Publisher: DC Comics
The biggest problem with the “Green Lantern” mythos overall is that they just have too many concurrent members. At last count there are nine active human Green Lanterns. As such, unless you are in the Hal Jordan or John Stewart fan club, odds are stacked against your favorite character getting the necessary attention. To that end, “Future State: Green Lantern” is split between three short stories with three difference protagonists.
On a side; what I found ironic on a second read-through is that all three stories revolve around the respective Green Lanterns’ loss of their iconic power rings; a fitting metaphor for how hollow/powerless they all feel.
Written by: Geoffrey Thorne
Artist: Tom Raney
The first story feels like you are channel surfing and come across an action scene in the middle of a movie; as we’re unapologetically thrust into the thick of a “last stand” skirmish between what is purported to be the remnants of the Green Lantern Corps and an invading militant cult of marauding aliens. It is a desperate battle for our rag-tag heroes to buy the defenseless populous time to escape. With the glaring and inexplicable absence of their signature emerald power rings, things are very dire for John and crew; and the tide grows inexorably against them. Unlike films such as “Magnificent Seven”, “The Last Samurai” or “300” where the odds are heavily stacked against the protagonists and where the hefty cost of victory is bitter-sweet, “Last Lantern” simply doesn’t have the time or build up to come close to some semblance of epic or emotional gravitas. The lack of context and sense of scope also hinders this story. So when our heroes inevitably fall, it falls flat.
The Taking of Sector 0123
Written by: Ryan Cady
Artist: Samu Basri
The second story, starring rising star Jessica Cruz, fairs much better (and is the best in the book). Harkening back to those sci-fi horror/suspense films like “Alien”, or the original “Die Hard” (but in spaaace), Cruz finds herself utterly powerless on a remote orbital station/outpost that has been taken over by a trio of Sinestro Corps lackeys. Having to rely on her resourcefulness and wit, Jessica takes out the invaders with little fanfare, leading to a confrontation with the chief bad girl. Thought this tale is short – it would have really benefitted from a fully dedicated issue or short arc even – we get glimpses into Cruz’ psyche, her inherent fear and learning to not really overcome it, but live with it. Out of the New 52 newbies (the other being Simon Baz) Jessica has fared much better since her muddled debut (she was even a lead character in the animated film “Justice League vs. The Fatal Five” (2019)). The story ends on somewhat of an enticing cliffhanger (to not be continued). Regrettably, this ending has been done to death with her other compatriots that it’s more formulaic and redundant than it has a right to be.
Book of Guy
Written by: Ernie Altbacker
Artist: Clayton Henry
The last story focuses on the (in)famous Guy Gardner being marooned on a planet occupied by two warring religious factions of the same race. It plays out like a ho-hum “lost in translation” cliché with no real payoff. We just see the well-meaning Guy goof around and get into miscommunication gags. Underwhelming and pointless, this segment could have been better spent on any other lantern, especially given the prestige of the book, or give Guy a meaningful vignette. Ernie clearly is going for comedic rather than anything serious or deep, which is in stark contrast to the vibe of the two preceding stories.
With respects to the book’s three artists, each matches the tone of their respective story. Tom’s is bombastic, detailed and bright, fitting the cacophony of “Last Lantern”; Samu’s offers great shadow work to play into the ambiance and atmosphere of “The Taking of Sector 0123” while still being gorgeously colorful; Clayton’s style in “Book of Guy” is simpler and a smidge cartoony, but has an appreciated quality that exuded in each panel.
I’d describe “Future State: Green Lantern” simply as criminally condensed; none of the three stories are given enough time to breath and simmer to perfection. And while I appreciate giving MVP Hal Jordan a break from the spotlight, this is a hard sell to any Green Lantern fan.