Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Awkward Middle Of Adventure, Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse Is A Chaotic Placesaver.

The Good: Interesting idea, Mostly decent artwork, Moments of character (notably with Sodam Yat).
The Bad: Failure to deal with character ramifications of previous "chapter," Light on plot, Light on character
The Basics: Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse is a simple jailbreak story infused with a character-driven rescue mission that is not bad, but is nothing superlative.

It has been a very Green Lantern Day for me today! Earlier, I reviewed one of the major Green Lantern lead-ups to Blackest Night that had heretofore evaded my attention. Tonight, as my wife works on photo manipulations, I find myself curling up with another graphic novel, Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse. Perhaps the most unnerving aspect of the book is that I feel like I might have read it before and just not reviewed it. I suspect some of the chapters in this appeared in other Green Lantern graphic novels. Regardless, I was pleased that I finished The Sinestro Corps War before reading Emerald Eclipse and regardless of any of my other feelings, I would recommend readers read that Saga before picking up this volume.

In truth, Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse is not quite worth picking up. It might be worth reading once, but it is a supplemental bridge book between other, better, stories. And while there is nothing truly inherently bad in the graphic novel, there is also nothing that lights up the sky with insight or interest, especially for those who are not already invested in the Green Lantern Saga. As one who was very much into the massive crossover, the Blackest Night Saga, I quickly realized that the elements of Emerald Eclipse I was enjoying most were the ones that reminded me of story aspects recalled from that plotline. In other words, this book is burdened by being a "middle act" between the Sinestro Corps War and the Blackest Night and it makes poor use of that.

Following the Sinestro Corps War and the attempt to take Sinestro back to Korugar for a public execution, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner are on Oa working on rebuilding the planet while new Green Lantern recruits are trained. As Hal Jordan is off discovering the power of the Red Lanterns, Blue Lanterns and the existence of the Orange Lantern, the Green Lantern Corps is attempting to rebuild. For Rayner, it means addressing his feelings for Soranik, despite a new Guardian ban on love. But the peaceful interlude is soon undone by three threats.

On Oa, the scarred Guardian begins to bring about the Blackest Night by freeing the newly captured Red Lantern and the Sinestro Corps members from the Sciencecells. This riot causes another huge battle on Oa which threatens to weaken the Green Lantern Corps, especially considering that there are two Lanterns out finding pieces of the Anti-Monitor for that same Guardian. On Korugar, Soranik comes face to face with her true father and is given much to consider about the forthcoming War. But the biggest toll comes to Sodam Yat. With his xenophobic planet Daxam invaded by Mongul and the remaining members of the Sinestro Corps, Sodam Yat must make the difficult choice to protect the homeworld he fled or allow them to die. That choice is comparatively easy for him, but how to save his hate-filled people becomes an awkward mission for him and Arisia, one that leads him to a decision few would expect!

Sodam Yat's story is where the most character-driven conflict comes from and reading the reunion between him and his mother is actually powerful stuff. Sodam Yat's backstory is detailed in earlier volumes - as he is fighting Superboy Prime - where he came from Daxam and his alien friend was killed and stuffed and he was brainwashed to be xenophobic like the rest of the Daxamites. His confrontation with his mother is emotionally painful to read and is one of the few reasons to pick up Emerald Eclipse. The force of will and anger Sodom Yat has is palpable and reads as very real. For the first time, I cared about Sodam Yat and what might happen to him. And his arc in Emerald Eclipse is intriguing enough to be worth the read.

Unfortunately, Kyle Rayner's part in the book is simplified. He seems to have already dealt with the full effects of recently being inhabited by Parallax, but that minimizes the power of the fear-based Entity. Moreover, Soranik is not enough of a vital character at this point for readers to either care about her budding relationship with Rayner or the revelation of her lineage.

So, what Emerald Eclipse ends up being is another Green Lantern Corps volume filled with extreme and busy panels of large battles. The battle on Daxam, the sciencecell breakout and the fight between Mongul and Arkillo are all long sets of panels with little dialogue and big fights. The Daxam and breakout scenes seem overly familiar to the point of being somewhat boring. Ironically, the one-on-one fight between the two Sinestro Corps members is astonishingly vibrant and there the sense of movement and force is incredible. Despite having many busy panels, penciller Patrick Gleason does an impressive job with keeping characters recognizable.

In the end, though, Peter J. Tomasi is saddled with a transition story that does not use his full storytelling abilities and seems designed more as a set up. While the story this leads into is intense and important, Emerald Eclipse seems more busy, jumbled and transitional than a six-chapter arc that tells a solid, indispensable story.

For other Green Lantern-related books, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Sinestro Corps War - Volume Two
Rage Of The Red Lanterns
Agent Orange
Blackest Night
Blackest Night: Green Lantern
Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps
Brightest Day: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns


For other book reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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