After Volthoom’s return in the Rise of The Third Army, The Wrath of The First Lantern and just recently the Phantom Ring story arc it seems that Sam Humphries has chosen now to reveal the “secret origin” of Volthoom. Now you’ll have to forgive me but I didn’t read The Third Army or The Wrath of The First Lantern so I have no idea if Geoff Johns or any other writers delved into Volthoom’s origin at all. So I have zero expectations for what Sam Humphries has in store for The First Lantern. Warning there will be spoilers going forward, you’ve been warned.
When I first looked at Voolthoom having no idea who he was, at least from a visual standpoint I found mysterious and cool. Character wise Humphries made him feel like Emperor Palpatine as he enticed Frank with the promise of power. Given that we’ve only seen Volthoom in a few panels since the Phantom Lantern arc, what I read in this issue doesn’t really gel with what I’ve read. Outside of the whole “revenge of the Guardians” bit but at this juncture what villain doesn’t want revenge on the Guardians. I’m not sure how I feel that Volthoom is actually a human being from another Earth. I liked the effort to tie in the Mulitiverse with the ongoing plot of Green Lanterns but Volthoom being a human who was experimented on by the Guardians just feels like a let down to me. It fits the narrative that Humphries wants to tell but something bigger on the cosmic scale would be a better solution. Yes the Multiverse is pretty high on the list but we’ve seen other characters from different Earth’s before so it lessens his impact as he’s just another guy. Not a cosmic baddie who escaped to our universe to wreck our shit but a human who was experimented on and became a God.
Now I will say that I didn’t expect the “I’m suicidal” approach to Volthoom. Going back to what I said about Voolthoom being human fitting Humphries’s narrative, his personal motivations and his desire to die are all something we as readers can relate at some level. Does this mean that Humphries wants to redeem Volthoom at some point down the road, or is it a classic case of the best type of villains are the ones who are right. Considering Volthoom’s goal is to wipe out all existence because of the experiment that he volunteered for turned him into a monster that can never die and oh my God this is the plot of X-Men: Origins Wolverine. I understand that Humphries wanting to give more complexity to villains but making them sympathetic doesn’t always work. Just look at Sinestro to stay within the boundaries of Green Lantern, is a character that is complex and engaging in his own right but is still compelling and evil. I’m sure that Humphries has a bigger goal for Volthoom but I’m just left scratching my head at the end of the issue. I did appreciate the Superman homage.
Robson Rocha returns on pencils and I have to give credit where credit is due, Rocha’s facial expressions for this issue was on point. Very solid artwork and great storytelling, and while it was a bit different I liked the creepier take on The Guardians. It doesn’t match with has been previously established but given that it’s from Volthoom’s perspective it makes sense in that context. Overall I like the idea that Humphries wanted to shed some light on Volthoom as a character I’m just not overtly fond of the choices that he made.
Green Lanterns #18 earns a 3/5