With the impending cancellation of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps in August and the success of the recent “Ghosts of the Past” story, Green Lanterns is poised to rightfully takeover as DC Comics’ flagship Lantern book for the near future. Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz share their strongest bond since becoming partners; meanwhile Jessica Cruz’s willpower is greater than ever, making her one of the strongest Lanterns in the Corps. Which is why Green Lanterns #48 is such a confusing issue. Rather than build on the momentum of recent issues, #48 instead embarks on a “Jessica gone rogue” story that all but ignores the events of the latest arc leaving readers questioning the direction of this new arc.
Jessica Cruz has seen some serious progression over the last five issues, progression that brought her to be the strongest she’s ever been- strong enough to even overwrite the coding of her ring through sheer willpower. I enjoyed watching Jessica go from anxiety riddled mess to confident badass and was very much looking forward to seeing what she could do as a Lantern following her reawakening. Instead, I cracked open Green Lanterns #48 to read the story of Jessica on the run from fellow Lanterns after blacking out and attacking local police.
There’s not much in the way of justification for Jess’s sudden fugitive status- readers just know she got herself into business with a known criminal and that’s that. Even looking at this premise outside the context of the last few issues, this is still a frustrating narrative that turns Jessica into a criminal out of nowhere with no explanation.
I kept waiting for a reveal to come that showed she was really working a case from the inside the whole time- but no such reveal came, compounding my frustrations even more. Why? Why is Jessica suddenly an outlaw?
When you examine this premise and the overall execution of this story within the context of recent issues, #48 becomes even more puzzling. Jessica Cruz had been called for arrest by Hal Jordan at the end of #47, but it was for tampering with her ring — not assaulting police officers in a blackout rage, causing this plot to immediately feel awkwardly detached from the latest story arc.
Even more frustrating, writer Tim Seeley spent the last five issues building Jess up into a better hero than ever before only to drag her back down by essentially making her an intergalactic terrorist. I don’t understand- why take the time to build her up only to immediately tear her down?
There’s more absent from this issue than just narrative tissue connecting it back to previous stories- Simon Baz is nowhere to be found, save for one panel. Baz is conspicuously absent from this book, even though the conclusion of “Ghosts of the Past” had left Baz and Cruz’s bond at its absolute strongest. That alone is cause for some bewilderment, but it’s even simpler than that- the two are partners, if Jess goes rogue, wouldn’t Baz be the first to investigate? Why isn’t Simon around to stop this?
Despite its questionable narrative choices, Green Lanterns #48 is still an entertaining read at it’s core. Yes it’s frustrating, but it features some great moments from Jessica as she runs from her fellow Corpsmen. I really enjoyed the spy-on-the-run esque pacing of this issue and Jessica makes one truly clever outlaw (even if I don’t like this change in status for her). She’s constantly outsmarting the Lanterns on her tail in ways that showcase just how creative she is with her constructs.
As always, the banter between Jessica and her ring is delightful. Their relationship is noticeably more entertaining and special than that of any other Lantern, with their conversations reading like that of a concerned mother and her daughter rather than a computer listing environmental analysis to a scientist. Jessica’s relationship with her ring is one of the many aspects that sets Green Lanterns apart from Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, and it shines once again here.
Over the past seven or so issues of Green Lanterns, Jessica Cruz has become a character I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching progress, especially as she faces her inner demons. While Green Lanterns #48 is an entertaining issue, the entertainment is buried under a thick layer of frustration as the revelations of the last few issues are ignored for a forced rogue-Lantern-on-the-run narrative.
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