Rise of the Third Army – Green Lantern #13
Not only is this issue of Green Lantern a tie-in to the Rise of the Third Army story arc going on across the Green Lantern family, but it also begins to give some more depth to the newest ring-slinger from Earth, Simon Baz (whose only previous appearance was in Green Lantern #0). We already know that Simon is sticking around for a while (since we’ve seen him as a member of the new Justice League of America team launching in early 2013) but all we know about him is that he is a suspected terrorist. So why did the ring choose him? What makes Simon so special? And how does this fit in with Rise of the Third Army? It starts to come together here in Green Lantern #13.
For many of the books in this arc early on, we’ve seen little of this Third Army. There have been bits and pieces of them, and this issue is no different. The writers for this arc obviously needed to take some time to set the stage for what is to come (and, if you can believe the solicits for next year, for the subsequent impacts to the Green Lantern family and mythos). Again, we don’t see much of these recruits for the Third Army – 2 pages at most – but we can see the army continue to grow in number. One of the creatures taking hold of 2 civilians and converting them to the Army… It’s a frightening thought and, as we saw in Red Lanterns #13, the only protection is to keep a power ring on your person. Too bad more people on Earth don’t have one of those, huh? It does appear that the Army can sense the presence of a ring, which means we should be seeing the recruits come across our new Lantern shortly…
While all this goes on, we see that the U.S. government is concerned over this new Green Lantern. The president is in a meeting with Amanda Waller (you should know her from the pages of Suicide Squad and if you don’t, go grab that title – it’s lotsa fun and it currently has the Joker!). Ahem. Back to my point. Waller is trying to pin the label of terrorist on Simon Baz, even though his background is full of offences that were not necessarily the worst out there. The president orders Waller to notify the Justice League to take care of the Baz situation. It’s obvious Waller wants her own pass at him, since she was running the show when he escaped, but when the Commander-in-Chief of the United States says to do something, you had damn well better listen!
Simon has returned back to the ground during all of this – most notably, he is in Florida. The ring begins to integrate itself to Simon and understand who he is and how best to communicate with him, mapping certain pathways in his mind to better communicate with him. As a result, it brings forward a street racing scene which is visualized by the ring energy where Simon and his brother-in-law, Nazir, begin to challenge one another. We know from Waller’s comments earlier that Nazir was left brain-dead after a street racing accident, so this scene is being used to showcase Simon’s self-guilt over the event. The ring snaps him out of his reverie, though, to deliver a message from its previous owners – Hal Jordan and Sinestro. They warn him to stay away from Oa as they have concluded that the Guardians are out to destroy the Corps. The dual messages delivered in parallel are a little overwhelming for Baz, and they stop as quickly as they are finished. With that, Simon takes to the sky to return home to Michigan.
The impact to Simon being accused of terrorism is also shown among his family. We see both his father and his sister as to the impact of the accusations with Sira (Simon’s sister) actually being asked to leave work and return home while the accusations remain. This is, obviously, unsettling to the woman whose husband is in a coma of sorts and who has a young child. Simon approaches his sister to talk to her – in his Lantern outfit, of course – and it upsets her. She doesn’t know how to deal with it, as she is still trying to come to terms with what’s going on in all of their personal lives. They agree to meet at a place that was special to them later that evening – basically, a rooftop where they could talk and look at the stars. Simon shows up to the rooftop and waits, adding a mask to his costume to protect himself from prying eyes when suddenly he is hit and sent flying off the roof onto the ground below. To be confronted by the Justice League.
Geoff Johns is definitely introducing the new Green Lantern quick and heavy, especially having the Justice League appear so soon after his first appearance. We know that the League is concerned over the sudden disappearance of Hal, and finding someone else wearing the ring doesn’t really endear them to Simon, and since Johns writes both titles he can create the perfect crossover point without too much worry. His handling of the background of Simon is good here, but not great. So far, there has not been any real reason to like Baz. His backstory is coming in spotty, the focus has been on his ethnicity versus his character (the Arabic tattoo on his arm glowing with green energy when powered up, for example), when really it should be about the person. I have no problem that Baz is of Arabic descent, but it shouldn’t be what is defining him in this story and the single panel that makes it the focus is, I think, insulting to the reader.
Doug Mahnke’s art in this issue is also a little off compared to other instances. In some areas, the characters seem very two-dimensional without much depth visually to them, but in other panels there is a lot of depth. It’s almost like this issue was thrown together quickly – which it very well could have been for all I know – but it’s not the best work I’ve seen from him. The coloring is also somewhat unique here, as Sira’s eyes seem to change color from panel to panel… and flow like we see the Lantern’s eyes glow but in more of a golden-brown hue, which is either: a) major foreshadowing for something to come; or, b) me really reading too much into it. But with Johns writing, you never know.
All in all, an issue I think as more of a set-up for the larger arc where we will see more of the Army and more of Baz, but it is not a great standalone story. Maybe once we get the full story it will flow better, but it’s a tad choppy. Definitely not Johns’ best work, but I will be back as the faithful Green Lantern fan I am.