Thursday, May 3, 2012

Not The Story I Thought It Would Be, Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns Is Still Impressive!

The Good: Great continuity, Engaging story, Decent artwork, What character moments there are.
The Bad: A few light panels where the artwork is not great, Light on character.
The Basics: I finally get my hands on the anthology Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns and discover that it is a pretty badass story, though not the one I thought it would be.

Have you ever gotten into something only to discover that it is very much not what you expected it to be? Today, I am feeling that way about Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns. Why? I was working at the comic book shop when the ten books that ultimately comprised Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns were released. I was excited. I had just gotten through the Brightest Day Saga and this looked like an engaging story. It looked like the Green Lantern Corps was going to come apart at the seams and the solid police force of the DC Universe would essentially experience a civil war.

Alas, that is not what Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns is actually about. The culmination of a very long story arc that arguably began with the return of Hal Jordan, Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns is much less a civil war among the Green Lanterns and the endgame of the villain Krona. Throughout Brightest Day, Krona was slowly abducting the Entities, the living embodiment of the emotional spectrum, like Parallax (for fear) and Ion (for willpower). In Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns, his plan comes to fruition and it leaves very few members of the Green Lantern Corps unscathed. In fact, it is not long before four men from Earth are all that stands between life and perpetual destruction in the DC Universe.

Hal Jordan, Atrocitus, Larfleeze, Indigo-1, and Saint Walker are joined by Carol Ferris and Sinestro to try to complete the mission to stop the renegade Krona (who would have been a Guardian, had he not embraced emotions and been banished by the Guardians) from acquiring the last of the Entities. Unfortunately, they arrive on Ryut to discover, too late, that he has already succeeded. Using the Book Of The Black, Krona captures the leading ringbearers – save Hal Jordan – and heads to Oa to get his long-awaited revenge. While Hal, armed with the power rings of the other lead ringbearers, flees to the Green House, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner arrive back in our universe and suddenly discover that all is not right. Krona’s arrival on Oa reveals his masterplan, which has him using Parallax to occupy the Green Lantern Power Battery and using the other entities to take over the Guardians. The result is that the Green Lantern Corps now is a zombie police force operating under the control of Parallax and Krona.

Because they were once possessed by Parallax, the four human Lanterns and Kilowog find themselves unaffected by the Parallax infection. When Kilowog sacrifices himself to save Guy, Guy and Hal regroup to try to save the galaxy. By joining with Kyle and John Stewart, Guy Gardner and Hal Jordan try to liberate their comrades, stop Krona and save the universe, with only the power rings of the other Corps’ to use!

Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns is much less a war between the Green Lanterns and the latest villain that manages to turn the entire Corps to their purpose. Very plot-driven for most of the story, there is both a desperation and an entirely nonsensical quality to Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns. After all, with the leaders incapacitated, the quartet of Green Lanterns still has at least four Corps they could have tried to get aid from (there is only one Orange Lantern and the Blue Lanterns would need to stay away as their power amplifies the power of the Green Lanterns). But for my very first moment of analysis, I was bowled over with the fact that Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner and John Stewart did not reach out to the Sinestro Corps, Red Lanterns, Star sapphires and Indigo Tribe. Sure, it’s cool to see Hal Jordan as a Yellow Lantern, Guy as a Red Lantern, Kyle as a Blue Lantern, and John Stewart as an Indigo Tribe member (actually, he is at his coolest when he channels the Black Lantern briefly!), but the fact that three of the best comic book writers in the business did not address the first idea that came to my mind in the text is disappointing.

That said, Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns is still very engaging. Krona is an interesting villain and he actually fills in an intriguing bit of Green Lantern backstory. Krona is revealed to be the one who reprogrammed the Manhunters, the original policing force created by the Guardians before the Green Lantern Corps. That the infallible Guardians did not simply misprogram the Manhunters is very cool. It adds a layer of villainy to Krona that his actions actually caused the creation of the Green Lantern Corps. As an emotional villain, Krona is pretty intriguing and he is well-rendered throughout Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns.

Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns seems like it is tapping into the current zombie craze by transforming the Green Lantern Corps into a group of mindless automatons, though they are not quite zombified. The Guardians become real tools for Krona and they are wicked-looking after the Entities take them over. Krona’s plan, though, seems remarkably complicated for the desired results. Even so, the adventure the humans must go on to stop Krona is engaging.

On the character front, Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns is not a sterling graphic novel. While John Stewart has an integral plot function, he is once again relegated to something of a second string hero even in this storyline. Perhaps one of the best moments of the book, though, is Ganthet’s reaction to seeing Stewart as a member of the Indigo Tribe. In a similar fashion, Kyle Rayner seems more along for the ride than vital in Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns. He seems uncharacteristically wishy-washy and his brief role is not enough to inspire anyone to have hope. While Hal makes occasional references to Carol being trapped in the Book Of The Black, Rayner seems uncharacteristically unattached to Soranik during the action of the book.

Hal Jordan is appropriately heroic in his role throughout Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns. He seems to have no difficulty whatsoever taking on Sinestro’s yellow ring. I realized where all my misconceptions about the book Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns came when I saw the cover (Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns has an extensive cover gallery which includes both the primary and variant covers of all the issues that made up the series) that featured the Sinestro Corps Hal Jordan standing before the rest of the Sinestro Corps. The Sinestro Corps, alas, does not make an appearance in this book. Jordan is smart, quick on his feet and has the right priorities to win the war, which is cool. It is only in the book’s final pages that Hal Jordan gets a real character moment, though.

In an unlikely turn, it is Guy Gardner who actually has the best character moments in Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns. Called upon to save the universe once again, Gardner risks his life as a Red Lantern and reveals himself as an unlikely hero. At his climax in the book, Gardner becomes a surprisingly realized character. My, how far he has come from the somewhat comic, always obnoxious character he began his life as!

Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns features decent artwork. There are many panels that feature crowds and they are all detailed exceptionally well. As is vital in this book, the coloring in Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns is exceptional, with vivid colors and a decent sense of depth and shading.

Ultimately, Green Lantern: War Of The Green Lanterns serves as a bookend to the Green Lantern Saga before the New-52 reboot. Given how unimpressed I have been with the creative direction of other titles in the New-52 line, I have to say: if War Of The Green Lanterns was to end the story of the Green Lanterns, I would be satisfied.

For other Green Lantern-related books from this era, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Secret Origin
Green Lantern: Rebirth
Wanted: Hal Jordan
Revenge Of The Green Lanterns
Green Lantern Corps: Recharge
To Be A Lantern
The Sinestro Corps War - Volume One
Tales Of The Sinestro Corps
The Sinestro Corps War - Volume Two
Ring Quest
Sins Of The Star Sapphire
Rage Of The Red Lanterns
Agent Orange
Emerald Eclipse
Blackest Night
Blackest Night: Green Lantern
Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps
Blackest Night: Tales Of The Corps
Brightest Day: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns


For other book reviews, please visit my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the books I have reviewed!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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