Green Lantern: Lost Army #4 Review

on September 20, 2015

Green Lantern: Lost Army #2

Cullen Bunn continues his Lost Army series, but artist Jesus Saiz takes a breather as his frequent collaborator Javi Piña steps up to supply line work for issue #4. Visually, Javi Piña’s style is Jesus Saiz-lite, complete with big bold lines and the distinct facial features of the characters inspired by Saiz, which isn’t exactly a bad thing in this instance, because it keeps things looking consistent. While Piña is definitely a solid artist and storyteller, his work lacks the nuance and detail of Saiz’s, so the illustrations of Lost Army #4 aren’t as strong as what readers are accustomed to from this series, but they aren’t bad to look at.

Piña is joined by colorist Chris Sotomayor who also mimics Saiz’s colors. He looks to be using a palette similar to Saiz’s, but the depth and detail of Saiz’s work is missing here, so again, the art isn’t as stunning as usual, but it’s competent and reminiscent of what we’re used to. To Sotomayor’s great credit, he employs different coloring techniques on John’s flashback in this issue, and adds a strong sense of surrealism to the dreamy scene that gives the already great segment a lot more impact.

Speaking of the routine flashback scenes, from what I’ve seen, they seem to be a point of disagreement among some readers. I think how much the reader will appreciate them depends largely on who they are, and what is drawing them to this title. Those who are John Stewart fans of the sort who love him from Justice League and Justice League Unlimited will probably like the flashbacks and appreciate John’s past being explored more. John’s background is something the comics really only glazed over in all this time, and considering how often we’ve seen the pasts of characters like Batman and Superman, I think John’s history is due for some investigation.

What happens in a character’s past informs their present, and this is especially true of this series, as the flashbacks always correlate to what is currently going on with John. This particular flashback is the best yet. Cullen Bunn has described John as loyal to a fault, and I think the flashback scenes of the last two issues are showing that.

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John Stewart saves Arisia from death in space. Chris Sotomayor’s coloring of space is really beautiful.

Naturally, this issue picks up where issue #3 ended, and when we last saw our heroes they were locked in a battle with the space ship flying Light Pirates who engaged the Lanterns in an effort to drain them of their light, which has become a scarce and precious resource in this reality. Arisia was caught in one of their beams, and her ring was drained startlingly fast. Cullen Bunn keeps finding ways to seriously test the Lanterns and keep the excitement and tension up. One of their main challenges has been the ever present worry of their rings running out of power, and the power draining Light Pirates make that a considerably bigger concern than usual.

The Lanterns face a whole squadron of Pirates and each fighter drains the rings much faster than any of Relic’s drones from the “Lights Out” event, making them an extremely formidable threat; more so than the Lanterns were prepared to deal with, largely thanks to their new companion Relic intentionally withholding information about the Pirate’s capabilities for his own purposes.

Lost Army #4 starts with the kinetic and colorful space battle between the Lanterns and the Pirates. Javi Piña’s art and Chris Sotomayor’s colors complement each other great here. The battle is active and busy, with green aura trails and multi-hued vapor trails signifying the movements of the combatants very well.

Arisia is in dire condition as her ring was drained completely and she’s left with no life support in the harsh environs of space. Thankfully, John Stewart arrives in the nick of time to save her. As the battle between the Lanterns and Pirates rages around him, John concentrates on keeping Arisia safe at all costs. Even when a Light Pirate begins to drain him, his main concern is over guarding Arisia.

Fortunately, Kilowog smacks the Pirate attacking John with an emerald cudgel. There is great teamwork shown among the Lanterns, with Two-Six and Guy helping each other out, but it isn’t enough. The day is going against them and the Lanterns know they are going to lose. John gives the command to fall back to Relic’s ship, but they see that it, too, is under attack, and Krona and Relic abandon the Lanterns for their own safety.

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Relic and Krona retreat early into the issue, allowing Bunn to focus more on the Green Lanterns.

The Pirates surround the Lanterns just as their rings give out. As John’s power drains and he’s no longer able to protect Arisia or himself, he ponders on who could have transferred the Lanterns to this universe. Whoever it was, he has a feeling in his heart that they did it to the entire Lantern Corps, and that it was an act of punishment. Then John blacks out.

John falling unconscious works as a great transition to the dream sequence flashback. Chris Sotomayor plays upon this by giving the image a gentle water color look. Also, the setting and what is happening adds to the surrealism. John is with two other Marines in a poppy field as they desperately try to escape their enemies. John is carrying a wounded Marine and the other one urges John to leave the wounded trooper so they can have a chance at getting away, since he’s slowing them down. John refuses to leave his fellow Marine to die, even though the wounded one realizes that they should leave him, too. He figures that dying among the poppies won’t be so bad. John still refuses, though. Even though he is out of energy, he won’t leave his comrade behind.

Eventually the enemy catches up with them, and the healthy Marine who was telling John to leave the other is shot and killed, and then John surrenders and is knocked unconscious in the middle of pleading with the enemy to get his friend medical attention.

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This issue’s flashback is the best yet. Bunn’s script is heightened by the artistic output of Piña and Sotomayor

This scene shows John’s nobleness, but also his naiveté, just as issue #3’s flashback did. It’s doubtful that the enemy is at all concerned with giving the wounded Marine the medical attention he requires to survive. I also wonder if John even made the right decision in trying to save his wounded comrade. If John had left the wounded Marine, maybe he and the other could have gotten away. Instead, the healthy Marine died, the wounded one probably died, and John was captured, perhaps all because he was trying to do something noble.

This scene corresponds with John’s rescue of Arisia. Bunn gets across that John wouldn’t leave her for anything, and like in his dream sequence, he was captured by the enemy. It also shows that John trusted someone who was of dubious allegiance, and it led his squad into an ambush. Even though each flashback here can be appreciated by itself, I think there will be an overarching lesson from them, but it isn’t totally clear what it is yet, if there is one.

When John awakes he’s ringless and wearing a black suit in a prison cell, and he’s greeted by Salaak. John notes that Salaak sounds funny, and it’s because Salaak is speaking to John without the aid of power rings to translate. It turns out Salaak knows English. They are in a cell with a bunch of equally de-powered Lightsmiths along with who appears to be Jruk, the gladiatorial Green Lantern from Van Jensen and Bernard Chang’s Green Lantern Corps run.

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It was only a matter of time before Salaak showed up.

Salaak fills John in on their situation. They are prisoners of the Light Pirates and they’re on death row. The reason the Pirates take the lightbearers prisoner is so they can drain every single ounce of light out of them, even at the cellular level. The machines they use to do this wind up killing the prisoners and John and Salaak look on as Nemux–one of the recruits John fought with during the “Lights Out” saga–is put to death via the light draining machines.

In another cell, Arisia, Xrill, and Two-Six look upon the same grizzly scene. It hits Two-Six especially hard since Nemux was one of the recruits she grew to full Lanternhood with. There are neat moments with the Lanterns trying to communicate with each other without their rings to translate. Xrill and Arisia can’t understand Two-Six’s language, but they can sense her hurt. Xrill is using her/his morphic empathy ability to talk with Arisia.

It turns out they are cellmates with B’dg, the H’lvenite Green Lantern. He is going on excitedly about something, but none of the others can understand him. He then pulls off a wall panel and goes inside the walls of the prison.

In another cell, Guy Gardner and Kilowog are having a brawl with their Lightsmith cellmates while debating John’s leadership ability. Guy still doesn’t like that John lied to Relic when Relic is trying to help them, and he doesn’t like the idea of leaving this universe to die without trying to save it. Kilowog defends John, but the idea of using power rings to assist in draining this universe into oblivion still doesn’t sit well with Guy.

John and Salaak continue to assess their situation. They believe all the Lanterns are in this universe, and Salaak says that they have lost a good amount of their number to the dangers of their new surroundings. Suddenly, B’dg busts through a wall panel. Salaak is able to understand his language, too, and he tells John that B’dg knows where the other Lanterns are, and that he has extensive knowledge of the prison’s ventilation system, and he thinks he can get their rings back. John tells him to begin looking for the rings as well as the Lightsmiths’ staves. He then gives a rallying speech to the Lanterns and Lightsmiths in the cell about not giving in and breaking out of their situations. Even though they can’t understand English, John feels they more or less know what he’s saying. They’re gearing up to break out and take the fight to the Light Pirates.

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The solicitations promised death, and Bunn delivers. I don’t think we’re done yet, though. I wonder who’s next?

This is a decent issue of Green Lantern: Lost Army, but with the series’ announced cancellation at issue #6 (an extremely mysterious move on DC Comics’ part), it doesn’t move the plot along enough to answer some of the intriguing mysteries of this series, and it pretty much assures me that we won’t see a very satisfying ending to this tale. At least not the type of ending most readers may have in mind.

That said, I would rather Lost Army carry on at its regular course than for Cullen Bunn to try to hastily wrap up the plot points in a messy package, and as such, I don’t really fault this issue for keeping to the regular pacing. If we’re lucky, by issue six, we will at least discover exactly what Krona is doing in this universe and what his true intentions are, and maybe… maybe who it was that sent the Lanterns to this universe and why.

Concerning the plot, the biggest thing this issue does is reunite the lost Lanterns with other lost Lanterns. This issue highlights the ingenuity of the Corps, their camaraderie with John protecting Arisia at all costs, and their diversity with what B’dg brings to the table. Speaking of B’dg, Cullen Bunn has now gathered the classic ‘80s Steve Englehart Green Lantern Corps line-up, or as close to it as he can. That is, John Stewart, Kilowog, Arisia, Guy Gardner, Salaak, and B’dg. B’dg is being used as a stand in for Ch’p, and that’s fine. He essentially serves the same function. I feel like Arisia has taken the place of deceased Lantern Katma Tui, being the steadfast and experienced female, and Two-Six is filling Arisia’s old position as the young Corps member, minus the infatuation. So, there are some differences, but after about thirty years, that’s to be expected.

I like that Cullen Bunn is focusing on these classic, well known Lanterns instead of creating a bunch of new ones. They’re all great characters, and aside from John and perhaps Salaak, none of them have really advanced that much as characters in recent years. I’d like to see them play a larger role in events, especially Arisia, who deserves more than she gets, being probably the Green Lantern Corps’ most prominent female member.

All the Lanterns get strong moments to shine this issue, which is nice. John has a discussion with Salaak that shows their sense of responsibility, and he rallies the Lanterns and the Lightsmiths to action. Arisia consoles Two-Six when her friend is murdered before their eyes, we get insight into Guy and Kilowog’s frame of mind as they discuss the principles and effectiveness of John Stewart’s command decisions, and Two-Six does some fancy flying that saves Guy Gardner from a jam during the opening battle. Bunn does a great job at handling the cast, even when it just keeps getting bigger and bigger.

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B’dg comes to the rescue. With Salaak and the squirrel Lantern, the 1980s Steve Englehart line-up is as complete as it’s going to get!

With the addition of B’dg, I wonder if Simon Baz will appear, and if he does, I wonder if he will die, which honestly wouldn’t bother me. I am, however, a bit concerned about Jruk. If that is him in the prison cell with Salaak and John, his being there with no lines of dialogue or acknowledgment makes me a bit suspicious.

As mentioned above, I really like the flashback, because the scene makes me wonder if John even did the right thing. Perhaps there really was no right decision, and maybe that is what Lost Army is about, since all these past scenes correlate to the present situation, in which John is faced with saving a universe that perhaps never should have died and dooming his own, or letting it be destroyed for the sake of all he knows and loves.

Aside from that, this issue doesn’t give me a whole lot to ponder on as the others did. It doesn’t make me think anything of Krona’s motivations, or what actually destroyed this universe, or of what path Guy will choose to take. Getting closer to discovering the truth of those mysteries has been one of Lost Army’s best attributes, and this issue doesn’t shed any light on any of them.

Green Lantern: Lost Army #4 is a decent issue that takes the Lanterns from point A to point B, but doesn’t really give us anything to chew on and contemplate regarding the bigger picture, which would be really nice right about now since there are only two issues left. It’s clear that Bunn won’t be able to address everything in the remaining space he has. According to a statement he issued, there is a chance there will be another limited series or Lantern book to fully resolve this story. Let’s all cross our fingers. While this isn’t my favorite issue of Lost Army, I’ve loved this series, and it has the most intriguing set up of a Green Lantern story I’ve seen since Mosaic.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

Read Green Lantern: Lost Army #3 Review.
Read Green Lantern: Lost Army #2 Review.