Books Of Oa: New 52 Green Lantern Sinestro & Green Lantern Corps Fearsome

Green Lantern Volume 1: Sinestro (DC)
Written by Geoff Johns, drawn by Doug Mahnke with Mike Choi
Collects Green Lantern #1-6

When I first heard about the New 52, the first two franchises I wondered about were Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern stuff and Grant Morrison’s Batman books. Not only were they two of the most popular series’ at the time, but they were also pretty longform works by some of the top talents in the biz. How would this reboot change them? Well, apparently they didn’t, not really. While this certainly offered a good deal of confusion to readers trying to figure out the differences between the two sets of continuity, it’s actually not such a big deal to a more casual trade reader like myself.

I should note that I don’t have and haven’t read the War of the Green Lantern story that, I believe, ended with the old universe, but from what I’ve read online and seen in this book, the connections are very strong, possibly the strongest between continuities as I didn’t find myself wondering about changed details or anything like that while reading this book which finds Sinestro back in the Green Lantern duds and Hal Jordan on the outs. So, while I don’t know the details behind these story (not continuity) based changes, I caught on pretty quickly and was along for the ride.

All of which brings me to the actual story which involves Sinestro creating a ring that he can control for Hal to use in order to help remove the Sinestro Corps from his home planet of Korugar. They head there, lose some power and allow the people to help them break free and win their own freedom. Meanwhile, Hal is also dealing with his relationship with Carol Ferris and the Guardians decide to create  the Third Army (after the Manhunters and the Green Lanterns). This is clearly the big overarching Green Lantern franchise story being built toward, but unlike some of the preWOTGL stories, these storiesdon’t feel like they’re only there to service the larger story and do a lot to both get new readers involved in what’s going on and also give plenty of service to long time fans (something that Johns has built his career on).

You know what makes all of the above even better? Doug Mahnke’s artwork. That guy was born to draw a book featuring not only a plethora of aliens but also all the constructs the imagination can create. I’ve been a fan of his since I first saw him on Man of Steel and on through the rest of his career. He is perfect on this book. As such, when you get to the last issue in the collection, it’s a pretty gigantic difference, one that doesn’t do anyone any favors. I’ve liked Mike Choi’s art on a lot of books, but it looks really sleight and faint here, which sometimes happens if pencils get colored without inking (no idea if that’s actually what happened here, but that’s what it reminds me of). Between that and the almost pastel coloring choices, you couldn’t genetically engineer an issue that looks more out of place after reading five issues featuring Mahnke’s dark, bold, bombastic pencils. Still, I’m a big fan of this trade because, if nothing else, it’s a return to form for Johns and the GL concepts I fell in love with post-Rebirth.

Green Lantern Corps Volume 1: Fearsome (DC)
Written by Peter Tomasi, drawn by Fenando Pasarin, Geraldo Borges & Claude St. Aubin
Collects Green Lantern Corps #1-7

The problem I had with the first issue of the new GLC when I read it months ago was that it felt like a rehash of stuff I’d already read. You’ve got Lanterns Guy Gardner and John Stewart realizing that they don’t have much of a place on Earth and moving to Oa, something Guy did in the previous GLC series with Kyle Rayner. You’ve also got a mysterious, seemingly Lantern-based force killing GLs in Sector Houses. It wasn’t the most thrilling thing to an old hat GL fan like myself, but then I remembered that these books are as much for people like me as new readers, if not more so the latter.

So, I tried reading this book with that in mind and I think it helped. It doesn’t reach that balance nearly as well as the Green Lantern volume, but this collection still offered an interesting and intense adventure that really looked like the GLs wouldn’t make their way out of (as much as you can expect something like that from a Big Two team book). Not only that, but we get introduced to a group of old warhorse GLs called Mean Machine and a guest appearance by Martian Manhunter of Stormwatch connecting this story more to the New 52 than the other.

The story also did something pretty interesting that explained an old trait of GLC members. Back in the day, they used to be able to reach into a pocket dimension, grab their lanterns and recharge. It’s something that’s been missing since the Kyle Rayner days and, honestly, I hadn’t thought about it in a while, so this was kind of a fun geek service thing. On the other hand, I can only imagine what it was like for new readers who have no idea what any of this refers to thought about it.

There was one story detail that still sticks in my craw. It’s a pretty big part of it, so I’ll let loose the SPOILER WARNING. At one point a small group of Lanterns gets captured by the bad guys and are being tortured for information. One of the rookies is just about to break so John Stewart frees himself just enough to snap that Lantern’s neck, killing him. It’s a super dark moment that I’m not sure if I like or not, especially having been a fan of Stewart’s for so long, but I guess it shows how much of a soldier he’s become. I was further confused by the fact that Stewart was able to cover up the murder considering he has a ring on his finger that can give a full report back to his superiors. It didn’t feel quite right on character level or a logic one, but maybe that’s the new world we’re dealing with (that’s got to be a great crutch to fall back on if you screw something up, isn’t it?).

After having read these books, I’m still in it when it comes to the Green Lantern books. I’m curious to check out the Red Lantern one and the New Guardians or whatever that other book with Kyle Rayner is is called. Plus, I have to admit, I’m curious to find out what the Guardians have up their sleeve with this whole Third Army thing. Color me interested.

Books Of Oa: Green Lantern Corps Emerald Eclipse

GREEN LANTERN CORPS: EMERALD ECLIPSE (DC)
Written by Peter J. Tomasi, drawn by Patrick Gleason
Collects Green Lantern Corps #33-39
Remember how when I talked about the previous volume of GLC called Sins Of The Star Sapphire that it felt like Tomasi didn’t quite have Dave Gibbons’ flair for treating this book like the cop show it had previously been? Well, that’s not the case with Eclipse which has a ridiculous number of huge moments packed into seven issue. This book contains Arisia and Yat defending Daxam from Mongul, Soranik and Kyle’s relationship moving along at a fast clip, Saarek meeting a Star Sapphire, a battle between Mongul and Arkillo (that’s a personal favorite), Scar engineering a breakout in the Sciencells, Sinestro revealing to Soranik that he is her father, Ash and Saarek finally meeting up on their quest to find the Anti-Monitor, Scar destroying Oa’s protective Lantern-shaped shell, Yat sacrificing himself in Daxam’s sun to save his home planet and Guy and Kyle trying to put a stop to the Alpha Lanterns killing the surviving rioters from the breakout. While reading this book, I was trying to remember when many of those events take place and was shocked how many take place in one episode. It’s like watching “The Puffy Shirt” episode of Seinfeld which not only had the infamous shirt, but also boasts the low-talker woman AND George trying to become a hand model. In my mind, those were all different episodes, but it turns out it’s all one!

Tomasi improved greatly in his ability to handle so many characters and so many rad moments. Patrick Gleason, who for some reason I didn’t realize has drawn most of this series, also seemed to jump a few levels in talent. The way he tackles the fight scenes look big and crazy and choreographed and scary. Next to Doug Mahnke, he’s my favorite artist for this property.

I guess I don’t have a lot more to say about this series other than I have been really enjoying it and, having jumped into reading the Blackest Night, Blackest Night: Green Lantern and Blackest Night: Green Lantern collections, am really impressed with how big and epic the whole thing feels. It’s not like everything that was going on in GLC–which is essentially a secondary book–stops, in fact it’s quite the opposite with things like the Sinestro/Mongul showdown taking place in the middle of the action. Also, for what it’s worth, I think Tomasi and Gibbons before him actually did more to open up a heck of a lot more characters to the reader than Johns did with Hal in Green Lantern. Instead of repeatedly showing young Hal thinking about his dad dying or the conflict with Sinestro, you get looks at Guy’s relationship with Ice, Kyle’s budding romance with Soranik, how different GLs deal with the deaths of their comrades. There’s a lot going on in this book and think it would actually make an insanely entertaining TV series, though it would need a pretty impressive budget. Someone get HBO on the phone!