Green Lanterns may not be the main Green Lantern title at DC Comics, but over the past five issues this series has risen to be one of my favorite DC series. The best superhero stories are ones that humanize their heroes, focusing on the person beneath the costume facing everyday struggles despite their powers, showing readers that we all face hardship. Green Lanterns #47 does just that with the conclusion to the five-issue “Ghosts of the Past” arc, boasting an impactful story that elevates both its heroes to new heights while presenting a thoughtful lesson about trauma.
From the onset of this arc, readers have known this would be a character-driven story examining Jessica Cruz’s past and its effect on her ability to carry out her duties as a Green Lantern. Long story short- her inability to reconcile with her past is draining her will power, but if she gives into the hate and fear brought on by her trauma she’ll be consumed by Volthoom’s power ring once again. The recurring theme here focuses on the effects of untreated trauma on even the strongest of people, and this issue excellently displays those effects.
It’s no secret that Jessica Cruz is a very powerful Lantern when she’s at the top of her game, yet her inability to cope with the vicious murders of her closest friends has derailed her ability to create constructs. Jessica falls to her lowest point in #47 in a truly unsettling way- she’s given up, unable to muster the strength to face her past becoming consumed by fear. After watching her struggle so much throughout this story, watching Jessica completely give up is a heartbreaking moment that proves how unchecked trauma can destroy even the strongest people.
Throughout the last few issues, there’s been a focus on mosquitoes, how they leech off people innocuously despite being responsible for millions of deaths, how even when they’re eradicated their effects linger. It’s a metaphor that perfectly exemplifies the point writer Tim Seeley is trying to make about trauma, a metaphor that comes full circle in the midst of Jessica’s most trying moment.
She makes a cry for help explaining her actions, how a mosquito’s bite doesn’t just take your blood, it leaves a stingy itch that can carry malaria and kill you, it’s something that can’t be ignored- she’s explaining to Simon that she just can’t ignore her own traumatic, killer mosquito bite, the sudden deaths of her friends at the hands of faceless murderers. It’s an eloquent way of displaying just how far Jessica has fallen while tying the entire arc together through a well-crafted recurring metaphor.
It’s not all bad though, as this sets up Simon Baz for a pretty damn heroic moment of his own that exemplifies the incomparable bond he and Jessica share. Powerless and without a ring Baz confronts Jessica, disarming her through sheer respect, admiration, and understanding. He shows just how much he cares for Jessica while showcasing how inseparable the two are with a genuinely heartwarming speech explaining to Jess just how strong she is. More importantly, his support is a message to readers who may be suffering- nobody can go through trauma alone and it’s okay to get help.
When Simon and Jessica emerge from their struggle, Jessica is stronger than ever thanks to Simon. Without Simon, Jessica would’ve irrevocably fallen under the power ring’s control and lingered in trauma for the rest of her life, but instead she merges with a greater will than ever before. The message is clear- we all go through trauma and dealing with it is messy, but with the help of incredible friends we can all conquer our problems and emerge better than ever.
The Justice League and John Constantine are back in this issue, but their presence feels like an afterthought bordering on unnecessary. While their consumption at the hands of Singularity Jain shows just how powerful the villain is while reinforcing the notion that everyone has trauma they’re running from, it serves no purpose to the greater narrative- especially once John miraculously saves them with no real explanation. John Constantine’s humor is a welcome addition once again, but in this issue I felt no real purpose for his presence.
Jessica Cruz has been on a transformative journey throughout “Ghosts of the Past,” a journey that leaves her at her absolute strongest. Green Lanterns #47 manages to tell a character driven and entertaining story while providing a powerful message for readers to walk away with- a feat that can’t go unnoticed.
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