Green Lanterns #42
Story: Tim Seeley
Pencils: V. Ken Marion
Colors: Dinei Ribeiro
Inks: Sandu Florea
Cover: Will Conrad
Green Lanterns #42 is a solid setup issue for the finale of Superhuman Trafficking (#43, out in two weeks!) with lots of action, some more insight into how The Order of the Steed operates, and an exciting cliff hanger. In this issue, Simon, Jessica, and Scrapps have to go undercover to the Horsehead Nebula in order to rescue Night Pilot and the other abducted heroes from The Order of the Steed.
***WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD***
This issue feels more like it is much more about High Rider Griva (the “first of the church”) and The Order of the Steed, than it is about our Lanterns, and I love that. While I do want to see what Simon and Jess are up to and how their circumstances affect them personally and as Lanterns, Tim Seeley introduced this new religion (or cult. Not sure where it lands yet. Cult feels accurate) back on Hellhole, and now we get to see him flesh out how they rose to power, how they are capturing heroes, as well as getting to see the full might of The Order (as well as how ruthless High Rider Griva is).
The issue opens with Night Pilot being escorted by Priestess Glout to the “Sacred Depths” at the Basilica of the Order of the Steed (the Rim of Barnard 33). Here we finally find out how the Order abducted the heroes without anyone knowing. Priestess Glout reveals that she is also the hero known Equilibrian (a hero that Night Pilot dated after she passed on Simon) and that she “recruited” Night Pilot. Glout explains (vaguely and ominously) that Night Pilot is meant for more. Everyone has their part to play, and it is time to she play hers; only we don’t fully know what that is yet, all we know is, “There must be Riders, and there must be Steeds.”
On Mogo, we see Jess and Simon meeting with John Stewart as they learn they can’t simply go in as Lanterns because the Rim is protected under religious law. Lantern Dasam (the GL legal consul) comes up with a plan for Simon and Jess to sneak in as followers of The Order, on pilgrimage. Scrapps is a free woman, but true to herself and her Omega Men blood, she won’t just leave while people are being enslaved.
Once we get to the space ark, it gets a little clunky for me. The aliens on the ship, who actually do believe in The Orders message, are singing hymns to keep their spirts up while they make their pilgrimage. Jess gets annoyed at their tone deaf singing (I get it) and grows more and more cynical (I totally get it). I understand that Jessica is supposed to read more like she is having a lot of anxiety and has reached the frantic side of that by this point in the trip, but I read through this a few times and found it kind of hard to latch on.
Jess spent a majority of this series dealing with her crippling anxiety (and still does from time to time), and it is great to see that represented in comics, but she has always been sympathetic to people who are hurting. People may cause her anxiety, but she still has a deep urge to help those who can’t help themselves, she has felt that helplessness before. It seems as though she is asking Simon what her triggers are instead saying “People and crowds are my triggers, right?” facetiously. Then, on a crowded ark making its pilgrimage to their religions headquarters, she questions religion as a concept. Except, it’s not so much questioning as it is bashing the believers for confusing their own inner voice with their God’s. I am not a religious person, and though I may agree with parts of her rant, I would never say it out loud if I were on a bus full of church goers. Simon is a very religious person, and also points out the better aspects of religion, a sense of community and family. Again, I know how it was meant to come across, but it just felt out of character for Jess, even if she is going through anxiety attack.
All of that being said, the ark scene was actually one of my favorite parts of the issue. For me, this issue is all about the artwork. V. Ken Marion (pencils), Sandu Florea (inks), and Dinei Ribeiro (colors) join the series to finish out this arc, and I loved what they brought to this issue. The ark scene is one of a few that really stick out to me, and it’s because of everything going on around the Lanterns. Marion’s attention to detail is beautiful. Everywhere you look, there are different species of beings crammed next to other beings, and while he could have just done eyes and mouth on a lot of them (they ARE just background aliens right?), he took time to give great details to most. This brings a lot of gravity to the scene because, 1) we are seeing the pain in these being’s eyes, we get the sense that life has beaten them down and they are lost, and 2) we get to imagine how vast The Order’s reach is by all the unique species we get to see.
Florea’s use of inks and Ribeiro’s color scheme adds another incredible layer to this visually heartbreaking scene. The ship itself looks as if it has more than enough lighting, but the greyish blues of the panels drives home the sorrow these beings feel, and the sheer volume of them. The use of inks helps add to that cold darkness, as well as adds a lot of depth to all the characters in these panels, and really highlights the diversity of beings aboard the ship. The little bit of color thrown in to break it all up is mainly used on the aliens to help drive home the diversity, but also to drive the readers eye to specific places of the panel. The most vibrant colors are obviously on Jess, Simon, and Scrapps, but there are little patches of color everywhere, forcing you to take in all of the ship, and not just where the dialogue is coming from.
As I said, this issue is more about High Rider Griva and The Order of the Steed. The followers aboard the ark are greeted by Griva. She tells her story of failure and redemption. As she speaks, you see the despair in the eyes of her followers fade to hope. Back on the ark, Jess says, “People only believe in God so they can have a voice other than theirs to tell them they’re ok.” While this generalization gets her some pretty hard side eye, there is some truth to it, and for these people, High Rider Griva is that voice. She gives them hope. Yes, the universe is chaotic and feels as though it is all aiming to destroy you personally, but she will be your light in that darkness, she is the “Conduit of Truth” and even they great Horsehead Nebula bowed to her.
I loved how Seeley built this. While you read this rhetoric, you can’t help but equate it to your own experiences with people who gain power over the lost and desperate, simply by being a good story teller, repeating your fears as theirs, and constructing hope from those fears. Even still, part of you does understand why these people have made the trek and believe, because for many of them, belief in anything is more than what they have now.
While Griva delivers her speech, Simon, Jess, and Scrapps locate and break out most of the heroes. All the heroes gather together to confront Griva in front of her congregation, but Griva has a contingency. She and her Priestesses are able to control the heroes via a receiver planted at the front of the abducted hero’s skulls. This was another place where the artwork just jumped off the page. The chaos of Jess, Simon, and Scrapps trying to fight off all of these heroes is exciting to watch panel by panel. Then, just like that, it is back to terrifying as Griva walks away and orders her soldiers to fire on the newly arrived followers. She was challenged. She has to maintain her image and the image of the order, so people have to die. She dresses it up as a “sacrifice”, but it is just the murder of innocents.
The whole time Jess and Simon are fighting off the mind-controlled heroes, Simon is yelling for Night Pilot. While he is there to save them all, he does have a certain tunnel vision for Night Pilot. Eventually, Big Thunder takes Simon down, right in front of Priestess Glout. Glout then begins to gloat at Simon, as Big Thunder chokes him out, rubbing in the fact that he is there to save a woman who didn’t want him, and that the last thing he sees is the pretend man she preferred. Cold blooded doesn’t feel like it does this justice, but yeah… that was cold blooded.
Scrapps chases after Griva, and leaves a trail of bodies in her wake. She eventually catches up with Griva, who is well aware who Scrapps of the Omega Men is. Here, Scrapps learns the meaning of, “There must be Riders, and there must be Steeds,” with a beautiful panel that leaves me counting the days until March 21st for the finale!
While there were a few clunky parts (at least to me) of this issue, I really enjoyed it. Normally I am not a fan of having a new artistic team come in midway through an arc, but the artwork stands out so much in this issue and added so much to the story. This issue is an emotional roller coaster in the best way possible. We go from gloom, to exciting chaos, to horrifying, back to exciting in 21 pages. Very excited to see how Tim Seeley and crew button this up in Green Lanterns #43!