to the way Hal Jordan has been displayed lately. John’s victories aren’t simply due to hitting things. He often comes up with smart plans, and usually without a lot of time to think of them. For example, in Green Lantern Corps #24, he is the one who came up with the strategy that allowed the Corps to escape Oa, when Hal Jordan wanted to stupidly continue charging the enemy. In Green Lantern Corps #29, John used the creatures on the planet Muz to defeat his foes instead of facing them while way outnumbered. And so forth…

John Stewart is strong, competent, smart, and very interesting. This is so refreshing after numerous writers depicted him as pretty much the opposite of all those attributes. He is once again shown as superior to Hal Jordan, and I do not believe this is coincidence. In Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead #1, Hal Jordan was easily brushed aside by the New Gods, and in the follow up issue, Green Lantern #35, Hal Jordan was handily defeated again without leaving a dint in the enemy, and most of his team of Lanterns was slain.

John Stewart and his team of Lanterns investigate the ruins of Aydin. Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo kill it on the art, once again.

In this issue, John Stewart goes head to head with the New God named Uggha, who was dispatched to “mercifully” kill the population of the planet Aydin after the New Gods mutated them in a failed experiment. Though Uggha is extremely powerful, John manages to get in some good blows by using his brains. He actually puts up a fight and manages to save his team.

I think it’s pretty clear that the creative teams have been displaying John Stewart as the more capable Green Lantern. What is this leading to? What is the purpose behind all of it? I’m not entirely sure, and I suppose we’ll just have to wait to find out. Perhaps all will be revealed at the conclusion of the “Godhead” event. In any case, as a huge John Stewart fan, I’m really enjoying the ride. It’s great to see John Stewart finally get his due in comic books.

Another character who really shines this issue is Arisia. I’ve greatly enjoyed seeing her in Green Lantern Corps since Jensen brought her in as a regular. In “Reckoning,” she has fun interactions with John Stewart. Their trust in each other helps them work great as a team. Jensen has subtly and organically been growing their connection. In recent issues, John has left her in charge of the recruits, specifically asked her to accompany Jruk to Oranx for a diplomatic mission, and she’s been by his side in numerous battles. I’d like to see Jensen continue growing their bond. Now that Fatality is no longer a part of the regular cast, I hope Arisia’s role grows.

The mutated creatures of Aydin prove hostile.

Jensen has always exceled at dialogue and characterization, and “Reckoning” is a great example of his flair for words and depiction. The New God Uggha is a really fun character. He has a somewhat casual and even amiable nature about him, while still being very haughty and ready to kill mortals without a thought.

On the artwork end, Bernard Chang returns with his cartoon-y goodness after taking an issue off, and I’m very pleased to have him back on the book. Marcelo Maiolo’s colors are equally great. He casts much of this issue’s story in a nice evening blue with one of his pretty starry skies. The rich greens found in the Lanterns’ energy offset the deep blues very well. The book looks marvelous from start to finish. I think Chang and Maiolo still have yet to top the opening scenes of Green Lantern Corps #21, but they’re consistently putting out great art that is some of the best and most distinctive you’ll find in comics.

The trio of Jensen, Chang, and Maiolo play off each other so well and give Green Lantern Corps a very unique “feel” that is best described as fun, adventurous, colorful, exciting, invigorating, and character focused. More than any other comic I’ve read, this one feels the most like a really great action cartoon show; the type one may wake up at some crazy hour in the morning to see because it’s so special (back in the days when cartoons were actually played in such time slots). This is due to the bright, cartoon-y visuals from Maiolo and Chang, and Jensen’s sympathetic take on the characters he writes.

The plots are huge concepts, but in these high stakes struggles for the universe, Jensen never loses sight of his characters. For example, the Durlan War was big, but the emotional core of the story was John’s relationship with Yrra Cynril. The coda to the Durlan War was not the Lanterns’ victory at Zezzen, but the heartbreaking events of Green Lantern Corps #34, in which John’s romance fell apart. So, while this issue may not provide many revelations for the “Godhead” storyline, it’s all heart and fun, and certainly worth a look!

“Reckoning” opens with John Stewart, Arisia Rrab, Vath Sarn, and Isamot Kol investigating the planet Aydin. The Lanterns arrive at a wrecked city where it seems the inhabitants have disappeared. They learn that a huge concentration of spectrum energy caused the catastrophe and believe it has something to do with the individuals who were stealing Lantern rings back in Godhead #1.

John inspects a cool looking large building and is suddenly attacked by a hideous ram-like beast. More appear, but the Lanterns manage to imprison them in constructs. One of the creatures breaks the construct and attacks Isamot. It’s swiftly struck in the back of the head and killed by the New God Uggha. Uggha reasons that they must be the Green Lanterns he’s heard about. John thanks the God for helping, but says that they prefer not to kill their opponents. Despite their difference in methodology, John keeps things friendly and Uggha appears to be cordial enough as well, despite him talking of killing so casually. He even admits that his reason for being there is to kill the creatures on the planet.

Uggha is an extremely entertaining character.

The God openly and shamelessly declares that it was the New Gods who transformed Aydin’s populace into those creatures. He adds that the reason they failed to convert the creatures into the desired form is because of a flaw in the Lanterns’ rings that they stole, not with the New Gods.

On that note, Uggha gets around to telling John that the New Gods will not permit the Lanterns to use their rings anymore, because of how dangerous they are. He gives the Lanterns the option to submit them willingly, or die.

The story cuts to New Genesis and Van Jensen continues to show his mastery of the New Gods’ characters with great dialogue between Metron and Highfather. Metron has found where the White Lantern is and Highfather sets off, his goal in sight. This is likely setting things up for the New Guardians issue of “Godhead” that will follow this one in the crossover.

The art on this title is extremely strong, as mentioned, but more can be done to depict the grandeur of New Genesis. It doesn’t come across as an especially epic land, to tell you the truth. I like the warm peach hued sky, but I’ve seen more impressive looking cities in the regular Earth Prime universe. Aydin looks great, though. The silhouetted ruined buildings looming in the backgrounds are a nice touch.

John is appalled by what Uggha has told him. He attempts to take the New Gods under arrest for their crimes. Obviously, Uggha isn’t having any of that. This is when the action gets underway, and action is what this issue does best… aside from the great characterization! Jensen’s sense of humor comes through strongly with Uggha. The God starts out manhandling John and bashes him with superior force. He takes to this battle so casually that it’s funny reading some of his lines as he fights. Isamot and Vath launch attacks on the two New God soldiers accompanying Uggha, but they are easily nullified. Arisia gets into the fight with a really cool bird construct she uses to carry one of the Gods off of his mount, but the God easily counters her attack.

This may be Vath’s final battle.

Uggha launches an attack at Vath that connects with a mighty blow, leaving the aggressive Lantern severely wounded, which drives his partner, Isamot, over the edge. John Stewart recovers from the clobbering Uggha dealt him and rescues Arisia in the nick of time by bashing her New Gods opponent with a giant truck construct. He then sets his sights on rescuing the two other Lanterns and tells Arisia to trust him no matter what happens. She puts her faith in John, and as Uggha has Isamot by the arm, preparing for the killing blow, John Stewart uses his sniper rifle construct to shoot off Isamot’s arm, freeing him from Uggha’s grasp. John then tells Arisia to grab Isamot and Vath and find a defensible position while he faces Uggha alone to buy them some time. Uggha is not intimidated at all, but John Stewart surprises the God by using his ring to bring a bunch of the ruined structures down on the New Gods, after which he fleas to reunite with the other Lanterns.

There’s a short interlude on Mogo in which Kilowog confirms to the Green Lantern warden Voz that of all the Lanterns Hal Jordan led into battle against the New Gods at the Source Wall, only Jordan and a few others escaped. The events of that battle happened in Green Lantern #35. The Lanterns are preparing to vacate Mogo, since they’re sitting ducks for the New Gods there. They’ll likely link up with the Sinestro Corps to try and form some strategy against their common foe.

Arisia and John Stewart make a great duo. Hopefully Arisia plays a bigger role now that Fatality isn’t a regular cast member.

Meanwhile, Arisia is really concerned about Isamot’s arm, which John blasted off, but the lizard Lantern says it will grow back. John knew that when he shot him. Vath, on the other hand, looks like he may not make it out of this alive. John knows that the people on Aydin have no hope of surviving, as it was confirmed earlier that they will surely perish soon in the state they’re in. He says the only option the Lanterns have is to try to escape, as the enemy they’re facing is too powerful. Just then, Uggha and his two soldiers boom tube to where the Lanterns are held up. The Gods attack, and suddenly, Indigo-1 appears and teleports the Lanterns to safety. Uggha decides not to pursue. He’s confident the Lanterns will fall soon anyway, and there is still work to be done on Aydin.

As much as I didn’t like seeing Indigio-1 in last month’s “Futures End” issue, I now have a better understanding of why Jensen used her. It coincides with this story by making it seem less like she’s coming out of nowhere suddenly. She’s already fresh in readers’ minds.

Again, this issue doesn’t progress the plot a lot, but it is an extremely well done comic with beautiful art, great characterization, and wonderful action. It’s just an all-around fun issue.

The threat of the New Gods is still extremely high, but John manages to put up a fight by using his intellect. He kicks butt and is depicted as a very competent leader. This is a great issue for any John Stewart fan.

4.4 out of 5 stars.

Read Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead #1 Review.
Read Green Lantern Corps: Futures End #1 Review.