Last time, our two emerald enforcers were called to Gotham City for a special mission from Batman. They did some investigating and discovered an insidious plot by the Scarecrow. He’s been using yellow fear energy on people to scare them into attacking the Batman. This week wraps up the two-part Batman story in Darkest Knights part 2.
Scarecrow Be Scary
We open on the big bad Scarecrow explaining himself to us. He’s not just a student and wielder of fear, he is an addict. There is something about being afraid that revs his engine. The only problem is he’s burned out. He literally does not feel fear anymore: the one thing he’s jonesing for. What is a Scarecrow to do?
The last time he felt fear was during the Blackest Night event (See the previously-linked last review for a quick summary of that) when he was given a yellow power ring to play with. Yellow rings wield fear itself as a weapon, which was right up Scarecrow’s alley. He took the opportunity to study his ring and figure out what makes it tick. As a result he’s built a yellow energy “computer” able to embed yellow fear energy into web videos and spread it like a virus.
Down in the Batcave
We move over to our heroes being held at gunpoint by a fear-addled Alfred. Simon’s (Chekhov’s?) gun was a problem for Batman, and now we know why. Batman and Jessica are able to disarm and contain Alfred while Batman uses his safety keyphrase to undo any Alfred-hypnosis. (Man, that guy thinks of everything).
Next, they go out for a night on the town. They’ve zeroed in on where the infected videos are coming from and they bust into Scarecrow’s Hideout. The GL’s rings go haywire, simultaneously detecting and not detecting Sinestro Corps activity. It’s because of Scarecrow’s computer using yellow fear energy. He hits them all with a blast of it, and Simon’s willpower is affected. He has to decide whether to use his gun or trust in himself and use the ring.
Inside Simon Baz
Two issues ago, in A Day in the Life, we got a whole issue devoted to Jessica Cruz and her battle with anxiety. (It’s a wonderful issue, and you should go read it.) This time, it’s Simon’s turn. When the fear wave hits him, his willpower falters and his ring fizzles out.
Simon’s had issues in the past with his ring. When he was first given the ring, he was a fugitive looking for a man who could clear his name. Not really wanting to go to jail for Simon, the guy shot at him, and Simon’s willpower failed him. He was unable to shield himself, and hasn’t forgotten that feeling of helplessness.
This failure prompted Simon to carry a sidearm as a backup, which he has done ever since. He even used it to shoot Sinestro once, but that’s another story.
Last issue, Batman called him out on having a gun in the first place, and it fell to a crazed Alfred to prove what can happen with guns. Simon openly admits he carries it because he’s afraid. He’s afraid the ring isn’t good enough. Now, thanks to Scarecrow we get a look inside Simon’s mind to see what’s really going on. The ring is only as strong as Simon is, so really he’s afraid that he’s not good enough. He’s afraid that he won’t be able to protect himself or the ones he loves with willpower alone.
Once again, Simon and Jess prove to be our favorite Lanterns because of their flaws. They are great Lanterns not because they aren’t afraid, but because they are. They are as afraid as any of us, but they have the ability to rise above that fear, and succeed because of it.
We won’t tell whether he decides to put the gun away or not (you should read it for yourself), but you can probably guess which. After it’s all said and done, Batman admits to Simon that of all the Green Lanterns that ever Lantern’d, he Lanterns the best. (Take that, Hal Jordan). Batman promises to call on him again very soon. If you’ve been reading Batman, Detective Comics, or JLA Rebirth, you’d know that Batman is curating his own army of heroes to battle… something. Seems like he has Simon earmarked for his team.
It’s Not All Serious
This being a very Simon-heavy issue, there’s not much for Jess to do, which is a bummer (We love Jessica Cruz). She does get a couple cute quips in, and in one scene makes herself some greenoculars.
Likewise, Simon’s exchanges with Batman are often funny, because Batman is mister grumpypants. A bowl of clam chowder would seem downright charismatic next to him. Simon’s facial expressions are great too even with his cowl. You can tell Humphries and Pansica really have a cohesive vision on this arc, from the crazed and terrifying Scarecrow to the Batman doing his best Judge Dredd scowl.
This two-issue arc with Batman came to a quick close (too quickly if you ask us) but it gave us some wonderful Simon Baz moments as well as laying the groundwork for more team-ups with Batman in future stories. Up next it looks like we’ll be heading back to face off against Volthoom, the First Lantern, who has taken over the body of one of the Guardians. Our Green Lanterns are the strongest they’ve ever been, both as individuals and as a team, but are they up to the task? We’ll find out in two weeks.
Green Lanterns #17: Darkest Knights Part 2
Writer: Sam Humphries
Pencils: Eduardo Pansica
Inks: Julio Ferreira
Letters: Dave Sharpe
All Images Courtesy of DC Comics