Green Lanterns #41
Story: Tim Seeley
Pencils: Barnaby Bagenda & Tom Derenick
Inks: Mick Gray
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Cover: Will Conrad & Ivan Nunes
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Green Lanterns #41 is the second part of the Superhuman Trafficking arc. In this issue, Simon and Jessica must go undercover to get some information on a planet run by crime. Using Scrapps, they meet up with some mercs who have a lead, but the Lanterns must pay up for it. We also learn more about who is running this “rent-a-hero” prison, but the question still remains, why?
***WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD***
The thing I loved most about this book is how the whole team came together to build a very intriguing world. Tim Seeley takes the time in the first few pages to paint a picture of what we are in for when we touch down on the planet of Garnet, bringing to attention that 1.) No space authority has hailed them, and 2.) The Guardians didn’t bother to assign a new Lantern to the sector after Jack T. Chance died. Through Scrapps, they learn that Garnet isn’t even what people call the planet anymore, instead they call it Hellhole (further illustrating, this is not a place you want to be), and even the sight of a Lantern will cause citizens to fire.
In a comic, you can’t effectively build a world without having the visuals down, and the team of Barnaby Bagenda, Tom Derenick, Ulises Arreola, and Mick Gray nailed it. Before we even get to the planet, we see that there is a bone yard of ships and bodies orbiting the planet, and one even hits the Lantern’s windshield (is it still called a windshield in space?). When we finally do touch down, we see that the planet has almost a Wild West vibe (think Mos Eisley or Westworld with Rick & Morty aliens). Grays heavy use of inks while the Lanterns are walking through Hellhole and when they go into Mungol’s adds a layer of tension that works incredibly well with Arreola’s colors to help give it the feeling you would expect to have on a planet run on crime; anything and everything can happen at a moment’s notice and none of it will be good.
The artistic team also plays with the detail a lot to help draw the eye to specific areas of the panel in order to heighten what’s happening in the story. For example, while Seeley builds a picture of Hellhole for us, he is also playing with the awkwardness that came from issue #40, when Jessica got matched up with Simon on Caper. When Simon walks in on Jess, there is a lot of detail in Jessica’s face to show the frantic moment we have all felt when someone catches us looking at something on our phone that is potentially embarrassing and we rush to close out the app. But, in the next pane, there is considerably less detail in Jessica’s face, but the detail we are shown highlights Jess who is zoning out a bit while she marvels at Simon’s oh-so-manly core (which is in full glorious detail). Another example is later on when Tomb-Or shoots puss all over Simon. Scrapps is completely inked out aside from her hair and outfit, which says, “Yeah, she is there next to Simon, but that’s not the point. See and feel Simon being grossed out!”
I am always a fan of the vibrant colors that Arreola uses in this series. In a time where it feels like heroes either has to be dark and brooding with a darker color scheme or they are jokey and colorful, it’s nice to get into a vibrant issue where the characters are dealing with human emotion without it being a joke or it going into Chris Nolan territory. Arreola’s choice on color also adds a certain flow to the issue. In the opening pages, we see why Simon was so hurt by being passed on by Night Pilot a few issues back. In this sequence, the colors are muted but there is a lot of detail on Simon and Night Pilot and then it’s a hard cut back to full vibrancy when Simon is hailed on his ring. At the start, we have info telling us the muted scene is a month before, but we get nothing that say present day, nor do we need it. With the details used, and how the color brightens from one panel to the next, it is clear to see that we had a glimpse into Simon’s memories.
One thing I am admittedly bad at, is giving recognition to the letterers of issues. This is something I’m trying to be better about, and Dave Sharpe made it very easy to make sure I stopped to give some recognition. Everything in this issue helped to build out this world and what our Lanterns were thinking. The “BOK” of corpse hitting the ship is center panel and has a red hue to it, which helps add to the shock we see Jessica experiencing. The way that Sharpe did the lettering for the “SPLURGK” when Tomb-Or sprays Simon with puss made that panel almost too much for me to look at. I may or may not have gaged just a bit, which I think proves how a good letterer can add another layer to any issue.
While I appreciated how detail in the art was used to draw focus, add humor, and heighten the feelings coming across to the reader, at times it did become a distraction and some of the detail felt inconsistent. The main issue as far as inconsistency goes is with the character Tomb-Or. I really loved this character, but the look was different in every panel she was in, and to contrast the high level of detail and inks in the splash page where the Lanterns are chasing them, to the other panels where the marks on her face change or are unnoticeable took me out just a bit. There were also some panels where a character (like Jessica) is standing in the middle of the panel talking, but you get part of an eye and mouth while Simon (in full detail) is recovering from his puss bath. These are all minor things that most wouldn’t mind or even interpret the way I have, but it was something that did take me out of it at times.
The only thing I was disappointed in, throughout this issue, was towards the end. The Lanterns agree to make it look like they were beaten by Tomb-Or and Zecz. Tomb-Or wants the Lanterns to look gory, “…like we are some total savages” to help them get rep points (because as we learned, your rep is your currency on Hellhole). I was hoping we would get to see some gore, but instead we got two green constructs that looks more like the Lanterns were taking a nap, than they were destroyed by some “total savages”. In this issue (and in a couple past issues), we’ve seen both Lanterns use constructs to build life like disguises that are not green at all, and I thought there was some foreshadowing when Jess mentioned Stan Winston earlier in the issue, but instead we got constructs. I just wish there was more to these panels.
This issue is very much a character driven issue instead of a plot driven issue. The relationship between Jessica and Simon is being teased, Simon’s drive has become clearer, and we see what drives the people of Hellhole. There is a lot of great character exploration in this issue. That being said, we still have a story to tell and Seeley drives the plot forward which brings us way more questions. After a job, Night Pilot is summoned and brought to the head of a religious group that we met earlier in the issue, The Order of the Steed. We now know who has abducted all out c-list heroes, but the why is still very unclear. Seeley leaves us with a big question going into #42, what is Night Pilot’s new assignment, and how is all of this supposed to help “pull the universe from chaos”?
I had a lot of fun reading this issue. Tim Seeley and crew built a very interesting world that I hope we get to see a lot more of in the future, added a lot of info to the mystery that they set up, and made me genuinely laugh out loud a few times (Scrapps describing Earthling’s “God” is hilarious).The addition of Scrapps (even as a prisoner) adds a fun dynamic that the Lanterns have to deal with which makes this an arc that I can’t wait to continue.