Crossovers are all the rage in modern comics. On the one hand, they allow for wider story-telling, bringing in several different titles to flesh out an arc that feels like it touches a significant portion of a universe. On the other hand, crossovers often force readers to buy issues of a series they normally wouldn’t read in order to learn the full story. Over the course of October, DC’s Green Lantern family of titles, including Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, and Red Lanterns experienced a crossover titled “Lights Out.” Wrapping up with Green Lantern Annual #2, the five part series promised to forever change the GL portion of the DC Universe. Did this crossover succeed or did it end up as a failed idea that seemed to prioritize profit over reader enjoyment?
Relic, a giant scientist from a prior universe, awoke a few months ago. His universe was destroyed by Lightsmiths, wielders of the Emotional Spectrum similar to the colored Lantern Corps of the standard DCU. The Lightsmiths grew too reliant on the emotional light and, ultimately, drained its reserves and caused their universe to die. Relic, fearing the same thing would happen, set out to destroy the colored corps to protect the DC universe. Obviously, Hal Jordan and company cannot accept this assessment, and band together to stop Relic. But how can the Green Lanterns and their allies defeat an enemy who knows precisely how to combat the emotional spectrum? “Lights Out” occurs across five titles: Green Lantern #24, Green Lantern Corps #24, Green Lantern: New Guardians #24, Red Lanterns #24, and Green Lantern Annual #2. As a result, the crossover features the work of several different writers and artists, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
I enjoyed the writing for “Lights Out” in general, but it wasn’t perfect. Part 3, appearing in Green Lantern: New Guardians #24 and written by Justin Jordan, felt like an awkward transition from the prior section and didn’t add much to the overall narrative. I feel that issue could be skipped by readers without them missing anything key from the central story, figuring out what they missed from two pages in Red Lanterns #24. Another downside is I felt like the character of Hal Jordan was portrayed inconsistently, but that’s probably just a function of having four different writers; I think Robert Venditti and Charles Soule give the best representations of Hal based on his exploits in the New 52.
That said, the crossover succeeded in a number of ways. Firstly, kudos are due to Van Jensen for writing a John Stewart I actually found compelling, rather than one-dimensional as I have in the past. That’s probably the arena in which the writers did the best: characterizing the various members of the Lantern Corps. Even a totally new fan could easily understand the drive, motivation, and persona of the likes of Hal Jordan, Carol Ferris, and my favorite, Guy Gardner. I also liked the new concept that the Lanterns’ light is a finite resource an idea that, to my knowledge, has never been explored before in the GL mythos.
A plethora of artists worked on the various parts of “Lights Out.” Overall, I think the art teams did great work on this crossover. It was great to see work from Bernard Chang, one of my favorite arists, on Green Lantern Corps #24. Alessandro Vitti, the artist on Red Lanterns, is probably the best of the bunch; the way he draws facial expressions just oozes emotion, and the fight scenes he draws burst with energy. The art team on Green Lantern Annual #2, especially colorists Andrew Dalhouse and Wil Quintana, did a superb job and presented one of the single most beautiful Lantern family issues I’ve ever seen.
“Lights Out” is far from the best crossover the GL books have ever seen, but I feel I need to qualify that statement. This arc is the first major storyline following Geoff Johns’s epic nine year run on Green Lantern. As a result, I feel anything that followed up his story, which more or less concluded with a definite “ending” for Hal and company, would feel bland. Instead, I think it’s worth commending the new writers and artists on these books for working so hard to make a story with an epic scale that actually introduced a new, interesting concept to the mythos. If you’re a fan of the Green Lantern books, “Lights Out” is great read you’ll enjoy. If you’re looking to get into the GL titles, however, I’d suggest starting with the #21 issues, since “Lights Out” builds on key plot threads established there.
-great art from a variety of talented artists
-the story was completed in one month over 5 titles, and so didn’t drag on unnecessarily
-introduced an interesting, novel concept to the Green Lantern mythos
-part 3 was uninteresting and felt unnecessary to the overall story
-difficult to understand if you haven’t followed the Green Lantern family of titles in previous months
-ending felt somewhat rushed
Brett Simon is a twenty-four year old comic enthusiast. He wishes everyone a fun and safe Halloween 2013!
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