Green Lantern 27

With this issue we’ve taken our first true steps into the next era of the Green Lantern Corps. Though some are still reeling from Relic’s attacks, there’s no time to fixate on past battles or even reconstruction anymore. Once again the Corps finds itself at the brink of war and it doesn’t look like they can avoid it.

How did it come to this? Well, unsurprisingly, it has to do with Hal Jordan’s leadership style, but Robert Venditti has managed to pit the corps against an interesting array of enemies.

The plot of this issue is fairly straightforward; it’s our inciting incident. Venditti also takes some time to check in with Soranik Natu and Saint Walker, two personal favorites who have been out of the spotlight as of late, but it’s clear what the point of this issue is. What elevates it above that simple description is the degree to which things go wrong.

We find a very human, for lack of better term, version of the Corps in this issue. Scarcity and change affect their productivity, differences of opinion are common, and things simply go wrong. In some ways this element is something that really been missing from DC’s offerings of late, but its interesting to see it as a reflection of Hal’s lukewarm leadership.

And it’s not just the Corps, one of the issue best scenes depends on our villain’’s information being critically out of date. Unfortunately they display a shocking competence immediately after, which squelches the possibility of a story that is meaningfully affected by a reasonable coincidence, but the realism that comes with plans falling apart helps raise the sense of tension throughout the issue.

The characterization runs a little broad this issue. It kind of feels as though Venditti was trying to make sure that this was a good jumping on point for new readers, but he isn’t able to balance that with the needs of long-term readers. Soranik is the very embodiment of a sci-fi doctor, nurturing and self-effacing throughout, while Kilowog plays the rational straight man to Hal’s uneasy crown. Saint Walker’s return features some nice turns of phrase but fans of the character will likely notice how questionable his reactions feel, especially given his origin. It’s my hope that Venditti will emphasize how Walker’s experience are cumulative rather than in competition with one another, in future issues because Saint Walker’s whole deal is that he never gives up.

The biggest problem with characterization is the simplicity of the issue’s primary set piece. I won’t spoil it, but I will say that the central deception is pretty weak. Despite this, Venditti doesn’t close off his options, choosing to lie through wording rather than content. Even if Hal puts the Corps’ best PR team on this, they’ll have to lie to refute the claims that would likely be leveled against them. And of course, the issue reminds us that the Green Lanterns are essentially an unelected military police force who impose their morality on over 3600 galaxies.

The legitimacy of criticizing the Corps is, by far the most interesting element of this plot line. Those looking for action scenes will have to settle for some brief hostilities, but clearly the title will have more than enough chances for conflict now that civilians and enemies alike are out for Green Lantern blood.

Billy Tan is absent this time around, and art duties are handled by Dale Eaglesham.­ Eaglesham’s art is much more realistic than Tan’s, but no less ‘comic booky’. The best looking characters tend to be those who look more or less like human males, but Eaglesham manages to give us solid renditions of Kilowog and Saint Walker as well.

It would dishonest to say that there aren’t rough patches. While Eaglesham does an exceptional job of shading his work, there is more than one occasion that his attention to anatomy becomes excessive. Hal’s face gets mighty lumpy from time to time, and I worry that his cleft may be plotting a coup. One notable panel of Soranik demonstrates how close to the uncanny valley Eaglesham is skirting while making her look simultaneously ripped and undernourished. Whether the failures outweigh the beauty of Eaglesham’s successes will be up to you.

Eaglesham also has an interesting relationship with its layouts, as the book employs a large number of slanted panels. Though there’s a certain energy to be found in the arrangements, at times it can feel overwhelming and unnecessary. I’m not always sure that there was a reason beyond, ‘ it looks cool’ and while aesthetics are an important element of an artist’s job, they shouldn’t completely overshadow practicality.

One thing that I loved about Eaglesham’s work was his willingness to play with designs. Given his tendency towards complex, detailed faces, you might wonder how he’d handle Saint Walker’s unusually smooth design. Instead of going against his grain, Eaglesham merely repurposes Walker’s on-again/off-again facial markings as raised details. I’m not sure I’d want Walker sporting this look in all appearances, but it looks really good here. Likewise, he highlights the new shoulder piping that Hal’s been sporting and even makes a point of drawing them more similar to the Green Lantern insignia.

Though the backgrounds don’t match the characters for their sheer level of detail, they’re actually quite nice. The interior scenes are busy without being distracting and show an appropriate level of wear. And the scenes on Mogo’s surface are really quite beautiful.

Though Venditti’s script is a little oversimplified, it’s a pretty enjoyable story. The degree to which people just screw up is a breath of fresh air in an industry where the rule of cool is constantly in effect and the villains’ struggle is compelling in its own right, making me care about their motives and plans.

Dale Eaglesham does an excellent job of filling in for Billy Tan, putting his hyper-detailed style to very good, if occasionally excessive, use. Though Jason Wright’s colors don’t pop the way that Alex Sinclair’s do, the art team is well suited to this dramatic episode.

Green Lantern #27 is less important in itself than it is as a prelude to bigger stories, however, it serves as a fine jumping on point and promises big things for the Lantern brand. It may not have been the best issue of Venditti’s run, but I can’t deny that it piqued my interest in what comes next.

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