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With the recent announcement of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps‘ impending cancellation in August, it looks like Green Lanterns will be carrying the intergalactic space cop torch for at least a few months later this year. Luckily, Green Lanterns feels primed to do just that, coming off a stellar arc that sets Jessica Cruz up to be one of the more powerful Lanterns in the entire Corps. Green Lanterns Annual #1 brings cast members of both titles together in an issue that explores the legend of one of the very first Green Lanterns, the Lost Lantern. While this annual is an entertaining read thanks to witty dialogue from its two leads, the contradicting tones and waste of supporting characters ultimately make this story fall flat.
Tim Seeley and V. Ken Marion take this issue off, allowing writer Andy Diggle and artist Mike Perkins to takeover creative duties. This new team does an admirable job on the title, with Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz’s will-they-won’t-they relationship particularly utilized for comedic effect. While Perkins’s art isn’t necessarily unique, I was still blown away by the attention to detail in every panel, particularly in his drawings of the titular Lanterns.
The change in writers becomes glaringly apparent, however, in the treatment of Jessica Cruz, especially in light of the “Ghosts of the Past” arc. When readers last saw Cruz, she was stronger than ever after a grueling journey of self discovery that saw her confront the personifications of her darkest fears. This story sees Lantern Cruz take a bit of a step back in terms of her overall confidence, a move that will certainly disappoint some readers.
Certain effects of “Ghosts of the Past” remain in this story — Jessica seems much happier and still very much in control of her abilities while her ring maintains a solid sense of humor after being recoded by her immense willpower. On a deeper level, however, Jessica has regressed a little too much and without explanation, as evidenced by her sudden feelings of inadequacy that I thought she had overcome. After such a stellar progression of character, it’s disheartening to see Jessica unsure of herself once again and it depreciates the impact of the last five issues.
Despite Cruz’s regression in terms of confidence, I appreciate this issue’s showcase of how capable a Lantern she is, almost allowing me to overlook the ignorance toward the latest arc. Diggle does a stellar job letting Jessica be the true hero of this story as she cleverly outwits the Lost Lantern and even leads him on a righteous path of redemption. She may not be as confident as she should be, but she’s as competent as ever.
Make no mistake, Jessica is the true hero of this story, even at the expense of her supporting cast. Seeing Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Simon Baz, and Jessica interacting together is a nice treat, but Hal and Johns’ presence in the story is ultimately wasted. They spend the majority of their limited page time imprisoned and really don’t do anything to progress the story at all.
Simon Baz doesn’t move the narrative either, but he does offer some chuckle-worthy lines that stand out from other conversations in this story. In fact, what really stands out in this issue is the purveying sense of humor throughout. While not all jokes land, the ones that do are solid enough to put a grin on the reader’s face, coming from a wide variety of characters and situations.
Unfortunately, the overall lighthearted tone completely clashes with ultimate story arc, an arc that is actually quite heartbreaking and dramatic. The story of the Lost Lantern is intended to be an emotionally driven tragedy followed by an uplifting salvation, however the sharp contrast between that and the comedic tone of the rest of the book feels more jagged than cohesive. In the end, the plight of the Lost Lantern feels more like a record scratch than a meaningful narrative.
Despite its flaws, Green Lanterns Annual #1 is still a solid read that will entertain readers over its 39 pages of story. Fans of the most recent story arc may be disappointed by Jessica Cruz’s portrayal and the presence of larger profile Lanterns in supporting roles are completely wasted, but the overall jovial tone and humorous characters make this a worthwhile, if not memorable, adventure.
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