Thoughts on Green Lanterns #14 – “The Phantom Lantern Part 5”

Green Lanterns #14

The Phantom Lantern story comes to a close in Green Lanterns #14.  Simon and Jessica face off against Frank Laminski while Volthoom takes on the exiled guardian, Rami.  With guest-cameos by the annoyed Isamot Kol and Vath Sarn.

Green Lanterns #14

Green Lanterns #14 CoverThe Phantom Lantern Part 5
Writer: Sam Humphries
Pencilers: Eduardo Pansica, Ronan Cliquet
Inkers: Julio Ferreira, Ronan Cliquet
Colorist: Blond

Cover Price: $2.99
Story Pages: 20

Release Date: January 4th, 2017

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Collected in: Green Lanterns v2: The Phantom Lantern

“THE PHANTOM LANTERN” conclusion! It’s Simon and Jessica’s final confrontation with the Phantom Lantern as the evil Volthoom’s plan for the rogue Guardian of the Universe inches closer to realization.

Background

Green Lanterns #14 concludes the second major story arc of the series, The Phantom Lantern.  As we have seen in previous issues the phantom ring draws from the entire spectrum of power rings, and as the story closes out we move on to the indigo portion of the spectrum.

The Indigo Lanterns are the most enigmatic of the group, mostly due to their entire language coming down to the single word “Nok” (think “I am Groot”, but even more simplified).  They are powered by compassion and a desire to heal, which sets them apart from the other Lanterns.  This is important since prior to this the Phantom Lantern has mostly drawn from greed (orange) and fear (yellow), with a little bit of will (green) and rage (red).  Hope (blue) and love (pink) never play into it, but that would make sense given what is primarily driving our villain.

The Story

As is usual with Green Lanterns the main draw of the book is in seeing Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz grow as people and as Lanterns.  This is good since the actual story this month is relatively weak and doesn’t seem to be coming from a strong foundation.  The end of the fight with the Phantom Lantern is fairly anticlimactic as he is overwhelmed by the compassion given to him by the Indigo spectrum and he realizes all the terrible things he has done before and after getting the ring.

The problem I have with this is that we have previously seen that the ring is powered and influenced by him, not the other way around.  In earlier issues his own fears power the yellow spectrum, whereas a traditional yellow ring is meant to be empowered by the ability to create fear in others.  The other spectrums we have seen him use are similarly influenced and powered by his own emotions, as well.  In this issue it is him being influenced by the Indigo spectrum rather than the other way around, which appears to be inconsistent (although the Indigo tribe has always been a bit… off).  In general I would just put this down to a lack of a good explanation for how the phantom ring is supposed to work.

The Phantom Ring's influence in Green Lanterns #14Problems with how the phantom ring is supposed to work aside, the rest of the issue works well enough.  Jessica gains a much needed confidence boost thanks to a brief experience with the phantom ring.   This re-affirmation of her eligibility to be a Green Lantern finally seems to have moved the character past the biggest blocks in her path.  Initially I rolled my eyes at the way it was handled, but after thinking about it some more I believe it does make sense for the character to need that confirmation.  It does bestow the added bonus of finally allowing her to make constructs at will, which has been a running character thread since before this series began.  I am not sorry to see that particular subplot finally closed, and am glad it gets a satisfying conclusion.  Her exuberance at constructing objects at will is a nice touch, too.

There is also a background plot with the exiled guardian taking on Volthoom one-on-one, which is mostly just setting up future stories.  The conclusion of this fight is predictable, but the potential stories it sets up could be good.  Or terribly cliched.  Time will tell, but I am optimistic for them.  Writer Sam Humphries has proven that he does character driven plots well, and that is what this looks like it will be.

The Art

The art crew for this is again split up, but manages to maintain consistency throughout.  This book is definitely having a hard time keeping up with the twice-weekly schedule, but it hasn’t negatively impacted the art yet.  As with the first story arc a lot of the consistency has to be attributed to the colorist, Blond.  That is not to take away from either of the pencilers, Eduardo Pansica and Ronan Cliquet, who do a fine job of keeping the look of the book consistent.  The art remains solid and tells the story without getting in the way of it.  Green Lanterns #14 won’t win any awards, but it won’t turn you off from the book either.

The Verdict

The entire Phantom Lantern story arc has had some logical inconsistencies at its center, which I’ll get into when I cover the full arc in detail.  For this issue that means that anything involving the Lantern himself is difficult to get fully involved with.  The character developments for Jessica, on the other hand, are welcome… and overdue.  Baz doesn’t get quite as much limelight this time around, but he does make the critical decision to not try on the phantom ring himself.  It is a small moment, but an important one for the character.

Sam Humphries has done an excellent job over fifteen issues to flesh these characters out.  The actual story arcs, Rage Planet and Phantom Lantern, haven’t really measured up to the characters in them, but they provide a decent enough framework.  There are some shorter stories coming up following Phantom Lantern, so we’ll see how they measure up.

Green Lanterns #14

$2.99
Green Lanterns #14
75

Final Score

8/10

    Pros

    • Good growth of Jessica's character
    • Solid setup for next set of subplots

    Cons

    • Phantom Ring poorly defined and inconsistent
    • Phantom Lantern is an uninteresting villain