Rather than pick up the pieces and move forward from ‘Lights Out’, Green Lantern Corps instead moves back to the past for a tie-in with Batman: Zero Year, which is a weird choice, but it mostly works, showing us more of John Stewart’s back-story, and showing why he was a hero before he ever put on a ring.
During the events of Zero Year, John was a member of another Corps, the United States Marine Corps, and he and his fellow soldiers are tasked with helping to evacuate Gotham citizens who are holed up inside the Gotham NFL stadium before the storm hits. Unfortunately for John, the people inside the stadium have been riled up by Anarky, that Batman villain from the 90s. Anarky has been firing them up with rhetoric about how the man has taken everything away from them, and how historic neighbourhoods were destroyed to build this stadium and they should reclaim it. Anarky has the people seeing John and his fellow marines as enemies, not people there to help them, and that point of view is aided by some of the Marines’ trigger-happy nature. A brawl breaks out, and John and the rest of the Marines are imprisoned.
These events are interspersed throughout with flashbacks, with John Stewart’s mother, a Union Organiser, telling the young John all about the 1960s race-riots she and her parents were caught up in, and about how, in the end, both sides, the rioters and the police got caught up in the violence, and that in situations like that, and the one in the stadium both sides can be in the wrong.
John manages to get everyone free from the prison, as he remembers a Superbowl half-time show which involved a trap door in this location (I’m a big fan of stuff like this, the use of fake sports teams and such in the DCU, so I loved a lot of the little mentions of Gotham sports history) and getting into the tunnels below. In the end, it comes down to an armed confrontation between Anarky’s men and the Marines, which could turn into a bloodbath. John remembers his mother’s words and tries to make peace, and does so by throwing a flash-bomb into the middle and in the midst of the distraction, disarming Anarky. John tells the people that they aren’t tools of the Man, that they aren’t going to force anyone to do anything they don’t want, and that anyone is free to stay. This gets the evacuation under way, but pisses of John’s commanding officer, who wants to strand all the people who turned on him. He calls John ‘son’, which leads to John punching him out, and will, after this story ends, lead to him leaving the Marines and eventually becoming a Green Lantern. Batman shows up in the background, and that’s pretty much it.
This was a strange issue, especially for Green Lantern Corps, which is normally heavy sci-fi, whereas this was the total opposite. I did like it though, it gave me more insight into who John Stewart is away from the GL Corps, and that’s always been his weakest aspect compared to the other human Lanterns and it told an interesting story with lots of social and racial connotations to think on. It’s not what I expect from this book, and that’s a good thing.
The art here came from Victor Drujiniu, Ivan Fernandez and Allan Jefferson, all artists who are new to me, but it was decent, I especially like Jefferson’s flashback pages and panels, using a different artists for flashbacks is a basic, but always effective technique.