I’m not going to lie. The best part of this issue is the end of it. I don’t mean the final page that wraps up the tangle between Atrocitus, Butcher, and Spectre. I mean the extra page. This issue holds a spoiler for next summer, moreso than next issue. There’s a little sneak peek at the Green Lantern from Xudar as he’s going to appear on the silver screen. Unfortunately, it’s also the only appearance of a Green Lantern in this comic.
Since slightly before “Blackest Night,” comic readers have wailed against the absence of Green Lantern appearing in his own title. Once or twice since this title restarted some six or more years ago, we’ve been promised a focus on John Stewart, but those promises never quite materialized. Hal Jordan took center stage in this title, and some would argue rightly so. Of late, however, Jordan has been marginalized in the interest of focusing on Red Lanterns, Blue Lanterns, or Orange Lanterns, so much so that even the Guardians have made note that Jordan doesn’t seem to be doing much in the way of Lanterning.
I completely understand that Johns is world-, no, universe-building, and I appreciate that the tale of the Butcher is so visceral that it consumes this issue with its bloody quest for savage rage-fueled revenge, but it seems to me that with the demand and the focus on these Lanterns growing in intensity and frequency it might be worthwhile to investigate them in another title and return this one to ring-slinging, especially with the pending (and already mentioned) feature film debut.
That said, Johns does deliver a story of rage, one that allows Spectre to lock horns with the embodiment of the Red Lanterns power. It’s a big story of shouting and teeth-gnashing, of boasting one’s worthiness over others, and it does spark some revelations for characters not named “Hal Jordan.” This issue offers a turning point (hopefully) to the underlying story of the gathering of the emotional entities.
Through it all – through the Spectre meting out vengeance as only the wrath of God can, through the bloody eye-for-an-eye justice delivered by the Butcher’s host, through Atrocitus’ spite of the human race – Mahnke fills the pages with twisted nightmare visions. The Butcher and Atrocitus are owned by Mahnke at this point. No other artist is going to render them with vicious bloodlust quite the way Mahnke does. Mahnke excels in his work with the Spectre. If the spirit of vengeance ever gets another chance at a solo tale, I certainly hope Mahnke gets a chance to draw it.
So there you have it, a review of a Green Lanternless “Green Lantern” issue. Taken as a story of the Emerald Warrior of Sector 2814, this story underwhelms. As a tale of rage, vengeance, and conflict, this is a rather intriguing issue. I’d like a little more green on my lanterns though.