Green Lantern: Lost Army #3 Review

on August 22, 2015

Green Lantern: Lost Army #2

Green Lantern: Lost Army #3 continues the adventures of John Stewart, that multiversal time travelling warrior, and the series remains a fascinating read. Cullen Bunn has written the best character interactions between John Stewart and Guy Gardner yet.

I don’t know where Lost Army is going, and that’s what makes it so captivating to me. It is very fun to speculate and ponder on what will happen next and what this adventure is leading to. What is the end game to all of this? What is Krona doing in this past universe? Why is Guy Gardner both a Red and Green Lantern, and what significance does that hold? Who put the Lanterns in this other universe to begin with, and why? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, but they are all captivating and I’m dying to find out.

Green Lantern has never done a mystery story of this sort before, so this is really new territory for the franchise, and likely for some of its readers.

To a large degree, Green Lantern: Lost Army #3 is about trust. Things are even more twisty and turny for the Lanterns when they discover where they are when they come face to face with Relic; the being that destroyed planet Oa. John Stewart lies to Relic to secure his help, and Relic withholds information from the Lanterns that causes them to run into disaster, so neither side was forthcoming with the other. To further complicate things, the relationship between John Stewart and Guy Gardner begins breaking down, which may lead to Guy working contrary to the interests of John.

Readers are given a recap on Relic. Jesus Saiz creates a great image of the Battle of Oa.

The conflict between John Stewart and Guy Gardner finally grows into a confrontation about whether to save this past universe or not. Guy Gardner has gotten it into his head that the Lanterns should try to preserve this reality, while John understands that doing so would be dooming their own, since this universe has to end for theirs to be born. Both characters have good points and readers will likely choose sides in this debate, which is to Bunn’s credit.

The argument between John and Guy is incredibly strengthened by Jesus Saiz’s expressive artwork. Saiz blesses readers with the high quality renderings we’ve come to expect. His swirling astral backgrounds are breathtaking, and his work on the key characters in this title (John, Guy, Arisia, Kilowog, Two-Six) remains my favorite interpretations of them, and his coloring has a lot of depth.

Lost Army receives its first fill-in artists this issue, with Cliff Richards doing line work on a number of pages, and Michael Atiyeh coloring over it. While their work isn’t as strong as Jesus Saiz’s, I didn’t find myself taken out of the story by it, and I actually admire quite a few scenes they depict. Richards draws a wonderful Arisia, and the space battle at the issue’s end looks great.

While there are certainly adventures and fighting, with universes at stake, Lost Army doesn’t depend so much on large spectacle as the big Green Lantern crossovers of recent history have, but is something much more contemplative. It explores the conditions of the characters in their bizarre situation and presents a captivating moral dilemma. In this it’s closer to more traditional science fiction than stories like “War of the Green Lanterns” and “Rise of the Third Army,” which are more about laser blasts, armies of aliens, explosions, and solutions rooted only in “comic book logic.” That’s not necessarily to disparage the Geoff Johnsian event, as there is a place for that type of entertainment, but the difference Lost Army presents may or may not be good for readers, depending on their preferences.

Now that the Green Lanterns know where they are, they have to decide what to do.

Lost Army seems to be aiming for fresh readers (as many books in the DC You campaign are), which is apparent by flashbacks to John’s time as a Marine, which offer insight into his backstory and thought process, as he likens his current situation to moments of his service in the Middle East. Some long time readers of Green Lantern may get cantankerous at these scenes, but I believe fans of John Stewart will appreciate more light being shed on specific moments of his past and new comers can learn more about the character.

This issue, John thinks to when a Marine chided him on being too trusting, warning that it could get him killed one day. Perhaps this is that day…

The story begins with the gang encountering their old foe Relic. The Lanterns recognize Relic, but Relic does not recognize them. Relic makes it clear that he comes in peace and John switches to the telepathic sub-channel the Lanterns have been using for communication when they don’t want someone (usually Krona) to hear them.

When the Lanterns see Relic, it dawns on them that they are in the universe that existed before their own. We’re given a short recap on who Relic is to the Lanterns. He’s an alien scientist who is the only being to survive the destruction of his universe, which he blamed on an order known as the Lightsmiths. Though Relic survived, he suffered a coma for billions of years. When he awoke, he angrily waged war against the Lanterns in an effort to save the current existence, since the Lanterns utilize the same power source as the Lightsmiths.

Relic surmises that the Lanterns are lost and offers to help by inviting them aboard his research vessel. John accepts, but Guy telepathically warns him that they are potentially messing with the time stream by having dealings with an enemy they meet in the future. John realizes this, and plans to tread lightly by taking the least amount of steps necessary to return home the quickest. It’s funny that Guy Gardner warns John here, because he completely changes his tune later, which we will get to.

Cullen Bunn elaborates on a moment in John’s past that Van Jensen alluded to in his Green Lantern Corps run.

Once again, John and the Lanterns are in a position where they are teaming up with future enemies. This situation leads us to this issue’s flashback. In this scene John’s Marine squad is communicating with an individual who is supposed to be giving them information on where to find their Taliban enemies. John talks to another trooper who is skeptical of the information being given them, but John brings out that sooner or later, they’ve got to trust someone. John removes his helmet as a sign of trust, but the other Marine is disappointed in John’s gullibility, saying that it may get him killed. I’m really happy that Bunn is expanding on the story John related in Green Lantern Corps Annual #2, in which he teamed up with unsavory warlords in their operations against the Taliban. In the Annual, John compared the story with trusting the Sciencell convicts, and this time, it’s likened to trusting Relic. I’m still hoping that these Marines are eventually identified as the ones who were in the “Batman: Zero Year” issue of Green Lantern Corps.

This is the first scene that is drawn by Cliff Richards. As mentioned, his work isn’t as good as Saiz’s, but it transitions well enough to where it’s not a problem. Saiz picks things back up when the story takes us to the interior of Relic’s ship, where John’s first act of trust is allowing the scientist’s insect like mechanical drones to patch up some of the wounds the party has acquired along the way. It’s during this downtime that we hear about the Light Pirates, which were mentioned by the Fury Lightsmiths last issue. Relic believes these Pirates may be the only ones who may believe his theories. As a fellow scientist, Krona is interested in hearing more about these theories, and we’re given some exposition about what kind of place the Lanterns have found themselves in as Bunn builds upon the world Robert Venditti laid out during the “Lights Out” event.

Relic explains the state of his universe to the Lanterns.

Relic tells of how the order of Lightsmiths elevated civilization using their incredible powers, even building entire cities made of light. However, he believes that the power source the Lightsmiths use is exhaustible, and once it is used up, the universe will be destroyed. He fears they are already at the brink because the converters the Lightsmiths draw power from have started to go cold. Since civilization has become so reliant on light, this caused panic and led to a war for control of the dwindling light. Relic believes this power source comes from a reservoir, which he’s seeking out in hopes of saving the universe. This scene is a great introduction to Relic and this universe for new readers.

When Relic inquires as to whom the Lanterns are, John Stewart decides to lie to him, which is actually a pretty big deal, since one of the main requirements for being a Lantern is to be unscrupulously honest. We’ve heard about the indomitable willpower and overcoming fear angles a lot in recent history, but much less emphasis has been placed on the honesty part, so it’s nice to see Bunn highlight that.

John does concede that the Lanterns are from the future, but he tells Relic that they’ve journeyed to the past to help him stabilize the reservoir and save the universe. Jesus Saiz’s art is definitely notable here. While John is lying, he noticeably looks shifty. There are dark circles around his eyes, and on some of the panels, John’s eyes are cut out of the picture, which emphasizes his deceitful actions. John says that he can help Relic find the Reservoir once he’s tracked down the rest of the Corps, since they know where it is. Relic seems rather optimistic with these developments and immediately sends out his drones, which have already picked up on the Lanterns’ energy signatures from scanning them when they first met, so finding the others won’t be too difficult. While John was spinning that tale, Guy Gardner looked distraught, angry, and disappointed in John, which Saiz does an excellent job conveying.

John Stewart lies to get Relic’s help in uniting the Lantern Corps. None of the Lanterns feel good about this, least of all Guy Gardner.

As Relic sends the drones out, Guy asks for a private word with John in the back of the ship, which leads to the most interesting part of the story. John asks why Guy doesn’t just use the telepathic sub-channel, and Guy reveals that he hates using it. He doesn’t like using the ring as a crutch, and doesn’t like other Lanterns crawling around in his head. This is excellent writing on Bunn’s part when we consider who Guy is and where he’s at mentally and emotionally during this moment in time.

In the previous issue of Lost Army, Guy impulsively blurted something out to Krona that he shouldn’t have, and John chided him on doing it, saying that if he has to say things like that, to use the telepathic sub-channel. Prior to Lost Army, the last time we saw Guy was at the end of Red Lanterns, where he was pretty tired of fooling around with magic rings and was going to take some time to find his Earth feet. Now, here he is, with not one, but two rings, and involuntarily mixed up in a wacky Green Lantern adventure, when he’s technically not even a part of the Green Lantern Corps anymore. To top things off, Guy Gardner has always been an angry, frustrated, and outspoken individual, so all of this is coming out now.

John tries to calm Guy down, but Guy says the John Stewart he knew would never pull something like what he did with Relic. Guy is upset because of John’s lying and also because he didn’t offer a chance for the other Lanterns to give their opinions about a course of action. John defends that there wasn’t any time for a discussion. Where things really start getting interesting is when Guy thinks that maybe the Lanterns actually should attempt saving the universe they’re in. He believes that with what they already know about the reservoir, and with a mind like Krona with them they may actually be able to do it. Remember, just a short while ago, Guy was warning John about altering history, and before that, he didn’t even want Krona on the team. Now, Guy is for making perhaps the biggest universe altering thing they can do; a move that may in fact wipe their own universe out from existence, which John understands. John just wants to get home as quickly as possible and let history take its natural course, which is a view that I personally agree with.

John and Guy come to a major difference. John wants to leave this universe as fast as possible, hopefully adjusting as little as possible, and Guy is entertaining thoughts of changing history by saving it.

The duo doesn’t have an opportunity to continue their discussion as Relic’s ship gets attacked by Light Pirates, and the Lanterns leave to go deal with the enemy. Cliff Richards comes back to finish off the issue and he does a good job. The design for the Light Pirates’ ships is really cool and unique, and the space battle is depicted well.

As the battle rages outside, Krona and Relic watch from the ship’s window. Things get even more complex when it’s brought out that Relic knew the Lanterns wouldn’t be a match for the Light Pirates, but decided not to give the Lanterns any warning. He’s interested in seeing their weapons in action, and also those of the Pirates. It turns out Relic isn’t as innocent as he may have appeared earlier. John Stewart lied to Relic and Relic intentionally withheld crucial information from the Lanterns to serve his own ends, even though it may cause them to die, which makes the dynamic between all the characters that much more fascinating.

It turns out that the Light Pirates’ ships are equipped with ring draining technology, similar to Relic’s weapons in the “Lights Out” saga, except they’re much more potent. This is no doubt where Relic gets the idea to utilize such tools. A Pirate drains Arisia’s ring extremely quickly, leaving her in the void of space without a protective aura… and leaving us in suspense.

Artist Cliff Richards illustrates the space battle at the issue’s finale. He keeps the visual splendor going strong.

The solicitation text for Lost Army has led us to believe that not everyone is going to make it back to the regular universe alive, however, I do not believe Arisia will die for a couple of reasons. I’ve actually been expecting Cullen Bunn to seemingly kill her, because Arisia has regenerative abilities that are innate to her species. Thus, Bunn can easily make it seem like she will die, when she won’t. Also, Arisia is shown alive and well on future covers.

As for who is going to die… if I had to place a bet, I would say Guy Gardner, and I believe this issue is getting the ball rolling toward that. Here, we see that Guy has an interest that is fundamentally against what John Stewart wants. John wants to get back home as quickly as possible, altering as little as possible, and Guy is talking about actually making the biggest adjustment to history… possibly ever, but with an altruistic motive. I don’t believe this is the end of their altercation, nor will this be the only time Guy gets in John’s way, and who knows what that could lead to. It could potentially put them on two opposing sides, which can eventually become a battle of the heroes. If Guy really has it in his mind to go through with this idea of his, he could doom the universe that John Stewart has sworn to protect. Could the “final boss” of Lost Army actually be… Guy Gardner?

Then there are the other mysteries, like how the Lanterns wound up where they are. Again, if I had to take a guess, I would say this is due to the Controllers, a faction of Oans who separated from the Guardians of the Universe due to a difference in ideology for how best to care for the universe. We have not seen much from them recently, which makes sense, seeing as the Controllers are isolationists, but I can see Cullen Bunn bringing them back to the spotlight along with the traditional Krona. It would make sense for the Controllers to remove the Green Lantern Corps, because the last time they were able to get a very strong grasp on the running of the universe was when the Corps was absent. Krona and the Controllers are two of the most fascinating aspects of the Green Lantern mythology, and I’d love to see them explored more.

As I said near the beginning of this review, the numerous fascinating possibilities are great aspects about Lost Army! You really don’t know what is happening yet, but Bunn is laying captivating seeds all over the place, and I can already tell this is leading to something really big. Bunn and Saiz are keeping me satisfied with the new discoveries, character interactions, beautiful art, and great battles, even though they’re not giving away their juicy secrets too soon.

Could this be Arisia’s final battle? I certainly hope not. I am a big fan of her’s. We’ll have to tune in next time to find out.

By now, readers can see what this book is like and decide whether it’s for them or not. Lost Army excels at mystery and the exploration of characters’ relationships. It also has great world building and amazing artwork. It features the massive scope of all the Geoff Johns “wars,” (and even greater scope, actually) but is so much deeper due to the outstanding character work.

I especially recommend this title to those who got tired of the nonstop crossovers in Green Lantern books, and the general style of the heavily plot driven summer blockbuster-like events. For those looking for something more ruminative and character focused from Green Lantern, this is it!

As I’ve mentioned in previous reviews, this series is an absolute must for John Stewart fans. Van Jensen’s Green Lantern Corps run was very focused on John’s character and his relationship with Fatality, but Lost Army goes even further, testing his morals, his leadership ability, and his relationship with his best friend. John is front and center and showcased well without being spotlessly perfect. This is not another tired story about moving on after tragedy or redemption, and we don’t have to worry about great character driven stories being blindsided by a crossover event that comes out of nowhere.

There is a lot going on in this title, and so far all of it has been very satisfying and captivating to me, along with being easy on the eyes. The only thing that could have made this particular issue better is if Jesus Saiz had completed all of the art himself, though the fill-in artists weren’t bad at all.

Highly recommended.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Read Green Lantern: Lost Army #1 Review.
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