Green Lanterns #40 returns Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz to Earth following their battle with a genocidal chimera in the “A World of Our Own” arc. Rather than send the Lanterns back on another space-faring adventure, writer Tim Seeley keeps the Lanterns on Earth for the flawed opening issue of the promising “Superhuman Trafficking” arc.
Keeping the Lanterns on Earth is a good move for the series — slowing the action down allows the focus to shift to the Lanterns themselves rather than “rescuing frog people and trying to stop an alien civil war.” Fans of Sam Humphries’ run on Green Lanterns will be pleased by this issue’s insight into the personal lives of the two main characters. Since taking the reins on the book, Seeley has seemed to focus less on Simon and Jessica, who made the series more than just another Lantern book, and this issue at least takes a step in racking the series’ focus back onto the personalities of its leads.
Reflecting (sorta) current events, Green Lanterns #40 opens with the Lanterns and a cadre of B, C, and D-list DC heroes providing relief to flood victims somewhere in the southeastern United States. I always enjoy moments in comics where we see the heroes working alongside firemen, police officers, and first responders — they’re subtle reminders that our world is not without heroes of its own. It also sets up a quick, but refreshing moment for Simon and Jessica, both reveling in the simpler heroics that make an immediate impact on those they’re trying to save. Eventually readers learn Simon is struggling to keep a roof over his head or find steady employment all while trying to be an intergalactic superhero. Simon’s stress over everyday worries that so many readers face humanizes the character in a way that hasn’t been seen in a while.
Seeley’s focus on the Lanterns’ personal lives quickly turns to their love lives through the superhero-only dating app “Caper.” If you’re privy to dating apps that start with a consonant and end with “-er,” you’ll quickly pick up on Seeley’s poorly conceived Tinder spoof. I actually groaned as Simon explained the app to Jessica — the app felt like a forced attempt to be current and “hip,” like a suburban dad calling himself “hip” to try and fit in with his sons. Seeley even writes the words “hottest selfies” into this issue. Yikes.
Caper ends up being the driving vehicle behind this new arc as superheroes (mostly ones made up specifically for this issue) registered on the app begin disappearing, but I wish Seeley had developed a better means of driving the story that didn’t feel like such a forced pop-culture reference. Caper’s induction into the issue isn’t all bad, though; it provides for some chuckle worthy moments like Cyborg’s confusing scientific ramblings being drowned out by Jessica’s play-by-play as she sets up her Caper account or her thirstiness for Nightwing.
Caper also sets up a future romantic confrontation between Jessica and Simon after the app matches the two together as a “recommended match.” It feels like a predictable “will they, won’t they” plot thread and an unnecessary complication to Simon and Jessica’s partnership. It’s almost Valentine’s Day, so I guess this type of tryst is inevitable, but just because he’s a man and she’s a woman doesn’t mean there has to be some kind of romantic implication.
While Cyborg’s appearance is needed for the Lanterns to investigate the disappearances, much of his dialogue is an unnecessary explanation of the gravity of the kidnappings. These missing heroes — Bearer of Bad News, The Gripper, and Big Thunder to name a few — are complete nobodies who readers have never seen before, so it’s no surprise this isn’t a Justice League level event or a cause for hysteria. Cyborg mundanely explaining that to readers are just wasted pages.
The art in this book is nothing to write home about — Barnaby Bagenda’s pencils are simply there. In fact, I found the scenery to be frustratingly inconsistent. Some pages are intricately detailed down to individual buttons on Cyborg’s Watchtower helm, while in other pages Bagenda doesn’t even bother to draw facial features. It was never enough to distract me from the story or make me lost in the panels, but it was undoubtedly noticeable.
Despite its flaws, Green Lanterns #40 is still an enjoyable read that sets up a lighthearted story arc that focuses on the complications between superhero life and maintaining some semblance of a normal relationship. I won’t be ranting and raving about this issue to friends, but I am interested enough in the plot to pick up the next issue.