Green Lanterns #42 continues the tale of human trafficking with a taste of romance (what a weird combination) established in issue #40, taking the buddy-cop duo of Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz to the Horsehead Nebula to investigate the peculiar Order of the Steed’s involvement with the sudden disappearances of Earth’s lesser-known superheroes. The “Superhuman Trafficking” arc had gained some much needed momentum after issue 41, but, sadly, Green Lanterns #42 manages to fall flat on its face. While the character progression seen in the issue’s two female leads is enjoyable, the thinly veiled motivations behind the villainous Order of the Steed ultimately drag this arc into the mud — and I don’t think there is any saving it.
While there has been little about the last few issues of Green Lanterns that really lit me up, #42’s revelations about the black-market tech-criminal Scrapps actually had me buzzing. Whereas previous issues of Lanterns lead you to believe Scrapps is a worthless criminal, #42 shows a different side of Scrapps — a woman who is driven to absolute extremes by a desire for justice. Scrapps emerges in this issue as a total badass who ends up becoming essential to the Lanterns investigation. She’s still a cold blooded-killer, but she passionately defends her ruthless actions as means to freeing the oppressed and I totally dig it.Readers also witness Jessica Cruz progress into a more level headed character in #42. At first, Jessica comes off as a spiteful atheist lashing out at Order of the Steed followers while undercover on her way to the Horsehead Nebula. Once she opens up to Simon, however, readers will see she is still reconciling with her past and acknowledging her shortcomings. She’s aware that she hasn’t properly processed the trauma in her life and she’s at the very least willing to acknowledge it; a mature move for a character who has already seen so much progression in the last 41 issues.
It’s a bummer that well executed progressions of both these characters are wasted in a story arc that has almost nothing else going for it. This issue reveals to readers the Order of the Steeds motivations for kidnapping superheroes and they are just so boring and incomplete.
The only real explanation for the a Order of the Steed’s crimes is a desire for power… that is it. Stockpiling superhero slave soldiers will bring them power. For what? Who knows, but power is power. The Order of the Steed are undoubtedly evil — they are human-traffickers, after all — but I didn’t find any real motivations for what they were doing.It seemed the only driving force behind their plight was the necessity of an antagonist in this arc, now that Scrapps had been revealed to be a decent human being. They’re just completely uninteresting villains with unbelievably shallow reasons for being horrible. I don’t see how they can be salvaged into passable bad guys by the time this arc concludes. The lack of memorable or even frightening villains takes all the wind out of this story’s sails.
On a visual note, V. Ken Marion takes over the illustrations for this issue and does a fine job. While the art isn’t particularly fantastic, the character models are excellent and allows each character to portray emotion emphatically whenever necessary. The art won’t save this issue from its lackluster villains and faulty story, but at least it is very pretty to look at.
Although I felt this arc got off to a rocky start, I had hopes that it could be salvaged and built into a memorable adventure for the two newest Lanterns. After this issue, those hopes have been completely dashed. Aside from the character revelations in Scrapps and the maturation of Jessica, there’s just nothing to this issue — it has no soul. It’s not bad, but you’ll forget about it the second you put it down.