So here we are at the start of something new again. Jessica Cruz. Simon Baz. Both now in the hands of writer Sam Humphries. This is his first crack at these characters and the lantern universe. So lets find out what his take on them is and surely overreact with positive words or negativity as fans ALWAYS do. Hit the jump because the Rebirth begins here!
(Editor’s Note: This is the first of two reviews TheGreenLanternCorps.com will be featuring on this issue)
First off, Ed Benes is listed as artist in this book alongside Ethan Van Sciver. Those are two very different styles of drawing and while Ethan is certainly the superstar of the two, I was pleasantly surprised by how good Ed Benes was here. Benes has a few troublesome issues that I did not enjoy (mainly his time spent on Justice League or Birds of Prey) but his lines were really clear and smooth. I truly enjoyed the panel in which Jessica Cruz steps up to the plate to battle a Manhunter. So hat tip to him and colorist Jason Wright who did a very solid job of keeping the two artists’ pages as familiar as possible.
Benes (who will not be the series regular artist) handles the meat of the issue which honestly isn’t very much. We are “treated” to only two pages each of background for Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. I haven’t been reading Geoff Johns’ Justice League series and this is a number one issue. We deserve some time to get familiar with these characters, and not assume that we’ve been keeping up with ongoing of yesterday.
Still, between Johns and Humphries we do get the bare minimum basics about each character. Jessica Cruz is apparently a shut in recluse who hasn’t been out of her apartment in three years (ewww!) while Simon Baz is a former thief who’s apparently dealing with terrorist threats in a city that (in real life has a 40% Muslim community) hates his and his family’s religion. Also, and probably more importantly, Simon Baz is literally a government snitch. He’s under a contract to snitch on the Green Lantern Corps and I find that absolutely fascinating. Superman seems to always warrant the big questions of “Do we need Superheroes?” and Batman always has that vigilante stink that rubs cops the wrong way, but the GLC are for the most part aliens who come down and say “Hey, we’re going to protect from aliens and unfortunately for you, that’s about all the information you’ll ever get.” That sounds like a bad idea for the nations of the world so this plot point definitely will be one to look out for when the series officially starts.
As someone unfamiliar with how Jessica Cruz got her Green Lantern ring (it happened in Justice League #50, that much I do know!), I am sorry to say that her uniqueness has yet to show itself. When the fighting starts here, its the cocky Simon Baz that shows up and gets the character development while Jessica plays the “I don’t know what I’m doing” card that we’ve seen from countless new heroes before. When Ethan Van Sciver truly makes his presence felt with the appearance of Hal Jordan at the end of the issue, its a whole new ballgame. Hal looks regal and stern, while the bickering between Simon and Jessica is done well just by arm placement and facial expressions (Jessica’s disgust is quite evident). The characters start playing off of each other a lot better and we finally get to the premise of the series. Two fairly new Green Lanterns from Earth are now forced to coexist and learn how to be heroes because something is coming and they’ll need to be ready. While it may not sound like much, we are given the second most interesting plot point from this issue and that’s the return of Atrocitus and the Red Lanterns. Not only are the Red Lanterns back, but they are focused on a new power from a lost Guardian and more importantly, they are focused on Earth. New lanterns vs blood gushing villains and the promise of new powers sets the series up for good potential.
Its just unfortunate that nothing in this issue blows me away and while all the information presented seems like its new reader friendly, it definitely relies on my previous knowledge of the Red Lanterns to care whether they have plans or not. Otherwise, I’d just be looking at two menacing looking aliens sitting on a pile of skulls with their cat promising a Red Dawn. Don’t get me wrong, I love that name. The Red Dawn sounds awesome, I just don’t think this issue did enough to sell me on it and certainly did not do a good job of distinguishing Sam Humphries voice from Geoff Johns who co-wrote this issue with him. I don’t know who did what or how much input Johns truly had, but when Robson Rocha becomes the artist on this biweekly series with Green Lanterns #1, I’ll be looking for Humhpries to make me a believer in him and these characters all over again.
Green Lanterns Rebirth #1 earns a 3/5