Sector 2814 has two new Green Lanterns! Writer Sam Humphries makes his DC Comics debut alongside artist Robson Rocha in “Green Lanterns” #1, which finds dysfunctional teammates Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz facing a number of challenges, starting with trust. Die-hard Green Lantern fans will enjoy following the rookies, as it’s been a while since we had corps members that really don’t know what they’re doing; however, their faults aren’t sources of endearment, which could discourage new readers from jumping in.
Humphries’ densely packed but efficient script covers a lot of ground as he establishes the opposite of a typical “buddy cop” pairing, which will provide a constant source of tension in the title. Jessica Cruz lacks self-confidence following her ordeal in the Darkseid War, and Simon Baz is under government surveillance after being cleared of terrorism charges. The Lanterns’ inner monologue is a gem that I hope appears in future issues, but — because the characters don’t like each other and don’t have the dynamic of a team like Hawk and Dove — it may be difficult for readers to sympathize with or cheer for either one of them. Nevertheless, the Red Lanterns — who are facing serious challenges of their own — make for an interesting sub-plot. Unfortunately for the rookies, though, Bleeze and Atrocitus are engineering outbreaks of rage among ordinary humans and have spawned a Hell Tower on Earth.
Robson Rocha’s art style lends itself well to the outrageous world of the Lanterns. His well-crafted facial expressions lend emotional weight to the scenes and capture the fear, frustration and fury that surround the characters in Humphries’ fast-moving script, while his panel placement and smooth pacing provide a rhythmical flow to a book that introduces a lot of characters and their home bases. Rocha’s prior work in the DC Universe shows here as the “home” backgrounds enhance each character’s urgency. An uncomfortable Jessica in a crowded grocery store contends with as much emotional distress as Simon facing off against Agent Fed at the kitchen table, and Rocha ensures that the scenes carry the emotional impact.
Any Lantern book featuring the Red Lanterns is a challenge to color, and Blond employs red for the eyes of the infected to an almost horror-like effect. It’s a simple yet shocking feature that transforms ordinary people into considerable foes throughout the story. The volcanic backgrounds in the scenes with Bleeze and Atrocitus rival images from Mustafar or Apokolips and are sure to please Red Lantern fans.
Overall, “Green Lanterns” #1 is a solid introduction to the series, but it will probably appeal more to seasoned Lantern readers familiar with the capabilities, motivations and conflicts among the different colored rings than to rookie readers.