Green Lanterns #51
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artists: Mike Perkins and Hi-Fi
There’s something about the Green Lantern Corps (and comics in general really) that makes writers just want to come up with B-movie villains. “The army from BEYOND SPACE!” “The Day Feelings RAN OUT!” “HERO SNATCHERS FROM PLANET 99!” Which, if handled correctly, I would have absolutely no problem with. The problem is that the writers inevitably take their completely fabricated threats to the fabric of reality or universal order or whatever’s in jeopardy this time around way too seriously. And sure, taking a threat seriously is great – when that threat has been properly built up and when it’s properly character-driven. If you don’t build up a threat, then you’ve written a B-movie. B-movies, as far as I’m concerned, are films where the dangers are things that Man Is Not Meant to Wot Of: they’re overpowered, terrifying, and generally outside of Man’s abilities to stop except for some random weakness that only a man with a nice chin is capable of discovering. That kind of entertainment has its place, but that place is not in my comic books and it certainly shouldn’t be in my Green Lantern comic books. And it’s an urge I understand!
Writing comics these days inevitably means there’s a LOT of hard acts to follow. You’re up onstage after Morrison, or Johns, or Lemire, or Grell, or any number of writers that quite possibly are better than you’ll ever be and have created things that you never could. So you try and match them, you try and leave your mark. But you make one major mistake, and that’s doing it on their terms. You try to succeed the same way they did, but that’s impossible because no two writers can ever succeed in exactly the same way. So you try and make a grand villain with an impactful storyline, but all you can make is a B-movie. Green Lantern is especially susceptible to this because Green Lantern is unanchored. Which is to say, it’s not connected to as many aspects of the DCU as other series based on Earth. If you’re writing Wonder Woman, you can reach into mythology; if you’re writing Superman you know what to threaten. There are emotional connections on Earth. But the Green Lantern Corps is connected to, well, the Green Lantern Corps. And maybe four or five locations around the universe. There’s simply not as many connections, and the lack of connections means that writers have a very limited villain base to choose from. Not to mention that a lot of the GL villains get totaled one way or another at the end of the story. Like, who’s a writer going to bring back? Relic? The damn Lantern Keepers? There’s just not a lot of super deep GL lore. And so writers turn to their imaginations, and that is their mistake. Because they try to come up with new, interesting things. And I know how that sounds! I know that I just told writers to stop using their imaginations. Which is obviously crazy.
Here’s what I mean: A big, mysterious threat is not something that everyone can do well. And it’s not what I need every time I open a comic! I’m not looking for a bunch of big, mysterious threats! Give me a threat I can understand. A threat we can see coming, a threat we know how to stop but is extremely difficult to stop anyway. Let’s take a little bit of the mystery out of modern comics and return to the days where the hard part was beating the enemy instead of figuring out who they are. I see this happening all over comics, and it’s starting to annoy me! Secrets are great, but there’s other ways to tell a story, especially since most comics aren’t supposed to be about detectives. Now, I’m not saying we can’t have some mystery, or some questions, but if writers want to tell an imaginative story then they’re more likely to succeed with other kinds of stories.
So how does this relate to Green Lanterns #51? The villain is an unstoppable force that we know nothing about. His name is “eon,” which, being time-related, is just a little too close to “relic” for my tastes. He’s bent on destroying the GL corps, blah blah blah. Same plot as about five other GL corps plots. It’s been done, people. It’s boring. There are good moments here and there, and there’s some intrigue, but I just can’t get excited for a comic that’s got such a monotonous and bland villain! I can’t do it! The art’s great, though. The art is actually really, really good. I like it a lot! But no amount of good art or good characters or even good writing can save this comic from its lackluster villain. And hey, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe next issue will show me the error of my ways and I’ll praise him as the best villain Green Lanterns has had in a long time. But my guess is no. Probably not.
Green Lanterns #51
A solid issue that is crippled by its complete and utter lack of a real villain.