Thursday, April 1, 2010

Trade Waiting - Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse

Since I checked in on Geoff Johns's Green Lantern, I figured I would give Green Lantern Corps another look as well. Although I heard a bunch of mixed opinions about Green Lantern since I stopped reading it, Green Lantern Corps managed to get a constant stream of praise which made me expect more from it than I got from the Agent Orange collection. Did Green Lantern: Emerald Eclipse live up to the praise it has received? Hit the jump for my review and find out.

Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason
Collects Green Lantern Corpse #33-38

Overall, I did find Emerald Eclipse a lot more enjoyable than Agent Orange but it did have some failings as well. The biggest failing that Emerald Eclipse had is that the several plots that run through the story never coalesced into a larger whole. This doesn't diminish the varying plots to a large degree but it does makes the overall story disjointed and a little unfulfilling. None of the plots really have anything to do with each other and it gives off the feeling that what's happening is just a couple of random stories that happen to be taking place at the same time. There is no larger narrative purpose to the plot threads or, rather, there isn't one that that has to do with Emerald Eclipse as a story since the larger narrative is to set up Blackest Night.

Unlike what Geoff Johns did with Agent Orange though, Tomasi does a better job of servicing the immediate story but there are no real resolutions to any of the plot threads in the collection which makes it feel unsatisfying. Even the Daxam plot, which comes the closest, still feels unresolved to a degree since it looks like something that is going to be picked up again down the road given how it ended. Although the story is pretty good, the fact that nothing is really resolved or that the various plots didn't build to anything larger prevents the overall package from feeling satisfying.

The Daxam plot line, where Mongul and the Sinestro Corps take over the planet, is the stronger of the two main plots in the collection. Partially because it's a lot more focused and partially because it's a very good follow up to Green Lantern Corps #18, which filled in Sodam Yat's backstory. In fact, Yat's confrontation with his mother was the strongest scene in the collection for me. Mongul is also a compelling villain under Tomasi's pen and his short but brutal fight with Arkillo was very, very enjoyable.

The prison riot plot was enjoyable as an extended fight sequence, which is beautifully drawn by Gleason, but falters when it focuses on the aftermath. The problem is that, much like with Agent Orange, the Guardians of the Universe act like idiots for no real reason other than the plot requires them to. It hit me when reading this collection that the reason this is because we rarely get any insights into what the Guardians are thinking, and even the ones we get are never particularly deep, so all of their actions are arbitrary and are usually done to move the plot in a particular direction, which is never good writing.

The characters' moments in the collection are the strongest part overall but, even as good as they are, they can't carry it. The down moments work the best, particularly between Kyle Rayner and Soranik Natu, and there are others as well, some of which work even though I wasn't familiar with the characters involved, so Tomasi gets a lot of credit for that. The one that didn't work for me though is the revelation that Natu was Sinestro's daughter. I didn't have a problem with the reveal itself but the fact that it's dealt with and then brushed aside pretty quickly with Natu's acceptance of it. It felt as thought it was ended for now since Blackest Night was coming, which is a problem with the collection in general. The stories are good but they could have used some more room to breath and the tail end of the collection has the same "get everything in place" feeling that Agent Orange had. Again, Tomasi did a better job of making the immediate stories enjoyable in their own right but they are still undercut by the fact that Blackest Night is literally around the corner.

Gleason's art is as great as always though. He continues to be able to cram an incredible amount of details and characters in each of his panels when the writing calls for it while still doing a wonderful job with the intimate character moments. There are some stunning two page splashes throughout the story that have a real impact and just get across the tone of what Tomasi was going for in the script without any words. Gleason also does the same thing with character moments with his knack for body language and facial expressions. Again, Gleason just maintains his usual quality which makes Emerald Eclipse more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise.

Verdict - Check It. Despite some strong aspects to the story, Emerald Eclipse fails to work as a whole since it's various plot threads never form into a satisfying whole and the story is undercut by the need to set up for Blackest Night.

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