What makes a man who he is? Is it his parentage, or is it the environment? Well instead of progressing the plot John Stewart or any of the new rookies, instead Van Jensen along with Robert Venditti to tell a “Zero Year” story for John. Now for those who are not reading Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s current Batman story , it’s basically the origin of Batman and it appears that many characters were affected during a power outage caused by The Riddler with a hurricane on it’s way. Man the people can’t ever catch a break can they? So we are presented a single issue of John without the ring in a rescue mission. So for those that have been begging for a story about John before he became a Green Lantern, well here it is. Let’s open page one and see what Van Jensen and Robert Venditti have in store for us.
We open our this issue with a young John Stewart standing aside his mother protesting for workers who want better working conditions. In brilliant fashion, we see the person who makes John the man who he eventually becomes it’s his mother. She is written as strong individual who wants to be a model for her two children. This is where we are introduced to the device that connects the reader with John Stewart, the events taking place and the eerie similarities between the two events. More on that as we progress. The flashback sequence art by Allan Jefferson is nice on the eyes with a clean line.
John Stewart is in a Marine Corps Unit on a humanitarian mission who have taken a temporary safe haven in Seaside Coliseum. Stewart is portrayed as the no nonsense Marine who understands what his mission is and his has to corral his fellow Marines to fall in. This isn’t really anything new, more so this firmly establishes what sorta person John is. More reinforcement, less seen growth.
I’m not sure that this was supposed to look like Hurricane Katrina, but with the Seaside Coliseum looking exactly like the Super Dome is eerie. It’s a small nitpick, but changing the shape of the stadium would have made the comparison unsaid. It doesn’t hurt the story, but it can remove someone from it.
As the mission progress, Stewart and company are introduced to Anarky, a group of young punks who have claimed Seaside Coliseum as their territory. Here we get what makes Stewart stand out as a character, while he is a Marine Venditti and Jensen portray Stewart as a man who wants to save lives where absolutely can and use lethal force as a last resort.
In a rather quick skirmish, the Marines are taken down due to sheer numbers. Here is where the art take s bit of a slump, as certain panels appear rushed and uninspired. It’s not terrible art but it’s it looks like the artist could have taken a day or to on these pages.
John Stewart creates an escape plan that using his mind instead of rushing in head on to help his fellow escape’s. All of this is running parallel with Stewart’s mother telling her own story of crisis involving authority and the common man. Even certain panels synchronize perfectly, which gives a bit more impact to the main story.
We conclude this issue where a standoff ensues between the Marines and Anarky who hold some Marines hostage. Hammering the idea even further that Stewart loves find a different solution the conflict, he uses a flash bang grenade to knock everybody for a loop and disarm the main leader for Anarky, leading the hostages out and knocking out his superior officer. Another instance of Stewart doing the right thing in a tough situation.Batman does show up but for two panels and due to the art it’s not clear what is about to do John and he’s gone before a word is said.the cameo comes off as unwarranted since it doesn’t add anything to the already wrapped up plot.
Overall this issue sadly felt flat. As the reader doesn’t really connect to Stewart other than a superficial level. The issue is a constant reminder that John thinks out of the box and everyone around him is irrational. It was fine for the first few pages but after a while it comes off as beating a dead horse. The art was average and at points actually hurt the story a bit with it’s flaws in simple story telling.
Green Lantern Corps #25 receives a 2/5
You can find more of Ben’s writing at his blog
You can also follow him on Twitter