REVIEW: Green Lantern #13

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As not only the newest in a strong line of legacy characters but also arguably the most prominent Muslim hero in comics today, Green Lantern Simon Baz has a lot to live up to. Issue 13 kicks off the new hero’s adventures in the New 52. Is the book worth picking up? Dig deeper, dear reader, as Major Spoilers takes a look at GREEN LANTERN #13…

GREEN LANTERN #13
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Doug Manhke
Inkers: Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Mark Irwin
Colorists: Tony Avina, Alex Sinclair
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in GREEN LANTERN:  Last month’s zero issue introduced the newest member of the Green Lantern Corps, Simon Baz. Baz’s major character trait thus far has been the fact that he is a Muslim who grew up in a post 9/11 America, where he was subject to racism due to the paranoia that gripped the nation. After stealing a car that coincidentally was armed with a bomb, Baz was thrown into Gitmo where a Green Lantern power ring sought him out and made him the next protector of Sector 2814.

JOHNS KEEPS THE PLATES SPINNING

There is a lot happening in Green Lantern these days. The Third Army is rising, the Oan guardians are insane, and Hal Jordan and Sinestro have both “died.” Throw in Simon Baz and his character arc and there is a risk that the series will lose its way. For the most part, Geoff Johns is successful in scripting a book that seems to have a clear story to tell. We see the Third Army arrive on Earth, and they look to be pretty fearsome. We also get a really cool moment with the psyches of Hal and Sinestro struggling for dominance within the power ring entrusted to Baz. Just enough attention is given to these moments so as to keep the focus on the characterization of Baz, which I feel is a smart move. Introducing the newest Green Lantern’s supporting cast was a smart move, as it helps readers identify with Baz and makes him both human and relatable.

I am a bit nervous that the entirety of Baz’s tenure as a lantern is going to be focusing on Muslim vs. non-Muslim relationships. On the surface, that’s actually a pretty good place to explore. Nine-eleven did change America and the Muslims that live in the country no doubt went through a lot as they tried to maintain the trust of their neighbors. So why am I nervous about this story? Well, if Johns is trying to make Baz sympathetic, why did he make him a car thief? To me this is a big problem. Why couldn’t Baz be a teacher or a cubicle-dweller? The relationship between Islam and white America could still be explored, and the protagonist could be seen as a bit more, I don’t know, trustworthy. On the good side, Johns does spend a lot of time with Baz’s sister, who is trying to lead a good life but still has to deal with racism and paranoia…and that makes her all the more interesting of a character.

GREAT CHARACTER DESIGNS

The action we get in this issue looks fine I suppose, but I really want to hand it to Doug Mahnke for his character designs. I really like the new GL armor, and the Third Army critters that drop in late in the issue are pretty spooky. These characters look great, but Mahnke leaves me wanting more on the last page of the issue, a splash with the best-known heroes of the New 52. I can’t wait to see the fallout next issue. Very nice art here!

BOTTOM LINE: NOT AN EXPLOSIVE START, BUT SOLID

It looks like Johns may be opting for the slow building of Baz rather than dropping him right into the middle of a conflict. This seems to indicate that Baz will be here a while, which is fine with me. This issue did a nice job of making me interested in his personal life and wondering where things will go from here. A lot of the material in this issue was already explored in last month’s zero issue, so if you didn’t like the new direction there, you won’t much care for it here. Only hints of greater conflicts are shown this issue. I know I need to be patient, but I’m ready for some action! Simon Baz has all the makings of an interesting character and should be a great addition to the DC mythos. Green Lantern #13 gets an above-average 3.5 stars out of 5.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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