Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Green Lantern: Lights Out (The New 52) Review

Green Lantern: Lights out (The New 52)

Hal, Kyle and John get serious hurt, while
Guy takes the time to frolic.
Writers: Robert Venditti, Justin Jordan, Van Jensen and Charles Soule.

Artists: Bard Walker, Sean Chen, Rags Morales, Billy Tan, Bernard Chang and Alessandro Vitti.

Collects: Green Lantern 23.1: Relic, Green Lantern-New Guardians #22-23, Green Lantern #24, Green Lantern Corps #24, Red Lanterns #24 and Green Lantern Annual #2.

Background Information:

So, the Green Lantern event known as Rise of the Third Army/ Wrath of The First Lantern the Guardians of the Universe were killed, and the Green Lanterns are now under control of Hal Jorden. Guy Gardner has been sent to infiltrate the Red Lanterns, becoming their leader. John Stewart is busy training new recruits, and Kyle Rayner is the new White Lantern, and is leading the new Guardians of the Universe on a voyage of discovery.

And Simon Baz? Well, he's apparently disposable.

Review:

Unless you're writing Batman, which, let's face it, is pretty hard to totally mess up, it's hard to envy writers who have to take over a series; especially when you're taking over from writers like Geoff Johns, Tony Beddard and Peter J. Tomasi. Together, these men revived the Green Lantern franchise and made its universe one of the most fascinating within the DCU. Considering that, it's pretty astounding that Lights Out is as good as it is; but don't expect fireworks.
Who's my little guy?

In an alternate universe lived the Lightsmiths. They used and abused the emotional light spectrum. These lightsmiths were more than content to use the power of resolve, faith, terror, empathy, gluttony and fury, for their own selfish purposes. They mocked the scientist who dared to claim that the light was finite, calling him Relic for preaching ideas that were considered out of date.

But Relic was right, the light eventually ran out and his universe died.

Jumping over to our universe, and the Relic has appeared again. This time, he's after the light of this universe's Lanterns, and the various Lantern heroes need to stop him from doing so.

A concept as deep as that one suggests quite a few changes to the GL status quo. Venditti does that, but the road to it seems far longer than the book's seven issues would have us believe. And that's odd, because this book deals with the destruction of Oa, the farewell to the Lantern entities, and various other big changes to the GL franchise. Yet the road to all of this happening, is littered with themes and moments that have happened again and again under previous writers and as you read you can't help but wish that the four different writers here thought, at least once;

"Maybe not spend ages agonising over Carol Ferris and Hal Jordan's relationship, or lack thereof."

"Maybe not hammer the Blue Lanterns as a metaphor for hope leaving the universe."

"Maybe not have an entity possess someone."

"Maybe not have a story that brings in multiple Lantern Corps."

Yet, all of these things are here. I appreciate that Venditti is trying to carve his own path with this franchise, and there are some things he does that certainly suggests he has a plan for the series as a whole. I just wish I didn't feel like I was reading "Geoff Johns-lite" (geddit? lite and light... it's a pun... yeah... is this thing on?).

That said, the writers surrounding Venditti are doing some pretty good things. I didn't expect Charles Soule to blow me away with his work on Red Lanterns, yet here I am blown away by the Red Lanterns chapter of Lights Out. And, if you need any more evidence as to how impressive that really is, that's just one issue in the whole book.

I also liked the fact that even though Hal Jordan is in the front and centre of the book's cover, this really is Kyle Rayner's book. I see Hal and Kyle as equally interesting characters, and I was glad to see that DC let Kyle be the driving force behind this collection.

All the pretty colours...
I feel a little bit conflicted about the art in Lights Out, however. There are no really bad artists here; one of them, Rags Morales, is actually one of my favourites. That said, though, the art really suffers when it comes to depictions of Relic. In the beginning of the book, Relic appears to be about the same size as Galactus. By the final issues, however, we get one that looks about the same size as a Transformer (yep, I've used those as standards of measurement). It's confusing at best, at worst it's a sign that there was little to no correlation between artists and if DC are going to insist on crossing over every Lantern title every six months, they're going to want to be on top of that.

I think the trick to enjoying Lights Out is to treat it as a cog in a greater machine. I genuinely want to see what Venditti and crew do with the Lantern books next, but for now, I'm giving Lights Out a three out of five Lite-smiths (geddit... no? C'mon!)

***

+ A Kyle Rayner centred story
+ The Red Lanterns issue is brilliant.
+ Definitely sees changes coming for the GL franchise.
- Art seems unclear on how big Relic is.
- Relies on oft-repeated clich├ęs of GL.

Alternate Option: Green Lantern: Rise of the Third Army/Wrath of the First Lantern

Wait? The Guardians are dead? Find out why with these two books.