Green Lantern Corps #33 Review
on July 15, 2014
Green Lantern Corps #33 finishes up the “Uprising” crossover. As a single issue, it is very solid, but as the final part of this crossover, and what has essentially been a yearlong storyline, it could be better.
First, what I appreciate most out of this is all the incredible work Van Jensen, Bernard Chang, and Marcelo Maiolo have done with John Stewart. This story arc has fleshed John out considerably, giving him a very solid supporting cast filled with fascinating characters like Von Daggle, Jruk, Feska, Arisia, and Fatality, and an expansion of his back story by showing some of his time in the Marine Corps, and shedding light on why he left. Jensen has made the most out of John’s relationship with Fatality, crafting a surprisingly compelling bond that adds several layers of enthrallment to this cosmic action story. In a years’ time, the GLC creative team has turned John Stewart from a present but empty character in recent comic continuity, to one of the most entrancing heroes of the DC Universe.
Fatality laments the horrors of war while John Stewart tries to move on to more pleasant things.
Green Lantern Corps #33 is the crowning jewel of that effort, up to this point. With this issue, the creative team propels John Stewart even further with a thought provoking, uncomfortable, and intriguing situation for him to deal with that makes him all the more interesting. Indeed, it features the biggest defining moment John Stewart has had in comic continuity since becoming a mortal Guardian of the Universe in Green Lantern: Mosaic some twenty years ago. To top it all off, Jensen organically gives John Stewart an incredible rogue tailor made just for him, who poses a huge threat to John and the Green Lantern Corps.
Yes, this issue succeeds on many levels. Where it falters somewhat has more to do with “Uprising” in general. I have grievances with the crossover as a whole, and while this issue improves upon things, it doesn’t entirely rectify everything. For the most part, “Uprising” wasn’t plotted as well as it could have been, and it’s seriously dragged down by Robert Venditti and Billy Tan’s Green Lantern, which is an uninspiring title through and through. Obviously, however, those faults can’t be entirely attributed to the Green Lantern Corps creative team.
By itself, this issue is very interesting because of the qualities mentioned above, but it is not the best this creative team has put forth. Not only is it hindered by faults of “Uprising,” but the Green Lantern Corps creative team has produced stronger work than what is seen here in less critical issues.
Not everything is quite as it seems with John’s girlfriend. Huge plot twist ahead!
Don’t get me wrong, the work here is great, and this is a good issue. I’m holding the team to an especially high standard with this one, because, in the words of Van Jensen, this issue marks the season finale, so to speak, and everything he’s done with John Stewart has led to this crucial moment. One would expect the team to go all out on this one, and while this issue will likely stick in readers’ minds and give them much to contemplate, Green Lantern Corps #21, 23, 24, 28, 29, and 32 are pound for pound superior products.
The visuals from Bernard Chang on line work and Marcelo Maiolo on colors are definitely to be commended, but open up Green Lantern Corps #21 and have a gander at the first two beautiful pages. There is nothing in this issue as stunning as those. I’m sure it is difficult to pump out that level of detail and quality with the time allotted, but this is the moment when I want to see stuff as good as or better than that.
Granted, the planet Zezzen –where much of the action this issue takes place- doesn’t make for sights as impressive as Daxam’s, Oa’s, Muz’s, or the Shadow Market’s. One of the things I’ve enjoyed so much from Chang and Maiolo is how they beautifully depict the cultures and scenery in this series, and while Zezzen does have a culture, it doesn’t have much to offer visually. If anyone is to blame for that, it’s likely Green Lantern artist Billy Tan. That said, more work could have been done on the characters and emerald energy. I’m also beginning to think that the red background Maiolo has been using for moments of great import is getting a bit tired, and I’m beginning to wonder if he’s doing it so often now to save time on coloring. It’s a great effect, but it’s a little overplayed. It would be nice if he can find something new to do or some way to spice things up.
The book is still very pretty, however. Fatality looks really impressive on the first few pages, and Maiolo opens the book with strong autumn hues that set the stage well. Chang’s art is very expressive, and the action is played up nicely with clever panel layouts.
The story is really to my liking in the sense that, while it is a big climactic moment for the Green Lantern Corps, it’s more so a very personal story about John Stewart and it highlights the big difference between Van Jensen and former Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns, which I have brought out several times before. Rather than merely writing about big calamities while writing around characters, Jensen is more inward and does more to develop the characters as he writes about them. There’s something poetic about exploring deeply personal character issues and sending characters on a path of self-discovery while amidst a huge scale confrontation.
The issue begins with John and Yrra contemplating the aftermath of the Battle of Zezzen. Yrra is looking over the mass of Durlan corpses and is distraught by the carnage. John tries to pull her thoughts away from that, and decides to finally deliver on the beach vacation he promised her back in issue #21. They walk toward the Sea of Generations, which is the living sea of energy that comprises Zezzen’s populace, which the Durlans were trying hard to reach, but were repulsed in the absolutely dreary Green Lantern #33.
Verrat Din is revealed, and John Stewart gets an extremely powerful new enemy.
A small Zezzite manifests itself from the sea and asks Yrra about love. The Star Sapphire kneels down to whisper something to the little being when, suddenly, a group of tentacles emerge from Yrra’s mouth and she consumes the Zezzite, much to John’s shock and horror. This is a really powerful moment, and Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo deliver with stunning imagery. Van Jensen convey’s John Stewart’s surprise very convincingly, and Dave Sharpe’s letters put a huge exclamation point on top of it all. The entire creative team is so on the ball with this moment, that even if you saw this twist coming a mile away, it still has a huge impact.
It turns out Fatality is a Durlan named Verrat Din. Through consuming the Zezzite child, and copying the Daxamite DNA, which she must have done sometime last issue, Din transforms into a Daxamite form and is able to permanently hold it. John Stewart is understandably dumbfounded by this huge and fast turn of events. He doesn’t completely understand it, since she must love John to be wearing Yrra’s violet ring. Din points out that the ring was deceived. Durlans don’t just work on changing form for their clandestine activities. They also duplicate personalities and passions. Now that Din has revealed her true self, the ring slips off her finger to reunite with the real Yrra Cynril. Amidst John’s confusion and surprise is some relief in knowing that the real Yrra is alive, but Din tells him that she is buried so deep that John will never find her. She grabs the ring that is floating away and uses her incredible new found might to crush it into tiny pieces and scatters it to the wind.
John sends a distress call to Hal Jordan right before Din strikes him hard, and then the huge action scene ensues. Bernard Chang does a great job on the art and panel layouts. Every blow from Din has a powerful impact. During the fight, Din reveals that her plan is to free the Durlan prisoners on Mogo and bring them back to Zezzen so they can consume the Zezzites and share the same power that she does, meaning the Durlan threat is still very alive!
John pulls himself together and blasts Din. This issue features great art from Marcelo Maiolo and Bernard Chang, as usual.
John eventually gets some good hits in with cool constructs, with my personal favorite being a laser bazooka-thing. For all the heavy hits and plot twists, one of the most powerful parts of this issue is Verrat Din’s incredibly scathing personal remarks to John Stewart. She doesn’t hesitate to point out how he was so incredibly desperate for love and approval that he led the enemy right into his bed.
Din gets the upper hand again by utilizing heat vision, but decides to let John live so that he can see the Corps fall apart. Din zooms toward Mogo, which is still orbiting Zezzen, and when she arrives, she quickly takes down two Green Lanterns and demands to know where her people are being held. In the skies of Mogo, Din defeats more Green Lanterns who attempt to contain her. There are some great scenes of the battle in the sky. Bernard Chang renders an impressive top down view of Mogo’s city as Din is slamming Vath Sarn in the chin, and Marcelo Maiolo adds a neat hazy cloud effect that really gives the sensation of being way up in the firmament.
Hal Jordan leaves Von Daggle to guard the Durlan prisoners while he rushes off to the fight. This is another moment where it looks like a double cross might happen, but Daggle stays true to the Green Lantern Corps. He honestly believes the Durlans should take responsibility for wrecking their home world Durla, and stop trying to put the blame on the Corps. Credit is due to Van Jensen for continuing that uneasy feeling of uncertainty whenever the potentially treacherous Von Daggle is in a scene. It’s not overplayed, which is artful, but it is there.
Verrat Din makes short work of several Green Lanterns on Mogo.
Oliversity attempts to stop Din, but is killed in the process. The Daxamite makes it to the prison complex, where she finds Daggle. He tells her that it’s too late. He says that once the Central Battery’s computer isolated the isotope that allows Durlans to change form, Mogo was able to synthesize a counter agent, and the Durlan prisoners were doused with it via a flower Mogo grew in their cells. As such, all the remaining Durlans are stuck in flux and will never take another form again.
Din is furious at this development and is about to kill Daggle, but John Stewart sours into the scene to save him. John tackles Din, but she once again gains the upper hand with her superior strength. The sky darkens and John explains (for some strange reason, I guess for the reader’s sake) that Mogo is moving away from the yellow star that is powering Din. She has not been a Daxamite long enough to have stored much of the sun’s energy, thus she will grow weaker the farther they are from the sun’s rays. Verrat Din lets go of John and desperately flies back toward the sun, but is shot down by Hal Jordan.
The Lanterns finally begin to restrain the Daxamite/Durlan and Jensen believably depicts her struggle as she frantically yells that they won’t take her power away. As Mogo continues to move farther away from the yellow star, Din eventually runs out of power and gives up. John wants to kill her because of the blood on her hands, but Verrat Din sees through that, and the writing here is really impressive. She says that what John is really upset about isn’t the blood on her hands, it’s the personal things that happened between them. She says that his ego was so fragile that he was willing to make love to his enemy, and as a result, he failed the Green Lantern Corps. John fesses up to it, but says that killing her will sure make him feel better. He creates a knife construct and comes very close to slitting her throat, but decides to uphold his policy of not killing, and the Lanterns take her away.
Green Lantern John Stewart comes close to killing his enemy who shamed him so badly, but remembers that Green Lanterns don’t kill. Not on his watch.
John is ashamed of what happened, but he pulls himself together quickly, showing that this is a John Stewart who doesn’t spend years moping around. He knows the real Yrra Cynril is still out in the universe somewhere, and he must find her.
Van Jensen gives us a glimpse of things to come as he takes us someplace else where mysterious beings are discussing the Durlan War. One tells an odd figure on a throne that the war failed and the Green Lanterns survived, which is bad news for them. The person on the throne isn’t surprised or dismayed to hear that. She says that as the Lanterns were occupied with the war, their empire only grew, and that the final eclipse is coming and the Shadow Empire will bear witness to it.
Who these people are, I have no idea. They could be linked with the Shadow Markets that are apparently in every Space Sector according to the Black Circle criminal, Loragg. Iolande had never even heard of them, so the Markets that have popped up unbeknownst to the Green Lanterns may have something to do with what this figure means when she says the empire has grown. Back in issue #29, Kilowog also said that the Lanterns would concentrate on shutting the Shadow Markets them down after the war, so that could have been deft foreshadowing of a conflict with this Shadow Empire. Or maybe it’s something else entirely and there’s no connection!
As usual, this issue is much better than the doldrums of Green Lantern, and it saves the “Uprising” crossover. The issues of Green Lantern Corps are the only worthwhile parts of “Uprising.” They’re all excellent, and the story would have likely been better if it wasn’t teamed with Green Lantern at all.
Van Jensen treats us to a look at what threats lie ahead for John Stewart and the Green Lantern Corps.
Having John Stewart unknowingly have sex with a shape shifter is a very… John Stewart type thing. It’s something that would happen to him and no one else, and serves to greatly deepen his character. I’ve actually never seen this situation done with a protagonist before, so it’s very interesting. John Stewart is such a remarkable character because he’s never bogged down with a status quo and creators aren’t afraid to experiment with him. I would like for him to always be a Green Lantern, but aside from that constant, it’s great that he evolves and advances in gripping, unique ways.
Speaking of which, I believe the relationship between John Stewart and Fatality may be over. I think Yrra may have been brainwashed by the Zamarons and Star Sapphires, and now that her ring is dusted, the Yrra John finds may not be the Yrra that he’s come to love, which will make things even more interesting. If this is how Van Jensen ends the relationship, then he’s done an excellent job with this union. He’s taken something I was initially opposed to, got me invested in it, and made me feel somewhat forlorn at the situation that has developed.
To be utterly candid, it is my hope that the relationship ends and that DC Comics finally recognizes the John Stewart/Shayera Hawkgirl relationship (somehow). The comic creators have spent years and years dodging something that nearly everyone who loves the characters of Green Lantern John Stewart and Hawkgirl wants to see. But Jensen has done so well with the John Stewart/Fatality relationship that it’s difficult for me to fully root for its demise, and I view that as a good thing!
Apparently, we’ll see the real Fatality next issue, and we’ll hopefully have a better idea where things stand between John and the real Yrra.
4.0 out of 5 stars.
Read Green Lantern Corps #32 Review.
Read Green Lantern Corps #31 Review.