Green Lanterns #17 (April, 2017)
“Darkest Nights, Part 2”
Writer – Sam Humphries
Pencils – Eduardo Pansica
Inks – Julio Ferreira
Colors – Blond
Letters – Dave Sharpe
Assistant Editor – Andrew Marino
Editor – Mike Cotton
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99
Yesterday, we discussed the first half of this Darkest Nights team-up between the Lanterns and Batman, and upon sharing it on the medias of social, I received a few (very few, this is still me) responses. The issue was called it out as having weird characterization, rough dialogue… it really wasn’t the reception I was expecting (despite mentioning issues with the characterization and dialogue in the piece myself!).
It made me wonder why I came away from the issue with a “net-positive” reaction… and then it hit me… did I really let the mere mention of Blackest Night (read: something from pre-Flashpoint) dull my more critical/analytical side?
As a fan of a certain ilk/age… am I willing to give a pass, consciously or not, to stories that might not be all that great… so long as they drop a few “continuity breadcrumbs”?
We’ll put a pin in that for now… and meet back up after the spoilery synopsis.
We open with the Scarecrow rambling on about how much he loves and needs “fear”. I mean, this goes on for three pages, which is good in that it brings everyone up to speed on what happened last issue… but is kinda “ehh”, in the fact that it took three entire pages to do it! If you read yesterday’s piece, you’ll know he’s got a bunch of Gothamites in cubicles watching fear-infused “Bad Batman” videos online. Speaking of Batman, right now he’s watching as his butler, who is also “infused wit da fear”, holds a gun up to the dome of Green Lantern, Simon Baz!
Batman leaps toward Alfred, and spouts a “precautionary post-hypnotic trigger phrase” to diffuse the situation. That might be up there with “Bat Shark Repellent” in the list of very convenient remedies. Alfred is back to normal, though probably has a bit of a headache… and Batman glares at Simon for daring to bring a gun into his cave. Now… I get that Batman really can’t get Baz to “not carry” when he’s out in the world… but, is there ever a situation where he’d allow a firearm into his own Batcave? I guess if he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have gotten our cliffhanger, so there’s that.
Batman doesn’t even yell at Baz, which makes him feel even worse. This is the one element of this whole “partnership” I’m actually liking. Simon spouts out that he only carries the gun because he’s scared the Ring won’t be good enough. Batman corrects him, claiming that Simon doesn’t think he’s good enough. Then he (and we) look on while Batman does his thing, and it isn’t long before he’s deduced that these videos all have that one cubicle farm in common.
After staking the place out for a bit, the heroes decide to make their move. Well, Batman decides, and the other two follow suit, but why split hairs when that’s the way it probably ought to have been all along? Inside, they see the spooked cubicle farmers… and their “supervisor”, the Scarecrow!
Batman and Scarecrow wrestle around a bit, when the baddie turns his attention toward the Lanterns… he fills them both with fear, which appears to be especially tough on Simon (as compared to the girl with the crippling anxiety, of course).
Simon must act, and naturally goes to reach for his pistol. Ya see, he’s scared the Ring will flake out on him in the best of times (though doesn’t appear to have much of a problem letting it carry him through space…), now that he’s been infected with fear, he doubts the ring (and himself) even more. Batman calls out to him to fight his temptation, and to use the ring instead.
And he does! Simon uses the ring to take down the Scarecrow and his machine. Jessica wraps the baddie in a construct somethin’r’nother until the police can arrive. Batman checks in with the folks who were watching the videos and assures them he’s here to help… he’s always here to help.
We jump ahead to the crew closing out their mission atop the GCPD Building with Commissioner Gordon. He thanks the Lanterns on behalf of the city… but tells them to get their weird rings outta there just as soon as possible. That seems a bit extreme considering the stuff Gordon must deal with on a daily basis… why would Green Lantern Rings be a “bridge too far”?
Jessica wonders aloud about what ought to happen to Crane… Batman excuses the baddie’s behavior by stating that he’s an addict. That seems a bit “off”. Anyhoo, Simon uses this moment as an opportunity to announce that he’s off the “gun habit”… he’ll never carry again. He goes to hand his piece to Batman… who doesn’t want it, Gordon winds up taking it.
Before parting company, Batman asks Baz to stick around for a minute. While he normally doesn’t like Lanterns (he and Hal never saw eye-to-eye, and Guy is… well, Guy), but he can see himself working alongside Simon again in the future… and so, he prepares him to be ready for that eventual call. Gotta ask… Batman has met John Stewart, right? Also, Jessica is like right there, and she’s been nothing but helpful during this adventure! This is like Gerry Conway-writing-Firestorm levels of “Veteran Hero Endorsement” here.
We wrap up with the Lanterns being called away by… a rather gaudy Guardian!
Alright, so Gotham City is saved… and, most importantly, Simon Baz gets his Bat-Endorsement. All told, as much as I’m telling myself I shouldn’t dig this (and I did have a bit of fun with it during the synopsis), I come away from this with another “net-positive” reaction.
Now, that’s not to say it was perfect… or, honestly, even all that great. That said… I’m left sitting here, wondering to myself whether or not I’m giving this little arc a “pass” because it refers to pre-Flashpoint continuity? I mean, I’m the idiot who spent hundreds of dollars on Convergence back in 2015 simply based on the “promise” of pre-Flashpoint stories being told. No joke, I bought the entire thing! I even weighed it!
So, to the question… and it’s a question I wanna pose to anybody who might happen across this blog, present and future. Do fans of a certain age or ilk maybe give a pass to lackluster stories if they adhere to (or even hint toward) our idea of proper continuity?
I’m not a fan of “number scores” when it comes to reviewing comics… I’ve seen too many “retweet baiters” (they know who they are) toss their analytical integrity away and dispense with 10/10 scores willy-nilly, but if this were a book I was reviewing for a site that used a number-system… would the briefest mention of Blackest Night bump my score up? Ya see… I’m kinda scared to answer that, because I’m not sure.
We, those fans of a certain age and ilk, have been dragged along so such a long time by the “big two”, through reboots, relaunches, and restarts… that we hardly know which was is up. I feel like we react to things that are “comfortable”… and for me, if we’re talking about DC Comics, “comfort” comes in the form of the pre-Flashpoint status quo. Since the Fall of 2011, everything has been so nebulous… some months Doomsday did kill Superman, other months it never happened… some months Blackest Night happened, other months it didn’t. Hell, I might be giving them too much credit when I say “some months”, I’m sure there were probably contradictions in the same week!
So here… it’s confirmed (at least for cover-date April, 2017), that Blackest Night was a thing that happened. Ya know, it’s not like I’m asking for an All-New History of the DC Universe or anything… I just need breadcrumbs like this every now and again. Besides, a book like that would probably be a terrible idea, because I guarantee within the first couple of months it’d be contradicted six-ways to Sunday… and any fan who dares point it out will be mocked by the pros (and those fans desperately seeking pro-retweets) for caring.
Oh, yeah… we were talking about Green Lanterns, weren’t we? I had the same issues with this chapter as I did the first… characterization is unsubtle to the point of perhaps being a bit “severe”, and the dialogue comes across as unnatural. I see no reason why Batman would choose Baz as “his” Lantern, when Jessica was right there… really feels like a hollow and forced endorsement. That said though, I kinda enjoyed it… and whether that’s because something about the story resonated for me… or the callback to the pre-Flashpoint DCU, I suppose at the end of the day… we oughta just chalk it up as a “win” and leave it at that. Available digitally (at full price).
I’ll throw this two-parter up on our Collected Editions Page too.