Thursday, December 20, 2012

Green Lantern #15: how predictable

The 15th issue of the series has come out, still focusing on Geoff Johns' adherent to Islam named Simon Baz, and as this review on Blog of Oa tells, the identity of the culprit who rigged the van was rather expected:
...Baz makes his way to the address his sister Sira provided to him last issue, the address of the owner of the explosive filled van that Baz stole. The occupant, Edward Wale, greets Baz at the door, recognizing him as the "terrorist" and threatening to call the police before being convinced to allow Baz to come in and talk. Agents Valdez and Fed continue their pursuit of Baz but Fed still follows his hunch that Simon is innocent so the two men split up to try differing methods of tracking the Green Lantern down.

Things at the Wale residence don't go as planned and we learn that Wale himself rigged the van and parked it under the bridge in an attempt to blow it up for reasons as yet unknown other than taking out a train. Baz's ring prevents him from being shot but that ends up being the last act of a ring desperately in need of a charge and before long the scene turns into a chase scene as Wale hunts a perplexed Green Lantern.

[...] Wale gets the drop on Baz but Fed arrives in the nick of time to prevent the man from killing Simon Baz and emerging as a hero triumphant over the man who tried to blow up the city. Their confrontation is interrupted by the arriving Third Army who had been tracking Baz's ring signature. While Wale doesn't survive the encounter, both Baz and Fed manage to escape after blowing up the home, only to be met by B'Dg, who was sent to Earth to find Hal. [...]

We all knew that Simon Baz's story is one that is very personal for Geoff Johns, and of course Baz is not going to be a terrorist, but I honestly was looking for something perhaps a little more original with how it turned out. While we may never know Wale's backstory his form of domestic terrorism seems to be aimed at advancing a white supremacist or xenophobic agenda. Having the hero falsely judged based on some sort of bias only to have the villain revealed as one of "us" has been overused and I really hope that Johns doesn't overreach the bounds of competent story telling and fall into the abyss of the cliche. Or as I like to call it, pulling a Terry Berg.
Ah yes, that older story by Judd Winick, where he shoved his leftist positions down the readers' throats with overbaked leftist blather about gay agendas. And even when it wasn't stuff like that, the book was still pretty bad: at one point, he came up with a son for Abin Sur, the dying alien who gave Hal Jordan his power ring and lantern, who was named Amon Sur, and made him a villain, thus insulting a key part of Hal's origins. And also during Winick's run, there was a peculiar discrepancy in the character design for Kyle Rayner's mother Maura: the first time she appeared in issue 88 of volume 3, she looked early to mid 50s, but when she turned up a second time during Winick's run in issue 153, she looked more like early 40s, with lighter-colored hair. Clearly, the editors by that time didn't place much value on the book.

But turning back to the current subject in focus, knowing where Johns was taking his cues from, I realized we couldn't expect him to take any negative position on the Religion of Peace, and so, we get a cliched story where the culprit turns out to be a non-Muslim white criminal who'd planned an act of terrorism for reasons that'll probably never be fully explored. But that's why subtlety and stealth make such cunning tools.

I think I'll also take the time to comment on this confrontation between Baz (who's still noticeably wearing an orange outfit like what's seen at Gitmo) and his sister from the 13th issue:
I'm not sure why we're supposed to feel sorry for a guy who steals cars and gives an unconvincing defense for why he'd do it. "Cars no one would miss"? It wouldn't matter if it were an Edsel or a lousy-looking Studebaker; if the cars were owned, and the engines worked well, someone's bound to notice them missing, namely, the owners. And it wasn't a car in this case that Baz stole, it was a large van. As far as I know, panel vans are far from the most coveted vehicles on the black market in America, even for spare parts.

And Baz's sister didn't need the money before he began stealing cars with the job she had in the Michigan state government offices. So after he got arrested, all he did was embarrass her standing at the workplace. Maybe Johns doesn't think so, but he's actually making the character look more like he's got a low-IQ. What's so admirable about that?

I really don't care where the story is going to go from here, not even if it travels into the galaxy. But Johns has once again insulted the intellect in his downhill spiral as a writer.

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