Stew’s Reviews: War of the Green Lanterns
It’s another edition of Stew’s Reviews, and this week we’re answering the age old question, what is better than one Green Lantern? It’s not two Green Lanterns. It’s not even three Green Lanterns. Obviously, the correct answer is four Green Lanterns! And no matter whether you’re a Hal fan or a Kyle man or a Guy guy or a John nut, this week’s story up for review has your back. It’s the last major Green Lantern story before Flashpoint gifted us the New 52; it’s War Of The Green Lanterns.
I know the whole thing was a bit divisive amongst some fans, but I thought the introduction of the color spectrum of lantern corps was a fantastic idea; it really breathed new life into a title that, frankly, I gave up on after Kyle Rayner was shuffled off to the background. Yeah, Kyle was always my favorite Green Lantern; he was MY Green Lantern in my DC formative years. To me, Guy was the hot-headed joke who got one-punched by Batman once, and John was just Kyle’s friend and confidant. And Hal was the stodgy, boring, flavorless, Silver Age “say your prayers and drink your milk” hero; so when Geoff Johns went through his “Bring back ALL the old heroes!” bit, I tapped out on GL for a time. When I heard about all the new lantern colors being released, my piqued suspicion led me back to the book, and I thought it was a neat device to add some color (booo, bad pun) to the title.
In War of the Green Lanterns, a crossover event that spread across Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors, the emotional spectrum is in full effect. The return of a long-banished ancient Guardian named Krona—a Guardian who thought his unfeeling brothers and sisters would be better off embracing emotions rather than guarding against them—binds the emotional entities to the other Guardians, putting them all under his control. The entities, if you don’t know, are the cosmic forces of nature that power each emotion on the spectrum: Parallax for fear, Ion for will, The Butcher for rage, Predator for love (and boy is that an odd connotation), Adara for hope, Ophidian for avarice, and Proselyte for compassion. To be honest, the Guardians of the Universe in Green Lantern are some of the most inept and, honestly, objectively kind of evil galactic forces in comics. They claim to be policing the cosmos, but their run has seen countless genocides (such as on Ryut) and mistaken ideas (such as the Manhunters) that have done more harm than good, all while they constantly reprimand the mortal heroes for the way in which they save the universe. It was particularly bad during Geoff Johns run, because apparently he REALLY hated those guys, man.
For some not-adequatley-explained reason, part of Krona’s plan involves the ancient Book Of The Black, within which he traps one of the core members of each corps. Only Hal Jordan is spared, and—somehow?—he is able to take the other lanterns’ rings with him. Because the book just left those behind, for whatever reason? Like I said… it’s not explained particularly well. Just like how Krona’s placing of Parallax back in the central battery of Oa allows him to mind-control the entire Green Lantern Corps when Parallax’ previous imprisonment there only made the corps vulnerable to the color yellow. Oh, also not elaborated upon is why the spectrum entities are obeying Krona to begin with when he was previously the one who imprisoned them… huh, now that I’m thinking about it, a lot of the goings on in this book were from the “it’s happening just because, so go with it” school of storytelling…
Anyway, this forces the four Earthling Green Lanterns to have to ditch their rings to avoid being influenced, but so as not to be completely helpless, Hal has the rings of the other corps for them to try out. Thus, we get Sinestro Corps Hal (because he is the most knowledgeable about fear), Red Lantern Guy (because he had previously been possessed by a red ring and was familiar with it), Blue Lantern Kyle (because he represented the last hope of the Green Lantern corps once), and Indigo Tribe John (because… just because. None of the others really suited him). The neat thing from there is seeing them all start to get influenced by their rings to one degree or another over the course of the arc. Kyle becomes exceedingly optimistic no matter their circumstance, Guy becomes even angrier about everything, John is maybe the least impacted of anyone, but has some quiet moments of compassion (at one point noting that they need to spare the Corps any more pain), and Hal has a moment of unleashing yellow energy where he insists that fear is the most powerful force in the universe.
The book is fair to each Green Lantern, also, in that they all get their “moment” to save the day. Hal is the one who presents them all with the rings he rescued from The Book of Black. John destroys Mogo, who was saturating the universe with tainted rings for Krona to control. Kyle uses his artistry to force The Book of Black to free the captured Lanterns. Guy manages to control two rings at once (the two extremes of the spectrum, love and rage), to break Parallax free of the central battery. Of course, Hal being the main character, he also gets to destroy Krona, but whatever. You just have to accept that ever since Johns brought him back, the other three will never be as relevant as he is. Man, poor Kyle. You’re still my boy, Kyle!
As noted above, while Hal is the unquestioned main character of this series, the story does treat everyone fairly and gives each of them a fairly prominent part in the resolution. Considering “favorite Green Lantern” is almost as contentious among fans as “favorite Ninja Turtle” was in our childhood, I thought that was appropriate.
The artwork in this story across all three books is pretty stand-out. Doug Mahnke, Tyler Kirkham, Fernando Pasarin and Ed Benes all do beautiful work here, and moreso, their styles are similar enough that it’s not jarring at all when one book ends and another begins.
I really ate up the concept of the core Green Lanterns having to adopt rings from elsewhere on the spectrum; it felt like the whole emotional spectrum concept was building to that eventually (when the colors were introduced, Hal was at least momentarily inducted into many of the Corps). Like I said… I always thought the concept was nifty, and it was interesting to see where each Lantern would fall if they had not been chosen by will.
The lazy writing I mentioned before. Too much stuff happens without any explanation for it. This made parts of the storyline feel annoyingly contrived. If you start asking why certain things happened in this tale, it all really starts falling apart. There may be reasons, but they are never given to the reader.
The ending is junk and is equally contrived just to introduce conflict for Hal, as the Guardians of the Universe just kick him out of the Corps after he saved their butts. He wasn’t the one who brought on Krona and the problems, he just helped solve it. There’s no justification, but they still boot him without it. Again, something happens just to progress a story. Ugh.
It’s a fun story. I’m not going to say it’s high quality because it ain’t, but it’s fun. I enjoy the emotional spectrum corps, and I enjoy seeing the other Earth GLs get a chance to shine besides Hal. There are a lot of flaws, but it’s a fun book to read just to blow through and admire all the cool bits.