One of the most rewarding things in comics (or really in any story medium, but I would argue comics’s serialized nature makes it that much better) is when you, the reader, the ever-faithful fan, are rewarded for your loyalty. There is something so satisfying when plots and subplots, or even little hints, pay off in a big way. You’ve been reading this whole time, and you’ve been catching those hints. Now here is your reward.
It makes all the preceding issues that much better to boot. (Even the ones you didn’t like the first time, but we’ll get to that in a bit).
That is exactly what we are getting with this week’s anniversary issue of Green Lanterns. It’s been a year since Green Lanterns started their run in DC Universe Rebirth. For much of that time, Sam Humphries has been building to something and leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for us, the faithful readers. Here is where his hard work and our loyalty pay off.
Jessica Cruz and the Chamber of Secrets
Open on Simon writing a letter to his brother-in-law/best friend Nazir. Simon feels bad that he doesn’t have time for his family what with chasing down supercriminals and galavanting through the cosmos. He must’ve written it some time ago, because, in the present, Simon, Jessica, and Rathoom (Volthoom in the body of Rami) are on their way to the
Chamber of Secrets Vault of Shadows. It’s a place where the Guardians bury their secrets according to not-at-all-biased Rathoom.
When they enter, the first thing we see is seven human-sized glass sarcophagi. Hmm, I wonder who could be in there? The seven original lanterns mayhaps? One is empty. Where is that lantern? We don’t have to wait long to find out. Seems one of them was left on guard duty. As is always the case with creepy tombs, none may enter without passing the guard. This tall, hairy, and very leonine guard is named Tyran’r. He immediately knows and seems at ease with Jessica and Simon. Huh wha? He also immediately knows that Rami is not who he says he is and goes on the offensive, but Rathoom gives him a brain whammy and goes about his business without Simon and Jess.
Flashback to ten billion years ago on the planet Tamaran. (Wait, isn’t that Starfire’s planet?) Tyran’r has been brought low before some kind of tyrannical despot. (Ironic, no?). They taunt him and make the mistake of breaking his favorite sword. Tyran’r goes berserk Wolverine style and murders the whole room. As he laments the loss of his sword, he is greeted by a familiar green ring. Some of these original seven seem like pretty shady characters.
Back in the present, Volthoom is lost in his own thoughts as he wanders the Vault. He’s villain-monologuing in his head to no one in particular. Ten billion years will do that to a person. He finds a big door and opens it to reveal something he lost long ago: the first ring.
Green Lanterns #18
I reviewed Green Lanterns #18 some time back, and I took it to task a little. It seemed like a weird issue to come right after the GL’s Batman team-up. It was extremely info-dumpy and seemed indulgent to me at the time. Only now do I see how wrong I was. If you’ve been following along at home, go back and reread Green Lanterns #18. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Are you done yet? Do you see what I mean?
That issue was all about Volthoom and his history, but there is so much more there than just a timeline of Volthoom’s screw-ups. We get a glimpse of the first seven GL’s. We get a hint at his imprisonment in Earth-3’s Power Ring (read our Jessica Cruz lovefest to know why that’s important and relevant). But most important of all, and shame on me for not appreciating this more at the time, we get all of Volthoom’s motivation. This guy has been around for ten billion years and most of them have been miserable. The Guardians were at least partially responsible for his misery. He literally cannot die now, and he’s never accomplished what he set out to do all those billions of years ago. He finally sees a light at the end of the tunnel, and nothing’s gonna stop him.
I was so wrong about that issue. It’s all coming together now. Apologies to Sam Humphries.
While Volthoom is rooting through the Guardian’s old stuff, Jess and Simon are passing the time by listing things that they miss about home. They haven’t had a moment’s peace since the Doctor Polaris incident. These quiet moments remind us of how much we love Jess and Simon. They promise to have that pancake breakfast as soon as they get back.
Just then, Rami pops out. He’s got something to show Jess and Simon. They aren’t going to like it. He has the First Ring and he uses it to reconstitute his original body. Then he announces that he needs Jessica’s ring. Oh, snap.
One More Flashback
Ten billion years ago there was a super cute brainiac with a third-level intelligence. She took a string of dead-end jobs in order to support herself and her live-in girlfriend. She invariably was fired from them all, and her mom badgered her about joining the academy. But she didn’t want to join the academy. She wanted to live her life her way with the woman she loved, and who could blame her? The only problem was she couldn’t find a way to put her intellect to good use. Then, in burst a certain glowing green ring. This was Kaja Dox of Yod-Colu, and she needs to have her own comic like right now. All of these first seven do.
Something big is on the horizon with these new characters, we can feel it.
Showdown in the Vault
I don’t want to give away everything that happens when Volthoom faces off with Jess and Simon. You need to read it yourself. Suffice it to say that my undying love for Jessica Cruz only grows with each issue. There is something cathartic about Jessica OVERPOWERING Volthoom with nothing but her will, especially after the trouble she had from issue 1. Our J-bird has come so far. Who is cutting onions in here? I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying.
The Lanterns escape but just barely, leaving Volthoom in the Vault without the ring he needs from Jessica. Meanwhile, back on Earth, it’s Nazir’s birthday and it looks like Simon is going to miss it again. This could be the last straw for Simon’s relationship with his friend. That letter Simon was working on in the beginning that was kind of our throughline in the whole issue? Nazir crumples it right up. Poor Simon.
Does it Get Any Better Than This?
This was a great issue start to finish. It’s been so wonderful seeing Jessica and Simon grow as people and as a team. Now they are facing a real Green Lantern-level threat that’s been building and building for months now. This is what superhero comics are all about. Sam Humphries and the teams of artists on this book are really making something special. This anniversary issue hit it out of the park.
The art team this week did a phenomenal job. This book, like any other twice-monthly book, has a rotation on art duties. That is by design. You wouldn’t want a single team rushing and taking shortcuts to kick out a book every two weeks. You want them to be able to take their time and get it right.
Rocha, Henriques, and Sollazzo really got this one right. This was the same team that worked on issue #18, and once again they have done another stunning job with the art. Sollazzo’s colors are dazzling, making even a gloomy place like the Vault of Shadows look as gorgeous as it is menacing. The linework as well is spectacular, particularly in facial expressions. From Jessica’s determined glare to Volthoom’s Joker-like grin, these characters virtually jump off the page. It’s a great looking issue.
We say it all the time, but it’s never been truer than now: Green Lanterns is one of the most consistent books from DC’s Rebirth, and that is really saying something. The series has been building up to this moment, and now that it’s here, it only promises more awesomeness on the horizon. If you’re not reading Green Lanterns, what have you been waiting for?
Fanfinites Rating: Perfect 10!
Images Courtesy of DC Comics
Green Lanterns #25: The Return of the First Lantern
Writer: Sam Humphries
Pencils: Robson Rocha
Inks: Daniel Henriques
Colors: Alex Sollazzo
Letters: Dave Sharpe