Green Lanterns #45 // Review
In a discussion with Neal Adams a couple of years ago, an inquiry was made about the creation of the Green Lantern John Stewart. His response was rooted in truth. He had noticed that the black characters in comics were either gang bangers turned hero or hailed from an African country, but he never felt any of them represented what a majority of black Americans were. John Stewart was the embodiment of the black professional. This current run of Green Lanterns is steeped whole-heartedly in that vain of enlightenment.
If you’re unfamiliar with the book to this point, Green Lanterns is very much a buddy cop story at its core. The story follows partner Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, the former being an Hispanic woman and the latter being a Muslim. The best parts of the book are in the individual exploration of these characters and not only in how they interact with each other, but with the society around them and how they are individually perceived by society. Tim Seeley, the writer of Green Lanterns, plays with the theme of prejudice expertly as he subtly attempts to challenge polarized viewpoints. If extreme “left” and “right” viewpoints exist, his work is anchored firmly in the middle. This is where Green Lanterns shines and feels very much like a John Stewart caliber of iteration.
On top of this metaphorical peeling back of the curtain to cultures perhaps alien to us, we’re confronted with characters that have problems outside of their race or super hero affiliations. Forgive this coming reference, but Freddie Prinze, Jr., (yes, the actor from the 90s and voice of Star Wars Rebels Kanan Jarrus) pretty eloquently defined the separation between DC and Marvel characters. He states that he connects more with Marvel characters because they’re more human, where as DC is full with alien characters, outsiders looking in at humanity from afar. He even uses Batman as his example as one of the quintessential “alien” characters in that he’s very much an outsider to the world around him looking in, but there’s still a very strong disconnect. Even the more “human” characters are literal aliens. That said, Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz as they stand now, could be argued to reaffirm this theory, though with a little thought they prove to completely dismantle FPJ’s theory. As much as they (Jessica and Simon) feel like outsiders, they face what more Americans face than many of their compatriots within the rank and file of DC’s catalog.
Beyond these often subtextual themes, enjoyment of Green Lanterns can be found within the buddy cop brand of storytelling. There is some minor sexual tension between the two, but that aspect of their relationship is never addressed outright by either character, as they both do care for each other deeply, but theirs is a professional relationship. Looking back, it conjures up images of Law & Order: SVU. Cruz and Baz are partners and rely on one another to the umpteenth degree, and therefore are relegated to dismissing the romantic notions that exist between the two. It’s important to note that this dynamic is not one of a lot of movies that exist, 90 minutes of two pretty people struggling to be together, but that of two characters deeply rooted to a more realistic take on the fantastical. Overall Green Lanterns offers a new take on old tropes.
The artwork by Ronan Cliquet is excellent. His cinematic eye is enjoyed on every page, but never overshadows the tale being told. He expertly provides the visual elements to enhance the episodic storyline. The colorist Hi-Fi and unsung hero of letterer Dave Sharpe create beautiful frames of which to see this world through.
The series itself, as iterated to this point, is enjoyable and engaging on many levels. The overall story arcs are a bit heavy at times, particularly with Jessica’s ongoing PTSD. Thematically the book is thought provoking and exciting, with no real rest for the duo. Particularly at present where a villain named “Singularity Jain” has resurfaced. To put it simply, she’s somewhat of an emotional vampire who relishes in the delicacy of human misery. The character has the potential of becoming a very deep pool in which to pull from in later issues as she’s predominantly the most dangerous foe the Lanterns have faced, so much so that issue #45 is packed with Justice League cameos as the proverbial “poo” hits the fan. Singularity Jain, in custody but not deterred, enjoys her “meal” as the heroes formulate their plan of attack. After her lasso of truth is overcome and even turns against Wonder Woman, the league looks to John Constantine in one of the more memorable moments of the issue. Much more could be said, but it would detract from the experience.
Green Lanterns is not without fault. The dialogue is fairly expository at times and a binge read of the book as a whole feels a bit repetitive. The characters however, lift the overall product above and beyond such minor “problems” and feel inconsequential. This series lives within the DC universe and within the parameters of said world, yet feels fresh and engaging. Green Lanterns should at the very least be on the radar of comic fans who prioritize character exploration over contradiction.