“Green Lantern” #0 opens with a powerful enough scene that every American can relate. For that matter, most people old enough to be reading “Green Lantern” can find a similar frame of reference to the Baz family in that opening page. Everyone remembers where they were when that event occurred and what they were doing, no matter how mundane their day was to that point.
Without pinning the date in front of the reader, Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke provide enough subtle clues to indicate that Simon Baz is just as impacted by the events of September 11, 2001 as anyone else, maybe moreso. As the second page in this issue depicts, Baz’s family knows life on the other side of the headlines. They find racial slurs hurled in their direction and frequently endure profiling. Beyond that, though, there’s nothing to make Baz more impressive a person than anyone else. Quite the contrary, actually. When the reader catches up to Baz, he’s in the middle of stealing a van.
Geoff Johns makes Baz a sympathetic character despite his obvious flaws. Make no mistake, Baz isn’t a hero like Hal Jordan, but he also isn’t a villain like Sinestro. He’s a guy who is trying to get by the best he can and, right now, he’s breaking a few rules to do that. Stealing that particular van, however, sparks a series of events that draws the attention of Amanda Waller and the Justice League, in addition to various levels of federal and international authorities.
As always, Doug Mahnke’s art is strong and credible. Baz could very easily be a neighbor I knew when I lived in Dearborn, and his interpretation of Dearborn is not horribly off from my recollection of the city. The new Green Lantern is never in costume in “Green Lantern” #0, yet Mahnke’s art is still energetic and exciting. His storytelling is strong and Mahnke even delivers a car chase that is clear. Mahnke is just the artist to define a whole new generation of Green Lantern mythology.
There has been some fervor over placing the power ring on the finger of a Muslim, but Johns proves character isn’t defined by your location, religion, skin color or current situation. While most heroes don’t start out as car thieves, but then again, most stories don’t involve men flying with the assistance of a little green ring that has seemingly magical properties. Johns clearly has a journey scripted for Simon Baz and taking Hal Jordan and Thaal Sinestro off the table was a shrewd move to augment Baz’s chances at properly growing and evolving. I’ll admit to knowing very little about Muslim beliefs and practices, but that certainly didn’t hamper my ability to thoroughly enjoy “Green Lantern” #0.