Tony Black reviews Green Lanterns #5…
“Red Planet” part five! Bad goes to worse as Atrocitus, leader of the Red Lanterns, comes to Earth to begin the final stages of his plan to turn Earth into a new central battery for his Corps!
Without doubt, the so-far excellent opening Rebirth arc of Green Lanterns, ‘Rage Planet’, has concerned itself with not only introducing our incumbent heroes Simon Baz & Jessica Cruz, but also deconstructing them from within, which in part five writer Sam Humphries continues to do, bringing them to the very brink of self-destruction as they begin to battle the Red Lanterns and take down the Hell Tower which has spread the ‘rage’ virus across the planet since the first issue. As our two heroes, having spent the last issue confronting their own issues with each other, their uncertainties about one another, now having put that aside to become a stronger partnership face their own internal anxieties greater than before. Admittedly, to an extent, it feels like Humphries is treading water a little and is in danger of repeating a few character beats, but he does well in bringing his two heroes to their knees, literally and metaphorically.
As Simon and Jessica both battle the different alien creatures that make up the Red Lanterns, Humphries–alongside artists Robson Rocha & Eduardo Pansica, who do a fine job in sketching both the Lanterns desperate battle and their own inner torment–gives the characters adjacent pages and panels in which they battle their own internal anxieties next to each other. For Simon it’s the fear of not being strong enough to defeat Atrocitus and his alien menaces; in one really cool page, the ring’s Emerald Sight gives Simon the power to see a rage-infested Justice League under Red Lanterns control, and he subsequently has serious doubts he can defeat Atrocitus, who potentially has the power to place all of those much more powerful superheroes under his thrall – and when he makes a radical decision to try and take him on, he panics when it hugely backfires.
For Jessica, meanwhile, its her own anxiety at not being strong enough in a different way, at still remaining the girl who runs away and hides, who is afraid of the world, who doesn’t believe she deserves to be a Green Lantern; a few encounters with nasty Red Lanterns play up on her fears, which also include the ongoing thread of letting down her sister who fell to Rage previously; by the end, as Simon realises he isn’t strong enough and Jessica realises she isn’t resilient enough, Humphries throws them into a desperate cliffhanger where you genuinely wonder even with the power of their rings, how on earth are they likely to get out of this?
While lacking the same sense of drama and forward character development of the previous issue, this Green Lanterns run continues balancing character work with action, and gorgeous panelling, as these two heroes struggle to find their place in the world and overcome their own fears. It’s a little in danger of repeating some of its character beats now so it’ll be good to see some semblance of closure hopefully begin to arrive on the Rage storyline soon, allowing Simon & Jessica to really blossom into Lanterns with a great future ahead.