THIS WEEK: We look at how Green Lantern #2 fits into the societal shift that is happening across the country in response to police violence.

Note: the review below contains spoilers.  If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.


Green Lantern #2 coverGreen Lantern #2

Writer: Geoffrey Thorne
Artist: Dexter Soy and Marco Santucci
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover: Bernard Chang and Alex Sinclair

A key problem within the DC Universe is just how many of the core characters are active law enforcement agents, a concept that is rooted in the Comics Code Authority heyday of the 1960s. It was a different time and to make comics that fell into the Code, compromises were made, so vigilantes mostly went away and heroes became deputised. Most notably we saw it with the space police of the Green Lantern Corps and with crime scene scientist Barry Allen.

In the 1990s, the Flash and Green Lantern were able to get away from those concepts, by introducing legacy heroes as replacements for Barry Allen and Hal Jordan. Wally West took over for Barry after the latter’s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths and Kyle Rayner took over as Green Lantern after Hal Jordan became Parallax. With Kyle taking over the Green Lantern mantle the Corps was gone, and with it the idea of Green Lanterns as cops.

Green Lantern #2 page 1

Alas, this could not stay the status quo, because Geoff Johns with all his 1980s nostalgia, decided that he had to bring back both Hal and Barry, and the cop concepts of the characters that had been left behind. The Corps was back, and even more of a police force than it had been before, going so far as making references to the “Thin Green Line” and jail cells on Oa.

Now nearly two decades later and the world is in a different place. Case after case of police brutality and murders of Black people across the country have shifted public perception of the things that we rely on the police for, and have gotten the public to start examining how we interact with “copaganda” in media. The perfect place to do this in comics would be in Green Lantern, and I had hoped that was where this series was headed, with the Lanterns looking like they might have to cede some of their authority.

Green Lantern #2 page 2

But the beginning of Green Lantern #2 goes right back into “copaganda” territory with interrogation of prisoners and even a full-out cop funeral complete with black dress uniforms. It’s utterly disappointing, and undercuts the end of the first issue, and what happens later in this issue with the actual “down-sizing” of the Corps. I put that in quotes because not a single member of the Corps is getting their ring taken away, despite their territories getting cut by a third. No, those displaced Lanterns just get reassigned, and the Corps loses territory but not power.

But even that is undercut further by the plot-twist at the end of this issue. Out of nowhere the Central Battery of Oa is blown up, and it seems like that leaves many of the Lanterns in dire trouble, including Kyle Rayner and John Stewart. It felt like this was shoehorned in, and two issues into this new series and I’m just not really feeling the direction in which it is headed, if it even knows what that is.

Green Lantern #2 page 3

All in all, I think the Green Lantern Corps is a concept in desperate need of a reworking in a post-Black Lives Matter world, and I don’t think the current series is going to deliver on that in any meaningful way.

Verdict: Browse


Round-Up

  • Batman #108 is another fantastic issue in Tynion’s great post-Joker War status quo. It continues to build towards the future that we saw in the Gotham Future State books, and does so in a very natural way.
  • I’m really liking the short revised origin stories at the end of each issue of Crime Syndicate, but I feel like they should have saved the Ultraman one for last, because I don’t think you can top that.
  • All the cool kids will probably still be into Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point #2, as the first issue sold like hotcakes.
  • Suicide Squad is intriguing though I can’t say I’m looking forward to a full-on crossover with my least favorite book in the Infinite Frontier era.

Miss any of our earlier reviews? Check out our full archive!

4 COMMENTS

  1. I think your critique is actually an expectation and it is not really clear yet in this serialized comic that what you are discussing won’t be covered given time. I’m intrigued enough to keep going. I think projecting your own expectations about the police and Black Lives Matter onto a creator who also happens to be an African American, by the way, feels a lot like centering.

  2. I agree with Darren Thomas. While I respect your concerns/interests, I think this title should be reviewed on the merits of is it an interesting comic book about a decades-old concept and is the writer finding some new and entertaining stories to tell? Because it involves “space cops” the author is hardly obligated to somehow tackle the controversies of 21st Century policing, even if that’s what you as the reviewer expect. I don’t recall DC or the Black author Mr. Thorne announcing that was ever their intent. And while I realize that some televised cop shows are reckoning with these real world issues, this is the first time I’m aware of that someone has expected the Green Lantern Corps do so. Are you going to similarly criticize any future Star Wars stories when they use the concept of The Jedi as police/peacekeepers? How about Star Trek’s Federation? Plus, one of the criticisms about police departments is a lack of diversity. The GLC is probably one of the best, most positive examples in fiction of diversity within a large organization. And the fact that this title is highlighting not just the Caucasian Earth lanterns (Hal Jordan and Kyle) but the Black and brown ring-bearers is pretty cool/interesting. Lastly, based on the first two issues, the author does seem to be questioning/shaking up the role of the GLC in the DCU. Again, though, why should this be some thinly-veiled attempt at relevancy and anything other than an effort to tell an engaging sci-fi story on an epic scale?

  3. Cori, if you’re interested you can find some interviews with Mr. Thorne, the current GL writer, online about his plans. He has also put up links on Twitter these past few weeks. In a few he tackles questions about being a Black author and what that means for his approach to GL. I did not get the impression he was attempting to write anything other than a grand sci-fi tale/drama with John Stewart as a main character, but I don’t want to mischaracterize/misinterpret him on race/relevancy issues, either, which is why I’m suggesting you check it out and decide.

  4. I’d be interested in seeing a story with the themes you’re talking about, Cori, but I have to admit these first two issues of Green Lantern have me more interested in the concept and milieu of the GLC than I have been since before Johns took over.

    And some of the themes do dovetail; while we’re not seeing a GLC reduced in power, we are seeing it reduced in scope, and (most likely) having to work alongside other agencies, rather than being the final authority. And we’ll get to see how these officers react to a change of mission. I’ll be interested to see what starts happening once the action moves off Oa, and they start interacting with other worlds and communities.

Leave a Reply