Green Lantern Corps #38 Review

on January 17, 2015

Green Lantern Corps #38 is a great comic book with some really glaring editorial errors. I usually don’t complain about letterers, but when the word balloons are on the wrong characters multiple times throughout the issue, something has got to be said. I don’t know how this is happening or why, but it really needs to stop. NOW. It happened in Green Lantern Corps #37 when Saint Walker supported Highfather, despite being an enemy, and it happens in this issue three different times. As a reader, I had to stop and try to make sense of what was happening, and I don’t like being pulled out of the story like that. Furthermore, as the story progressed, there was a fear in the back of my mind that it would happen again, which was sapping my enjoyment out of the story. What’s worse, it did happen! I have read quite a few comics and I have never seen anything like this before. DC Comics really needs better quality control to stop this from happening. It’s really inexcusable.

That said, everything else is great. Even fill in artist Marko Colak’s work is looking a lot better than it was last issue. This is mostly due to the excellent coloring of Marcelo Maiolo, who fills in Colak’s line art very well, giving it more weight and substance. Bernard Chang draws much of this issue and does a superb job. I have nothing but high praise for Chang’s art here.

The Guardians approach John Stewart about leading the Green Lantern Corps. Marcelo Maiolo makes Mirko Colak’s art look much better than it did last issue.

This issue’s story, “The Dark,” takes readers to the slums of planet Zarox, and Chang nails the vibe of an impoverished ghetto, with tangles of low hanging telephone wires (or something similar), and what look like public housing project buildings. Maiolo is the major mood setter of the book. There is some really unexpected and bizarre activity going on at Zarox, and when these dark things reveal themselves, Maiolo dips the artwork in oppressive blacks and morbid crimsons that make for a truly unsettling feeling.

A new villain named Ocula is introduced as the crime lord (or lady) dominating Zarox with degenerate criminality. She is an excellent addition. This series is once again giving me a Mass Effect vibe, this time due to Ocula. She is femininely curvaceous, yet completely alien, like the Mass Effect character Tali. She even sports what appear to be a mask and a head cloth like that character. But her personality is more in line with the Aria T’loak character. She is just the right combination of familiarity and alien attributes. Bernard Chang really put a great visual together for her, which serves her personality well.

The recruits introduced at the start of Jensen’s run accompany John to Zarox, and we catch up with Von Daggle, R’amey Holl and Hunger Dog as they stumble onto something big while searching for Daggle’s mysterious partner. It’s good to see these characters focused on, as they were largely absent from the sprawling “Godhead” crossover that recently ended, and they are core parts of this book’s cast.

The recruits are finally made full Lanterns.

John’s Star Sapphire ring is finally addressed again, and it’s good to hear him say he will be a Green Lantern for life, despite his violet ring. I didn’t really think DC would shoehorn him into some other Corps, but it’s good to hear it right from the horse’s mouth. Yes, there are many highlights this issue. Plot points involving John left dangling from “Godhead,” focus on characters that were largely absent from the crossover, interesting new villains, a great setting, the Guardians giving John huge props, and incredible artwork round out an awesome issue of Green Lantern Corps!

The issue begins with John flying over Mogo talking with the sentient planet about their recent struggles. John is proud of the Corps for lasting through the series of extremely hard ordeals. When he lands on Mogo’s surface he’s approached by the Guardians. They tell of how they sent Hal Jordan on leave due to many of the foolish decisions he made as Corps Leader. As such, they tell John that he will lead the Corps. John wonders why they’re choosing him for leadership now and when they passed over him before. The Guardians say they never doubted John’s ability to lead, they doubted his ability to feel, but now they doubt no longer. I’m not sure exactly what happened to change their minds, but John acquiring a Star Sapphire ring through his love of the Corps probably has something to do with it. John says that he appreciates the opportunity, but he needs to go see the new recruits graduate to full Lanterns.

He heads toward the Central Battery to see the recruits earn their emblems. The celebration is cut short when a vessel approaches Mogo. Feska sees that it is from her planet and greets her fellow Zaroxians. This is when one of those word balloon goofs happens, by the way.

Those who may have been concerned about John being shunted off to some other Corps, rest easy. John Stewart says that he is a Green Lantern for life.

The Zaroxians petition the Lanterns for help with dealing with the overpowering crime that has taken root on their planet, which is spearheaded by an organization called the Shadow Market. John listens patiently and intently, but the Guardians emerge and tell the Zaroxians that the Lantern Corps doesn’t deal with such small affairs, especially since their numbers have been significantly diminished due to the continual struggles they’ve been in. Feska pleads with the Guardians to be allowed to help, because her mother and son are still on Zarox. The Guardians listen and compassionately allow John Stewart to assemble a team to take care of the problem. The Guardian Zalla points out that they are not as cold as the previous Guardians, and they see it as an opportunity to help restore the Corps’ reputation. She says that they can think of no better Lantern to gain the trust of the universe’s populace than John Stewart. The Earthman then takes the newly christened Lanterns to Zarox.

This opening segment on Mogo has a very comfortable feeling, even if it moves rather quickly. John recaps recent events while bouncing off of Mogo, but it’s done in a natural fashion, and his conversation with the Guardians is interesting, even if the answer he gives them is vague. It isn’t entirely clear whether or not John accepts their offer as leader, but I think that will be clarified by the end of this arc. In any case, it’s great to see the Guardians giving John so much credit, especially in lieu of the browbeating they recently gave Hal Jordan.

Though the recruits’ celebration is really short, especially given how long we’ve been with them on their journey toward full Lanternhood, Kilowog’s words carry a lot of significance. He says that not only did the recruits survive some of the toughest the Corps has ever been put through, but the Corps would have fallen without them. It’s true that Jensen breezes through these scenes really quickly, but the story does convey a sense of joy and accomplishment. If there is an odd moment, it’s when Arisia appears for one panel to ask about John’s violet ring, and the perspective we’re given shows only the back of her head. Given that is the only panel she appears in for the entire issue, it is really weird that it shows a picture of the back of her head. I do, however, like seeing Arisia. Jensen writes her really well.

Ocula is a great new antagonist.

Bernard Chang takes over the art when the story goes to Zarox, and he crushes it. Chang and Maiolo once again build a really strong atmosphere that easily absorbs you and takes you there. Jensen’s script inundates readers in this world as well. Jensen understands the slums and crime, with his background as a crime reporter, and I really love that element he brings to Green Lantern Corps. The criminal and cop lingo he drops into the book feels natural and legitimate. It gives more weight to the situation, and the way crime is portrayed feels very realistic.

The first scene of Zarox shows a drug dealer trying to sell to Feska’s son, Zep. Zep’s grandmother takes him away, and it’s disturbing to know that the dealer makes note of Zep’s name and says that he’ll be seeing him again.

Just as Feska’s family leaves the scene, John and the three former recruits appear in the alley to rough up the pusher as they press him about the Shadow Market. He cracks pretty easily saying the highest Shadow Market operative is Ocula, a ruthless crime boss dealing not only in drugs, but weapons, slavery, and all manner of unsavory things. The hoodlum tells the Lanterns where to find her and John’s team raids her hold as she’s browbeating one of her pushers.

Ocula is in no way intimidated by the Corps, but rather is surprised that the Lanterns took a Zaroxian among their number when she sees Feska. All Zaroxians she’s known have been involved in crime to some degree. Ocula readily identifies Feska as a thief, due to the Lantern’s apparent delicacy. Feska lets slip that she has a family to support, which Ocula takes note of. John knows that despite what the scum they found in the alley said, Ocula isn’t the head of the Shadow Market, and he pushes her for more information. In her assured manner, the crime lady tells her goons to show the lanterns “what happens when the darkness falls.”

Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo are still my favorite Green Lantern artists. They both have such distinct styles that are perfectly suited for these stories.

The Zaroxian goons guarding Ocula open their mouths so wide that their heads slip open and strange purple orbs appear from their open mouths. When Jruk strikes one with his ax it lets off purple energy that harms him. With Jruk down, Maro uses his ring to blast the enemies threw the window as John restrains Ocula. The two guards fall to the streets below and the Lanterns pursue. A crowd of people gather to see the commotion and John tells them to stay back while the Lanterns free the populace from the Shadow Market’s grip. Ocula, ever confident, even while bound by John, tells him that the people do not want his freedom, and that perhaps the crowd wishes to know what happens when the darkness falls.

When Ocula makes that nebulous statement, the people in the crowd become mindless zombies and begin swarming all over the Lanterns. Change and Maiolo are excellent at showcasing the weirdness of this scene. Maiolo’s colors become deep dark crimsons that bring out the demonic nature of this threat. John pushes the crowd away with a massive construct and the Lanterns retreat, leaving Ocula behind.

Meanwhile, in Sector 2814, Hunger Dog, R’amey Holl, and Von Daggle float in space above Ungara, the late Abin Sur’s world. This is where Hunger Dog’s search for Daggle’s partner has led them. They found her ring on Ungara, but they did not find her. Hunger Dog is sure that is where the trail leads, though. The trio decides to check out Ungara’s moon and that is where strangeness really occurs. It looks like there are buildings there, but the landscape smells dead and decayed to Hunger Dog, and something doesn’t feel right. Suddenly, a strange demon-like creature appears to attack them, but R’amey dispatches it fairly easily.

There is clearly more than just your garden variety crime going on at Zarox.

Hunger Dog says the place has the feel of magic, and Daggle becomes assured that his partner is there, because that is her kind of trouble, He relieves Hunger Dog of his duty and orders R’amey to take the bounty hunter wherever he wishes to go. She complies, but not without objecting about leaving Daggle there alone. Using his innate Durlan powers, Daggle takes the form of the dead demon and decides to explore the moon.

Back on Zarox, Feska takes John’s team to her home to regroup. She is finally reunited with her mother and son. She is happy to see them, but her son is scared. Feska tells Zep that the Lanterns will clean up the criminals that run the streets, but that’s not what Zep is worried about. He says that monsters lurk within the shadows. He can hear them. The final page reveals strange creatures sneaking around outside the window of Feska’s home, leaving things on a disquieting note.

This is a really enjoyable issue, though I can see some people having some problems with it. First of all, it’s not a “settle down” issue like the previous week’s Green Lantern #38. Some may think that the Lanterns are going from one adventure to the next too quickly. However, I don’t want to see John resting in his bed, or at a bar for a whole issue. I turn to Green Lantern Corps for interstellar adventure with John and the Corps and this issue delivers that in spades. Plus, with this series ending soon, there’s just no time for that type of decompression. It’s true the recruits’ graduation ceremony was cut very short, but I like how Jensen throws us into the next escapade.

The Shadow Empire is very interesting. All signs point to them being the Empire of Tears, or somehow involved with that. A battle between science and magic for the dominance of space sounds like a very interesting plot, and it looks like Jensen may be headed that way.

The only problem with this comic is the wonky lettering in some places. Here, Von Daggle is saying something Hunger Dog should be saying, and vice versa.

Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo are still my favorite Green Lantern artists of all time. Chang’s art is very detailed and unique, and Maiolo’s colors are so bold and eye catching, and the visual effects he uses are distinctive and striking. Again, the only complaint I have, and it’s a big complaint, is the word balloons being mixed up in some scenes. Those mistakes are absolutely inexcusable. They should have never happened to begin with, and they certainly shouldn’t have gotten past editorial.

DC Comics had better have something immensely incredible planned for John Stewart after “Convergence,” because to take this creative team off the character and to cancel this excellent and successful series only to diminish John Stewart’s role would be criminal, and I’m really tired of them doing that to him. To be frank, moves like that are why so many Black fans are very wary and distrusting of DC Comics. Very often, DC either doesn’t do anything with their Black characters, or on the extremely rare occasion a Black character gets a great thing going, they cut it short for no good reason. Green Lantern: Mosaic is a perfect example of that.

Even if DC comes out with something huge for John after this series, I will be sad to see these creators leave the book. To me, no one has done better with John Stewart in comic books. It’s clear they all care about the character and genuinely do the best they can, which gives us incredible results, since they’re all very talented. Green Lantern Corps is my favorite comic book, and no matter what comes, no matter how great it may be, I will always look back at this run with extreme fondness.


4.2 out of 5 stars.

Read Green Lantern Corps #37 Review.
Read Green Lantern Corps #36 Review.