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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 38,041
Subj: Green Lanterns #13 - Briefly.
Posted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 at 07:59:48 am EST (Viewed 377 times)

On first inspection with an opening sequence set Ten Billion years in the Universes past one can't accuse Sam Humphries' tale of The Phantom Ring in lacking ambition, Green Lanterns as a title is formatted as a series set in recognisable Urban/Suburban environments and, ostensibly, showing us the word of Green Lantern from a human perspective as two of the Corps' newest and most inexperienced recruits feel their way into the role chosen for them.
Of course one calls Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz inexperienced but the fact of the matter is neither show any of the sheer bewilderment or ineptitude displayed by previous new recruits into the Corps that we have followed. Compare to the new inductions seen in Van Jensen's run on the Green Lantern Corps and both Baz and Ms Cruz have shown a remarkable degree of adaptability in the role despite their lack of any actual training or on-the-job guidance from established Corpsmen. This lack of support or overseeing is but one of the elements with which we must merely accept in the book, but as Sam Humphries opens this latest issue ten billion years ago on Maltus it isn't some new facet of the Green Lantern mythos he is exploring, it is the already established meeting between the early Guardians of the Universe and the mysterious and unstable Volthoom first revealed in Geoff Johns' final Green Lantern storyline.

Humphries picks up on that Johns derived plotline and adds further detail to the events that saw the Guardians create the first Power Rings, and if you are a devout Green Lantern watcher some of this is likely to be rather irritating to read as Humphries additions to Geoff Johns' vision don't so much add depth to the tale but arguably take it away from the mythos...
With a confusing opening of a volatile and rampaging Volthoom having attacked Maltus using(?) the First Ring the Guardians look on, eventually after some dithering over how to respond to this crisis it is Ganthet who takes initiative and calls forth the supposedly exiled Rami, who we see is the actual designer and builder of the first Green Lantern power rings. In effect then Humphries addition to the mythos is to overturn established wisdom and reveal that the Guardians were not the cooperative creators of the Power Ring technology, it was a hitherto unknown rogue Guardian. A Maverick. Furthermore we are told that the Guardians have no direct connection to the Emotional spectrum themselves as they have (supposedly) rejected emotion themselves ad so are fundamentally incapable of accessing any of its power. Logical yes, and yet given they will become known for their ability to project the Green Light and have become living power batteries we run into an obvious paradox - chiefly how do beings unable and unwilling to feel emotion, indeed rejecting it, become masters of the Green Spectrum of will? Furthermore Is Ravi's apparent claim that he is the one who chose the Green Spectrum now to be taken as fact? Indeed if we took everything in this opening sequence at face value then just what is it the Guardians did themselves that earned them any right to be considered the Green Lantern Corps' creators and dutiful Guardians of the Universe...?

Despite its wholly derivative and lacklustre nature 'The Phantom Lantern' still manages to offer some brief moments of praiseworthy character work. As suggested last time the tortured psyche of Frank Laminski and his struggle for identity are not at all dissimilar to the experiences of Jessica Cruz, an empathy she finally has the chance to act upon as as Guardian Ravi predicted the Phantom Ring begins to overpower his control and catastrophe is now inevitable. Simon Baz' response is inherantly less sympathetic than Jessica's, and yet as the problem of Frank Laminski reaches its endpoint even he is moved by Jessica's compassionate view to be able to join her in extending the hand of understanding and help to the desperate Laminski. It's a touchingly very human scene from Sam Humphries, both Simon and Jessica carry their own differing viewpoints and responses as Green Lanterns, yet as they freely admit to the man in turmoil they are here to help others, not dismiss them.
In amidst the confusing narrative, Volthoom's barely comprehensible backstory, the merely serviceable art from Ronan Cliquet, this culminating scene is what just about saves the book - two human beings reaching out freely to another who is in desperate desperate pain.... \(yes\)

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