TITLE: Green Lanterns #9
AUTHOR: Sam Humphries
PENCILLER: Robson Rocha
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
RELEASED: October 19, 2016
***WARNING: Spoilers ahead.***
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Sam Humphries may be the best writer we’ve seen on a Green Lantern book since Geoff Johns. This Green Lanterns title has been that good. With Jessica Cruz he’s given us one of the best portrayals of clinical anxiety I’ve seen in comics
But this issue brings up an important question…at what point have you pulled too many heart strings?
Green Lanterns #9 introduces us to Frank Laminski, a pilot who desperately longs to be a Lantern after being rescued by Hal Jordan. A middle child perpetually in second place, Frank becomes obsessed with becoming Earth’s next Green Lantern. But after years of working to overcome his fears, and seeing others get power rings, Frank becomes more and more desperate. Until he learns of the Phantom Ring, a power ring anyone can wield. But to get it, he’ll have to go through Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz.
Frank Laminski is heartbreakingly relatable. At times it’s almost brutal. We see his torment, his rejections, his almost pitiful desperation, and finally his diminished resolve. It’s all clearly field by a need for personal validation. Humphries channels the same emotions he used with Jessica, particularly with the line, “Please, I need to know. Am…am I wasting my life?”
What makes it all the more crushing is that Frank has such hope. He says things like “I believe a man has the power to change his whole life. All you have to do is push yourself beyond what you thought was possible.” And yet, his situation is largely a hopeless one. Hope is powerful. But it isn’t everything…
Humphries weaves Frank’s story nicely into the Green Lantern mythos. We see his desperation grow as he watches John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and the others debut as heroes. He also pokes some innocent fun at the number of Green Lanterns Earth has. (“There were plenty of rings to around around, it seemed.”)
My question about heartstrings relates to the scene where Frank is at his lowest point, and seems to be praying to the Green Lantern rings to choose him. At that moment, a Green Lantern ring appears to him, and is about to welcome him to the corps. The ring then changes its mind, realizes its made an error, and travels to Guantanamo Bay to find Simon Baz. I loved seeing Frank’s resolve finally break, and I love that he thinks the rings are watching and can hear him. But is the appearance of the ring a little too on the nose? It works, and it conveys that Frank might actually be capable of wielding a ring. But is having the ring tell him “you are not capable of overcoming great fear” too overindulgent? I suppose it’s a matter of taste.
This is my first exposure to Robson Rocha. I can see traces of Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke on these pages, meaning we’ve got something very consistent with two widely successful Green Lantern artists. He makes Frank very expressive. It’s very easy to feel Frank’s hope, pain, and agony, because it’s very accessible. And as always, colorist Blond treats us with a gorgeous palette.
Even as someone who enjoys Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, and a lot of the other Green Lantern “legacy” characters, I’m almost sad Green Lanterns isn’t the only GL book being published right now. This feels like the next logical chapter of the ongoing Green Lantern saga, and we’re seeing some tremendous character work. This is Sam Humphries’ first go-around with these characters and this world. But to his credit, it feels like he’s been with them for years.
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