“The Rise of the Third Army” is officially underway, and Peter J. Tomasi is still kicking butt and taking names in Green Lantern Corps #13. As their weird, will-less white zombies begin taking over the universe one poor bastard at a time, the Guardians continue to unravel the Corps from the inside out. Having already removed Hal Jordan and Sinestro from the equation, the little blue meanies turn their sights to two of the biggest and brightest Green Lanterns: John Stewart and Guy Gardner.
In the Subcells – “where the most dangerous prisoners of the Corps are kept sequestered from the general population of the Sciencells” – someone breaks one of Guy Gardner’s greatest foes out of captivity, a murderous criminal by the name of Xar. “Opportunity knocks,” the unseen savior tells the monster. Meanwhile, Guy Gardner is finally being recognized for the incredible Green Lantern he is – or so he thinks. Playing to Guy’s greatest weakness – his massive ego – the Guardians promote Guy to “the newly created rank of Lantern Sentinel,” with a coronation in the Hall of Great Service and everything. You can see Guy’s head get bigger and bigger in each panel during this ceremony, and it only makes the fact that we, as readers, know that the Guardians are out to ruin Guy that much worse. It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion – you want to turn away because you know what’s coming, but you just can’t. Shortly thereafter, Guy assembles a “mixed bag” of vets and rookies for a new operation the Guardians have just put him in charge of – a seemingly routine matter of escorting a delegation of warring ambassadors to Oa where the Guardians will act as arbitrators. Just as Guy’s team is about to get going, Guy gets a message from Salaak informing him that the Guardians have asked to see Lantern Stewart.
In the Citadel of the Guardians, John Stewart stands before the Guardians as they replay footage of him destroying the Green Lantern planet Mogo. You can tell during this scene that Stewart is uneasy having to watch himself single-handedly decimate Mogo. Tomasi does a great job here of showing just how evil the Guardians really are, joyfully playing on Stewart’s guilt to set him up for his downfall at their hands. The Guardians hand Stewart a piece of rock, which they have confirmed is a piece of Mogo. When Stewart lets go of the rock, it starts moving away from Stewart and the Guardians, like some object drawn by an unseen magnet. The Guardians explain to Stewart that they believe that Mogo is reforming, and give him the mission to locate the point of origin and “assist in the rebuilding process,” which, of course, Stewart is only too happy to accept. And thus the seeds of betrayal are sown.
Cut back to Lantern Sentinel Gardner. Everything seems to be going smoothly with his team’s escorting of the ambassadors, until Lantern Voz calls Guy over the ring with some disturbing news. “Guy…we have a problem,” Voz tells Gardner. “Big or small?” Gardner asks. “Huge,” Voz replies. Voz reveals that Xar has escaped his Subcell, and it seems he’s teleported off Oa, being that there is no trace of him on the planet. To say that Guy is miffed would be an obscene understatment: Guy is the epitome of rage. When Voz surmises that Xar will most likely be tracking Gardner down, Gardner agrees and then jumps to the worst conclusion: “Or he may just try hunting down the people I care about!” Without a thought or a moment’s hesitation, Guy leaves a group of six veteran Lanterns to complete the mission of escorting the ambassadors to Oa and takes off with the rest to get to his family before Xar does…and flies right into a trap that leaves Lantern Vandor dead and Guy and his remaining Lanterns outnumbered.
Tomasi’s writing is perfect, as always, and this issue moves and moves and moves. The pace never lets up, and as each twist and turn is revealed, Tomasi draws us readers deeper and deeper into his epic tale. The great thing about Tomasi and his work on Green Lantern Corps is that while it is chock full of awesome ideas and epic, cinematic plots, Tomasi never loses sight of what truly makes a story work: the characters. There is such a deep, emotional, character-centric undertone to Tomasi’s run on this series, and it shows issue after issue. You really care about these characters and what is happening to them. You care that they are being betrayed and broken down piece by piece to their very cores. And you care that they pick themselves up, time after time, and soldier on. If anything, Tomasi’s writing truly shows why each Green Lantern has been chosen, showcasing each characters’ persevering, unbreakable, relentless will.