Green Lantern: Lost Army #5 Review

on October 25, 2015

Green Lantern: Lost Army #2

We’re five issues into the six part Lost Army series and we still don’t have any real answers as to what’s going on. We know where and when the Lanterns are, but we don’t know how they got there, why, and what exactly Krona’s role in all of this is. And that’s okay right now, seeing as the stories have been really entertaining, and we don’t know exactly how everything will play out yet, or what the reveals will be. We can’t really say one way or the other how Lost Army’s overall pacing is until all is said and done. However, a lot is banking on the final issue. How the finale is handled can either make or break this entire series.

What we do know is that this storyline will not completely finish in the final issue of Lost Army. My speculations in issue #4’s review proved true in that Lost Army will receive a sequel, which is titled Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion. This upcoming series will likely finish up this whole “lost” story arc, but for Lost Army to have some weight, something big will need to happen next issue, and there needs to be answers to some of the story’s mysteries. Otherwise, no matter how much I’ve enjoyed the ride up to this point, Lost Army will be a bust, sans the beautiful artwork.

The weakest link in the series thus far has been issue four, and I think the lack of Lost Army’s regular artist, Jesus Saiz, has quite a bit to do with that. His frequent collaborator, Javi Pina, didn’t do a bad job, but it wasn’t up to the level Saiz has set for this series. Saiz returns with this issue and the quality picks right back up. While Bunn’s scripts deliver, Saiz’s artwork is carrying a lot of the weight in Lost Army. It’s a great joy to look at the characters and the starry settings. I think, to this day, Jesus Saiz has depicted John Stewart better than any other artist.

In this issue’s flashback, John manages to escape captivity, but it seems that instead of leaving, he decides to stick around the enemy base. I’m assuming he does this so he can pick enemies off by sniping them. This may mean that John will decide to remain in this past universe to accomplish something, instead of seizing an opportunity to go back home.

Lost Army #5 features the Corps at some of its best. All the great classic characters that Steve Englehart’s 1980s run made famous are present with spot on characterization, fun interactions, and strong moments letting all of them shine. Furthermore, they’re on the grand cosmic adventure that, in my opinion, suits Green Lantern best.

While this issue doesn’t offer answers to Lost Army’s deeper mysteries, it succeeds greatly at being an overall fun comic book, due to great art, great characters, great dialogue and great action. There is only one glitch in the whole thing, which involves the death of a certain character. It’s not that I necessarily have anything against the killing of this particular character, but the way it is done is weak and cheap. More on that later.

The book opens with another flashback to John’s time in Afghanistan. This scene shows John escaping captivity from the enemy. As mentioned in previous reviews, these scenes equate to John’s current situation, but the overarching tale seems to be paralleled with John’s leadership. In the eight page preview for Lost Army, John likened being a leader to being lost in enemy territory, where one wrong move could spell disaster. I believe the burden of leadership, especially when under stressful circumstances, is the overall theme of Lost Army. This is John’s time to either rise as a leader–not eclipsed by anyone else for once–or fall.

John thinks to himself that when captured by the enemy, one must seize an opportunity to escape and take fate into their own hands instead of letting the foe decide whether they live or die. And if one must die, it’s better to go down fighting than roll over and wait for the end.

B’dg comes to the rescue.

Back in John’s current predicament, he finds himself a prisoner of the ruthless Light Pirates, who target all light wielders in order to drain them of their precious light. John waits in a cell with Salaak, Jruk and some Lightsmiths. John has placed his faith in the squirrel-ish Lantern B’dg to help them, as he’s small enough to make his way into the walls and ventilation system of the prison the Light Pirates are holding their detainees in. Salaak is skeptical of the H’lvenite’s ability, but John is confident B’dg will come through, and he does! However, B’dg only brings three rings, all of which are low on energy. He explains that the Pirates have a large and full storeroom of rings, but finding ones that weren’t completely dry was difficult. B’dg makes things more convenient by detonating a time bomb construct he placed on the prison’s generator, which lowers the shields on all the cells, allowing the prisoners to escape.

A raucous battle quickly erupts between the freed prisoners and the Pirate guards. John thinks of how the scarcity of the light resource has led to panic, hoarding, and war, and how helping the people of this previous universe isn’t his problem, as strange as that feels to him. The only thing he should be concerned with is getting him and his Lanterns back home. Indeed, in his mind, this universe’s fate is sealed and it will need to be destroyed for his reality to exist. Knowing all that, he still can’t keep down the natural inclination he has to help people, and he rescues a Lightsmith that was equipped to a killing machine.

John, Salaak, Arisia, and B’dg break off from the fight when Salaak comes up with a solution to the drained rings. He discovered that the prison works something like a Power Battery, and that he can use it to redirect the stolen energy back into the rings. I like seeing Salaak and B’dg as such vital characters in this issue since they haven’t been in the series up till now, and both Salaak and B’dg/Ch’p are big staples of the Green Lantern Corps.

Artist Jesus Saiz really cuts lose depicting the exciting prison battle.

While Salaak reroutes the siphons, the battle continues to rage and Jruk is one of the casualties. This is the one problem I have with this issue. Jruk’s death is not handled well at all, because when it happens, you very well may wind up not feeling anything except for puzzled. Overall, Jruk’s death should have more emotional impact, when concerning the effort writer Van Jensen put into getting readers emotionally invested in the character in his Green Lantern Corps run. However, the character’s death is treated as a very minor event. On the other hand, it would be strange for Jruk’s death to have a lot of impact here because he has barely been in this story. Therefore, dedicating the space it would require to make it feel like something momentous would seem inappropriate for this character that hasn’t had much of a presence at all in Lost Army. Thus, Bunn’s decision to kill the character at all is extremely baffling.

If Bunn wanted a death that would actually mean something, he should have picked Two-Six to kill off instead of introducing an established character, doing absolutely nothing to build them up or get readers to care, and then killing them. I’m not saying I want Two-Six to die, or even that I’d rather she die than Jruk (because I wouldn’t), but killing her would make a lot more sense to the effectiveness of the narrative than Jruk. As it is, I don’t care about Jruk’s death and I don’t know what the point of it is. I suppose it’s for shock value and to show that the stakes are high, but it’s all empty and seems incredibly amateurish, especially since it isn’t shocking and does nothing for the stakes, since readers of Lost Army have no reason to care about this character that has done nothing in this story.

What makes the scene even stranger is that Guy Gardner is the one to show concern for Jruk and console him in his final moments. Guy Gardner shouldn’t even know who Jruk is, especially not by name, because when Jruk became a Green Lantern recruit, Guy left the Corps to become a Red Lantern and these two really never crossed paths in any meaningful way. They never had an opportunity to form any kind of relationship. Two-Six or Kilowog would have worked much better than Guy. So, this whole scene is an utter fail from every possible direction on Bunn’s part. I have no idea why he introduces established characters out of the blue just to give them a couple of lines and then kill them.

There are many fun interactions between the characters.

ANYWAY! Salaak’s plan works and the Lanterns and Lightsmiths are rearmed with charged rings and staves, which is really bad news for the Pirates. In a bit of an amusing moment, Kilowog is given a Resolve Lightsmith staff instead of a power ring, and he’s decked out in a Lightsmith uniform. Kilowog puts the staff to use while John teams with a Terror Lightsmith and Two-Six and Xrill take a moment to flirt, in an odd alien sort of way.

Krona and Relic arrive in Relic’s space ship and blast the outside of the Pirate base with high intensity lasers, ripping a hole in it and making an opening for the Lanterns and Lightsmiths to escape. The light wielders join together in a cosmic rainbow as they make their getaway, and John thinks to himself of how great it is to see them all working together, but that unity is short lived as the Lightsmiths quickly break into factions and go their separate ways with the intent of joining up with their larger contingents so they can rejoin the war they’re waging against each other.

Now that everything is back to status quo, the Lanterns realize the Lightsmiths will likely come to attack them sooner or later. John places a sizable escort of Lanterns around Relic’s ship for protection. Aboard the vessel, John and the Lanterns closest to him have a discussion with Relic about what their next course of action should be. John decides that it would be best to find Mogo, since a planet Green Lantern will offer some safe haven and so they can be reunited with the Central Power Battery on Mogo’s surface.

Relic has used his drones to locate the Lanterns and has gotten a lock on the Central Battery, and Salaak attempts to open a communication channel with Mogo. Meanwhile, Guy Gardner offers to talk to John about their argument that took place in issue #3, but John assures him there’s nothing to talk about. John says Guy can get mad all he wants later, but for now, Guy is going to have to fall in line. I like this approach from John because it’s very military, which is appropriate for the character. John really doesn’t have time to deal with Guy’s insubordination, given all that’s going on, and he firmly puts his foot down on the matter by giving Guy a reminder of who is in charge. However, this makes me wonder if this is the end of the schism between John and Guy. I can’t imagine Guy Gardner will appreciate being told to fall in line, especially since he never volunteered for this, and again, is not even a member of the Green Lantern Corps. If there is any nuance to Bunn’s writing (or the incoming Tom Taylor’s), then the issue of Guy being a Red Lantern and fondly thinking of himself as such should come up again. The Red and Green Lanterns are not close allies, so there is still a lot stirring in the pot regarding John and Guy’s relationship.

Kilowog as a Resolve Lightsmith. I didn’t see that one coming.

John quickly cuts their conversation short by checking in on Salaak, who tells John that he’s communicated with Mogo, and that the living planet is in pain and under attack. The issue leaves us with an image of Lightsmith pyramids blasting torrents of energy down upon Mogo. Back in issue #2, the Fury Lightsmiths that the Lanterns defeated said that they would alert the overseers about the Lanterns turning their pyramid from red to green. The next issue will likely pick up that thread and we will hopefully discover who these overseers are.

This issue doesn’t really break any new ground, especially since we’ve seen an action packed jailbreak in Green Lantern Corps recently during the “Uprising” crossover. However, it does most of what it does so competently that I was thoroughly enjoyed anyway.

Jesus Saiz really comes through. There are loads of great shots, like the double page spread early in the issue, which captures the frantic energy of the escape wonderfully. There’s the triumphant image of the repowered Lanterns, and the enthusiastic look on Two-Six’s face when the tide of battle changes to their favor, and the fierce look on John’s face when the Lanterns first break out of their cells. Seeing all the Lanterns and Lightsmiths flying out into space together is nice, too. I really wish Saiz could stay on board to handle art on Edge of Oblivion. He will be sorely missed.

As stated earlier, my only real problem with this issue is the strange way in which Jruk’s death was carried out. The whole thing wasn’t necessary and it didn’t accomplish anything. That said, as fond as I am of the crew Van Jensen came up with in the Green Lantern Corps run directly preceding Lost Army, I really like that Bunn is focusing on the classic Green Lantern Corps characters that people in comicdom have come to recognize and appreciate the most, like Arisia, Kilowog, Salaak, a H’lvenite (B’dg and Ch’p are pretty interchangeable), and, of course, John. These are my favorite Green Lanterns (and Katma!), so I love seeing them all together again in a new and captivating scenario, and showcased so well.

Krona and Relic haven’t abandoned the Lanterns, after all. Jesus Saiz draws all the characters in this book exceptionally well.

Other than a massive battle for Mogo, I have no idea how Bunn will end this series. Some people seem to think he has abbreviated his story and mashed things together in unflattering ways. I don’t believe this is the case, at least not to the degree that some have made it sound. I think what we will know as the full Green Lantern: Lost Army story will simply be the first arc of what Cullen Bunn was planning, and Tom Taylor will take things from there. I just don’t see why Bunn would abbreviate things when the story is going to continue. If he had to get the Lost Lanterns home next issue, then yes, I’d think he was truncating the series, but we know Edge of Oblivion will have enough room to organically complete their story. I admit that by now, I was expecting more revelations, especially since there is one issue left, but I’d like to see how Bunn wraps things up in his finale before being anxious at the lack of reveals.

Taking this issue by itself, it is an action packed tale with stunning art, funny jokes, and great interactions, marred only by a bewildering character death. Overall, it’s a ton of fun with my favorite Green Lantern characters.

4.2 out of 5 stars.

Read Green Lantern: Lost Army #4 Review.
Read Green Lantern: Lost Army #3 Review. Protection Status