Welcome back to Picks of the Trade, it’s been far too long and I’ve missed you. I’ve been busy with Digital or Bust and unfortunately on top of everything else that goes on with, you know, that “life” thing and the site I’ve been just too busy to maintain this column. However, lucky (or unlucky?) for you I’ve more or less concluded Digital or Bust and now you’re stuck with more Picks of the Trade columns!
So, let’s re-start things off with a juicy, glowy one: Green Lanterns: Rise of the Third Army from DC Comics which collected Green Lantern, Red Lanterns, Green Lantern: New Guardians and Green Lantern Corps #13 – #17. It also collects Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps Annual #1. So, needless to say, there is a whole lot of Lantern goodness packed into this reasonably priced hardcover collection.
First and foremost, for those that are interested in this kind of thing, if you pick up this hardcover and the follow up hardcover Wrath of the First Lantern, which is out mid-February, you can pretty much ignore all of the Volume 3 collections in the Lantern line up as it’s all collected within these volumes. I think you’d only be missing out on the zero issues being collected, since the volume three of Green Lantern, for example, collects the zero issue and #13 – #20. So, really, save yourself a couple bucks and pick up these collections, especially if you planned on getting all of the Volume 3 collections from the Lantern section of the Nu52.
Instead of looking at this as a straight review, let’s just break down a few of the key points of this collection. A lot of people have said that this feels like an unfinished collection and to that I say pshh. While ROTTA is more of a lead into WOTFL, it’s still a self contained story. It feels like the story of the Third Army is over while simultaneously feeling like, hey, there’s something bigger and possibly worse on the horizon for our favorite glowing space cops. So, this is still worth picking up, it’s still a good story in and of itself but it also leaves you wanting more and, if you’re DC Comics, is a good thing because it generally means you’re going to pick up the next event hardcover.
I mentioned I’m going to look at “key” parts of this collection and I don’t know if there’s anything that hits that on the nose more than Kyle Rayner learning to master the emotional spectrum and subsequently becoming the White Lantern. There is a lot of focus on Rayner and his training, but also his relationship with an emotionally lobotomized guardian Ganthet who had become, more or less, a father figure to Kyle after giving him the Green Lantern ring in the first place. Reading as much Rayner stuff as I have been, it was great to see how he became the White Lantern since I missed it when it originally came out in singles and have only recently jumped back on with Justin Jordan and Brad Walker who have taken over New Guardians.
ROTTA is clearly something that Lantern architect Geoff Johns has been working on and towards for years. Thankfully when the New 52 happened, they didn’t make him start over and we got to see his plans play out with this story line and his final one in Wrath. Johns has done so much for the Green Lantern line and section of DC Comics that it’d take an entire column just to sift through it. Suffice it to say that Johns has a winner in this story and his new direction for the Guardians and it’s a damn shame that he’s moved on from the Lantern line.
Of course, before he left he added one last piece to the Lantern world and that’s Simon Baz. Lots of controversy surrounding this character from the start but once you pushed past that and all that talk of him being a “terrorist”, he’s just a downright interesting character. He does something unheard of with his ring by force of sheer will and it’s clear he’s going to be another big part of the Corps down the road. That is, when they officially decide what to do with him. For me, it kinda feels like he’s lost and floating around—apparently literally because he’s part of Firestorm right now or something? I don’t get it—but ultimately I hope he returns to a Lantern book and gets the attention he deserves.
While this is clearly Geoff Johns’ vision for his final act with the Lanterns he helped to reinvent, all of the writers really came together to produce a cohesive and overall enjoyable story. Some of the issues, particularly from the Red Lanterns side of things, don’t measure up and are kind of mediocre but as a whole it works and everything and everyone add their own little pieces to the puzzle. At the time, I was only pulling Green Lantern so it’s nice to see how everything comes together which really fleshes out the story and gives it more depth. This is definitely the best way to read this Lantern yarn.
Without a doubt, Doug Mahnke (Green Lanterni) and Aaron Kuder (New Guardians) shine brightest in this collection. Both hit their marks perfectly and it’s consistently top notch throughout. Some of the other artists, while still good, just don’t quite measure up. Some of the Red Lanterns stuff looked off, particularly the cat, whose name escapes me, and Atrocitus on more than one occasion. Again, stuff from that series definitely appears to be the weakest of the bunch and, subsequently, pulls down the rest of the collection. Thankfully, everything else shines bright enough where, at the end of the day, a few complaints about the Red Lanterns stuff really doesn’t affect the overall score of the book too much.
At the end of the day Rise of the Third Army is a collection from many different writers and artists from four different ongoing series that just works together. The stuff that might not be up to par is outweighed by the great stuff found within. Like the fact that I can’t stand Guy Gardener but the work with Rayner and Baz overshadow the few issues of Gardner stuff I had to sit through. It’s give and take from the beginning but it works in the end and it’s more than worth the $30 cover price. If you missed out on this, or only read parts of it, you owe it to yourself to check it out.