The last Green Lanterns issue cemented Simon and Jessica as the Green Lanterns we all deserve. Flawed, human individuals capable of greatness because of who they are as people. We can’t stress enough how much we loved that issue and for real, if you haven’t read it, go back and do that. We’ll wait.
Now that you’ve had some time to recover, put down those tissues, because we’re going to Gotham for a team-up with none other than mister crankypants himself, the Batman.
Gotham is an Awful Place
There have been a number of stories over the years that featured other members of the Justice League coming to Gotham. Most often, they wonder how the heck Batman does it. Gotham is dark and horrible and the villains there are the worst of the worst. An issue from the late 90s (and we can’t remember the title, please help us out in the comments) Superman and Batman trade places for a night, and Superman can’t even handle how dark and macabre it is there. More recently, in Sensation Comics: Wonder Woman #1, Wondy teams up with Oracle to take down some Gotham ne’er-do-wells, and even she can’t figure out how Bruce is able to deal with all of it. Who else is better equipped to help Batman than the Green Lanterns, who face their fears every day?
Green Lanterns opens with our heroes flying over Gotham and taking it all in. Simon’s internal monologue remarks that despite all the terrible things he’s seen as a member of the Justice League, nothing makes him more nervous than Gotham. This is intercut with some seemingly normal citizens freaking out and attacking the Batman. Green Lanterns swoop to the rescue and subdue the attacker.
Afterward, Jim Gordon and Batman brief the Green Lanterns on a string of fear-related crimes plaguing Gotham. All of the perpetrators are deathly afraid of the Batman. Simon assumes it is the Scarecrow because who else could it possibly be? But the attacks are too widespread and too frequent for Scarecrow’s modus operandi. Batman suspects a yellow lantern from the Sinestro Corps is behind it. The GL’s don’t think so. Their rings would presumably have told them if it was yellow lanterns.
Despite the growth we’ve seen from our two favorite Green Lanterns, Simon is still carrying his handgun. When Gordon remarks that he’s going to have to register it, Batman takes exception to him carrying it in the first place. He’s going to get someone killed, and probably himself. Simon maintains that he has to have a backup plan. Magic rings don’t always do the trick. Then Simon and Batman have a lovely shouting match over whether or not having a gun is necessary.
Meanwhile, Jessica leaves the boys to measure egos while she does a little sleuthing on the perp’s computer. She stumbles on a viral video condemning the Batman, and immediately her ring picks up an anomaly. The computer is giving off yellow light energy. Of course Batman was right about the Sinestro corps, because he’s the Batman.
The Green Lanterns get a tour of the Batcave while the Detective detects. He’s reviewing the videos espousing him as a monster. Jessica thinks they might have a point. He is, after all, using fear as a weapon. Suddenly, the rings pick up an anomaly. The video has affected Alfred. Also, it turns out Batman was right again, this time about the gun.
And then somewhere at an abandoned office, a number of citizens are watching the very same video en masse. They all want to kill the Batman. And, as it turns out, Simon and Batman were both right about who’s behind it.
And the Verdict
There isn’t much they could’ve done to top the last issue, but Green Lanterns: A Day in the Life made us fall in love with this team all over again. That said, a Batman team-up is a pretty strong follow-up, and the setup has us hooked. It’s a bit of a bumpy start with the Green Lanterns flying over Gotham intercut with the cold open in some dude’s apartment mid freak-out. Once we know a little more about what’s happening, it ‘s smooth sailing.
Simon and Batman’s stubborn-off takes center stage here, and it feels a bit like ‘Batman for dummies’. Understandable, since this is a Green Lantern title, and not everyone reading this book is reading Batman, but do we really need the image of Thomas and Martha Wayne’s graves as a reminder why the B-man doesn’t do firearms?
We Love Jessica Cruz
Of course, Jessica is at her best here. She’s the one who stumbles on the video that is the apparent cause of this fear epidemic. Her exchanges with her ring are cute and fun as always, and she is a breath of fresh air from all the men trying to out-man each other. Her exchanges with Batman and excitement about the Batcave are adorable as heck. The way she calls out Batman for capitalizing on fear and then puzzling about people being afraid of him is spot on. Oh Jessica, never change.
There’s kind of a comics continuity issue (or maybe non-issue, we’re not sure). Batman mentions Blackest Night. For those of you who don’t know, Blackest Night was an event from 2009-10 that pitted the whole DC universe against Black Lantern zombies. During the event, a number of heroes wielded rings from all over the emotional spectrum, and some villains did too. This was probably brought up to make more sense of the reveal at the end of the issue.
Your mileage may vary, but we were a bit puzzled here; since 2010 there have been a number of events and line-wide relaunches that have retconned away certain things, but not others. Add to it the fact that Bruce Wayne was basically dead (but not really) during Blackest Night, and we’re not sure how he remembers that this was a thing. Maybe Wally West told him. Also, Simon and Jessica weren’t Green Lanterns yet when that whole thing went down. So again, who is this for?
We do know that Batman knows how yellow rings work because he briefly used one in Forever Evil which is part of New 52 continuity, so the reference to Blackest Night feels a bit forced. Either way, the main protagonist for this arc comes right from the pages of Blackest Night, so it’s appropriate to mention it, we’re just not sure by whom, and it feels a bit clunky. Sound off in the comments below if we are missing something.
The art remains solid in the series. The Gotham skyline is as nightmarish as it needs to be. Batman is as frowny as ever. The whole issue color-wise is darker than we are used to from Green Lanterns, and that fits well with it being a Batman crossover.
This series continues to shine. We were totally excited for the Batman team-up, and it turns out that we were right to be. In two weeks we’ll find out more about our antagonist, and see the fall-out from Simon’s gun. We hope this story will help him put it away for good.
Green Lanterns #16: Darkest Knights Part 1
Writer: Sam Humphries
Pencils: Neil Edwards
Inks: Jay Leistein and Keith Champagne
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: James Harren
All Images Courtesy of DC Comics