FINAL CRISIS: RAGE OF THE RED LANTERNS
W: Geoff Johns
A: Shane Davis w/ Sandra Hope
Review: Jamie Trecker
Green Lantern remains DC’s lop “legacy” character book, and all credit has to go to the mastermind of the series, Geoff Johns. Johns has a gift for reconciling the fanboys’ devotion to character history with the jolts every storyline needs to keep things exciting. This was on display in last year’s sleeper hit “Sinestro Corps,” a story arc that returned Sinestro to the top of Green Lantern’s villain pantheon and finally cleaned up a lot of the silliness around the titular hero, Hal Jordan. It also began a major shift DC’s “cosmic” universe, taking it from the abstract, sterile construct of the late 1960s to something joyously dangerous.
Johns has also displayed a wonderful ruthlessness that some have mistaken as a thirst for killing off “beloved” characters. What he’s really done is cleared the decks, streamlined a lot of confusing continuity, and kept readers on their collective toes. So this new book serves as a jumping on point for readers and as the next chapter in a multi-part, universe-spanning story arc that ultimately promises to change the DC universe as we know it. And yes, you’ve heard that before, but in this case, it’s actually true.
Johns’ conceit is that the Lantern Corps rings now reflect emotion: The yellow rings of the Sinestro Corps work on fear; the green ones of the Corps work on willpower, and the red ones — you guessed it from the title, right? — work on hate and rage. But there are other rings as well, including the violet light of Star Sapphire. As seen at the finale of the “Sinestro Corps” line, more will follow, covering the rest of the visible spectrum with blue, orange, and indigo lanterns. Two of those new rings are glimpsed in this one-shot as well, but I won’t spoil it by revealing which.
And, the introduction of the blood-soaked, rage-maddened Red Lanterns serves to set the stage for the “final prophecy” of the Green lantern Corps — that six new rings will emerge and the Corps will fight among themselves to the death, destroying the universe in the process and bringing along the “blackest night.” (For those of you counting at home and see only five new rings… well you’ll have to keep reading.)
It’s a quick read, but it sets up a lot of important story beats, clearly showing the divisions among the Corps’ bosses, the Guardians of Oa; the re-emergence of three major players in the DCU; and the challenges that lie ahead for Jordan and his teammates.
Shane Davis’ art looks better than ever thanks to the inks of Sandra Hope, who adds a nice polished sheen and has excised Davis’ tendency to over-draw.
One quibble: I haven’t a clue what this one-shot has to do with Final Crisis. Supposedly, this book takes place between issues #1 and #2 of Grant Morrison’s mega-epic, but it beats the heck out of me how this book fits into that re-imagining of the New Gods. Maybe it is sharing trade dress for sales reasons, but this is really a Green Lantern book, and a darn good one at that.