Simon Baz, come on dooooown!!
You’re the next contestant on "The Green Lantern Is Right!"
So Green Lantern #0 introduces us to Simon Baz, the first Middle Eastern and fifth Earth member of the Green Lantern Corps. I haven’t exactly been subtle on my distaste for how writer Geoff Johns has been handling Green Lantern. Overall, the series has suffered from bad dialog, muddled character development and the ridiculously drawn out plan of the Guardians to raise their third army. With issue #0, however, we get a taste of the Geoff Johns who made Blackest Night and War Of The Green Lanterns so damn good.
Predictably, issue #0 begins with 9/11. This is the only rather eye-rolling thing about this issue. Baz is a Middle Eastern hero, so we have to start with 9/11? It seems like a cheap way to introduce us to some of the hardships Baz suffers in his life. We’re introduced to Baz getting bullied, getting hassled at the airport and so on. Jumping to the present day, Baz is in a white van rocketing through the city. In the back of this white van is a bomb.
Okay, before you get upset, Baz is not a terrorist. In fact, he’s a victim of the worst confluence of circumstances you could ask for. Recently being laid off from his job, Baz has turned to stealing cars to support himself and his family. Tonight, he’s unknowingly stolen a van with a bomb in it. Not wanting others to suffer and unaware how big the blast radius will be, Baz speeds the van to the one place he knows is empty – the factory that laid him off. The van explodes, but Baz survives. Now he’s a middle eastern young male who has been caught driving a van of explosives into the job that laid him off.
During a rather harsh interrogation that leads to water boarding, a green ring, formerly belonging to either Sinestro or Hal Jordan (see GL Annual #1) flies into the room and alerts Baz that he has been chosen before faltering and giving an error message. The ring attaches itself to Baz and flies him out of the torture room. The issue ends with an unconscious Baz and the appearance of Jordan and Sinestro in an area that is dark and ominous.
Johns does a nice job of letting Baz be a person we root for, as well as setting up questions that beg for answers. Why did the ring of a living Lantern choose Baz? Why is he holding a gun on the cover? Where the hell are Sinestro and Jordan and how will this all tie into the rise of the third army? This is the first time in months I’ve been interested in what comes next for the Green Lantern Universe.
Doug Mahnke’s art, while always exceptional, is a little phoned in this time. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still good work, but it doesn’t have the flair the usual Mahnke work does. I like his ideas behind Simon Baz. He’s strong, and has much the same presence that John Stewart has. While not dazzled by Mahnke’s performance here, I am excited to see where he goes with Baz and his uniform and how he uses his powers.
(4 Story, 3 Art)