Two rookie Green Lanterns are left to guard the planet Earth from an invasion of Red Lanterns in Green Lanterns v1: Rage Planet. Hal Jordan and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps are busy elsewhere in the galaxy, so it is up to Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz to protect Earth. And not kill each other.
Green Lanterns v1: Rage Planet
Collects: Green Lanterns: Rebirth, Green Lanterns 1-6
Page Count: 168 ($0.10 per page)
Story Page Count: 135 ($0.13 per page)
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Writer: Sam Humphries (1-6, Rebirth), Geoff Johns (Rebirth)
Artists: Ethan van Sciver (Rebirth), Ed Benes (Rebirth, 4), Jay Leisten (1-5), Robson Rocha (1-5), Keith Champagne (3), Neil Edwards (3), Tom Derenick (3-4), Tom Palmer (3-4), Jack Herbert (3, 6), Rob Hunter (4), Mark Irwin (4), Vicente Cifuentes (4), Marc Deering (4), Eduardo Pansica (5), Julio Ferreira (5), Will Conrad (6)
Colorists: Blond (Rebirth, 1-2, 4-6), Hi-Fi Studios (3)
Green Lanterns v1: Rage Planet
Out of all the legacy heroes in the DC Universe the most prolific are the Green Lanterns. For a long time there were four human members of the Green Lantern Corps (Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, and John Stewart), but at both the beginning and end of the New 52 new recruits were added. Simon Baz joined the Corps within the first year of the New 52, and Jessica Cruz became a member at the tail end. Now the two are starring together in their own book, Green Lanterns, as they learn the ropes of being a Lantern.
When it comes to Green Lanterns we are used to seeing confident, powerful individuals, so it is nice to see this book diverge from the usual. Simon Baz has safety concerns for his family, as well as a chip on his shoulder from being sent to Guantanamo Bay prior to being a Lantern. Jessica Cruz has severe social anxiety which resulted in her locking herself up in her apartment for three years. Together they barely form one cohesive individual, let alone two. And yet they are both Lanterns, which means the universe sees potential in them.
This first arc is largely about the two of them coming to terms with being partners, and trying to figure out what being a Lantern means. The downside to this is that the two can go well past merely “lacking confidence” and straight into whine-mode with a degree of regularity. There’s only so many times you can listen to Jessica go on about her social anxiety before you wish she’d lock herself up again.
The antagonists for this arc are the Red Lanterns, who are powered by rage and anger. They have been a staple opponent of the Green Lanterns for several years now, and serve as formidable foes. Probably too formidable, actually, since it makes it hard to believe that two rookies are able to go toe-to-toe with the best the Red Lanterns have to offer. That is mitigated to a degree by their incomplete victory over the Red Lanterns, but it is a tough sell. The payoff to this is we do get to see Bleez, one of the core Red Lanterns, question herself and her dedication to her path. That’s more character development from her than we’ve had in… ever.
The Red Lanterns are largely window dressing for this arc, and the main focus is on the heroes overcoming their own problems. This results in a book that is fairly easy for new readers to get into, which is not a common thing to say about Green Lantern comics. Both Simon and Jessica feel like they have the makings of well-rounded characters, although the path is only beginning. They are both still largely defined by a single trait each, and that tends to hold the book back.
There are some glimmers of hope for characterization, though. It is Jessica, for instance, who succumbs to the lure of the Red Lanterns rather than the perpetually angry Baz. As an extension of that it is Baz who helps Jessica — whom he sees as a nuisance — recover, and discovers a new power within himself as a result. I am not sure what I think of his “Emerald Sight” ability yet, especially when combined with his previously established healing powers, but we’ll wait to see where they are going with this first.
As noted above the book does need to back off on reminding us just lacking in confidence Baz and Cruz are and add more depth. On the other hand Baz and Cruz do manage to get past their mutual distrust by the end of the story arc, so that’s a step in the right direction. As a twice-monthly comic they can just barely get away with that, but in the collected form it reads much better.
One thing you will notice is that the number of artists jumps significantly after the third issue. Fortunately the various pencilers and inkers do a good job of maintaining a consistent style throughout, although there are a few jarring moments. For the most part it seems like the artists coordinated to match their styles, and it does pay off. Hopefully DC will get ahead of the game a bit and we’ll see less of this in the future.
The colorist for the series, who is known simply as “Blond”, does a good job in tying everything together, and is a large part of the reason why the book maintains a consistent feel. Some pages can feel overwhelmed by the amount of special effects involved, but that’s more of an issue with Green Lantern books and their powerset in general. Overall Green Lanterns v1: Rage Planet holds together well visually, and it gets the job done.
At $16.99 for 168 pages Green Lanterns v1: Rage Planet is a solid value. You are getting seven issues of content for a decent price, and the trade will be thick enough to look good on your shelf without being overwhelming to hold. We are still waiting to see what kind of paper stock will be used on the trades, but hopefully it will be sturdy enough to hold up to multiple reads. I was hoping DC would launch the first wave of trades are a reduced price to incentivize impulse purchases, but it looks like they have decided against that.
In the end Green Lanterns v1: Rage Planet is a decent entry point into the Green Lantern mythos. There are hints of the larger stories in play, particularly with the inclusion of the phantom ring subplot in the background, but the story stays focused throughout. It does sacrifice some of the credibility of the Red Lanterns to get there, and it may be time to let them rest for a while. It seems they are being setup to be the primary antagonists of the entire series, though.
Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz were sorely underdeveloped before this series, and it is good to see them getting fleshed out now. They make for interesting protagonists, and they provide something different for long-time Green Lantern fans. The risk DC is taking by putting these unknowns front and center is paying off for now, and I suspect this will be an interesting story to follow. It definitely has my attention, at least.
Green Lanterns v1: Rage Planet will be available on January 31st, 2017. Check with your local comic shop to see if they will have it in stock or be willing to pre-order it for you.