This review is based off a volume that collects Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 and Green Lanterns #1-6
Since the Rebirth era kicked off last summer, both critics and fans have rightfully praised titles such as Superman, Detective Comics and Green Arrow, but one that I feel has been criminally overlooked by many is that of Green Lanterns. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s one of the rare titles in the line that boldly allows newer characters to enjoy time in the spotlight, but I assure you that it provides one of the most rewarding reading experiences DC currently offers and its first collected edition, Rage Planet, does nothing but prove my point.
What I really like about the Green Lanterns ongoing series as a whole is that Sam Humphries accomplishes what all the best stories featuring ringslingers have done since 2004: Telling awesome tales and generously building the mythology while doing so. You may think the latter is a given, but it’s actually not in most cases. More often than not, storytellers merely maintain the status quo.
Whenever you picked up a GL story written by Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi and, to an extent, Robert Venditti, you knew you were in for something unprecedented. And although you may not entirely see it my way when it comes to the issues compiled into this first volume, know that Humphries most assuredly charts new territory.
As I mentioned earlier, newer Lanterns take the wheel in this series, specifically rookies Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. If Hal Jordan and John Stewart’s relationship can be likened to that of Lethal Weapon, then I’d have to say Baz and Cruz are a bit more Rush Hour, if you catch my drift.
Baz, a fellow Detroit boy, had been massively under-utilized since his introduction in 2012. But now, thanks to Humphries’ witty writing, he’s one of the breakout stars of the Rebirth era. Cruz, meanwhile, can be seen as an inspiration for those who suffer from anxiety. It’s well known that Green Lanterns overcome great fear, but she is decidedly more human and can be looked to as an example of what one can achieve when they give it their all despite any shortcomings they think they may have.
Like most Rebirth ongoings, this one kicks off with a one-shot that just so happens to be co-written by Geoff Johns, effectively making the prelude feel like a passing of the torch. Not only that, but Ed Benes and Ethan Van Sciver – the latter of whom I’d say is the greatest artist Green Lantern artist of our time – lend their mighty pencils. It’s quite appropriate that those fellas be the ones responsible for Hal Jordan passing a torch of his own when he leaves Sector 2814 in the hands of the dysfunctional duo and cleverly mergers their power batteries into one.
When we get to the meat of the story, which is mostly drawn by one of 2016’s best rising artists in Robson Rocha, Simon and Jessica find themselves pulled into a dire situation with the fearsome Atrocitus and his relentless Red Lantern Corps at its heart. Not only have they erected a Hell Tower on Earth (a structure that looks like something out of a Devil May Cry video game), but ordinary citizens have been overcome with almost supernatural levels of rage; as you may have figured out, these two events are inextricably linked and by design.
In the midst of this, Simon gains a new ability: Emerald Sight, allowing him to peer into the future – it’s also a neat way to tease readers with what’s to come. In addition to that, he even manages to cure a Red Lantern, Bleez, of her rage, even if only for a brief period. There’s also another person whom he brings back from the abyss, but I won’t spoil that detail. See, didn’t I tell you we were entering new territory?
Not meaning to get too sidetracked or anything, but perhaps you’ve heard someone joke about how aliens are afraid to land on Earth because human beings are too violent. Well, I wonder if Humphries took that concept and flipped it by having the Red Lanterns attempt to repurpose our planet as their new home base due to our species’ great capacity for rage. But I digress.
Although I prefer my stories featuring lightsmiths to take place in space 90% of the time, Green Lanterns Vol. 1: Rage Planet proves that it’s entirely possible for a fantastic, no holds barred sci-fi story featuring these characters to be told almost entirely on Earth. Plus, it’s highly recommended that you get in on the ground floor because I sense this is the first (rage) seed planted when it comes to Red Dawn, which will probably be Humphries’ equivalent of Blackest Night.
There's no doubt in my mind that Rage Planet is the best Green Lantern tale published since Lights Out. A thrilling sci-fi adventure that is nothing if inspirational, the first mission for these rookie ringslingers is not to be ignored.