For superheroes death is nothing but a revolving door, even the most heartfelt of death scenes ultimately seem trivial when in the back of reader’s minds they know the heroes will return in some fashion. However one aspect that isn’t treated like a joke is the death of supporting characters. Yes some of them do return but for the most part when a supporting character dies, they stay dead until the plot deems otherwise. What if we took this idea and looked at death from the villains perspective? Warning there will be spoilers, read your comic before reading further. You have been warned.
After I finished this issue, the first thought that ran through my head is that Sam Humphries wrote an incredible origin story for Doctor Polaris. I know that this isn’t really an origin story, but with all the flashbacks and inner conflicts between Doctor Polaris, his brother and his actual identity and the eventual death of his brother it serves perfectly as a launching point for this new iteration. In retrospect it makes me wish that we didn’t see him put on the costume until this issue. After losing his final connection to whatever humanity he had left, it was a powerful moment. Honestly what sealed the deal was Humphries giving readers that false sense of hope, because of how Doctor Polaris of amount of sympathy points that was shown for him it’s only natural that you would want his brother to just wake up. I will admit that the final moments between Doctor Polaris’s brother disappeared from his conscious, only to be surrounded in darkness made me choke up a bit.
While I do admire the attempt that Humphries tried to connect the plight of Doctor Polaris with Baz’s own personal problems and I’m going to echo sentiments from the review I wrote two weeks ago, I do feel some amount of sympathy for Simon’s personal life but it’s not fleshed out enough within this series for me to care. It’s going to get some sort of emotional response from me, but that’s only because I’m a human being with genuine and it’s automatic for me to respond with sympathy. Besides that this moment was absolutely critical for Baz going forward, this is the first instance in which he tried to save a life and ultimately couldn’t. It’s a growing moment for any character to accept that the loss of life can happen despite their best efforts.
One thing that shocked me was the “dirty” art by Robson Rocha and bear in my that is far from a criticism but rather a praise. The thick line work and exaggerated facial expressions made this comic look like it belong in 1975. I actually like the change, because it separates itself from the typical DC house style of comics into something that visually looks retro but still modern. I did have some problems with how Rocha handled anatomy in certain panels but it’s nothing that will make a break an issue for me.
If I look at this arc as the secret origin of Doctor Polaris, then I really enjoyed the pathos that Humphries gave to this classic character, a villain who I knew very little of. As a Green Lantern arc though? I thought it was serviceable at best and I’ve already stated my problems with how his past was handled in not only this arc but this series.
Green Lanterns #21 earns a 3/5