‘Green Lantern #0’ review
Published: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 15:09
Geoff Johns’ constant need to politicize every aspect of the DC Universe is in full force in “Green Lantern #0.”
Hal Jordan, the first (sort of) Green Lantern of Earth is dead again (but not for long, this is a Geoff Johns story, after all) and as power rings are wont to do, his has found a replacement. That replacement is Simon Baz, a Lebanese-American from Dearborn, Michigan.
Simon was just ten years old, this issue tells us, when the World Trade Center was destroyed as his Muslim family watched the events unfold in horror on television. As you might imagine, Simon and his family were ostracized and made the victims of hate and racism at the hands of an ignorant populace.
To make matters worse, Dearborn is a part of the Detroit metropolitan area. The economic crisis of the past decade saw to Detroit’s already rampant crime and poverty becoming even more widespread.
Johns’ normally exceptionalist view of America is surprisingly bleak here. It’s very refreshing for someone like me that’s become so tired of the writer’s normal “hip-hip hooray for the U.S. of A” attitude to see a more realistic depiction of America. The country as portrayed by Johns is one with problems both economic and cultural and full of fear. It’s still painted in incredibly broad strokes and the need to depict 9/11 yet again in fiction feels unnecessary, but at least it’s something different.
That being said, I would still like for someone to explain how the DC universe takes place in the same United States that we all live in today. When the Marvel universe draws upon current events, I can believe it because that world’s heroes and villains are already grounded in pseudo-science and physical constraints. It’s much harder to accept any normal strife in a universe populated with beings that are essentially gods.
Logical issues aside, Simon Baz himself seems like he has the potential to become a very interesting character and a great Green Lantern. Depending on how they’re handled, his heritage and apparently complicated opinions of Islam could either be incredibly interesting, or embarrassingly ham-handed.
Baz’s status as a criminal and a falsely accused terrorist also help to make him unique. We, the readers, know that Simon’s worst crime is that of grand theft auto. We also know that he must be a good person, otherwise Jordan’s ring wouldn’t have chosen him. So what drove him to crime in the first place? And how will the U.S. government react to his indoctrination into the Corps? With the other three Earth-born GLs basically regarded as major celebrities, what will the public think of Simon Baz?
And what about the upcoming crossover? With the Guardians of the Universe preparing to raise the Third Army and wipe out the Green Lantern Corps altogether, it will be intriguing to see how the rookie Simon Baz fits into the currently chaotic backdrop of the Green Lantern crossover.
These are all questions that Johns will have to answer soon if he’s to make good on his intriguing (though somewhat difficult to believe) setup.
While other issue zeroes have decided to focus on the past, Johns has built the framework for a lively future. But that’s all that he’s done. Only time will tell if the story of Simon Baz can live up to its true potential.