Story: Dan Jurgens
Art: Mike Perkins
Cover: Chris Stevens
Green Lanterns #57 brings us to the end of the Green Lanterns line. It is a battle to save their homes on 2 fronts. The Corps, with John Stewart up and fighting, and the Guardians battle for Mogo against Eon and the Ravagers; while Cyborg Superman and Hal Jordan head back to Coast City to face off.
As some may know, I was introduced to comics when I was 5 years old with The Death of Superman. The whole series (from Death to Return) is something I go back and read at least once a year. That series got me hooked! I say this for 2 reasons. 1.) I remember reading Superman #80 for the first time (Mongul decimates Coast City on Cyborg Superman’s orders), and it is one of my favorite issues of the Return of Superman arc. 2.) Dan Jurgens (along with Louise Simonson, Roger Stern, and many other incredibly talented writers and artists) wrote that line; and more importantly, was the one who wrote the destruction of Coast City in #80.
Green Lanterns is also close to my heart, because it was a title I latched on to immediately when Rebirth launched. I haven’t missed an issue, and it was the first title I got to review after joining Comic Book Corps.
I was so excited for this issue. Yes, I was bummed that one of my favorite titles was coming to an end, but still, I couldn’t stop texting friends and bugging my wife about Dan Jurgens taking Hank Henshaw back to Coast City, 25 years later. I really wish that DC would have made the call to make #57 a double-sized issue, and by that, I feel like this issue really NEEDED to be a double-sized issue. It pains me to say it, but I was really underwhelmed by this issue.
The biggest problem I had with this issue was it just felt rushed. Evil’s Might was an 8-part arc. The reason why I loved this arc was because they let it breathe. We didn’t even see Henshaw until the final page of part 4. All of this building to a showdown between the man who destroyed Coast City the first time, and the hometown hero, the greatest Lantern of them all, Hal Jordan. To make it even more exciting, Hal is working with a power ring in desperate need of a charge, and Henshaw has The Phantom Ring. Chris Stevens gave this issue even more drama with the cover (which is stunning), by showing Hal standing in the wreckage of Coast City. Yes, I’ve read comics long enough to know better, and yes, “Don’t judge a book” and all of that; but when the story has been leading to an epic ending of both the arc and series, and the cover looks like that, it’s hard not to feel like my expectations would be exceeded. To be fair, maybe my expectations were too high (given the personal history lesson I gave at the beginning of this). Even still, I feel this needed to be a double-sized issue to do the story justice, instead of feeling like the last 3 ½ minutes of any 90’s sitcom (or really just any sitcom, but I grew up a 90’s indoor kid, so I’m saying 90’s.)
The issue is split between the fight on Mogo and the fight in Coast City. The fight on Mogo is pretty much over at the start of this issue. John Stewart came out of his coma “ready” to fight in #56, and it was the boost the Corps needed. At the end of 56, it felt like the Lanterns still had an uphill climb, but the tides were shifting. Guy Gardner’s brief moment in 57 is funny and pretty classic Gardner, but it comes early in the issue and it pretty much ends the fight in the Lanterns favor. What about Eon? Taken care of. Sure he’s been wiping the floor with the Lanterns up until now, and even put John in a coma, but he’s all wrapped up now.
The Hal Jordan/Hank Henshaw fight isn’t over as quickly, but not by much. I expected a hard fought battle that would leave Coast City beaten, but not broken. There is some destruction and some great fight panels, but they feel disjointed at times. It felt like the story telling in the artwork took a bit of a hit as well. Mike Perkins and Hi-Fi put beautiful work on the page, some of which does make you stop and soak it all in, but the flow that I have come accustomed to with this title just didn’t seem to be there. It felt like the whole creative team was told to sprint to the finish line. Hal’s half dead ring didn’t even really slow Hal down. When it finally looked like it might, here’s his rip cord, a group of Lanterns we assume also have half dead rings that need charging.
Right after the fight, it is the sitcom trope of, “I gotta get to this place!” and then smash cut to the place. Everything is wrapped up nicely. Henshaw hacked the power battery and turned Lanterns against each other, but it’s all taken care of. Everyone is ok, and the Guardians got a pretty easy (though time consuming) fix to the corruption in the batteries. What about Mogo? Way ahead of you! Let’s go to our new home and let Mogo rest! Even the new home felt like they slid it in there like it wasn’t actually a big deal.
That brings us the stars of this title, Jessica and Simon. Jessica was introduced in New 52, but Rebirth is what really introduced us to her. She quickly became one of my all time favorite GL’s. Her story has had her continually save different alien races and help find them a new home. She became a fully fleshed out and successful Lantern, and one that I hope we see a lot more of. Her departure made perfect sense. Anything less wouldn’t have been honest to the character. I want to see her adventures aside from just in Justice League Odyssey. Simon… is going home. Yes, honest to his character’s drive, but still, kind of a letdown. Maybe we will see him fight by Hal’s side, or have some great story lines in the future, but at the end of his title, he’s just going home.
Green Lanterns #57 suffered, in a lot of ways, from being too short. Even another 5 pages could have helped out a lot. Instead of an epic victory lap to end it all, it was a dead sprint to the finish line, and it just fell flat. The high points of the whole issue were 100% in the artwork. Green Lanterns has always been a visually beautiful title, and that continued through to the end, thanks to Mike Perkins and Hi-Fi. Still, even that lost a bit of the storytelling flow because of the sprint. Let me be clear, Dan Jurgens story isn’t bad at all. It just wasn’t the return to Coast City it could have been, nor the ending the Lanterns (nor its readers) deserved.