Green Lantern Corps #32 Review
on June 16, 2014
Green Lantern Corps #32 is a stellar issue. Just when you may think the Durlan storyline is dragging due to reading rather mediocre issues of Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps reminds readers why this storyline is actually great, filled with wonder, and overall captivating! The real tragedy of Green Lantern Corps is that it is perceived by some as being under Green Lantern, in a sense. Some see it as a spin-off title, and therefore of less importance. As such, for many people, if they’re going to purchase a Green Lantern comic, oftentimes it will be Green Lantern instead of Green Lantern Corps, quality be damned. That’s really a shame, because Green Lantern Corps is a considerably stronger title with better characterization, art that is leaps and bounds superior, and adventures that are generally a lot more fun and creative.
The world building of colorist Marcelo Maiolo, artist Bernard Chang, and writer Van Jensen continues to astonish. This issue takes us to the planet Daxam, which the art team renders incredibly. I’m always surprised by the strong environments they build for the varying set pieces of this series. Every single planet, space station, and civilization has had something great and memorable to offer, from the boiling sea on Nellewel 3, to the cool frog-like people of Kosh, to the scoundrels of the Shadow Market. This universe feels alive, diverse, and colorful. It is a really wonderful place to escape to, just as the best sci-fi universes –like Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, and Mass Effect– are. For the first time, the Green Lantern universe feels like it has the potential to be as engrossing as those others. The creators are focusing on all the right aspects while ignoring or intentionally sweeping away bad ideas from the Geoff Johns era.
The Green Lantern Corps arrives at Daxam. Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo render epic images panel to panel.
Something I like about Green Lantern Corps is that the Emotional Spectrum really isn’t relevant anymore. Aside from Star Sapphire Fatality being a part of the main cast, it has really faded away. None of Van Jensen’s stories have been about the Spectrum, and other colored Lanterns have not shown up in any notable capacity, aside from Carol Ferris and Kyle Rayner’s appearances in the single “Lights Out” issue, and a brief appearance by Sinestro Corps members. John Stewart never had much to do with that stuff, and I’m happy that Jensen is more or less keeping him away from it, while still making him considerably more significant to the Green Lantern comics than he was during the Johns era.
A notable aspect of this issue is the surprising amount of intrigue. Last issue showcased a ton of white knuckle action. While this issue has its explosive moments, the real highlight is the chicanery of the Durlan menace.
The Green Lantern Corps is in for surprises and perils as the “Uprising” crossover continues into its fourth part, and the story really picks up. Incredibly stunning artwork, a suspenseful narrative with great action, an excellent depiction of John Stewart, a slew of imaginative aliens in a great setting, and a dense story that seems like a feast of content makes this issue a total grand slam. It is one of my favorite issues since Jensen, Maiolo, and Chang arrived on the title, and thus, is one of my favorite Green Lantern issues, period.
My biggest regret is that Bernard Chang doesn’t draw the whole issue. Artist Moritat picks up the pages that Chang doesn’t do. Moritat’s art took some getting used to for me, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. I undoubtedly prefer Chang’s work, but Moritat is one of the more stimulating fill in artists Green Lantern Corps has had of late.
Once the Green Lantern Corps discovered the true plot of the Durlans, which is to replicate Daxamites in order to gain their Superman-like powers, the Lanterns head to the planet Daxam to defend it from the Durlans. When exposed to the light of a yellow sun, Daxamites are among the most powerful beings in the universe, but the sun that their planet revolves around is red, so they are very vulnerable.
The story opens with an absolutely gorgeous view of a Daxamite city. Artist Bernard Chang and colorist Marcelo Maiolo just take over, and it’s very easy to lose yourself in the settings they craft. Bernard Chang’s architectural background is definitely a huge boon to this book, but it’s not just the landscapes that are so impressive. The amount of detail and thought Chang puts into things like weapons and clothing is truly surprising, especially when they’re for characters that only play bit parts.
The opening scene is of a Daxamite soldier standing on what appears to be a landing platform, watching as the Corps descends on his position from the sky. Maiolo renders an odd pink sky that highlights how alien Daxam is, despite its human looking inhabitants. The sky is speckled with really cool translucent snowflakes that make for a stark image against the pink.
The Daxamites constructed a fleet to take them to the light of yellow suns. The amount of imagination in the imagery is impressive.
The soldier aims his fire arm, peering at the Lanterns through his gun sight. One of the panels is a blurry image seen from the sight of the soldier’s weapon. Then we see it focus on John Stewart’s Green Lantern emblem in another panel. That is a great effect that gives the book a cinematic feeling. All the small touches within this one page demonstrate the astounding amount of love and care that goes into Green Lantern Corps. Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo’s efforts are certainly not lost on me. They are definitely my favorite art team from any Green Lantern series, ever.
The art duo takes advantage of their double page spread when they showcase an epic image of the Green Lantern Corps lowering near the soldiers to talk to them. Chang fits in all the Lanterns who are accompanying John, and we’re treated to another great roll call of each Lantern that appears in this issue.
John Stewart explains that the Corp is there to help, but the Daxamite soldier –who is accompanied by others- rebuffs him, saying that the Corps isn’t welcome on Daxam, and that they don’t need help. He believes the Corps has caused enough damage on their planet. During the discussion, Daxamite politicians come out to meet the Lanterns. One of them is Sodam Yat’s father, who is ecstatic to see his son again, despite past enmity between the two. John tells them of the situation at hand, and Sodam’s dad invites John to see weapons the Daxamites have been preparing in order to defend themselves. He tells John to let the other Lanterns stay outside and rest.
There is a palpable air of tension here. Jruk didn’t help when he attacked a Daxamite soldier for pointing a gun at him, but John was able to calm the warlike Lantern.
The Daxamite politicians show John, Yrra, Sodam, and Arisia a fleet they’ve constructed, which can take garrisons of Daxamite soldiers to bask in the warmth of yellow suns, thereby filling them with great power. They’ve been isolationists, but now they’re prepared to defend themselves by taking advantage of their innate abilities.
The panel that displays the shipyard is glorious. The sense of scale the room has is great, and Chang drenches the scene in painstaking detail. Even though a lot of artists use painstaking detail these days, Bernard Chang’s work is truly special. Take previous Green Lantern Corps artist, Fernando Pasarin. Chang’s work is so highly elevated over Pasarin’s because Chang brings the detail and a much more attractive and original style that is all his own.
The story shifts to the command center on Mogo, where Salaak is trying to get the rings to home in on Durlan DNA so that the Lanterns can identify them. Von Daggle emerges from the shadows and approaches Salaak from behind. This is another moment of tangible suspense. Though Salaak has his back turned, he can sense Daggle’s presence. Daggle asks how the war is going, and Jensen quickly uses this opportunity to explain some of what went on in Green Lantern #32, part three of “Uprising.” Moritat handles the art in this scene and it’s not bad. It’s very distinctive and interesting in its own way, but not nearly on the level of what Chang is delivering.
Bernard Chang is joined by Moritat on art. Von Daggle continues being a mysterious and captivating character.
Daggle explains that the Durlans have no real DNA. It shifts every time they morph, and that is why they hate themselves. Daggle believes the war is a complete feint and what the Durlans are really after is the Daxamite form. Daggle pieces together that the Durlans wouldn’t wait till the last minute to secure the ultimate prize, and he suddenly morphs into a giant mushroom and gasses Salaak.
This is such a great scene. We never totally knew what to expect from Von Daggle. It was never clear whose side he’s really on, and this entire issue has had an uneasy feeling. Props go to letterer Dave Sharpe for depicting Daggle’s words with the font he uses for the enemy Durlans when he says “I’m sorry, Salaak.” It amplifies the surprising and uneasy feeling.
Daggle connects his ring with the ring programming mainframe, and he steps into a capsule and begins the extremely painful process of extracting an isotope within all Durlans.
We’re then taken back to Daxam, where Chang takes over the art again and his work continues to be immensely beautiful. Really, I have nothing but praise for his and Marcelo Maiolo’s work. The sceneries, proportions, faces, colors, perspectives, detail… Everything is superb.
Jruk and Feska are waiting outside with most of the Lanterns. Feska laments how her own people think the Green Lantern Corps is evil. She believes she must go home and convince her people that the Durlans manipulated the universe into thinking the Corps is a tyrannical criminal organization.
Daxamite soldiers begin stealthily surrounding the landing platform the Corps is situated on. At this point it becomes clear something is very wrong. Chang’s work on the Daxamites remains unbelievably great.
In the fleet docking bay, Daxamite soldiers are boarding the starships and preparing to blast toward the light of yellow suns to empower themselves. Sodam tries to reason with his father that they’re doing the wrong thing by weaponizing their people. However, Sodam’s dad doesn’t see it that way, pointing out that it would be foolish not to take advantage of their inherent abilities and that Sodam is the one who showed them the way by leaving Daxam and becoming immensely powerful. John Stewart points out the folly of their plan, mentioning that the Daxamites will only draw even more attention to their isolationist race.
It turns out the Green Lantern Corps is surrounded by Durlans!
Suddenly, the Daxamite soldiers turn their weapons on the Lanterns. Fatality is ready to fight right away, but John Stewart brings out that they can’t fight them. Perhaps I’m a bit slow, but at this point, I really didn’t know what was going on, and was on the edge of my seat.
Back on Mogo, Von Daggle was able to extract the isotope and update the information to all Oan Power Rings, but at great cost to himself. The process left him very damaged. On Daxam, the troops on the landing pad launch their attack against the Lanterns. The rings notify the Lanterns that the database was updated and that Durlan detection is enabled. The ring identifies the great majority of the Daxamite soldiers to be Durlans. With the cat out of the bag, the Durlans decide to morph into stronger forms, and Bernard Chang treats us to an awesome panel where the Daxamite commander is transforming into a powerful monster. The whole spread is stunning, from the scene when the surrounding Durlans are identified, to the Durlan transformation, to the wicked mace Feska makes to bash in a Durlan’s head.
John Stewart’s gang is also alerted to the update, and we see another awesome panel as Sodam Yat’s father drops the pretense and morphs into his tentacle strewn Durlan form. The Durlan explains the great tragedy of Daxam, which Von Daggle already deduced. The Durlans’ goal isn’t to impersonate Daxamites. They want to just become Daxamites by utterly over-writing the entire race.
When the Durlans captured Sodam, he gave them a vision of a bright new future. He inspired them to find this race of super powerful beings and become them. When the Durlan killed Sodam’s father, the shape shifter told him that it was all because Sodam Yat revealed the existence of the Daxamites to them.
From another chamber, a Durlan Ancient in Gwottlean battle armor reveals himself, and confesses that most of the Daxamites have been killed, but the Durlan chose Sodam’s likeness for himself. The Ancient left the children of Daxam alive, and plans to assimilate them into the new race, but he will kill them all if Sodam doesn’t cooperate.
There is a moment of superb sequential storytelling when Sodam stands there looking glum and angry as the Durlan gives his demands, and when the page is flipped, readers are treated to a breathtaking panel of an enraged Sodam Yat blasting heat vision at the Durlan ancient. There are just too many moments of grand artwork to note all of them!
Sodam’s powers are weakening, due to not being empowered by a yellow sun, and as the Durlan is about to kill the Lanterns and children, John Stewart reveals that he called for backup, and the cosmic criminals Kanjar-Ro, Chun Yull, Evil Star, and Bolphunga show up to support the Lanterns.
Sodam Yat gets strong moments in this issue of Green Lantern Corps.
Just as John is going to ask his ring to identify the Durlans in the room, the Ancient charges him and sends both John Stewart and Fatality through the wall to the outside. John and the Durlan have a desperate struggle where Jensen delivers incredibly powerful dialogue. The Ancient brings out the past failures of the Corps, including what happened to Durla, and he mentions John Stewart’s personal failure at Xanshi and says the Green Lanterns have no right to judge anyone. John isn’t having any of that, though, and Jensen fully gets across that John Stewart has atoned for his failure and moved on from the long, dark period in his life. He knows that he’s nothing like the Durlans, who willingly, intentionally committed genocide on Daxam. John defeats the Ancient, but the starships with the soldiers blast off toward the heavens. The Durlan never expected to defeat John Stewart, he merely wanted to distract him to give the fleet enough time to launch and travel to the planet Zezzen, where they can consume enough energy to fully become Daxamites.
Later on, the Durlans who didn’t escape are secured, and fortunately more living Daxamites are found who are not just children. John Stewart and the others are prepared to head to Zezzen and defend the planet from the Durlan attack, but Sodam announces that he will not go. The Durlans learned of his people because he left Daxam, which ultimately caused the terrible atrocity there. Sodam believes the Daxamites are too dangerous and must remain hidden on their planet. The Durlans arrive on Zezzen and it looks like the final battle will soon be under way.
Every character in this title -not just John Stewart- is handled exceptionally by Van Jensen.
Green Lantern Corps #32 is one of my favorite issues that the new creative team has released. It is a very intriguing story with a captivating twist, and the art is to die for. I wish Chang had finished the whole thing, but Moritat’s art is a treat in its own right. This issue is one of the strongest John Stewart has had, and I believe it will be difficult for a future writer to send him back to being mopey over Katma and Xanshi after this storyline. Jensen clearly gets across that John is over the failure that several other writers liked to hamper him with, and from here, things will only go forward, not backwards to linger on one storyline from over twenty years ago.
As I’ve brought out several times before, it’s not just John who shines in this title, but pretty much every regular character. Von Daggle is proving to be a fascinating addition to this series, and I’m really curious what the future holds for him. Feska continues to impress me, and it’s great having a place in which we can regularly find Arisia. She’s too good and too well known a Green Lantern character to keep in mothballs. It’s foolish not to take advantage of such an asset, and Jensen must see that. Also, Sodam Yat has strong moments and he gets proper closure and an explanation of why he just disappeared from Green Lantern stories.
“Uprising” has really picked up with this superb issue, and I’m really curious as to where Jensen will take John Stewart and the rest of these great characters after this event.
4.8 out of 5 stars.