John Stewart: The Emerald Knight #1
John Stewart has been trapped in the dark sectors for months with the rest of his Green Lantern comrades. With the power of the Godstorm at his disposal, John’s using everything he can to take down Esak, the mad New God, and bring his fellow Corpsmen home. John will need to become something new to win the war against Esak: he’ll need to become the Emerald Knight!
John Stewart: The Emerald Knight #1 is a deceiving book. At first glance this title is a new start for John Stewart, but after reading the advertising blurb, readers may feel like this is a conclusion to Geoffrey Thorne’s previous Green Lantern run. Well, it’s kind of both.
Green Lantern #12 ended with John Stewart acquiring the power of the Godstorm from The Source. This was loosely defined at the time but this issue gives us a glimpse at what this new power enables John to do. While having a cool sword and the ability to reignite a power battery seems overpowered enough, this issue shows that John is also near immortal and makes multiple references to him being just one step below a God. Powering up characters to this degree should be very familiar to fans of the Green Lantern mythos, as we’ve previously seen Hal Jordan become Paralax and Kyle Rayner become Ion. So, it’s only fitting that John get’s to have a similar journey.
The plot of this issue starts out very simple but quickly grows extensively convoluted once the exposition dump (I mean character) Lonar shows up. Thorne makes a point to have the characters question why Lonar is even here, even going as far as having John call out Lonar for arriving just to explain convoluted plot points. It almost feels as though Thorne thinks that he’s being clever by addressing this concern, as if it absolves him of any criticism. If a writer needs a character to appear, just to explain dense, convoluted, concepts and ideas, then maybe these ideas should have been explored in more depth in a previous issue. This issue is longer than most comics, but writing like this makes it feel like this should have been a multi-issue arc rather than a one-shot.
Ultimately this issue serves as a lead off into a new status quo for John but also to bridge the gap between Green Lantern #12 and Dark Crisis. Once again, this is a tall order for just a single issue. The biggest thing this comic suffers from is how dense it feels. With high concepts such as hypertime at the forefront of this plot, it’s hard to connect to John on a human level. Even when Hal became Paralax, we could still understand why he was acting the way he did. John Stewart is a great character and deserving of becoming an uber powerful Green Lantern, but if it’s at the cost of what makes the character so relatable, is it worth it?
Marco Santucci’s art here is serviceable but at times hard to follow. At one point John uses Hypertime to recruit a copy of himself in order to defeat this issue’s villain, Esak. I understand that the versions of John were variants of one another, but there was nothing done via the art to really distinguish the two. The two variants constantly have to say things to identify which one they are to the reader. This could have been distinguished in the art subtly but instead required clunky dialogue to prevent confusion.
By the end of the issue, John’s plan to defeat Esak is revealed. It’s a classic case of a whole not being the sum of its parts. The way this conflict is resolved is fun and very meta, but almost too convoluted to make the reader care or understand how everything came together. By the end of this I could almost see why Thorne had Lonar show up to dump exposition on our heroes earlier in the issue. The journey from start to finish seemed more like a chore than anything else.
By the end of the issue John Stewart has embraced his new status quo and set’s off on his new mission. While it’s nice to see this character go in a new direction, this issue’s reliance on an overly complicated plot really took away from any desire to see what happens next.
This over-sized issue was jam packed with content but may be hard to follow for fans who are not up to date with what's currently happening in Green Lantern. With an overabundance of plot and a heavy reliance on high-concept plot points, the story becomes muddled and tiresome to digest.
John Stewart: The Emerald Knight #1: Every Ending Is A New Beginning
- Writing - 6/106/10
- Storyline - 5/105/10
- Art - 7/107/10
- Color - 10/1010/10
- Cover Art - 10/1010/10