Green Lantern Corps #31 Review
on May 20, 2014
Van Jensen has been writing Green Lantern Corps for roughly a year, and he’s proven to be my favorite Green Lantern writer. I’ve never enjoyed this title as much as I am now. Jensen continually shows how adept he is at managing a large cast. As a huge John Stewart fan, it’s only natural that I prefer for the spotlight to be on John. Yet, despite dedicating more panel time to the alien Green Lantern Corps members in this issue than he has in the past, Jensen doesn’t let me down. John gets plenty of excellent moments to shine along with his fellow Corps members.
Green Lantern Corps is an interesting title. It can be looked at as a team book, but John Stewart is clearly the main character. He’s our human anchor in this bevvy of bizarre and fantastic aliens, and it’s primarily through him that we see what it is like being in this universe spanning organization. That set up is absolutely perfect for this title. John is the vessel through which we explore one of the richest mythologies in comics.
Bernard Chang returns after taking the previous issue off, and though this issue isn’t the strongest effort of the Chang and Maiolo art combo, it’s a stunning sight to behold. Maiolo’s colors illuminate Chang’s artwork, taking the already spectacular line work to another level. The neon action cartoon look the duo creates gives the book an incredible kinetic energy.
Though last month’s issue wasn’t up to the usual high standard of Green Lantern Corps, the creative team comes back strong with this slobber knocker of an issue. Another thing Van Jensen manages amazingly is putting in a ton of action with a surprising amount of characters, and a surprising amount of characterization for them. One would think Van Jensen wouldn’t have the space to do everything he achieves in a twenty page comic, but he does it time after time.
Van Jensen shows off many members of the Green Lantern Corps. There is a cool roll call shown early in the book to acquaint readers with them.
Jensen has brought in so many characters into the book over time -from Iolande, to Von Daggle, to Bolphunga- but he never forgets about the recruits he created back in issue #21. In the heat of this galactic battle, he opens up quite a bit about Feska, and it’s shocking how succinctly he manages to do it. Despite his initial misgivings, Van Jensen is a master of the twenty page monthly comic book format, in a way that very few are.
This issue is part two of the “Uprising” crossover between Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, and picks up from the previous week’s Green Lantern #31, in which a massive fleet attacked the Green Lantern Corps base planet Mogo, but was repulsed by the Lanterns. Some of the Durlans who infiltrated the Corps are able to use Power Rings. They revealed themselves during the Battle for Mogo and were felled. Accordingly, the rings they stole are now heading back to their rightful Lanterns.
A contingent of Durlans and Khund are stationed in a base on the snow covered expanse of planet Corona Seven. The facility is buried under piles of snowfall. A couple issues ago, readers saw that this is where the Durlans are keeping their Green Lantern prisoners. In light of the failed assault on Mogo, the Durlans order their Khund allies to execute the Lantern prisoners immediately. If they don’t, they will soon have a base of powered up Green Lanterns to deal with.
Jensen quickly gets across who is in charge there, which is the Durlans. The Durlans have very entertaining personalities. With the exception of Von Daggle, Jensen pretty much writes them all with the same character, which is actually very effective. They have a cold arrogance, assuredness, cunning, and superiority to them that makes for fun characters that play off the Khund’s more Klingon-like nature very well.
As the Khund rush down to off their store of Green Lanterns before the power rings arrive, we see a double page spread of the prison complex. Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo have used opportunities like this to build some incredible locales, which vitally contribute to the world building aspect of this series. We’ve seen the exotic city on planet Muz bustling with activity and character, the new Green Lantern city on Mogo designed by John Stewart, and the seedy Shadow Market, just to name a few. Now, Chang, Maiolo, and Jensen take us to a cold, unsympathetic prison compound with a hazy atmosphere.
What else is very notable is the roll call sequence we’re treated to. There are great profile images of all the Lanterns who are showcased this issue, which is a clever way of quickly casting some spotlight on them so readers can at least know their names. It’s a really cool feature conceptually and visually, which adds yet another layer of charm to a book that is already bursting at the seams with it.
This issue shows that Green Lanterns are still very formidable without their power rings. The rings don’t choose them because they’re pushovers, after all. Green Lantern Xylph plots a great escape with his inmate, Ghr’ll. They discover that Khund are going from cell to cell killing the Lanterns, so they’re forced to risk an escape, or face certain death. Xylph taunts a Khund soldier into giving him a death via knife instead of blaster, and when the Khund complies, Xylph takes advantage of the close quarters situation and causes a melee, which the other Khund respond to by blasting everything in their area. In short, the Lanterns escape and get their hands on some Khund blasters. Chang makes great use of convincing facial expressions during the battle, and Maiolo is as strong as ever at emphasizing key moments with his striking coloring.
When the Lanterns get their rings back, they repay the Khund and Durlans for the imprisonment they suffered.
The Lanterns manage to free the rather large Green Lantern Turyt, who helps them hold off the approaching Khund while they attempt to free more Lanterns. Just as the Khund are getting the upper hand, the rings bore through the walls and ceilings, and in a beautiful panel, readers see the flood of emerald rings shoot off toward their true owners. Suddenly, the prison is lit up in emerald light as the Lanterns use their power to break free and join in the fight.
Jensen continues to bring in characters like the long absent butterfly girl Green Lantern, R’amey Holl. Once Von Daggle was brought back, it was only a matter of time before R’amey appeared. In actuality, she was seen back in the final panel of issue #29. Both she and Daggle were big parts of one of the most memorable story lines of the previous Green Lantern Corps volume, titled “The Dark Side of Green.”
The fight goes on, and Green Lantern Bloobert Cob falls in the struggle. R’amey Holl is grabbed by a Durlan and the story loses track of her after that. It happens fast and isn’t followed up on, so Jensen may have something up his sleeve here. If so, that’s another example of his deft storytelling, where he makes something happen quickly, which has the opportunity to open up plenty of story line potential, and he doesn’t need to take up many panels doing it.
The Lanterns are very difficult for the Khund to repress this time because of the concentration of them, and the fact that the Khund don’t have their ring draining weapons, due to a Green Lantern attack on the industrial world of Gwottle, where the weapons were being manufactured.
Green Lantern John Stewart and his team of Lanterns arrive on Corona Seven, having followed the power rings. On the snowy surface of the planet, John greets a unit of Khund soldiers with an awesome locomotive construct before the team descends into the base to rescue the other Lanterns. Inside, they’re met with more Khund guards, this time with three Durlans leading them. The shape shifters morph into creatures called Fp’yan Stone Walkers to block the Lanterns’ path. Here, we see a moment of John’s craftiness and worldly knowledge of the universe. John Stewart is aware of how dense Fp’yans are, and after the rings broke through the floor as they were flying to their owners, he doesn’t think the floor will be able to support the weight the Durlans are putting on it. In a somewhat comical scene the Durlans and Khund break the floor and fall to the levels below, of little surprise to John Stewart.
John Stewart and his team of Lanterns arrive to join the fight.
I like that Van Jensen writes such an intelligent John Stewart, who often uses his brains to win the day. Van Jensen borrows elements from Bruce Timm’s approach to the character, presenting him as a seasoned Lantern with a vast knowledge of the universe. In Justice League, John Stewart would sometimes relate experiences he had on some distant world, which would have some meaning to the situation at hand. An example of this is seen in the episode “Maid of Honor,” in which John Stewart already had knowledge of the type of secret weapon Vandal Savage had –a rail gun- because he had seen the same thing before while out in space. What I appreciate so much is that Van Jensen realizes all the subtleties of the John Stewart character. Previous writers were more like, “Okay, I see he’s serious, Black, and a Marine. Gotcha!” Van Jensen knows there is way more to the character than that, and he showcases it brilliantly.
John Stewart meets up with the Lanterns who were once prisoners and tells them to follow the path he drilled to the top. They tell him there’s another prisoner hidden even further below that they must rescue. This prisoner has been there the longest and no one really knows who or what it is. John takes a part of his team to retrieve this high level prisoner, but they’re confronted by three Durlans who have expended their entire cache of radioactive energy to morph into very powerful forms. One of the forms consumes all the ring energy blasted at it, and spews it back at the Lanterns. John opts not to fight, but continues digging deeper into the facility with his drill construct.
John and co. are stopped by three incredibly powerful Durlans as they attempt to rescue a mysterious prisoner.
In the lowest level, his team finds a large impenetrable container. Feska is able to pick the lock on it, which surprises John. She reveals that before she was a Green Lantern, she was a thief. Just like that, in one sentence, Feska’s character continues to deepen and she becomes even more interesting than she already was.
The Lanterns are followed by the three Durlans. It turns out the Durlans have been keeping Sodam Yat, the Daxamite Green Lantern, in the container. The newly freed Sodam uses heat vision to obliterate the Durlans. Arisia, who is part of John’s team, is incredibly relieved to see Sodam Yat alive.
With the prisoners freed, the Lanterns depart Corona Seven. On the way back, Sodam explains that the Durlans interrogated him about his home planet of Daxam. John Stewart puts together that Mogo was never their real target, after all. The Durlans plan to invade Daxam, and since the Daxamites get powers comparable to Superman’s when close enough to a yellow sun, the Green Lantern Corps won’t stand a chance if the crafty shape shifters manage to replicate Sodam’s species.
Green Lantern Corps #31 is a thrilling read. It’s action packed, full of great character moments, and propels the story forward quite a bit. There is very little this issue doesn’t do. It showcases so many Green Lanterns, brings back long gone fan favorites, is another strong showing for John Stewart, and further develops Feska’s character… all being shown with incredible artwork!
There are just a few areas where it falters. Fatality’s complete lack of dialogue is noticeable. I don’t really hold this against Van Jensen much, because I’m confident he’ll make up for it very soon with milestone moments between Yrra and John. However, while I like seeing so much of the Corps in this issue, I don’t want this to be the model for things going forward. I want Green Lantern Corps to be centered on John Stewart, as I’ve been greatly enjoying the much deserved focus on the character. Issues that put more emphasis on the diversity of the Corps are welcome changes of pace every now and then, though.
The main problem I have with this issue is that the final three Durlans don’t put up much of a fight. We see them morph into these supposedly very powerful forms, but we barely get to see what they can do. We don’t even get to see one of them (the coolest looking one, at that) attack. He was dispatched before he could do anything. As mentioned, Sodam Yat is the one who disposed of all three Durlans. This could be Jensen getting across how powerful Daxamites are, and how terrible it will be for the Corps to fight an army of them. Regardless, I would have liked to see more of a confrontation between the three highly powered Durlans and John’s team. Perhaps a page or two could have been cut from the Corps’ prison brawl to feature that.
Sodam Yat returns to the pages of Green Lantern Corps.
The “Uprising” crossover has started very interestingly. For a while, the Green Lanterns have been winning. Even before this crossover officially began, the Lanterns got victories over their enemies with the attack on Gwottle (Green Lantern #30), the recruitment of Von Daggle (Green Lantern Corps #28 and 29), the flushing out of Durlan operatives on Mogo (Green Lantern Corps #30), and the procuring of the cutting edge Khund warship (Green Lantern #30).
The Khund, Clann, and Durlan alliance has definitely had successes in getting so many other species to rise up against the Corps, and Hal Jordan’s own blunders have helped them. While it seems like the Lanterns have a lot on their plate, and things get worse and worse for them, tactically speaking, they’ve come out on top on a number of occasions, including this issue and the previous week’s Green Lantern #31. As such, this six part crossover event hasn’t had an incredibly high level of pressure or urgency yet.
Rather than be dismayed by this, I’m intrigued. I have a feeling that Robert Venditti and Van Jensen are going to raise the threat level considerably higher very soon, and this war is going to get very crazy in the months to come when the Durlans finally enact their grand scheme.
I’m very eager to see how “Uprising” will change things with Green Lantern John Stewart.
4.3 out of 5 stars.
Read Green Lantern Corps #30 Review.
Read Green Lantern Corps #29 Review.