Green Lantern #0
Green Latnern #0
Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics

I've never been crazy about the idea of line-wide initiative months in comics, like "Nuff Said" (Marvel's month of all silent issues, just art no words) and "Faces of Evil" (DC shifting the focus of every title to an antagonist for a month). These initiatives can inspire some creativity and produce some great issues, but when everybody's doing it for a whole month, it just tends to wear on you. As such, I wasn't very excited about DC's month of 0 issues. Yes, one of my biggest complaints regarding the New 52 has been the numerous lingering continuity questions, but I wasn't exactly jonesing for a whole month of flashbacks and origins. Therefore it seems only fitting that my favorite of the zero issues I've read thus far, has been the one that bucked the trend and found a loophole to fit the initiative's criteria while simultaneously continuing the ongoing narrative.

Green Lantern #0 has been a highly anticipated issue ever since the Free Comic Book Day New 52 issue revealed there would be a new human Green Lantern. And how could that cover not draw you in? A gun wielding GL wearing a ski mask raises more than a few questions.

The issue opens with a condensed history of new character Simon Baz. Much has already been said about the choice to tie Baz's background into the struggles experienced by many Arab-Americans pos 9/11, but the fact that it is not a wholly original direction does not prevent Johns from filling the story with pathos and firmly placing the reader in Baz's corner. Simon Baz is a generally nice guy haunted by his mistakes, and running afoul of an incredible streak of bad luck. Johns's decision to make Baz a car thief by profession not only sets the character apart from the numerous other human GLs, but helps the story not veer off into the territory of after school special as it so easily could. While the scenes at Guantanamo Bay verge on being a bit over the top, the resolution does create an interesting status quo for the character going forward.

Doug Manhke makes the wise choice of focusing as little on the actual chase scene that opens the issue as possible, instead putting us inside the car, next to Baz and conveying the story and action through his emotional reactions. Mahnke is often celebrated for the fantastic creatures and creepy visuals he brings to this title, but as I've said again and again he is equally adept at portraying normal human action and emotion. My one complaint with the otherwise stellar art for this issue is that the panels feel a bit crowded, but given the amount of story Johns and Mahnke manage to pack into this issue, it's a necessary concession.

Green Lantern once again feels like the most exciting big name title on the stage. It feels like a book where anything could happen: a sensation of excitement too often absent from a publisher's marquee titles. All in all this was an excellent character study and an exciting debut from one of the best creative teams in comics.

Grade: A-

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