Publisher DC, JANUARY 2011 $2.99
Writer GEOFF JOHNS
Penciller DOUG MAHNKE
I’ve been reading Green Lantern since issue #44 and writer Geoff Johns has had the pedal firmly set to the metal ever since that issue. The relentless pace is as exhausting as it is exhilarating. Johns and penciller Doug Mahnke maintain the intense rhythm in this episode which features the Red Lanterns. This brings us close to the end of the current storyline about the entities behind the multiple emotion fueled colors of each corps. The past half dozen or so episodes have zoomed in on an entity, resolved the problem of it running wild on earth and set up the next issue. This month’s chapter follows this format and focuses on the rage entity known as The Butcher. The bull-like creature makes an appearance at a prison where a man is about to be executed for the murder of a young girl. The entity succeeds in finding a suitable rage-filled host for itself. But the chosen host is not who you might expect. Upon choosing the host, God’s Vengeance incarnate – The Spectre – interrupts stating that vengeance belongs to God. Atrocitus and The Spectree have a fascinating argument about this. The discussion reveals what differentiates The Spectre, The Butcher and Atrocitus. The conclusion of the book is predictable in terms of plot. One might rightfully argue “nothing happened” in this issue. Mechanically speaking that would be true. The plot is still roughly where it was before the events of this book. But the issue does deliver surprising character moments.
The entire ordeal of this episode gives the character of Atrocitus increased emotional complexity and subtlety. This is no small feat considering the character’s main characteristic is that of being filled with rage to point of not needing a physical heart. I feel the point of the current storyline is not to to get from point A to point B in the story but rather to move the character to a different mind frame. To shed light on the different leaders of the all the colored corps. In this the book succeeds.
In the art department, Manhke’s pencils play an important role in evoking complex emotions via characters’ facial expressions. He also deftly handles the violence, never giving it a comical tone. Always rendering action sequences with the requisite savagery. His line is precise as always but never mechanical in feel. The inks are also strong here, favoring pools of black juxtaposed with fine brush work. Colorist Randy Mayor nearly drowns the book in shades of red and black without losing any shape and texture. And though lettering is done mainly digitally nowadays – making it perhaps a more cerebral craft – one can easily understand how lettering this book would have been a challenge. Atrocitus speaks in one type of word balloon and one font, but The Butcher speaks in a different balloon and so does Hal. All the screaming, sound effects and character captions requires that the letterer be typographically creative. Kudos to Nick J. Napolitano for an unsung job well done.
The most striking aspect of this book is it’s physical and emotional brutality. It is no doubt the most violent and bloody Green Lantern book to date (parents beware). This is fitting. We are, after all, dealing with the subject of rage and what fuels it. Johns does a great job balancing such cosmic themes as God’s Vengeance – as dealt out by The Spectre – with delicate subject matter like grief and loss. It’s impressive that such profound themes are being explored in the superhero genre. I enjoy it greatly when writers treat larger-than-life characters in a literary way. I think the first century greeks would be proud to know that their penchant for mythology is still “in vogue” centuries after their having cultivated the art form so enthusiastically.
Writing: 7/10 – Art: 7/10