Green Lanterns Annual #1
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Mike Perkins
I’ve got mixed feelings on Green Lanterns as a title. It started out with Sam Humphries, who’s an aggressively okay writer, and then passed on to Tim Seeley, whom I quite like. The stories have been standard and effective for Green Lantern titles, and the buddy-cop aspect works like a charm (Simon and Jessica are just such a good team!). But I don’t know if I would use the word “impressive” on any of the stories. “Pretty good,” perhaps, or “not bad at all,” and the latest story arc may even have broke “damn fine” by the end. But it’s just been a real 7.5 of a series so far. So I’m happy to report that Green Lanterns Annual #1 is a true return to form. “But Quinn, you goblin,” you yell, banging your meaty fists on the table and knocking over my glass of elf blood, “how can it be a return to form when they had no form to return to?” Easy: it’s a return to an old style of Green Lantern story. I’ll get to that later, but I’ll let you know this now, free of charge: I loved this annual. It wasn’t perfect, but I absolutely loved it. Let me tell you why.
First up is the art! Mike Perkins’ softly curved linework and heavy, brushlike shading creates a very organic and natural feel throughout the book, and he knows precisely when and where to use each technique. Consider, for example, the rendition of Green Lantern Yli’laatua at the bottom of page 6. His design alone is original and enjoyable, but Perkins’ skill turns every panel with the antlike character into a detail treasure hunt. The irregular spines! The fantastic face! I just love the way the character looks, and indeed the way the whole book looks. One element of the art that stood out to me is the way that the lantern constructs are all rendered in a different style from the rest of the art. They are clearly made of a different kind of reality, as they are drawn purely with thin untextured lines as opposed to the choppier stuff elsewhere. Nowhere can this be better seen than on page 10, where a heavily textured and shaded Simon creates a lightly and cleanly rendered construct of a car engine. The colorist deserves special mention here, as the lantern constructs actually generate light! Imagine that! You’d think most colorists would understand that, but it’s used fairly rarely in Lantern books depending on who’s doing the colors. Troy, on the other hand, consistently gives constructs power and presence by allowing their emitted light to reflect off of characters and the environment. Troy also wins the honor of shading constructs – something else a lot of colorists fail to think of. I loved the art throughout, and though I may well end up liking it more than many, I think you’ll be impressed. One more thing: The facial expressions are extremely well-done and communicative. I recommend paying some closer attention to them.
The story is what I really like about it. It centers around Simon and Jessica being chosen to give speeches at this huge yearly event that every lantern must attend. Why two rookies from earth without much credibility would be given such an honor instead of, y’know, any of the other seventy-two-hundred lanterns is completely beyond me. Apparently, it’s beyond the writer as well, since the detail is literally not addressed even one time. Jessica messes up her speech very, very badly, and tries to get some alone time, and that’s when things really get going. The story is so simple that spoiling it would make it much less fun to read, but I will say that there are a lot of good character moments in the annual and both of the lead lanterns get more than their chance to shine.
Remember when I said this annual was a return to form? Back in the 70s and 80s (and 90s to an extent), there were backup features in GL comics called “Tales of the Green Lantern Corps” that featured random lanterns and their adventures. They always stuck with me, and it’s those stories that made me into the GL fan that I am today. Other series have attempted similar things since: Johns’ Green Lantern Corps series in the oughts, the Tales of the Sinestro Corps during the Sinestro Corps war, and some small other features have carried on the tradition. But the GL Corps series focused too closely on only a few lanterns too consistently, and the Sinestro Corps stories were obviously about the Sinestro Corps. The key to a Tales story is very simple: make it a one-shot. Which, of course, most annuals are. This annual is no exception. It feels very Bronze Age, with its simplistic dialogue, interesting worldbuilding, and title: “The Lost Lantern.” It’s full of humor and adventure, and Simon and Jessica’s chemistry continues to improve. If you’ve been reading the series so far, you’ll like it plenty. If you’re a fan of the old Bronze Age style of GL writing, you’ll love it! In fact, I would say that it combines the old and the new styles beautifully. Give it a go!
Green Lanterns Annual #1
Green Lanterns Annual #1 is a true return to form