Bane is coming to Gotham, but before he gets there, Batman has some cleaning up to do. Believing Lanterns Baz and Cruz uniquely suited to help him, he invites the two rookies to his turf and enlists their help in stopping a fearsome foe. Who’s making the citizens of Gotham go all batty? And can three-eighths of the League bring this villain to justice before the lord of Santa Prisca arrives? One of these questions will be answered in Green Lanterns #16.

Bringing the light to Gotham

Throughout Green Lanterns, writer Sam Humphries has managed to strike a great balance between gravity and levity. Both Simon and Jessica are excellent characters, and the way Humphries plays with their quirks and fears has made for some very entertaining stories since the book kicked off back in June. This issue is light on Jessica to make room for Batman, but I think it was the right call—pitting the stubbornness of Simon against the stubbornness of Bruce yields plenty of laughs, and by the end of the issue, I definitely want more (which I will, thankfully, get in two weeks).

The source of conflict in “Darkest Knights” won’t surprise anyone with at least a limited knowledge of both Batman and Green Lantern rogues, but that’s okay. Sometimes, going with what’s expected is the best play, particularly when it’s something that we don’t get all that often; and, since Humphries devotes most of his pages to interpersonal dynamics, the villain needn’t be all that compelling for the story to work.

Funky constructs

Neil Edwards hops onto Green Lanterns for the first time, and while his work looks much better here than it did in Justice League a little while back, he still suffers from the same inconsistency that plagued him then. Batman’s cowl seems to morph between several different versions throughout, with ever-variant ear height and shape; and, the Dark Knight rarely looks more imposing than he does goofy. Edwards also struggles with appropriate character posture, producing several panels in which body language does not correspond with written dialogue.

For me, Blond’s colors get most of the credit for making Edwards look better. There’s a wider palette here than what we saw from Tony Aviña in Justice League #8 and #9, and the extra color takes some of the focus off of poor line work. Without an in-depth comparison, it seems like Blond uses less gloss than Aviña and Adriano Lucas (who colored Edwards in Justice League #10 and #11), which also helps. When I look back at a lot of pulp-paper comics from the 90s and earlier, I’m struck by how much easier it is to overlook questionable lines when they’re filled with simpler color. Blond’s avoidance of unnecessary complexity elevates the work.

I would be derelict if I failed to say how much I love the cover. I’ve never heard of James Harren, but I hope I hear of him again. Equal parts awesome and hilarious. Fantastic.

Great fun, just like it should be

There’s a place for a Batman/Green Lantern team-up that plays it straight and dark, but I’m glad that’s not what we have here. Instead, we get a sort of spiritual successor to the Bats/Hal dynamic from the first volume of Geoff Johns’s New 52 Justice League, and I, for one, think that’s just what the doctor ordered. Batman is about to get pretty heavy, and Green Lanterns will be taking on Volthoom after this arc, so something light and fun is a welcome interlude.

Recommended if…

  • You enjoyed the interactions between Hal Jordan and Batman in Geoff Johns’s first volume of Justice League.
  • You like the complexity of Humphries’s Simon Baz, and would like to see him interact with Batman in a group more intimate than the League.
  • You don’t mind exchanging novelty for the well-executed expected.

Overall

The perfect snack before both Batman and Green Lanterns get heavy, Green Lanterns #16 provides plenty of laughs as it plays Baz off of some familiar Gotham faces. There aren’t many surprises here, and the artwork is pretty average, but the character dynamics are as excellent as we’ve come to expect from Humphries, and that turns out to be all we need.

SCORE: 7.5/10