Rise of the Third Army – Green Lantern #14
When last we left new Green Lantern Simon Baz, he had been knocked through the sky and crashed into a rooftop in Detroit. Who had knocked him for a loop, you may ask? Well, the Justice League, who are investigating what happened to their old comrade, Hal Jordan, who now appears to suddenly be missing in action.
So, picture this… You’re hanging around on a rooftop, you’re an accused terrorist (even though you know you’re innocent), and you have an alien ring on your finger that is using its power to cover your face and protect your identity, when the most powerful super-team on the planet comes calling and clocks you. What would your reaction be?
That, and a few bricks of something hitting the ground behind you.
The Justice League/Simon Baz altercation takes up most of Green Lantern #14, as it serves multiple purposes: First, it is used to set up Simon’s introduction to the super hero community at large in the DCU. Second, it starts to set up for the new Justice League of America title, which also takes place in Detroit (home town of Baz). And third, it provides Baz the ability to prove his innocence where the government chose not to. In fact, when you expect a major throw-down from Baz, he does the exact opposite. He surrenders.
Although the League is a little wary, Baz actually tries to talk to them. In fact, he is scared out of his mind, conceding that maybe he could take Batman but Superman could take him even if he was familiar with using the ring. He even offers to let Wonder Woman use her lasso to determine if he is telling the truth or not, but Batman insists that he remove the ring first. Simon agrees to it, but is unsure if he can remove the ring. In fact, when Batman touches it, a burst of green energy erupts from it knocking the League and Simon backwards, with the face of Sinestro telling them not to touch the ring.
Simon freaks, and the League reacts. He uses the ring to create a car for him to escape in, leaving Flash and Superman the two to chase him down. Flash tries to talk him down to surrendering himself again by running alongside the car, but Simon is adamant that he is innocent and wants to find the person who really did set the bomb so he can clear his name. He uses the ring to create a full-blown cast of Fast & Furious cars made of the green energy, causing Superman and Flash to spend their time going through the decoys. However, Simon escapes to continue his goal.
Meantime, we find out a little more of what the Guardians are up to. They are systematically taking out their powerful Lanterns, those who could conceivably cause them trouble. They have already removed Sinestro and Hal Jordan from the picture, and hint at the attacks going on against Guy Gardner within Green Lantern Corps. John Stewart and Kyle Rayner appear to be next as their new army begins to take hold. And by “take hold” I mean they are beginning to absorb all sentient life into their own collective, with the Guardians anticipating that there will be no unique minds left in universe after a few months. An individual trapped within a white energy lantern is the power source that the Guardians are drawing upon in order to send this new army forth…
Finally, we have the epilogue where a handful of Guardians who had been sequestered as guards for this power source are now trapped themselves after the actions of their brethren. One of their own had been killed by the mad Guardians and left in the antechamber, whereas the others were trapped within the prison confines. The dead Guardian is raised by none other than Black Hand, wielding a Black Lantern ring, who is told that the power source is known as the First Lantern.
Geoff Johns is definitely taking his time in incorporating the Third Army into the headline Green Lantern title, but is moving forward with incorporating Simon Baz into the mainstream DCU. The humor he tossed in here – the aforementioned “I could maybe take Batman” to Batman’s response of “He’s a Green Lantern, all right!” as well as Baz being told that a ring is passed on only when a Lantern dies and Flash comments “I hope it was Gardner. I’m going to hell for that, aren’t I?” – shows that Johns is writing the League just as he writes Justice League which is good. Anyone else trying to get the tone of so many characters would probably fail at it. There is such a thing as understanding a character’s voice and too many people fail at it – look at what’s happened with Green Arrow! But even though he’s taken some flack for incorporating a new Lantern and killing off Jordan, I applaud Johns for what he has done in creating Simon Baz. It took a few issues but he’s growing on me.
Doug Mahnke is doing a good job still in penciling this title. This issue seemed a little off to me, but there were 4 inkers involved and maybe that’s what did it – it wasn’t a consistent feel of depth put over the pencils. I am glad that, unlike some other books where a new artist pops in just as a new character is introduced, Mahnke is around for the whole intro. That means that he will set the visual paradigm for Baz instead of multiple interpretations which then just look sloppy. If anything, the art was a small detriment to me but I think it was because of the multiple inkers used in the issue when I don’t really think it was necessary.