This week’s 20th issue of Green Lanterns continues out of the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad crossover that unleashed Doctor Polaris, a magnetic supervillain. (Think Magneto only crazier). The Green Lanterns faced him head-on with less-than-ideal results. Can our heroes get their heads above water (literally)?
In Over Their Heads
Simon and Jessica are in trouble. Doctor Polaris sealed them in a coffin made of crushed cars and chucked them in a lake. Simon is doing his best to get them out, but he’s starting to lose it. His ring is hinting that he’s too scared to use it properly. He tries and fails and tries again, with not much to show for it. Meanwhile, Jess is quietly gathering her own strength.
Jess is uniquely suited to conquer this type of situation. Dealing with constant anxiety has taught her how to rise above under extreme duress. She centers herself and saves the day for both of them. Their celebration is short-lived, as there is a magnetic crazypants on the loose. They go back to the hospital where Neil Emerson’s (Doctor Polaris) brother was in a coma, but he’s buggered off and took his brother with him.
Dr. Emerson has his brother back at his secret lab. He’s keeping him alive there while he finds a cure. It isn’t long before his hallucinations of being on a “Lex Talk” return where he once again debates his super-villain-y other half.
While the GL’s track Polaris with the help of their Justice League teammate Cyborg, Simon has a flashback to his days as a career criminal. Simon can relate to Emerson’s love for his brother. It wasn’t that long ago that Simon’s best bud and brother-in-law was saving his skin. The last issue, he and Simon fought over family responsibilities versus superheroing, and Simon is still torn up about it.
Dr. Emerson is torn as well. In the theater of his mind, the Dr. Polaris persona, and a dream version of his brother are debating over his very soul. Neal’s brother Seth saved him much like Simon’s best friend saved Simon. Now, he’s inside Neal’s head to save him from Dr. Polaris. Seth insists that Neal’s always had what it takes to save him from his real life illness, but Dr. Polaris insist that he needs to put on the suit and become the villain in order to be powerful enough. Which will he choose?
Meanwhile across the galaxy, the Green Lantern Corps debate on the Guardian Rami who is stranded on Earth. Oh yeah, that’s right. Rami, the creator of the rings, and Volthoom the first lantern are still there apparently, and the Green Lanterns debate what to do about it. To some, bringing the rogue Guardian to GL HQ seems like a mistake, but to others, it’s better than letting him roam free. Crossover anyone?
Showdown in a Shack
The GL’s have found Emerson’s secret lair, an abandoned warehouse that looks rather like a pole barn. Once again, they charge in head-on. Didn’t they learn anything last time? Nobody is there except the comatose Seth. They are just about to take him back to the hospital when Dr. Polaris shows up in full supervillain regalia. He goes into his supervillainiest monologue and hurls metal at our heroes when the unthinkable happens. Seth flatlines.
Green Lanterns is slowly, quietly becoming one of our favorite books here at Fanfinity. The Green Lanterns have always been around the DC universe in some form or another, but they’ve never commanded the attention that the “Trinity” (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) commands, and they don’t have the added benefit of having a CW show to give them a little bump either. (Let’s not talk about that movie). But despite the Green Lanterns being somewhat of B-List heroes, this book is anything but B-list.
From issue 1, it was clear that this book was unique. There will always be a place for cosmic wackiness and intergalactic peril, and that is where the Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps book has its niche. Green Lanterns, though, has built itself upon character. Sure they face supervillainry from Red Lanterns, from the Scarecrow, and even a villain as formidable as Doctor Polaris. But these Green Lanterns are real people first.
Simon is a former criminal from the streets of Detroit. He’s doing his best to make good after a magic ring gave him a second chance. Jessica Cruz is a former shut-in crippled by anxiety thrust into a world of good versus evil and forced to cope. These two are far from the Hal Jordans of the world. And can we talk about how awesome it is to see a superhero turn her own flaws into strengths? To see someone so uniquely suited to being the type of hero she is because of what she’s had to deal with all her life. We love Jess so much. Simon too, but there is just something about Jess.
In this arc, we are also getting a helping of character out of our villain. Poor Neal Emerson is so consumed by his love for his brother that he’s sacrificed some of his humanity in the search for a cure. He’s so unsure of his abilities that he’s been taken over by his dark side. There is a real, flawed person under there, and even though he’s gone wrong, we can still feel for him. The same could be said of most of the “bad” guys the Green Lanterns have had to face in this series. We are never left short of feels when we read this book.
The art in this book is always consistently good, and this issue is no different. The constructs Simon makes in the early going are very cool looking, and the dreamy quality of the flashback sequences lets us know what we are looking at without really needing an explanation. The visual storytelling this issue is particularly well done. There are a couple of moments where two panels with different characters are laid out the same, which tells us without words that these characters are facing similar situations.
The real success of this book, however, are in its long game, in building the characters. We know enough about Jess and Simon that we really root for them, and Neal Emerson is as sympathetic a villain as they come. We want him to save his brother and get his redemption, but will he get there? Or will the Green Lanterns have to use their collective muscle to take him down before he hurts more innocent people by his own hubris? Or some other third thing? We’ll find out in two weeks.
Green Lanterns # 20: Polarity Chapter 2
Writer: Sam Humphries
Pencils: Eduardo Pansica
Inks: Julio Ferreira
Letters: Dave Sharpe