Green Lanterns #40
Story: Tim Seeley
Pencils: Barnaby Bagenda
Inks: Mick Gray
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Green Lanterns #40 is the start of a new arc, Superhuman Trafficking! Finally back on earth, The Lanterns are made aware that some c-list heroes are going missing, and it’s up to them to figure out why they are being taken, where to, and by whom. This is a fun issue that brings in a lot of heroes that we love and some we have forgotten!
***WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! ***
Jessica and Simon are back on Earth after taking down Liseth and saving the Molites, but are instantly thrown back into the fire (or water in this case) to help save a town flooded by a near biblical storm (complete with an Ark construct). This is a great way to introduce this new story arc because it brings in a lot of heroes from the DC universe; including some heroes the comics have forgotten (big part of the story). We get to see some favorites like Blue Beetle, Firestorm, Supergirl, and Power Girl, but the nostalgia factor kicks in when Bulleteer shows up to let Simon know that Night Pilot is missing.
Tim Seeley has done a great job with taking these two unlikely Lanterns and making them a great team. The relationship between these two, as well as their individual personalities, is what keeps you coming back every issue, and this issue is just another example of that. While Cyborg and Simon search for other missing heroes, Jess is signing up for Caper, and her being more interested in a new app instead of the task at hand (like all of us tend to do) made me legitimately laugh out loud a few times (Pancake Princess is the greatest username ever). That is then followed up with Simon telling Jessica what happened with Night Pilot, and she becomes his big sister.
Seeley planted the seeds of the superhero equivalent to Tinder, Caper, back in issue #35 (BOLPHUNGA!!!) when Simon is shown getting up from his night with Night Pilot. The app is code names only and is specifically designed not to retain IP or financial info of its users, so keeping their locations and actual identities private should be built right in. I did think Caper (not named in 35) was a one-off joke when it was introduced, because lots of comics have introduced apps for all sorts of things, so why not a dating app? Although, I did get very interested in the possibilities after thinkingabout it more (I mean it gave us Night Pilot, so who else is looking for love?).
Jessica ends up realizing that the heroes Cyborg listed as missing are also all Caper users, so she and Simon go check out HOOCUPS HQ (which is in a garage). Caper being such a focal point of this issue also allowed for an introduction of something I personally have wondered if they were going to do in this title at some point; Jessica gets matched up with Simon. The possibility for awkward tension is way too good pass up! Also, look at their recent history. Simon met Night Pilot on Caper and after seeing his place, she took a hard pass. Then Lizeth, who turned out to be a genocidal angel demon. So… not great. Jess is taking a break in Green Lanterns, but in some other titles, she seems to only go after completely unavailable Leaguers (look out Mera, Jess is coming for your ma- actually, never mind. You can handle it) and has crippling social anxiety. Also, not great. I think they could do (and have done) worse. Their relationship would be terrible, but oh so much fun to watch for a little bit.
We end up getting one more character you may or may not have forgotten about, Scrapps (Omega Men by Tom King & Barnaby Bagenda)! With this bit of info, it feels like we should know a little more about what’s happening, but Scrapps leaves me with more questions, and I am a fan of that. We do get some answers though. The Bearer of Bad News (Yeah! That’s right!) lets Night Pilot know that they are in some sort of holding facility until someone needs them for a job, like mining (Rent-A-Hero).
I love getting into an issue that seems like the artist had a lot of fun creating. Green Lanterns (or any GL title) in general seems like it lends itself to a lot of freedom for the artist to put their own twist on the constructs (still love that Cobain) and the alien races the Lanterns meet (tiny frog people). This issue, however, felt like it may have stuck out as one of the most fun issues yet (although, I imagine Bolphunga is quite fun). Barnaby Bagenda (Omega Men. Seriously, read it if you haven’t), Ulises Arreola, and Mick Gray work very well together and make a visually exciting issue that pops off the page.
Right out the gate, this team does a great job of putting us right in the middle of a crisis and telling the story through the art (sure there is script to help, but it’s unnecessary). If showing Jessica and Simon flying over the prequel to Waterworld (does anyone still get that reference?) wasn’t enough to show you that this is a freak storm, the sight of Jessica’s Ark will. They also show the magnitude by bringing in many other heroes like Powergirl, Firestorm, and of course, Bulleteer. Personally, seeing all sorts of characters we rarely get to see is always exciting for me (even if they are just hanging out in the back), and who doesn’t want to see Jessica save a kitty? Adorable.
Mick Gray’s dark ink lines and Ulises Arreola’s colors are a great match. Gray’s lines add a lot of dimension to the characters and help accentuate Arreola’s vibrant color scheme. Obviously the Lantern’s uniform and Cyborg sitting on his Watchtower thrown are perfect examples of this, but the panel of Jessica flying down to the little kid with their cat, and Firestorm standing behind them really sticks out to me the most. The ink lines on Firestorm get lighter the closer you get to his head where the center of his head flame seems to blur the line between suit and flame. Whereas Jessica’s lines are minimized compared to other panels of her; just enough on the edges of her uniform and in her hair to help her neon aura pop against a white back drop.
When it comes to the art, my favorite part was all of the other heroes. Yes, I love Jessica and Simon, but it feels like a little treat for the readers when the artist put in some out-of-left-field characters in the background (either on their own, or as scripted). It’s like finding the Easter Eggs in movies and TV shows, only a part of you hopes that just the sight of that character will launch a huge side story (see Kite Man). When I first recognized Bulleteer, part of me said, “Hinting at Seven Soldiers reboot?” Even deep pulls for Batman and Superman get thrown in! I will admit I went down a rabbit hole to try and figure out who Superman was fighting (came to the conclusion that it is Sand Cornel Sanders). I love seeing something, seemingly insignificant, in the artwork, and then digging around online to try and find out who I saw and what they are about. Yay knowledge! Useless knowledge? Meh. You decide.
Green Lanterns #40 is a great start to a new arc I am very excited by. The whole creative team worked very well together to put together an interesting story and beautiful visuals that left me with a lot of questions. Are the Omega Men behind the abducted heroes? What other deep cut heroes will we see, and will there be a big name (my money is on OG Wally West)? Will Jess be as awkward with Simon, now that they’re matched, as I hope? Will Jessica side step the awkward by having an all-out battle with Batgirl, Huntress, and Defacer to see who wins Grayson’s heart (only for Dick to end up home alone dog sitting Titus while Bruce is helping Swamp Thing take down Floronic Man)? Probably not, but I’m excited to see what happens in part 2 of Superhuman Trafficking! (Out Feb 21st)