Ahh, that’s the stuff! I’ve been way too happy lately. Leave it to the tail-spinning Geoff Johns to tank my mood quicker than you can say “another event”. Green Lantern 15 is trash. A waste of ink and paper. A wealth of non-ideas. Proof that any old fogeycomplaining that ‘writing for the trade’ makes each book near useless… completely in the right. And unlike my bitterness for ‘Fantastic Four #1′ (reported on over at ComicMix for those keeping score), here I’m not really all that surprised. Johns has slowly been losing me as a reader. And now, I’m on the precipice of completely abandoning DC, save perhaps only for Scott Snider and Jeff Lemire.
GL #15 picks up where we last left off with this whole ‘Rise of the Third Army’ epic-inter-book-crossover; the little blue men are instilling order through the use of their army of hilarious looking alien-zombies. Meanwhile back in Predictaville, USA, our new titular lantern Simon “Not a terrorist” Baz is trying to get to the bottom of his legal troubles. For those late to the party? Here’s everything you need to know:
Hal Jordan and Sinestro fought Blackhand. He transported them to the Dead Zone. And that’s actually what it’s called. Their rings fuse into one f’ed up ring and lands on the finger of Simon. Baz stole a truck and found a bomb in it. He drives it into an empty factory, because he’s not a terrorist. He gets hauled in anyways (stealing, you know.). Ring activates. He’s the new GL. The Justice League come after him. He eludes them (in a moment that actually was quite cool). By the way he’s not a terrorist.
So, where was I? Oh yeah. Issue #15. Baz goes to the home of the gentleman whose van he stole. And guess what? Spoiler alert. The dude planted the bomb in his own truck! He was gonna blow up a train! Because… uhhh… America! And before we could understand any actual reasoning behind it? The monsters from outer space come crashing through the roof. Cue running and blowing stuff up. Oh, and elsewhere, the First Lantern continues to be sapped dry of his power, and he’s getting angrier. This is the third or fourth time we seen this exact. same. scene.
Could a book be more on auto-pilot? I implore you to find it. Johns was once the master of using bits and pieces of continuity to world build. He created emotional arcs where his heroes had to overcome great odds through will, or hope, or tenacity. His run on Flash sits on my shelf as a tribute to what I’d hope to one day become for DC myself. But here now, 15 issues into his (secondish) GL run, we’re getting the same tired psuedo event that has slowly attached itself to the neck of the property at large like a steel yoke. It’s seemingly impossible now for Johns to just move on. Don’t believe me?
Hal Jordon returned to us via Green Lantern: Rebirth. This ignited Sinestro to start his own corps, and we got The Sinestro Corps War. This begat the Blackest Night. After Blackest Night, we got the Brightest Day. When that ended we got the War of the Green Lanterns prior to the rebooting of the DCU in Flashpoint. For a paltry 10 issues or so, Hal palled around with Sinestro… all the while the ‘Rise of the Third Army’ loomed largely in the background. And they’ve already hinted that after the third army rises? There will be another event, centering around the First Lantern. Is it only me that’s exhausted?
And what of our new hero? Simon Baz is being crammed down our throats so hard, I’m past gagging. Johns seemingly dusted off his ‘Fascist Patriotism for Dummies” book, and has followed it to a tee. Baz is of course in a depressed Detroit (nothing like stacking the sad-sack stereotypes, right?), surrounded by hate-filled ‘Mericans. Now I’m not implying that we live in a perfect world. No where near it. But, there’s much to be said when we’re presented with this lousy interpretation of our country. Of course Baz only steals to feed his starving family. Of course the cops all assume he’s a terrorist. Of course the guy he confronts about his missing van turns out to be an ignorant asshole. He even uses an Arabic slur because he’s eeeeevil. What little we’ve seen of Baz’s personality is likable, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that John’s won’t let him emote longer than a panel before the next threat comes literally crashing at him.
And I could spend an entire paragraph on how the vilifying of the Guardians is not only predictable, but a sad go-to move by a man whose most brilliant ideas may have already come and gone… But I digress.
There’s got to be some silver lining here, right? Art wise, there’s little to complain about. Doug Mahnke and his cavalcade of 4 inkers do a continually impressive job bringing the script to life. Never mind the quality of the script itself, of course. Mahnke’s aliens are perfectly inhuman. His two page splash of a world now consumed by the aforementioned bogey men is powerful and creepy to boot. Alex Sinclair colors the book in a cadre of wonderful hues, emerald or otherwise. Effects are muted to let the characters shine. And while the book features barely a handful of actual lanterns doing lanterny stuff… when we do get a few green sparks, they are well rendered. Suffice to say the old adage holds true. You can polish a turd as much as you want, and all you’ll get is a shiny piece of poop.
So there you have it. I’m at wits end. Green Lantern is a churn-and-burn by-the-books event. It’s loud, and boring. It’s all splash and exposition. It’s new concepts and retcons for the sake of new concepts and retcons. The heart of the book is buried in the Dead Zone, or worse, thumping in a new GL who won’t be given a second to just absorb it. Baptism By Fire was done already. With Kyle Rayner. In the 90′s. How soon we forget, eh? This book, this series, this family of characters… has been squeezed dry by the cash cow machine. There ain’t no more milk left in her, Farmer Johns. Go back to the house and eat some of the cheese you’ve made.