Tuesday, December 24, 2013

All-Out War In The DC Universe Comes With The Rise Of The Third Army!

The Good: Good artwork, Decent character development
The Bad: Rather straightforward plot, Bits out of order
The Basics: Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army pushes the Green Lantern Corps toward utter destruction when the Guardians commit to destroy all emotion in the universe.

The Green Lantern Saga is one of the stories that grew in the New 52 and it is also one of the collections of characters that did not get a significant retooling. The major characters in the Green Lantern Saga included Sinestro, Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner and the Guardians, like Ganthet. The first major crossover volume for the Green Lantern Saga in the New 52 – which has made monthly titles related to Green Lantern including Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, New Guardians, Red Lantern Corps, (and now Larfleeze) – was Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army. Following directly on the heels of The Revenge Of The Black Hand (reviewed here!), Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army puts the entire DC Universe outside of Earth in jeopardy.

It is entirely impossible to discuss Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army without including aspects that might be considered spoilers from The Revenge Of The Black Hand. Given that Hal Jordan and Sinestro had been in a deathly conflict with the Black Hand as the Guardians of the universe struggled to redefine themselves. From the outset of Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army, the Guardians are the enemies of the heroes of the DC Universe and, in fact, all life in the galaxy. As much as one might hope that the Guardians are presented as a subtle menace, Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army has them as a pretty overt enemy; they are rewriting all life in the galaxy to recreate the universe as filled with emotionless creatures who assimilate everything in the galaxy. In fact, the premise of Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army is somewhat confused; the Third Army is created by the Guardians (the first being the Manhunters, the second were the Green Lantern Corps) to police the galaxy, but they instead assimilate all sentient life, so who would they police?!

Following the apparent deaths of Sinestro and Hal Jordan, the ring they shared taps Simon Baz as the next Green Lantern of Earth. Baz is a street racer who is fleeing the police on suspected terrorism charges. Having stolen a car that actually contained a bomb in it, Baz is wanted by the police and is soon confronted by the Justice League Of America. Conversing with the Justice League goes well until the moment one of them touches his ring and it reacts to them. While Baz flees the Justice League, the Guardians assign John Stewart to help Mogo reassemble as their Third Army spreads through the galaxy.

With the Third Army assimilating life forms all throughout the galaxy, the Guardians promote Guy Gardner to the new rank of Lantern Sentinel. They then assign him to escort ambassadors on a wartorn planet to a peace negotiation. After freeing one of Gardner’s most powerful enemies, Gardner goes rogue to protect his family, at the cost of the peace-seeking ambassadors and his Green Lantern ring. Arrested as an ordinary person, Guy Gardner’s disgrace leaves him completely vulnerable.

Meanwhile, the Star Sapphire Carol Ferris is using Kyle Rayner to become the ultimate Lantern by having him master all of the emotional spectrum. Rayner confronts Atrocitus to access rage and Arkillo to use the power of fear. When Rayner, Ferris, and Arkillo meet with Larfleeze, the denizens of the Third Army descend upon the planet, slaughtering Sayd. When the leader of the Red Lanterns, Atrocitus, and his followers struggle with their depleted power battery, the new human Red Lantern, Rankorr, returns to Earth to become a full Red Lantern. There, he and Bleez encounter the Third Army and Atrocitus reprograms his own private army of Manhunters. While Stewart is besieged by the Third Army, Kyle fights to rescue Guy and the surviving Green Lanterns find themselves being recalled by the Guardians who are determined to wipe them out!

Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army establishes the new Green Lantern and writer Geoff Johns is smart enough to make him an interesting one. In the tradition of Green Lanterns, Simon Baz is different from all the prior ones. In fact, more than simply being an Arab-American, Simon Baz has a level of willpower that unlocks new facets of the Green Lantern ring once shared by Sinestro and Hal Jordan. Johns created a character who is instantly entangled with a terrorism charge, though his first arc is to prove that he was not a terrorist, just a car thief. Johns is sure to make Simon Baz a character who is sympathetic and not a stereotype. Still, it seems pretty obvious that when Simon Baz is not presented as a terrorist, that a white extremist is the terrorist in the plot Baz found himself involved in.

The return of Mogo makes Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army a book that relies heavily upon the stories that preceded the post-Flashpoint New-52 reboot. Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army continues to build toward the finale of Geoff Johns’s tenure as the writer of most of the Green Lantern Saga and he has great instincts for making the characters interesting and compelling. Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner are both given chances to grow and/or reflect upon their positions and they seem like organic growth out of where each of them has been. Like normal, John Stewart is under-represented in Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army and the actions of the reforming Mogo are much more predictable than surprising.

The Third Army itself is a somewhat nebulously-created enemy that seems like an organic version of The Borg. Because the book is compiled from several different monthly titles and they apparently did not coordinate well; in the early pages of the book, Atrocitus is seen overwhelmed by the denizens of the Third Army, an event that does not happen until the latter third of the book.

The artwork in Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army is universally good. All of the characters are recognizable and the coloring in the book is just as it should be; vibrant, crisp and colorful, which is exactly what one expects of Green Lantern books. Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army does not have universal themes; it is very much the culmination of a hugely long story arc that Geoff Johns and his teams have worked on for years. This is a plot-heavy anthology, but it is a good one and it pushes the action-adventure genre in an entertaining way.

For other Green Lantern stories in the New-52, please visit my reviews of:
Green Lantern, Volume 1: Sinestro
Green Lantern Corps, Volume 1: Fearsome
The New Guardians, Volume 1: The Ring Bearer
Red Lanterns, Volume 1: Blood And Rage


For other graphic novel reviews, please visit my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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