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WHttDCnU? – Green Lantern Corps: Fearsome

WHTTDCU-Titles-045

A note from the team:
WHttDCnu? will be going on a brief hiatus to regroup as Ben AKA Funky Panda will not be producing any more content with us. Rather than leave the reviews he would write in limbo we will have new contributors taking his place and so need a little time to read up and get writing.

We thank Ben for his hard work and wish him luck for the future. WHttDCnU? will be back in a few weeks, along with continuation of Ultima Society.

Listen up poozers! WHttDCnU? is back and you all better look alive! Drill Sergeants Vigil and the Plague Doctor are ready and keeping their eyes trained on all new recruits, it’s a tough life in the Corps, this the universe’s police force of Willpower. Who won’t be able to hack it? Who will rise above the odds? Find out now, on:

Whatever Happened to the DC New Universe?

-QueenQeeko

WHTTDCNU-synopsis

plague-doc-rIt’s a tough life being a Green Lantern. Especially when you choose to not wear a mask, making a life outside of the Corps is next to impossible. This is what Guy Gardner and John Stewart are learning on Earth, as employers turn them down, worried that duty will call when they’re on the job.

So, after discussing their problems, the pair return to Oa, where they discover that an unknown spatial anomaly has appeared on the planet Nerro, and drained it of its oceans. They gather a team and fly off to investigate, but when they arrive on the planet, they find little more than a graveyard, with two Lanterns impaled on spikes among the fallen. Somebody wants to send a message.

Luckily, another anomaly is detected on Xabas, and it threatens to suck up the native inhabitants. The team rush to put a stop to it, creating a giant construct to literally plug the rift. But a small group of seemingly invincible soldiers break through from the other side, and worryingly, they seem almost immune to the Lanterns’ power.

The lantern Isamot is able to detonate the plug and destroy the rift, and the rest of the Lanterns finally manage to imprison the enemy. But Isamot returns, spat out from a new anomaly, with thousands more of these invincible soldiers on his tail.

The overwhelming force is even able to overcome the dozens of Lanterns that get teleported in as reinforcements. The Green Lantern Porter ends up dying from exhaustion after teleporting everyone back to Oa. In the confusion, Stewart and a tiny group of Lanterns remains left behind. Stewart convinces his team that they should just allow themselves to be captured.

But Gardner has managed to bring an enemy soldier back with him, and out of nowhere, the Martian Manhunter turns up to (reluctantly) assist with the interrogation. With his telephathy, the Martian Manhunter is able to discover the backstory to this whole mess. Turns out, it’s all the fault of the Guardians of the Universe.

See, the Guardians realised that Lanterns were depleting their power rings in mid-combat, and that they could stop this by giving them the power to access their Power Batteries at any time. But instead of giving each Lantern their own personal pocket-dimension to store their Lantern, the Guardians found a planet called Urak, where the inhabitants were struggling to survive in the harsh conditions. If they’d tend to the Batteries, their world would thrive. And so this race agreed, and became the Keepers of the Power Batteries. Everything was great, until the Guardians came and took all the Power Batteries away again. No explanation given. So the Keepers’ world went back to being a desert, and the Keepers, infused with willpower-energy from tending the Batteries for so long, set out to get revenge, and steal Oa’s Central Power Battery.

So Gardner gathers a bunch of tough guys from a secret den, beneath his club, “Warriors,” assembles a team and decides that they need a way to make the Keepers fear them. They find a couple of Yellow Lantern inmates in the Sciencells, known as Fat Man and Little Boy, and because … irony? They decide to use the pair as Fear Bombs, and drop them on Urak, so that the Keepers will give up and stop fighting. To to this, they raid an illegal weapons trading ship (because ordinary weapons can still harm the Keepers), and take a transport ship, to carry their explosive cargo.

Meanwhile, the Lanterns that were captured by the Keepers are being tortured by their leader back on Urak (who reveals that he is tapping the life-force of his ancestors to make the portals work). The Keepers want access to Oa, so that they can steal the Central Power Battery, so John Stewart kills the one Lantern that was about to snap under the pressure. Then, using some final reserve of willpower (plus energy from the Keepers’ own torture device), he is able to break himself and his fellow captives free.

Only moments later, Gardner drops the Fear Bomb, completely incapacitating every Keepr, except the innocent ones that were being drained of their life force. The army of Keepers is then put to work, burying the dead bodies of every innocent inhabitant of Nerro.

WHTTDCNU-art

vigil-lI have to say that I like Fernando Pasarin’s art. The last artist for GL Corps was Doug Mahnke and I’ve stated that I am not that big a fan of his art. While Pasarin has similarities in how he draws his characters, I like that his character designs look more alive than doll like. The characters, especially John and Guy, look human. I like the designs of the constructs that they use and how each construct seems to fit the Lantern, an example being John Stewart’s constructs showing all the inner workings. All in all, the art is serviceable for the story. Though, I do have issue with one thing: Character models.

All the aliens are essentially human shaped. While they all look alien, an example being Hannu being a walking talking rock man, they are all basically alien shape. It just feels very unimaginative for an artist and being played very safe. All the aliens that don’t look like Hannu or Isamot Kol, look like humans with different color skin, pointy ears, and cybernetics. That’s pretty much my biggest complaint about the art. All the character models are human shaped and it feels like a missed opportunity.

That’s pretty much all I have to say about the art in this case. It’s good and works well for the story, but I feel that having a cast of humanoid aliens with four limbs each is a missed opportunity for the artist. Yeah, I know that a lot of the GL Corps are humanoid shaped, but it would have been interesting to see Gls that looked alien. Oh, well.

plague-doc-rLet it be known that I have absolutely no problem with humanoid aliens. I can even overlook the occasional species that looks exactly like us. But for the most part, I’m of the school of thought which believes extraterrestrial beings should look … well … alien.

The last time I opened a Green Lantern comic, I distinctly remember seeing a pretty large variety of amazingly drawn, incredibly diverse alien species.

What do we have in this comic?

Humans, mostly. Sure, some of them have funny skin colours and, okay, one has a robot leg. Most of them are bald, for some reason. But I count maybe … eight species of really alien-looking beings, and six of them are in this one screenshot.

aliens

Nitpicking? Maybe. But if nothing else, huge crowd scenes like this give the artist the opportunity to showcase what kind of weird and bizare life-forms might have been recruited into the Green Lantern Corps. The best that they can do? A flying crocodile. Come on. Is that really the limit of your creativity?

But aside from the frankly dull alien design, the rest of the comic’s art was decent. Not exceptional, not captivating, but decent. The characters’ expressions are mostly believable, if a little hammy sometimes, and the action tends to flip-flop between exciting and lifeless, spending the majority of its time on the former side. Occasionally, but not often, the fight dynamics are just confusingly drawn, though I suspect that the very first instance of this was done on purpose, to make the Keepers look like invincible wraiths or something.

All in all, the art is not terrible, but it’s far from great. Considering the rest of the comic, that’s strangely fitting.

WHTTDCNU-writing

vigil-lFor an opening arc, this is a pretty by the numbers story. We are introduced to the two main leads. We get a threat. The group mobilizes. They fight the threat. They beat it. Been there. Done that. Now, there is nothing really bad about it, but the problem for me is… I don’t have much to criticize or praise. It’s a basic formula that works and that’s really the most I can say about it.

I will say though that the Keeper’s motives for taking vengeance on the Guardians do work. It makes sense that they want revenge on the little blue midgets for dumping them as Lantern Battery Keepers and thus destroying their world. Their methods are cruel and wasteful of life, but I’m guessing that this is the only method left for them that works.

My only real criticism of this is that… did this need to be six issues? I mean, Aquaman’s opening arc was a good solid four issues. Meet the heroes. Meet the threat. Fight the threat. End the threat. I don’t know why this story couldn’t have been that. I know it was being written for the trade, but it just doesn’t add up.

All in all, the story and writing is basic. Nothing really wrong with it, but nothing that really stands out beyond the villains’ motives. I do feel that it could have been fleshed out a bit and shortened up so that it moved at a brisker pace.

plague-doc-rWhen it comes right down to it, this story is about little more than the Guardians screwing up again, and creating yet another evil, unstoppable force out for revenge because of their own thoughtless actions. I can’t personally verify how much of a common occurrence this is, but I’m told that it’s not exactly a rare thing for the Problem of the Week to be entirely the Guardians’ Fault.

But this is not the section in which to spill my vitriol agains the Guardians of the Universe. Because the story could have still worked – could have still been compelling. Except it wasn’t. There was barely any feeling at the end of it except a strange, quiet emptiness, where there was obviously supposed to have been some triumphant sense of justice, and the satisfaction of a day well-saved.

The entire thing felt incredibly cheap – like a disposable prelude to something else that’s actually going to be the real story. And in the end, despite everything I understand the Corps to stand for, they solved the Problem by taking a leaf out of Sinestro’s book and using fear as a weapon to overcome their enemies. It might have been a good plot point. Something that the characters could have discussed and debated, or at least pointed out. But no. A Fear Bomb gets dropped, and that’s it. Day saved! Everybody can go home!

Maybe it’s my fault for expecting every comic in the New 52 to cater to new readers, but I couldn’t really connect with any of the characters. Not John, or Guy, or any of the other Lanterns, or even the villains. Disinterest in the characters equals disinterest in the story, and that’s about all I got from this comic.

WHTTDCNU-characterisation

vigil-lI am going to be honest, this part is hard for me to talk about. On the one hand, I love the GL Comics. They are home to some of my favorite characters… On the other hand, the latter half of the two main leads, John Stewart, is probably my LEAST favorite Green Lantern. I know people have nostalgic attachment to him, but he is just… so… boring! I know he is supposed to be a straight laced, ex-marine turned architect, but most of the time, interesting things have happened TO him rather than him actually being interesting. I know I’m bound to piss off a lot of John Stewart fans, but that’s really how I feel. Thankfully, we have my second favorite Green Lantern in Guy Gardner, the ginger-haired, angry, loud, and obnoxious badass with a heart of gold.

So, I guess you could say they balance each other out in that regard. And for the most part, they work well together. John is the straight man and Guy is the Maverick. The one that will take the risks and cross lines that are presented in front of the two, an example being when he uses the two Sinestro Corpsman Fat Man and Little Boy to defeat the Keepers. However, while the two of them work well together, they don’t really… grow.

Now, this is just the first arc and thus they have time, but by the end of issue 7, I don’t think either of them have changed much. At the beginning, Guy is prevented from applying for a job as a gym coach due to his work as a Green Lantern. John is discouraged from furthering his work as an architect due to City Hall’s corruption. Both seem like good jumping off points for character arcs, but apart from a few glanced over lines… they aren’t brought up again except for passing conversation between Guy and John. It feels like a wasted opportunity. I still like the back and forth banter between them, but some growth would have been nice.

As for the other Lanterns, I am sorry to say that they really could have used more characterization. They don’t even really fall into any archetypes for the Corps. I like that there is some continuity for the characters between this and the previous GL Corps series, but continuity can only do so much. We know nothing about these Lanterns, their backstories, their motives, or their personalities. Of all the things that feel like a wasted opportunity, it is this. It feels like more could have been done to develop these characters, if only there weren’t so many of them.

As for the Keepers? Well, they do their jobs as villains well and I like that, of course, they have good motives to go against the Corps and the Guardians in particular. I think the idea of them wiping out entire worlds to gain pieces of it to rebuild their own world is an interesting method, while being wasteful of life. Their designs of clear skinned skeletons with bodies made of bone and fluid is striking and I find it memorable. There isn’t much personality beyond bitterness sadly.

All in all, the biggest flaw in the characterization is that there isn’t much development for the characters. While most of them get moments of quiet time, it isn’t enough. Combined with the fact that there are a lot of main characters, we really don’t get to know most of them. The exceptions to this are Guy, John, and the Keepers.

plague-doc-rMaybe the characters in the comic weren’t compelling because there were just so many of them. We didn’t get a chance to become familiar with any individual person, aside from John Stewart and Guy Gardner, who get a very brief introduction in the first volume. It might have been a different story indeed for readers that are intimately familiar with these Lanterns, but to me, every character in this comic felt pretty much the same.

Especially noteworthy here are the Mean Machine. They might just be the most generic Group Of Tough Guys I’ve come across in the New 52. There is nothing to distinguish its members from one another, except their physical appearance, and even then, we’re left with only funny skin colours and a robot leg to work with. They might have been at least a little bit interesting if one of them – at least one – had been completely non-human in appearance. After all, this is a Corps that is supposed to have accepted a sentient mathematical equation as a member. But instead, we get a bunch of identical clones with generic Tough Guy Names, like “Flint,” and “Lee,” who don’t like the regular Lanterns much, because they’re too mean and tough to like anything.

The Villains were only marginally more interesting, with a valid gripe against the Guardians of the Universe, but that doesn’t redeem them very much, considering their very first plan was to start stealing natural resources from other inhabited planets. Their physical appearance was dull. Human-like skeletons with transparent, glowing flesh. Did somebody get a cookie for designing them? If so, they didn’t deserve it.

As for the Guardians themselves … I get it. I understand that they’re just begging to be used for stories whose moral is “Intelligence Does Not Equal Wisdom.” But if not a single one of their number foresaw that taking the Power Batteries away from the Keepers would cause some kind of resentment, then they aren’t fit to be Guardians of a broom closet, much the Universe.

WHTTDCNU-conclusion

vigil-lOverall, while I found a few things to criticize, I did like GL Corps.

Maybe that’s because I am a big GL fan, but I still felt it was an engaging read.

It could have been shortened up in both length and cast, but I still enjoyed reading it. The art was good, even if it had too many humanoid shapes, and I felt it worked.

If you are a big GL fan, I recommend this comic.

Check it out if you want. You might like it.

plague-doc-rGreen Lantern Corps is not a great comic. It’s not a good comic. It’s barely average, and I would definitely not recommend it to a new reader.

The lack of focus on important characters, the unsatisfying resolution at the end, and the dull, uninteresting Lanterns that padded out its pages made it a comic that I will hopefully forget about quickly. “Green Lantern” – the one with Sinestro returning to the Corps – was a much better read in almost every respect.

Maybe I should go and read it again, instead.

WHTTDCNU-comic

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