It’s now a couple months into the big creative team switch-over in the various “Green Lantern” titles, and it would be a reasonable assumption to think that by now the books would all work on establishing their own storylines. Instead, there are three titles operating very closely with one another, another crossover around the corner and Robert Venditti and Billy Tan struggling to squeeze in their own plots.
“Green Lantern” #23 continues its own storyline involving Prixiam Nol-Anj, a villain who escaped from Oa in the previous issue thanks to being selected by a Star Sapphire ring even though she’s also evil. With the Star Sapphire threat having long been negated and the group turned into a corps of heroes, it’s smart to remind readers that there were villainous Star Sapphires in the past. The ability to love, “Green Lantern” #23 points out, does not automatically make you good. While that story’s execution feels on some level very generic, I’m willing to cut Venditti a bit of slack for the moment on the slightly lackluster execution.
That’s because “Green Lantern” #23 also crams in tie-ins to “Green Lantern Corps” and “Green Lantern: New Guardians,” with Hal Jordan worrying about Carol Ferris, trying to deal with the new recruits to the Corps, and also having power ring fluctuations because of new villain Relic. It’s a lot to take on. It’s even more when readers remember that Venditti and Tan are pretty new to the title; they’re not being given much of a chance to establish their own voice before everything else starts pushing its way in. A strict inter-title rotating continuity can work (I remember reading the various “Superman” comics during the “triangle” era, where every week a little triangle with a number would guide you through the reading order of all four comics), but for the moment it feels clumsy and shoehorned in. With all of the titles involved handling new creative teams, maybe this sort of thing should have been put on hold for at least six months. It’s not doing any of the books any favors.
Tan’s pencils feel remarkably average here, too. It’s the sort of art style that feels like comics popularized in the mid-’90s during the Image boom; tight muscular bodies, sharp cheekbones, lots of grimaces, perfectly average storytelling. I wish I was joking when I said that it feels like Hal Jordan is wearing shoulder pads, because in many ways that completes the Image look. To be fair, Tan is definitely several rungs above the legion of Jim Lee and Marc Silvestri imitators that popularized that era. He understands basic anatomy, and his panel-to-panel progression is easy to follow and well-constructed. But nonetheless, the art is utterly average. It gets the job done, but there’s nothing out of the ordinary that’s going to stick with readers months or even weeks later.
Perhaps things will change once the next crossover (kicking off in October, after next month’s detour into villain specials) winds down and Venditti and Tan can go in their own direction. For now, it’s just not that exciting or alluring.