Green Lantern is the name of several characters in the DC Universe, but most people associate the name with Hal Jordan, the character created in the Silver Age of comics. It’s a little disappointing to see that Hal only shows up in one back-up story at the end of issue #2, and the story doesn’t do much other than set-up an appearance in the new series debuting later this year. Green Lantern series have always struggled with ways to shift focus around the Green Lantern Corps and the many characters but relegating the most well recognized version of the character to an afterthought brings down the whole experience.
The main story focuses on Lantern John Stewart and his command of a group fighting against a group of Khund (think Klingon) warriors set on massacring a planet of friendly blue aliens for the “God In Red” cult that calls out for blood sacrifices. Stewart must draw upon his time as a US Marine and fight these killers while commanding his troops and saving the innocent. It’s a fine idea that works to draw upon the character history of John Stewart, but the problem is that writer Geoffrey Thorne has decided to break the Green Lantern Power Battery at some point before this story, rendering all the rings useless. He’s basically taken away the one gimmick that makes these characters unique and turned them into random space fighters. It’s a shame because the art from Tom Raney and Mike Atiyeh feels dense and gritty and serves the action well and the premise works with John Stewart’s backstory. But by the time you get to the end and the “God In Red, the story falls into a lot of rather convenient coincidences to get things wrapped up in time (and luckily the “God In Red” is someone Stewart knows and can call, apparently). There’s two-thirds of a good story here, but the last one-third just kills it for me.
Each issue comes with 2 short back-up stories featuring other Green Lanterns, and depending on your level of fandom, you may or may not get your $5.99-worth out of each issue. #1 features Jessica Cruz and Guy Gardner and issue #2 features Teen Lantern and Hal Jordan. Getting these extra stories for a couple extra bucks doesn’t feel as bad as the other options DC has done with bundling and adding extra pages, but I still would prefer old school newsprint and lower price overall.
The first back up features Jessica Cruz on the Green Lantern Power Battery that is now floating aimlessly in space. She’s found a way to supply just enough power to keep life support system active for herself, but now she’s attracted the attention of the Sinestro Corps and has to fend them off without her own Lantern abilities. It’s a good story overall from writer Ryan Cady and the artwork from Sami Basri and Hi-Fi provides good, clean, crisp, classic, comic book artwork. This was the best of all the stories in terms of providing a story that felt like a real Green Lantern tale.
Rounding out the first issue is a Guy Gardner yarn written by Ernie Altbacker. In this one, Guy lands on a planet during a civil war when his ring gives out and the natives mistake him for a new Prophet to lead them in a new religious order. Without any other options, Guy takes on the role and works to bring peace to these people. Once he finally succeeds, another member of the DCU discovers the planet and sows discord, ending the story on a down-note. While I’m fine with a bit of a downer ending, the biggest problem is that story takes place over the span of twenty-five years, meaning that there’s apparently no place for Guy Gardner in the DC Comics Publishing Empire for the next generation. I also feel like the artwork from Clayton Henry and Marcelo Maiolo was a too cartoony for this story. While it was certainly full of expression and emotion, it felt too lighthearted for a what was ultimately a story of a lifetime of a failure and an end for Guy Gardner.
The second issue also has two back-up stories, this first featuring Teen Lantern from the Brian Michael Bendis version of the Young Justice comic series written by Josie Campbell with artwork by Andie Tong and Wil Quintana. I honestly knew nothing of this character before this appearance and this appearance doesn’t inspire me to want to know more. I found this character to be annoying and the other characters in the story to come across as silly even though they really shouldn’t have. I’m guessing that this was written as if it was meant for younger readers, but it wasn’t sold to younger readers. This story was included with stories meant for regular readers, so it doesn’t fit in this issue.
The final story is where we finally get our Hal Jordan story that most readers would’ve expected as the main story, especially since Hal Jordan is on the cover of this issue. Writer Robert Venditti doesn’t give us much of a story though. Hal gets on a spaceship and speeds off after a battle while monologuing about how tough the battle was and about how many have fallen, but it was necessary and how he’d do it again. Of course, we don’t really know what happened, but I’m guessing whatever it was is what caused the Power Battery to fail in the first place before all of these stories started. When his ship finally lands (or crashes), he finds himself next to Green Lantern Jo Mullein, the Lantern from the Far Sector series (how convenient). And here the story ends, promising to continue sometime later in 2021. While I liked the artwork by Dexter Soy and Alex Sinclair, the cliffhanger leading to a resolution later this year drains the story of all sense any future insight or artistic expression and instead is just an ad for the new series. I can’t help but wonder if this specific story was originally meant as a Free Comic Book Day giveaway, but repurposed thanks to AT&T’s re-tinkering of DC and the ongoing pandemic cancellation of public events.
Future State has once again shown us that the future of DC Comics is not the one that readers and fans are clamoring for. Making a series that focuses more on John Stewart instead of Hal Jordan isn’t a problem in and of itself, but then removing the Lanterns from the Green Lanterns is simply a mistake. There’s nothing in this Future State that makes me want to continue on with the Green Lantern books in the Infinite Frontier of 2021. Hopefully the next Crisis event that wipes out this continuity can make these characters fun again.