Jessica Cruz gets the worst instructor ever while Volthoom plots revenge eons in the making.
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Jessica Cruz gets the worst training officer possible. We’ll tell you all about it in Green Lantern Volume Four: The First Ring, straight ahead.
Welcome to the Classy Comics Podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. from Boise, Idaho here is your host, Adam Graham.
When DC Rebirths launched there were two different Green Lantern titles. There was Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps which focused on the better known Green Lanterns out having space opera adventures. Meanwhile, there were two Green Lanterns who were stationed on earth: Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz, and they were forced to work as partners because Hal Jordan gave them only one power battery between them. At first they clashed but then they became friends as well as partners, working together and growing through the first three books. At the end of the third book Jon Stewart recalled them to Mogo for training without really giving them much chance to prepare. It’s kind of a dubious move because they really could have been in the middle of something when he just whisked them away. But in the first three Issues of this book they do arrive on Mogo and undergo training. For some, and this is a mere matter of you learning to use more imagination when he uses his power ring, and for that he’s trained by Kyle Rayner. Rayner had been an artist before he became a Green Lantern, and so this is a really fun section. The art throughout this book is really good and really expressive, fitting the unique power set of the Green Lanterns in terms of being able to make these will power constructs, as well as showing all of this majestic stuff in space and the different species.
It’s particularly fun as Simon has to work his way through a maze that Kyle created with his ring, and it’s just a pretty fun battle. Jessica faces a bigger challenge. Prior to getting her ring she suffered from anxiety; so much so that she couldn’t even leave her apartment. But she’s shown marked improvement and has achieved some key victories as a Green Lantern also in finding on the side of the Justice League having helped take down several heavy hitters. So of course when she gets to Mogo they take away her Green Lantern symbol because she is in training and hasn’t even passed her basic training. This but having this whole saving earth several times thing, they’re not going to stop that from standing in the way of the rules. To top this off, for a training officer Jessica gets Guy Gardner – probably the worst possible person you could give to someone who has had some emotional challenges. As well Gardner definitely has his good side, he can be a pretty big jerk when you’re first getting to know him and that’s the case here as he makes her absolutely miserable throughout the entire training period. She manages to hang on partially with some very kind advice from Killowog, the longtime Green Lantern veteran who’d really does play that sort of sage-veteran role in giving her just some really good inspiration. And it’s a beautiful scene as he tells a Lantern legend and reminds her that she has what it takes. And she does, of course, pass training – though after she decks Guy Gardner; and who could blame her?
Of course, while our heroes are going through training that’s not actually the most important thing that’s going on in these first three Issues. This is all setting up a bigger story and part of this has been set up throughout the Green Lantern’s story, and I strongly recommend if you haven’t read the earlier volumes to pick them up. But there are a couple key things going on: first, we’re seeing some people who were recruited as the earliest Lanterns at the very dawn of the Corps. At the same time, Volthoom who wielded the first ring, a ring that could access the entire emotional spectrum, because in the DC Universe it was established that there are multiple spectrums and there were actually multiple Lantern Corps for things such as hope, avarice and of course the Sinestro Corps were fear – and Volthoom wield them all until The Guardians took the power away. In the second volume he took over Rami a renegade Guardian who…he’s managed to finagle getting to come home so that he can access some information to reclaim an artifact that’ll take him back to his home universe, his travel lantern. And our stories converge because Volthoom needs Jessica’s ring in order to complete this plan, and so the first assignment that Jessica and Simon get after passing their test is to provide an escort for Rami.
The fourth Issue in this book is The Return of the First Lantern which has them heading to the Vault of Shadows, and this is where the story comes to a head. I like that it doesn’t jump right into the action – it has some character moments. There’s just a really nice page that is just Simon and Jessica talking about how they’re eager to get home. At the same time Simon is writing a letter to an old friend who isn’t feeling kindly towards him now that he’s assumed the Lantern powers. In the Vault they run into actually one of the first Lanterns who is apparently guarding the place and actually for some reason recognizes Simon and Jessica. [In] the course of events Volthoom reveals himself and sets out to fulfill his plan to get back to his home universe with his travel lantern, and the story does end on a cliffhanger. One thing I will note about the fight that occurs is that Simon suffers pretty badly in the fight relying upon his ring, and I do hope it’s something that they visit in the next volume because in the previous volume Batman convinced Simon to give up his gun which he carried along with his lantern because he needed to rely on his lantern ring. Simon does that and has a pretty big issue occur and I don’t think it would be realistic if he doesn’t question whether he made the right decision in giving up the gun. So I hope that they at least address that in the next volume.
The final Issue in this book, The First Ring, actually tells more about how the ring was formed as well as Volthoom’s relationship to Rami. What we’ve learned from Volthoom is that he believes that the Guardians truly wronged him and they stop him from going back to save his home universe, and that turns out to be just his matter of perspective as we learn more details on the full event. It’s a good twist and it does show that you can only rely so much on a single person or their own single perspective. Overall this book has some fantastic art, a very good story – even though it’s not quite finished in this book. The meeting up with Jon Stewart, Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner is nice, even if what happens is not hugely eventful. If you’ve got two Green Lantern books it’s important that they do feel connected in some way, plus it’s nice to have these newer Lanterns interacting with the more classically well-known characters.
While I don’t know the final outcome of this whole situation with Volthoom, I do think that writer Sam Humphries has really set this up as an epic story, so finishing it I was saddened that we got a cliffhanger, but this is part of such a big story that it really left me wanting to read the next volume. So overall I’ll give this book a rating of Classy and I highly recommend getting all of Sam Humphries volumes going back to Volume One. This is just such a real fun and enjoyable series to read with great character work and really fantastic art.
Alright, that will do it for today. If you do have a comment send it to me: email@example.com; follow me on Twitter @ClassyComicsGuy and check out the website classycomicsguy.com. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham, signing off.