Green Lantern #24 "Lights Out - Part One"

DC Comics

 

by Robert Venditti, Billy Tan

Reader Appeal/Publisher Rating: T (for Teens)

Genre: Superhero/Fantasy

 

 

"Lanterns will die, others change allegiances—and nothing will ever be the same again! Trust us: WE MEAN IT!"

 

That's the promise that DC Comics makes with the story arc, "Lights Out" that debuted in Green Lantern #24. I don't know about you, but I trust that they MEAN IT, and that they'll make good on that promise in the episodes to come.

 

In a unique publishing twist, none of the rest of this story will appear in this Green Lantern series, instead spinning out in weekly installments over the course of a single month in the following comics: Green Lantern Corps #24, Green Lantern: New Guardians #24, Red Lanterns #24, and Green Lantern Annual #2. So, while the FATE OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE is at stake, at least the folks over at 1700 Broadway will be able to get things wrapped up for us before Halloween. Yay.

 

As for the "Lights Out" story itself, it goes something like this:

 

The Blue Lanterns have all been extinguished. The Green Lanterns are next, the target of a godlike invader named Relic—a leftover from a previous universe.

 

Relic is a "scientist," the only survivor of his era, and his research indicates that Lanterns using their power rings are unknowingly destroying the universe as we know it (a parallel to global warming and other environmental predictions of doom). Thus, Relic is on the warpath to eradicate all power rings, power batteries, any power source among the colorful "emotional spectrum" that has been weaponized by the Lantern Corps.

 

"I'll put your light to nobler use than you ever have," Relic declares after draining dry the Lantern home world of Oa. "Your time of consumption is finished."

 

And that's where episode one ends, with the utter defeat of Hal Jordan and his Green Lantern corps, and the imminent destruction of the entire planet of Oa. Pretty grim, and yes, the stake are pretty high. How do you battle an environmentally-minded science god from an ancient era who is intent on eradicating the universe as you know it? Guess we'll have to read the next chapters of "Lights Out" to find out—and to see (in DC's words), "Who lives? Who dies? The new status quo for the Lanterns is revealed!"

 

This "Lights Out" story arc is a major event in the DC universe, and one that's received high-profile promotion from the company, so I was really looking forward to reading this first installment. As I went from page to page, though, I started to worry that DC had been so intent on creating a marketable "event" that they'd not focused hard enough on what really matters in a comic: the story.

 

Relic is by far the most interesting character here, but he seems mostly a higher-minded clone of Marvel Comics' villain, Galactus. Hal Jordan, Kyle Raynor, and John Stewart (Earth's contributions to the Lantern corps) come off as wooden foils, one-dimensional plot devices rather than real people caught it a intergalactic deathstorm. And let's face it, the constantly repeated theme of "FATE OF THE WORLD/UNIVERSE AT STAKE" in so many comic book "events" is just lazy scripting—not the fault of writer Robert Venditti, but rather a problem driven by the squarely-within-the-box thinking of an editorial staff that (as evidenced in other comics) is much too creative for this kind of halfhearted story attempt. But I digress...

 

Visually, Billy Tan's artwork and Rob Hunter's coloring does what it's supposed to do: move the story forward. They handle with journeyman skill the task of war in space, unusual alien beings, and action pacing. There was no breathtaking scene here, but then again, there was also no "aw, that's not right" image in the book either. Again, Relic was the most interesting aspect of the art: mysterious, noble, and powerful—except that he kept reminding me of Galactus without a helmet. (Guess that's my problem though, not Tan's.)

 

At any rate, don't mistake my disappointment for total displeasure.

 

This is not a bad comic, just not a great one. Fans of GL and the corps will certainly find plenty to enjoy, not the least of which is Venditti's entertaining scatological descriptions. (For instance, a "noxious planet with a fart for an atmosphere" and a central battery that "barfed out Ion like it was bad sushi.")

 

Because there's so much complex detail woven into the Lantern universe, this probably won't be a great comic to introduce a new reader in your family. Someone unfamiliar with Lantern-ness will probably feel lost by all the references to earlier, important, cosmos-changing events in this series.

 

As far as parents are concerned, even with a "T for teens" rating, Green Lantern #24 presents very little in the way of potentially objectionable content. There's the aforementioned scatological gratuity, an occasional mild profanity, spectrum-sucking bugs, and a few explosions. Not much to worry about, in my opinion. But as always, it's best to read a comic for yourself before deciding whether it's appropriate for your kids.

 

Anyway, as a longtime Green Lantern fan, I wanted to LOVE this story. After all, "Nothing will ever be the same again!" But I put down the comic after reading and just felt an overwhelming sense of...average. Not terrible, but not great either.

 

I think, after all the hype, I wanted to discover something that would awe me, make me care again about the heroes I love. Something that had authentic personal stakes, real humanity, and a cleverness of plot that always kept me guessing. I didn't find any of that in Green Lantern #24, and (I suspect) until DC Comics starts actively bringing in fresh, new writing talent, I don't know when I might see that again.

 

Let’s Talk About It

If your family members are interested in this book, then encourage discussion about it afterward. You can use these questions to get started:

 

• What do you like best about the Green Lantern universe? Why?

 

• They say that heroes are defined by the villains they oppose. If Relic disappeared in the next issue, what kind of villain would you create to replace him? How would that villain make heroes out of the Lanterns?

 

• In real life, what part does God play in making heroes? How can he help you to live an heroic life this week?

 

--MN

 

Note: All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

 

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