Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Ed Benes and Blond
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: October 5, 2016

Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz go trick-or-treating with Simon’s nephew… and search for a runaway Guardian.

After last issue’s character-focused vignette, this issue is more transitional. The Phantom Ring is front-and-center as we get more backstory on its creation. For the most part, though, it’s a standalone tale of Simon and Jessica facing down a pair of Dominators in pursuit of the ring. All of that is thrown together in a Halloween setting that’s both seasonally appropriate and sprinkles a bit of levity on the proceedings.

Humphries’ writing on Green Lanterns has struck a balance between slice-of-life-if-your-life-involved-being-a-space-cop levity and more serious action and drama. Sometimes that can be a bit jarring, but it works very well in this issue.

We get a seamless transition between Simon and Jessica having fun trick-or-treating with Simon’s family and the pair getting down to serious business searching for Rami, the rogue Guardian. We also get a nice setup and callback with a group of kids whose journey from skepticism to enthusiasm for the rookie Lanterns mirror’s Rami’s similar change in attitude over the course of the story. Humphries weaves the tones together skillfully to give us a comic that’s fun, reveals character, and advances the overarching plot.

At the same time, Humphries’ dialogue is unimpressive. Characters don’t feel like they have unique voices and everyone winds up uniformly quippy. Why do Simon and Jessica, two very different characters, have such similar inner monologues? Why does Rami, a millennia-old Guardian of the Universe, sound like his lines were cribbed from Futurama? It’s jarring and pulls the reader out of the story when characters say things, however clever, that it makes no sense for them to say.

Ed Benes’s art is attractive, mixing detailed characters with light, sketchy constructs. That sketchiness blends well with Blond’s colors to give a haunting, ethereal look, in particular to Jessica’s large and abstract constructs.

Nonetheless, the art has a static, pinup-like feeling. There’s minimal life or motion in the characters, who feel excessively posed. The action scene two-thirds in, in particular, isn’t done any favors by Benes’s stiff art. It’s nice to look at, but doesn’t seem like quite the right fit for this comic.

And that’s a larger problem that Green Lanterns has struggled with since it was launched: Inconsistent art. There’s been a different team handling art on practically every issue of this title, and the results are frustrating. We’ve gotten a sampler platter of artists on this book, none of them different enough to give a feel of experimentation, but none similar enough to avoid a sense of unease and discomfort.

This problem doesn’t come from the creative team, nor does it necessarily affect this issue standing on its own, but it’s a larger problem with the title as a whole that the editorial team really needs to address.

This is a fun transitional issue, but it’s marred by persistent writing problems and inconsistent art that prevent it from rising to anything more than a trifle.

The Verdict: 6.5/10


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