This issue is very much focused on introducing the nature of the Orange Lanterns, which is unlike any other Corps we’ve encountered. As many suspected from last issue, the Orange Lanterns are revealed to be constructs, created after the original being has been killed and consumed by the orange light.
The real loss in this issue is the nomad Green Lantern, Gretti. Once again, Geoff Johns has brought back a classic Green Lantern, only for them to be brutally killed. I appreciate death would be a big part of the GLC, given the War of Light and the dangers they face, but unfortunately I think this is becoming cliche. I’m still not completely sure what the point was in resurrecting the Lost Lanterns for example. Sure, it completely exonerated Hal of their deaths (although that was Parallax anyway – now established as a separate entity), but since they reappeared all they’ve done is get killed off. All save Arisia, who’s been thankfully moved to the GLC title and paired with Sodam Yat.
In this case especially, it feels like a real waste of an interesting character. I was very much enjoying the idea of a nomadic GL, barred from entering his own sector and now forced to go against his nature and beliefs and return to it.
Interestingly while The Guardians are in the Vega system, Scar has remained behind, thanks to her illness. I’m guessing the Guardians keep this quiet though, as none of the GLs on Oa seem to know she’s still there, as they think in GLC that all the Guardians are off-planet. We, of course, know she’s stayed behind to cause the Sciencell riot, after stirring things up sending the other Guardians after Agent Orange. It nicely explains how she appeared separately from the other Guardians during last months issue of GLC.
Hal meanwhile continues to struggle with the blue ring. There’s a nice laugh when he tries to think of things he can hope in, tries world peace and the ring responds “Insincerity detected”. The ring keeps throwing him off, and results in him crashing to Okaraa. Here Gretti meets Hal (prior to his death) and is shocked to find his GL ring’s power being boosted (so we know that blue rings will also provide GL power boosts without being activated). The interesting thing here is the way the Guardians warn him to stay away from “the blue lantern”. They’re clearly washing their hands of Hal as long as he wears the ring, and Hal himself comments that they’ve only brought him along as they’re curious to see a blue ring in action and gauge its power.
Of course, as they approach Larfleeze’s forrest, it doesn’t take long before he sends his Orange Lanterns to act the GLs, and the GLs and Guardians are quickly overmatched, as the orange light just absorbs their constructs, showing exactly how the orange light gave the Guardians and the Corps so many problems in the past before the truce was signed. Of course, Hal and John don’t let it go unnoticed that the Guardians had known about the Orange light all along and kept it quiet.
Gretti quickly becomes a cropper to one of the Orange Lanterns, and John finds himself facing off against the Orange Lantern version of Gretti. While I may complain about the death of veteran GLs becoming cliche, there’s no denying its an effective scene, when the new, more monstrous-looking version of Gretti appears.
The ending of this part I really enjoyed as well, with Hal’s blue ring continuing to cause him problems, however this time its because Larfleeze detects it as something new and different, and so, obviously, he wants it, grabbing Hal and dragging him down to face him. Of course, it seems pretty obvious that Hal’s going to manage to trigger the blue ring next month, and it’ll be key to driving off the Orange Lanterns, but I really love the way its been used so far, and you really have a strong feeling for how much its screwing up Hal, who’s usually in his element as long as he’s got his GL ring on his finger.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is Fatality. Her appearance is pretty much a cameo, but it reminded me very much of Miri over in GLC, who also made various cameo appearances before turning up in the last issue of Ring Quest to tip the balance against Mongul and Mother Mercy. Here I’m willing to bet that the combination of her appearance and Hal’s blue ring will be what tips things against Larfleeze. How her appearance affects John is something I’m very much looking forward to, but after her appearance being pretty much a cameo here, I’m not expecting a lot of page time to be given to it next issue. Really I’d like to have an issue dedicated to John and Fatality, similar to what we got during Winnick’s Kyle run, but I can’t see it happening here, especially with Blackest Night about to kick off. Hopefully they’ll get some focus during the event though.
The issue closes out with a nice “Tales of the Orange Lanterns” story. It helps reinforce the points made about the nature of the Orange Lanterns in this issue, and is a fun throwaway story. I’d have perhaps rather seen the pages go to John and Fatality though, especially given their focus on the varient cover.