Or – “Only You Can Save Us, Rainbow Raider!!”
Much has been made of the upcoming “War of Light” and “Blackest Night” cosmic events, during which the various colors of the spectrum are going to be battling it out for supremacy, sort of the luminary version of American Gladiators. This issue gives us more insight into the orange light, some depth to the green light, a grudge matchup from the violet light, and Roxanne, who doesn’t have to turn on the red light… Those days are over, she don’t have to sell her body to the night.
Previously on Green Lantern: Centuries ago, the natives of planet Oa decided that since they were located in the center of the galaxy (I sense some ethnocentrism in that statement) that they were the most important of all. Neener. Some of their number left early on, believing that a more proactive hand was needed, and became the Controllers. Then, all the Oan women left, evolved into supermodels with tiny heads, and became the Zamarons. The Guardians harnessed the green power of the emotional spectrum, and used their combined will to power a corps of space cops wearing their symbol: a Green Lantern (also a symbol indicating power wash & wax and inexpensive hot dogs.) Things is a’brewin’ in the universe that may leave the bearers of willpower less lonely, but much busier, and the Guardians of Oa have been busily denying any fear and rewriting their laws to make it seem like they saw this all coming. In so doing, they have decided to finally invade the Vega system, a territory that they have eschewed for centuries as part of an ancient pact. This will have consequences, and as you might imagine, they ain’t gonna be pretty.
Geoff Johns has been doing some very interesting work in the cosmic sectors of the DCU, and we start by watching Fatality, the last survivor of planet Xanshi (destroyed by John Stewart in the “Cosmic Odyssey” series 20 or so years ago) embracing her change from yellow to purple light, and set off to find John. “I will forgive John Stewart,” she thinks, “for I am undying love.” The Guardians of Oa, for their part, have dispatched Gretti, the GL of sector 2828 to the Vega system to prepare for their arrival. (I expect it will be a lot like the late James Brown and his “capes routine.” “HA! I feel good! HA! HA! WHAAAA!” I should totally write for DC…) Hal Jordan, currently duel-wielding green and blue power rings, leads a force of Lanterns into action, accompanied by the flyin’ blue dwarves, while partner John Stewart worries bout Hal. Both Lanterns are bothered by the secret of the orange light, and wonder what else their bosses haven’t told ’em. A sudden prompting from the Blue Lantern ring (“WHAT DO YOU HOPE FOR?”) causes Hal to crash-land on Vega, where the real fun begins.
The Guardians, ever arrogant, saunter up to the habitat of Agent Orange, who responds with lethal force. Gretti finds out the secret of the Orange light first, as he is quickly overwhelmed by constructs, who envelop and eat him alive. “Consumption complete. Identity stolen.” Gretti’s life-force then swirls about and he is reborn as a monstrous creature of the orange ring. “Gretti of Sector 2828. You belong to Agent Orange.” That’s horrifying, really horrifying, and the sight of the former Lantern attacking his peers is effective. Overwhelmed by the warring green and blue pixels rings , Hal Jordan is quickly overcome by tentacles of orange light, and the ever-greedy Agent Orange shows his face at the sight of a new toy that he is unfamiliar with. “A blue ring?” slurps Larfleeze, “Where did you get a BLUE ring? I WANT ONE!” Hal is then killed and eaten, and his two rings allow Agent Orange the power to murder all the Guardians, and turn the Star Sapphire Corps into French Maids.
No, not really. Still, Hal is in dire straits, and this issue gives us a different take on ring-based emotional light powers. Instead of an army wearing rings, Larfleeze has a ring that contains an army. It’s a fillip that at least helps to differentiate them from the existing Corps and helps to offset what I’m percieving as a dilution of the Green Lantern shtick. This whole “all colors have rings and all rings have special powers” conceit could actually disappear up it’s own ass if not handled correctly, but I think Johns and company did good work establishing the orange light as unique. This does punch a small whole in my “Hal wears all colors of rings and becomes Uber Lantern” theory, but I’m just glad not to have the GL or Sinestro Corps duplicated. The manipulations of Guardian Scar are well-handled, as well, duping her fellows into doing her dirty work for her and putting the pieces in place for her power move. It’s a good issue, with a credibly scary opponent, and gives us a tease of another John Stewart/Fatality matchup (with a new twist) something I always like to see. Green Lantern #40 is a good issue that handles it’s various points well, and carries enough momentum that it doesn’t drag things out or rush any of the developments, earning a well-done 3 out of 5 stars. Here’s hoping that the whole of Blackest Night is this readable…