Six years ago, a marine by the name of John Stewart was sent to Gotham City to help with the evacuation of a few hundred refugees before the arrival of an incoming hurricane. But what already sounded like a difficult task became all the more insurmountable when Stewart and his team discovered that there were not a few hundred but several thousand desperate refugees awaiting aid and in their desperation they had turned to a charismatic villain by the name of Anarky.
This issue is structured in a rather odd way because it’s one big flashback to the John Stewart of 6 years ago but within it is a flashback to Stewart’s childhood where he is being told a story by his mother which flashes back even further. That most distant flashback with a strong moral center about standing up for what is right is juxtaposed with the 6-years-ago storyline of “Dark City.” It requires an awful lot of rewind, but it works.
Writers Van Jensen & Robert Venditti (If you’re not reading X-O Manowar then shame on you!) deliver what appears to me to be a long overdue showcase of what makes John Stewart an A-list hero for the New 52. I haven’t read much of the ongoing Green Lantern Corps series outside of the big events like Third Army and whatnot, but what I have seen has never been all that impressive and for the most part Stewart has been quite forgettable. But here we have Stewart taking center stage and we see him as a great strategic thinker, a leader with an unwavering sense of right and wrong, a skilled fighter, and we even see him use his engineering background to get himself and his squad out of a jam. I think that fans of this character will be very pleased even though the flashbacks to his mother’s story do tend to get a bit preachy the overall message is a good one and it reinforces the character development we’re seeing take place at the Gotham Coliseum.
The struggles that Stewart faces in this issue are less interesting, however. He’s not only fighting against Anarky, but he’s also butting heads with his dickish superior and that leads to him ignoring direct orders and proving himself the better leader– it’s all very familiar but entertaining nonetheless. Anarky, on the other hand, is quite similar to his portrayal in the Arkham Origins video game (especially with his look) only he’s even less of a threat here. I think that Anarky has tremendous potential to be a major Batman villain especially in our current political climate, but we need to reach a happy medium between the disillusioned Occupy Wall Street protester we see here and the super genius kung fu fighting terrorist from Beware the Batman. One element of Anarky’s depiction that I did find particularly interesting was that, if you look closely, Anarky is black. It’s about time that Batman got a black villain but there’s even more of a twist to it– a greater focus on the foes anonymity that will leave many fans wondering if Anarky could even be a girl or perhaps have a closer tie to John Stewart than just this single one-shot adventure.
While I’ve mentioned Batman a few times in this review he actually plays no important role in this particular comic. In fact, he only shows up for a couple of panels where he says nothing and does nothing. It’s the most unnecessary Batman cameo imaginable and it’s basically there just to remind us that this is in fact a Zero Year tie-in. The comic would’ve been better without him, truthfully.
The artwork by Victor Drujiniu, Ivan Fernandez, and Allan Jefferson is serviceable at best and certainly nothing to write home about. It’s at about the quality of your average issue of Batwing. I actually think that they just traced an image of the Superdome and the New Orleans skyline for one of the splash pages, many of the action sequences came off as a bit stiff SHOW SPOILER ▼, and John’s face was sometime’s too placid. I enjoyed the look of the flashbacks to the mother’s childhood the most both for their greater attention to detail and the washed-out color palette used. But overall the artwork didn’t meet the writing in terms of quality. I wish the interiors had come close to being as good as the cover by Bernard Chang.
- John Stewart is your #1 Lantern of Sector 2814
- Die Hard is one of your favorite action movies
- You liked the the Arkham Origins portrayal of the villain Anarky
It gets a little preachy, I wish that Anarky was more formidable, and the artwork is ranges from average to below-average, but this was a really, really good issue for John Stewart. If he’s your favorite Green Lantern then this is a must-buy as it perfectly demonstrates his strength, intelligence, and courage.