It’s Zod vs. the boys as Hal and Kyle investigate illegal mining on a undeveloped planet and come into contact with the most infamous Kryptonian in the galaxy. We haven’t seen Zod very much since he was banished to the Phantom Zone by Jor-el years ago, and this issue felt like a good reintroduction to him and his power without boring us with the details of Kryptonian politics. I was a little puzzled as to why Hal and Kyle got their asses handed to them so badly, though. Even if they are fighting Kryptonians, you would think the GL rings would be a little better at combat than this. But then again, there is a lot of chatter by Zod’s subordinates about the rings not being as powerful as lore would suggest, so maybe there’s something at work here that we aren’t aware of yet.
One thing that I adore about this issue and this run in general is that John is finally getting his due as the most capable lantern in the DCU. Since the beginning, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps has always been a story of the corps as a unit and not any one individual Lantern over another. However, the positioning of John as the leader is great and really reminds me of what Christopher Priest is doing with Cyborg over on his Justice League run. Writers have always struggled with John’s characterization, as he doesn’t have the clear-cut personality traits of most of the rest of the corps. Due to this, he can often just fade into a vaguely stereotypical army man, but Venditti has been doing a great job on this book to develop him more thoroughly.
The B plot here is rather bogged down in continuity as John fights with the recently freed original batch of Guardians of the Universe about whether they should actually go back to being in charge of the corps. There are a lot of references to when the original Guardians tried to explode the universe multiple times here, and if you didn’t read most of New 52 Lantern books, it would seem like these new Guardians came out of nowhere. As a Lantern fan, I understood everything going on here, but for someone who has just a passing interest, it seems like this would be confusing. Whatever happened to the idea that every issue was going to be someone’s first? I’ll get off my soapbox now, but with the big two courting a new audience as aggressively as they are, you would think they’d try to make things more easily understood.
Sandoval has done some really fantastic work on this book over the course of his tenure, and this issue was no different. There’s a great understanding of sequencing static action, and the fight scene between Zod’s people and Hal and Kyle is very kinetic. Often with quick action sequences I find myself just glazing over and reading the bubbles to understand who’s doing what, but Sandoval’s art always makes me want to look at each panel with care.
If you’re a Green Lantern superfan, this issue will be a home run for you. Great art, lots of fast paced action, an awesome villain who hasn’t gotten his due in quite some time, and an interesting setup for the rest of the arc. If you are just thinking of picking up this issue without any prior knowledge, though, it might be best to pick up volume one first.