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Alan Scott: Green Lantern #4's cover
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‘Alan Scott: The Green Lantern’ #4 introduces a thrilling new villain

The light of the Red Lantern shines.

At its core, Alan Scott: The Green Lantern is a love story. It’s as much a story about Alan falling in love with another man as it is a story of him coming to terms with his own identity and accepting his love for himself. Tim Sheridan, Cian Tormey, and an array of talented artists have put their hearts and souls into that story, and it shines through on every page.

My review of Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #3 reflected on a positive, but somewhat disappointing issue. After all, the first two issues were so incredible that it baffles the mind that they could be contained to only a few dozen pages. The third was still excellent, but it had a few flaws, as it worked to set up the rest of the book.

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Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #4 is where that setup comes to fruition, and it works brilliantly. In many ways, this issue is a complete return to form. With Alan having met his long-lost lover once again, the emotional undercurrent to the narrative gains a weight that feels almost impossible to carry.

DC Preview: Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #4

DC Comics

This issue, as the preview revealed, is one that follows the Red Lantern, rather than the Green. Instead of showcasing the reality of life in the United States for a gay man in the 1940s, it instead shifts focus to portray reality for another perspective at the time. In a natural parallel to the American hero, that villain is, of course, from Soviet Russia. As Stalin is arming his men for World War II, a young boy is preparing for a mission to capture the Crimson Flame of Death.

It’s easy to see where this idea came from. The Red and Green Lanterns are natural enemies, and it can be seen in even their silhouettes. They both share similar costumes, but their colors are flipped. The Green Lantern’s cape is purple, and his shirt is red; the Red Lantern’s cape is red, and his shirt is purple. They have the same beak-like mask, the same pointed capes, and even the same logo on their chests. Their countries are natural enemies, and they have both been fed different dogma. The characters are, at their core, inverted. Without saying it, that’s the underlying theme of the issue.

Yet that is not the main message of Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #4. Again, this is a love story. Natural enemies can be contained in the pages of Detective Comics as Batman battles the Joker. In this comic, the theme undercuts everything else. Despite the propaganda that Vlad has been fed and the self-directed hatred that Alan struggles with, the two discover that opposites attract.

DC Preview: Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #4

DC Comics

It’s far from a revolutionary theme, but it’s one that fundamentally works. Sheridan has been sewing the seeds for this twist from the beginning of the book, and it is remarkably well done. Johnny Ladd’s constant presence in the narrative may have been slightly confusing previously, but the Red Lantern’s story has made it a far more compelling story in hindsight — even though it was already compelling!

Even setting the writing aside, the art for this book remains a key element of its success. Matt Herms’ coloring shows off the poignant battle between the Green and Red Lanterns in a thoughtful way. Every page of Vlad’s story is told with an intense black border that fades into a deep red, before eventually being swallowed by a white light. The Green Lantern’s pages, meanwhile, are flush with green, though a red veneer betrays Vlad’s influence. It’s a subtle method that enhances the storytelling in the love story, while also furthering Vlad’s point about Alan’s love sickness.

Another way that this book employs visual storytelling is by revealing Vlad’s doubts without him ever expressing them. Sheridan trusts Torney, Jordi Tarragona, Raúl Fernandez, John Livesay, and Herms to portray the Red Lantern’s reticence without having to rely on endless exposition. The Red Lantern proudly proclaims Alan’s weaknesses and doubts, yet there’s a softness to his face and body language that reveals just how much of a facade his cruel persona is.

DC Preview: Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #4

DC Comics

It would have been simple to feature Vlad as a one-note villain pitting himself against the Green Lantern without much concern or thought. Instead, Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #4 weaves in a sense of sympathy even for its villain. Both Vlad and Alan have suffered from societal expectations and prejudices, and both have relied on their own society’s methods of addressing those fundamental issues. It’s an insightful commentary about cultural influences and about life as gay men in the past.

There are some disappointing elements to this issue, of course. It would have been nice to see some of the flashback scenes previously, so that it could be reexamined in light of this new twist. Still, the positives far outweigh the negatives and again push this series into an elite status.

It’s hard to find much to dislike about Alan Scott: The Green Lantern, and issue #4 is no different. Once again, DC has knocked it out of the park with a comic that begs to be read, analyzed, and reread over and over again. It will be interesting to see where this comic goes as the end approaches, and it’s absolutely worth a read or four.

Alan Scott: Green Lantern #4's cover
‘Alan Scott: The Green Lantern’ #4 introduces a thrilling new villain
Alan Scott: The Green Lantern #4
It's hard to find much to dislike about Alan Scott: The Green Lantern, and issue #4 is no different. Once again, DC has knocked it out of the park with a comic that begs to be read, analyzed, and reread over and over again. It will be interesting to see where this comic goes as the end approaches, and it's absolutely worth a read or four.
Reader Rating1 Votes
8.7
The themes of this story are being developed brilliantly, and they increase in depth with every issue.
With simple effects, Matt Herms' coloring continues to astound and offer visual storytelling of its own.
The complex relationship between the Red and Green Lanterns is absolutely worth a book of its own.
The Red Lantern twist could have been alluded to slightly more.
9.5
Great
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