The Geoff Johns era has drawn to a close, but “Green Lantern” #21 opens with a bang. Robert Venditti climbs into the writer’s chair and puts words into the pencil of Billy Tan as the pair set out to help rebuild the Green Lantern Corps. Following the “Wrath of the First Lantern,” Oa might still be the center of the universe, but the energy that once coursed through the planet and empowered the Corps is gone.
Once readers get past the initial battle on the first few pages fills this first issue, the new adventures of old Lanterns are filled with exhibition and character examination. It feels more like a regression to the 1990 “Green Lantern” relaunch from Gerard Jones and Pat Broderick with a sprinkling of the short-lived “Green Lantern: The Animated Series” as Hal Jordan is forced to find himself in the midst of rebuilding a crumbled empire with Kilowog by his side. Short of adding, “…again!” to any of his sentences about the state of the Corps, Venditti puts exasperation in Hal Jordan’s words.
“Green Lantern” #21 isn’t all exasperation and repetition, though. Venditti gives readers glimpses of fan favorite characters with Jordan, Stewart, Salaak, Kilowog and Voz all showing up. Unfortunately, he doesn’t make a complete checklist of characters seen at the end of “Green Lantern” #20, which is certain to leave fans of other specific Lanterns edgy. Quite simply, though, Venditti has to balance what was with what will be, in order to hook readers into sticking around. The best way to do that is through intrigue and excitement, which this book has. It just doesn’t have enough of either for me at this point.
Billy Tan’s art, inked by Richard Friend, is decent and consistent, but not quite thorough. Many scenes have characters floating in settings they were grounded in. Lucky for the artist, this issue has two colorists in Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina who do not hesitate to drop in patterns or shades to add depth. Occasionally perspective in the drawings seems really off, making characters appear to be lying down and no amount of coloring assistance can salvage that. Tan doesn’t appear comfortable or confident in this book, but truly readers were spoiled with Doug Mahnke drawing “Green Lantern” consistently since “Blackest Night.” Tan’s got the talent to handle this book, he just needs to figure out how to handle the characters and give them the weight they deserve.
“Green Lantern” #21 provides a nice jumping on point for new readers or lapsed readers looking for a pure start. Venditti has a decent grasp on the concepts at play, going so far as to have Larfleeze and Carol Ferris pop up, tying back to Johns’ work a bit, but it’s quite clear the new writer wants to push Hal Jordan in a different direction with new challenges. There’s a peek into what that future might hold in the form of a splash page at the end of this issue that cements one thing: “Green Lantern” is going to be a space-based comic book with Hal Jordan at the heart of it.