Green Lantern: Lost Army #1 Review
on June 26, 2015
When I unexpectedly heard that Green Lantern Corps was coming to an end, I was very dismayed and confused. It had solid sales and was creatively impressive. The team of Van Jensen, Marcelo Maiolo, and Bernard Chang took John Stewart to new heights and I enjoyed just about every minute of it. Now, here stands Green Lantern: Lost Army. It is a direct replacement of the Green Lantern Corps title, with John Stewart as the lead character going on cosmic adventures, accompanied by alien Green Lanterns. That said, there is no required reading to enjoy and understand this series. It’s a brand new adventure and great starting point for anyone looking to dive into the Green Lantern universe.
Green Lantern: Lost Army is brought to us by the minds of writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jesus Saiz. This isn’t the first time Bunn has gotten a hold of John Stewart. He featured the character with a prominent role in Sinestro #8, during the “Godhead” event. I enjoyed that issue and was impressed with John’s portrayal and his dynamic with Sinestro, so when I heard Bunn would be writing John in a regular series, I was excited. Accompanying Bunn is Jesus Saiz, who is known for handling the art duties on Swamp Thing, which earned him a good deal of critical acclaim.
Readers were able to sample what Bunn and Saiz had in store in a free eight page sneak peek of Lost Army that was released in May. The preview presented completely original content that acts as a prologue of sorts to the first issue. After reading the preview, I was even more enthusiastic for the series. Saiz delivered jaw dropping beautiful artwork, and Bunn constructed a gripping plot that dropped the Green Lantern Corps into completely unfamiliar surroundings inhabited by deadly hostiles.
The cast of Lost Army is well picked. We’re very fortunate to have Jesus Saiz drawing this series. His John and Arisia are incredible.
This first issue picks up right where the eight page preview left off (I highly recommend reading the free preview before reading this issue), with the Lanterns fighting for their lives and without a means to recharge their power rings. Does it live up to the greatness of the May preview, and also the high quality of the previous series, Green Lantern Corps?
Yes. Yes it does.
Visually speaking, the book is extremely impressive. Jesus Saiz’s line work is very different from Bernard Chang’s. Whereas Chang’s art was somewhat stylized and “cartoony,” Saiz depicts the characters in a considerably more realistic fashion, and creates a more inspiring image of John Stewart in so doing. Saiz’s work on all the characters is very strong. His take on Arisia is the best I’ve seen, and the armored suit sported by Krona is an excellent design. It’s always interesting to see the different ways artists draw Kilowog, and Saiz’s version ranks as one of my favorites. Then there are the enemies, which are suitably very alien. I’m happy that the first beings the Lanterns encounter in this totally unfamiliar universe aren’t anything close to being humanoid. Saiz’s contribution to Lost Army is made even more impressive by doing his own coloring, and having an equally remarkable showing of it.
Saiz doesn’t get to do much with scenery this issue due to the story being set primarily in space. I often pay special attention to how artists depict space in Green Lantern comics, because it has the potential to be really beautiful and it’s such a regular setting. Saiz’s portrayal is rather minimalist, but it makes sense when considering that many of the panels are filled with characters and enemies. I would prefer some more shots that show off the grandeur of outer space. That said, there are some lovely scenes, and the cosmos has a sense of stillness and serenity under Saiz’s pen, which is an interesting contrast to the frantic battle the book opens with.
The book opens with a desperate battle between the Corps and bizarre creatures that are out to erase them from existence. Saiz does a great job at portraying the enemies as “The other.” They are totally alien and unable to be related with, which is great, seeing as this is a totally new universe for the Lanterns.
Another aspect of Green Lantern books I pay special attention to is the emerald energy emitted from the Lanterns’ rings. Like space, it is a very important visual facet of the books. To be clear, I’m not referring to what constructs are used, but specifically how the energy looks. Saiz does a pretty good job. The constructs are shaded well and have depth, but his work in this particular area is a step down from what Marcelo Maiolo presented in Green Lantern Corps. Maiolo made the constructs and auras appear as actual light, and Saiz’s depiction is considerably duller in comparison. Saiz’s auras surrounding the Lanterns are the most basic outlines and the constructs are simply green shapes instead of appearing as bright hard light. However, nothing is visually bad or off with them, and there is nothing that actually impairs enjoyment of the book.
Cullen Bunn writes a very captivating story. We see this new universe through the perspective of John Stewart, but other members of the cast get moments to express themselves as characters. Of particular note is a short origin to Krona, which is handled splendidly. Lost Army has a sense of wonder that Green Lantern Corps never had, largely due to the concept of the Lanterns being in an unfamiliar setting and playing with such esoteric concepts as the dawn of time and universe shifting. This book has the feeling of an odyssey; an adventure of discovery, both internal and external, and I like that.
I really like the cast Cullen Bunn has chosen. John Stewart is my favorite comic book character and he’s the leader and protagonist, which sits very well with me. Krona, with his obsession with the unknown, as well as being the cause of basically the entire contemporary Green Lantern mythology, is one of the most fascinating pieces of Green Lantern. Arisia is a character that I really like. She rose to prominence during the 1980s Steve Englehart era of Green Lantern Corps and has been a recognized staple of the franchise ever since. Considering that, she hasn’t been utilized as well as she could have been in recent history. Van Jensen brought her out of mothballs during his Green Lantern Corps run and had her help John train recruits, but she really hasn’t advanced as a character in a while. I look forward to seeing more with her. Kilowog is somewhat of a Green Lantern mascot so it’s always great to see him. And who doesn’t love Two-Six with her innocent charm and innate obsession with mathematics? Cullen Bunn adds his own original creation to the mix, which is a Lantern named Xrill-Vrek. She is a morphic empath who continually changes her form and attitude based on the beings around her. If she has a default appearance or attitude, she hasn’t shown them yet. The very idea of the character is great and she proves useful to the Green Lanterns in helping them learn about all the unfamiliar creatures around them.
As mentioned, the issue starts off more or less where the free eight page preview left off. The Green Lanterns have left the planet they arrived on and have taken to the heavens. They’re followed by those pesky orange beings that are out to wipe them from existence. These things act like white blood cells. Their singular purpose is to purge the universe of foreign matter, and in this case, that means our heroes. They cut through the Green Lanterns’ force fields with the greatest of ease, and merely touching them is harmful.
Bunn and Saiz take us back to John’s Marine days to give readers a strong idea of the character.
John leads the team of Lanterns in battle while Krona, towed around by Two-Six, watches with interest. John thinks about how aggression can be a useful tool for a leader as he remembers a time when it saved his life. We’re taken to a flashback of John’s time in the U.S. Marine Corps, which shows us John’s heroism and gives readers incite on his background. This gritty Middle Eastern battle scene is quite a contrast from the fantastic outer space setting. Bunn and Saiz believably convey a high intensity fire fight, the sort of thing that would stick with someone their entire life. The way Bunn blends John’s past experience with the situation at hand is novel. John thinks of his old Marine squad and makes constructs of them to help fend off his current attackers. We will likely get more flashbacks of John’s past in future issues.
John’s ring eventually picks up on a signal alerting him to other Green Lanterns nearby. After using fierce aggression to break the enemy attack, the Lanterns set off with the hope of finding allies. To their dismay, the signal leads them to three dead Lanterns, all of whom have been killed by something using the red energy of rage. It managed to cut right through their force fields. The deceased Lanterns are cocooned in some sort of shell. Two-Six wonders why their rings don’t go off to find new bearers, per protocol. It could be because of the shell, or because of something else.
Fortunately the Lanterns have Krona with them, and he says he can use a green ring to find the wellspring of energy from which the power rings feed – the Central Power Battery. Krona doesn’t seem to have the vast power that we’re used to seeing him wield, but he does have his genius intellect and his awesome suit of armor is equipped with all kinds of nifty research equipment.
Against Kilowog’s judgment, John cuts the hand off one of the dead Lanterns and surrenders the ring to Krona, who finds the energy source and points it out on a star chart. Two-Six doesn’t recognize any of the sections of space and neither do the other Lanterns, but with no other options, they head toward what they hope will be the Central Power Battery.
Krona is really great in this story. He actually seems like a pretty good guy. He’s thrilled at the prospect of being in this new universe, no matter how dangerous it is. For him, it is an opportunity to see new wonders and learn new things, and his thirst for knowledge drives him. He tells the Lanterns of his past. He is a scientist who dedicated himself to the study of universal possibilities. His peers warned him about pushing the limits of his studies because of the unpredictable nature of reality, but Krona had to keep going, compelled by his insatiable curiosity. He had to see what other realms existed beside his own. One of his experiments landed him in the universe he and the Lanterns are currently in. At first, he was worried, but now he is enthusiastic about his circumstance. The segment depicting Krona’s story is one of the strongest parts of the book.
Krona is one of the more interesting parts of this series. He is a fascinating character. He is given a short origin that explains his character concisely.
The Lanterns aren’t really sure what to make of Krona, seeing as how he is one of their greatest enemies, yet he is acting altruistically toward them and doesn’t seem to recognize them. John uses his ring to communicate telepathically with the other Lanterns to prevent Krona from hearing them. Kilowog does not want to trust Krona at all, Two-Six doesn’t know who he is, and Xrill and Arisia don’t say anything.
It’s then that another group of what Arisia dubs “Cleaners” attacks and just as the Lanterns are getting ready for another battle with the deadly beings, a surge of green and red energy quickly wipes them out. The attack was made by none other than Guy Gardner, wearing both a red and a green ring, and an altered uniform, which, despite its clashing color combination, doesn’t look bad. He appears to be an amalgamation of a Green Lantern and Red Lantern.
John, Arisia, and Kilowog are happy to see the feisty Lantern. It turns out that he’s just as clueless as the others. He had given up on power rings and opted to live quietly on the Earth, yet somehow he wound up with two of them and lost just like the others. He suspects the Guardians have something to do with their current predicament. Guy joins John’s party, but he is also unsure about Krona. John telepathically explains the situation to Guy, but Guy says he will gut Krona if the renegade gets out of line. I can see this being a point of conflict for Guy and John down the line.
The Lanterns reach their destination, and instead of finding a green Central Power Battery, they’re confronted with a large red pyramid that is emitting hateful rage energy. John thinks back to how aggression can be cultivated into a weapon to achieve goals, and he can feel aggression radiating from the obelisk, and it’s aimed right at the Lanterns.
So ends the first installment of Green Lantern: Lost Army. New readers to Green Lantern will probably be left in the dark as to where the Lanterns are, but dedicated fans should be able to figure it out from viewing the pyramid. They are in the version of reality that existed before the one we’re familiar with, where beings known as Lightsmiths tapped into the energy of the emotional spectrum through pyramids instead of central power batteries. This is the universe the villain Relic came from. How the Lanterns got there and why is still not known, but that’s part of the intrigue of this book. There are real captivating mysteries going on and I can’t wait to find out more about them. Krona’s involvement and characterization is another huge part of the book’s allure. Is he an alternate version? Is he time displaced? He’s acting like a somewhat regular person now, but will we see him lose control of his curiosity and descend into madness?
Guy Gardner shows up. With this group of characters, it’s looking like the old Steve Englehart Green Lantern Corps days! Hopefully Salaak turns up soon.
The story is excellent. It’s an original concept for Green Lantern that plays with some of the mythology’s most fascinating aspects, and Bunn has mastery of his cast. They play off each other well and he quickly gets to the hearts of the characters. Krona’s enthusiasm and curiosity are easily digestible. Kilowog’s caution and distrust are apparent. There are already telltale signs of Guy Gardner causing conflict. John Stewart’s past is revealed, which contributes in showing his courage, sense of responsibility, and what he feels makes a good leader. I’m happy to see writers tell stories with John using a theme that isn’t about moving on after tragedy. Here’s hoping Xanshi is never even mentioned in this series.
I like that Bunn has John giving monologues. I think they will allow for deeper exploration of his character, and this series seems like it will be a very character driven story, which is welcome. Speaking of characters, we know that not everyone will make it through this based of solicitations, and I’m wondering if Guy Gardner will survive. With how the Green Lantern line of books has shrunken, there’s not as much room for the major protagonists, and I can see DC killing some of the Lanterns that will not be used in upcoming films to make the brand less confusing at Warner Bros. behest.
With an intriguing plot, great characterization, stunning visuals, a cast of likable and fascinating characters, and an accessible jumping on point for new and returning fans, there really isn’t much to complain about here. Lost Army #1 definitely feels like the start of a grand adventure, and I am very much interested in seeing where it goes. Just… can someone please slip Jesus Saiz a note saying that John’s eyes are supposed to be green?
4.7 out of 5 stars.