Smallville: Lantern Parts 10, 11, and 12 Review

on June 7, 2014

Smallville: Lantern comes to a close.
Now that all is said and done, it can safely be said that it is a great showing for Green Lantern John Stewart, a very engaging take on the Green Lantern mythos, and a fun story of large scope.

However, out of all the different sets of chapters that have been released, this final one, comprising chapters ten, eleven, and twelve is my least favorite. It’s not that the big finish is dissatisfying; it’s that some of the content leading to it is dissatisfying. One of the main problems is that regular artist Marcio Takara took chapters ten and eleven off, which are done by Ig Guara. I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Guara’s work here. It’s competent in most areas, but the faces leave a lot to be desired, and that is a terrible place to stumble.

Also, there’s too much Green Arrow for my tastes. I know he is a regular on Smallville, but his story isn’t nearly as captivating as the ‘A’ story of this episode, and it winds up occupying quite a bit of space. His part is ultimately about Chloe and Oliver’s issues with telling the truth and deciding whether or not to stay in the superhero game. The villain, Prometheus, is just a means to an end. He winds up not having any interesting motivation and being uninteresting himself. Many of the facets connected with Green Arrow are quite grand -such as the JLA villain Prometheus, the D.E.O., Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman, and Zatanna- yet, for all that, his story doesn’t deliver and ends up being a bit shallow.

Some will probably enjoy the Green Arrow parts, but as it turns out, I’m a big fan of both Superman and Green Lantern John Stewart, but I was never enamored with Justin Hartley’s Green Arrow, so it probably just isn’t for me. Regardless, I believe Green Arrow’s story ate up too much panel time, especially on chapter ten, and was comparatively uninteresting. Perhaps if the story had more to do with everything else that was going on I would have acclimated to it better.

Part ten does not pick up from the great cliffhanger part nine left readers with, in which we saw John Stewart become the host for Parallax, which is a pretty big deal. Instead, it goes into some of the aforementioned far less interesting Green Arrow stuff. Yellow rings have spread all over the place. In light of the strange event, Steve Trevor, a Director at the Department of Extranormal Operations, coordinates with Tess, Chloe, and Green Arrow. They’ve spotted where Prometheus is at, due to being able to trace his boomtube’s signature. They use Zatanna to teleport Green Arrow to Fort Knox, where Prometheus is in the process of robbing the gold reserve. Green Arrow, now equipped in mega armor, has another go at the villain who badly shamed him chapters ago.

Meanwhile, Tess, Hamilton, and Chloe begin plotting a way to save the day from the yellow peril. Chloe has figured out that the yellow rings seem to be controlling their wearers, and Hamilton deduces that they must be using a signal not unlike the comm frequency he and his colleagues cracked to communicate with Superman.

Possessed by Parallax, Green Lantern inflicts a serious wound upon Superman.

Chloe communicates with Batman and tells him they’re going to need one of the yellow rings to analyze. Miller deserves credit for finding something for all of these characters to do. I suppose if the Green Arrow story illustrates anything, it’s that Superman can’t keep an eye on everything.

Finally, the story gets back to the Man of Steel as he confronts a possessed John Stewart. Miller apparently uses this story as a bit of meta-commentary on certain issues with the Green Lantern Corps concept, which isn’t necessarily bad. Originally, Green Lanterns were depicted as fearless individuals (they were later said to be individuals who overcome great fear, but…), and Superman tries to get John to snap out of his possession by telling him that fear is not inherently bad, and that the Lantern Corps was wrongheaded in coercing him to pretend he doesn’t feel fear. Superman goes on, saying it’s okay to have fear and doubt and for a soldier to ask questions. Just as it seems Superman is getting through, John Stewart impales the Man of Steel with a yellow sword construct.

Several Green Lantern Corps members look down upon Earth and try to figure out what they should do. In John’s final moments as himself, he left a message to the others saying that Ganthet told him to find that which Parallax fears the most. And so, the Lanterns go off to search.

Part nine isn’t terrible, but it is one of the weaker links of the whole episode. Ig Guara’s work on John Stewart and Chloe’s faces isn’t very impressive, and his Superman could be better. For whatever reason, Guara does not draw the cape on John Stewart’s Parallax suit, which diminishes the visual appeal. Carrie Strachen is still doing the coloring on this series, and it’s as good as ever. It helps the episode maintain visual familiarity throughout.

Miller’s slight deconstruction of the Green Lantern concept is very interesting. It’s true there are aspects of the Green Lantern Corps that are flawed, such as the rings selecting people against their will from out of nowhere and suddenly dragging them off to an alien world to be trained. The ring even says, “You will report to Oa immediately for training.” That can create all kinds of problems in people’s lives, as we saw with Clark Kent earlier in this story. It’s an interesting issue to address in the narrative.

Part eleven opens with a battle between Prometheus and Green Arrow at Fort Knox. Prometheus has the upper hand at first, but then Arrow hulks up and defeats the villain. And that’s pretty much the end of Green Arrow’s quest.

Green Arrow gets his revenge on Prometheus, but the rivalry between the two feels rather shallow.

Back in Gotham, Batman tries to deal with a ring empowered Firefly. Props go to Miller for slipping in a clever Ghostbusters reference. In a throwback to a Geoff Johns Green Lantern story, when Batman dislodges the ring from Firefly, the yellow ring chooses him, due to his ability to harvest great fear. Batman doesn’t play ball with the ring, however, and uplinks the yellow ring data to Chloe and Tess, who then send it to Emil Hamilton. Using the previously discovered carrier frequency, Hamilton notes that he can’t shut the rings down, but he can reboot them, which will also hit all green rings within range. Hamilton does so, and thereby ends the Yellow Lantern plague.

Superman –being Superman- survives the stab wound he suffered, and when Parallax sees how powerful the Kryptonian is, the fear entity leaves John Stewart and plans to use Clark as a vessel.

Chapter eleven is an improvement over the previous one. Again, the weakest part of the story is Green Arrow’s segment. His fight with Prometheus and its resolution feels anti-climactic. Ig Guara’s art is a bit better, but his face work on John Stewart remains terrible.

John Stewart mopes and doubts as only he can. Thankfully, the story isn’t about John being sad the entire time. I’m not a big fan of artist Ig Guara’s take on John Stewart.

The art really picks up for the final chapter when Marcio Takara returns. The chapter opens with a great shot of the Arkham inmates –who know longer have the ability to fly since their yellow rings are inactive- falling from the sky toward Gotham. Strachen and Takara give us an incredible top down view of the sparkling city as the villains plummet. Superman saves them while a depowered Green Lantern John Stewart is left to battle Parallax on the ground. John delays the entity by smacking it in the face with a wrecking ball, and soon after, the Ion entity suddenly appears through a portal, escorted by the other Green Lantern Corps members. The Ion entity manhandles Parallax, while John Stewart brings out that the only thing Parallax fears is being sent home. The other Lanterns get their rings rebooted, causing them to lose their powers.

Superman assists Ion in pushing Parallax through the rift that leads to The Source, and eventually both entities are gone from the regular plane of existence, back where they belong. The Arkham inmates are taken back into custody, and the Green Lantern Corps is left wondering what to do next. The power rings reboot, granting the Lanterns their powers once again.

Fortunately, regular artist Marcio Takara returns for part twelve, and as you can see here, his John Stewart is much better looking.

Before the reboot, the Lantern Corps wasn’t given much of a choice on whether they wanted to serve, now Superman tells them their lives are theirs and they can do what they want with them instead of being slaves to destiny.

Later on, John meets Clark on the roof of the Daily Planet, and tells him that the Corps endures, and that the Green Lanterns have formed their own delegation of New Guardians. They took a vote and changed their policy. No one will ever get conscripted into service against their will, and the Lanterns will make sure Clark’s old ring goes to a worthy candidate who can care for Space Sector 2813. Green Lantern departs for the stars and Lois catches up with Clark on the rooftop, happy that she won’t lose him to the cosmos after all.

The scenes between Clark and Lois are always great. Takara draws them splendidly, and he captures what is so special about the Superman and Lois Lane romance. Miller wraps up all the loose ends, showing a scene of Chloe and Oliver reconciling that super-heroing is part of who they are, and they’re not going to ignore their calling. Lex and Otis are still scheming. Lex has gotten a hold of the Yellow Lantern rings and wants a list of their wearers. He admits he can’t save the world alone. It seems that while a Justice League is just waiting to be officially set up, Lex may be in the process of creating his own Legion of Doom. I do have some issues with parts ten and eleven, but the story finishes very strong. The threat was huge, too big for Superman to handle alone. The scope was big, there were many characters, and Miller managed to make all of them useful.

I know I’ve praised Miller so much already for using the John Stewart incarnation of Green Lantern for the Smallville universe, but I feel the need to do so again. Choosing John Stewart was a very wise decision because, while Green Lantern was within the vice grip of Geoff Johns, DC Comics effectively alienated many fans of the extremely popular Justice League animated series by putting characters like John Stewart’s Green Lantern and Shayera Hol’s Hawkgirl in mothballs. Some argue that, “DC shouldn’t change what it does just because of a cartoon,” and to that, I argue that maybe it should when that cartoon is a massive success and has way more exposure than the comics.

Smallville: Lantern is an especially strong story for both Superman and Green Lantern.

It’s true Geoff Johns had success with Hal Jordan with the comic buying audience, but the angry and confused reception the character received upon trailers for the 2011 Green Lantern film being shown to the general public shows that John Stewart is who they relate the Green Lantern with. DC and their writers need to finally come to terms with that. It’s a reality, and it’s not evil, bad, or incorrect. It’s not something that they should run away from or try to hide. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with millions of people associating one of their fictional universe’s most important roles with a Black person. As a matter of fact, for the superhero genre it is a hugely impressive feat and should be celebrated.

Miller uses common sense and goes with the character most people know and respect as Green Lantern, and this is what it takes to draw in people who aren’t just comics fanboys, which is desperately needed. He cleverly shows how John Stewart can be showcased without going through stories about Hal Jordan first, which is actually a very easy thing to do, but some people seem to think it impossible, so it’s good to have both the DC Animated Universe and the Smallville universe to point to for debunking that strange notion.

Smallville: Lantern is a great story and an exceedingly strong showing for John Stewart that opens up plenty of possibilities for the character in this universe. This story has inspired me to continue following the Smallville comic series, and it’s looking like we’ll see more of John Stewart as things build up to a full blown Justice League.

Highly recommended for fans of John Stewart, fans of the Smallville television series, and anyone looking for a good Superman and/or Green Lantern story!

4 out of 5 stars.

Read Smallville: Lantern Parts 7, 8, and 9 review.