Guy Gardner, back on Oa, has captured one of the mysterious bad guys, and is interrogating him, with no results, while a limbless Isamot tries to recover from the stress of being attacked, while waiting for his arms and legs to grow back. And Martian Manhunter makes an appearance. And Hannu punches rocks.
Peter J. Tomasi handles three separate branches of the action, and switches between them a few times throughout the book. He does this by keeping a fast pace through dialogue that doesn’t drag on or play around with time, giving a constant flow of the important information. There’s not a lot of room here to linger on any specific moment, so he doesn’t.
Fortunately, the dialogue isn’t dry, and Tomasi does an impressive job of masking it so that it doesn’t just seem like a flow of information (for the opposite effect, see almost any book with a news report in it, ever).
It’s also a testament to Tomasi’s writing that, despite everything that’s going on at once, it’s not too hard to follow. If you’ve been reading from the first issue, that is. If not, it may take a few read-throughs to get a full understanding of it, not because of the complexity of the story, but because of the scope of it.
Tomasi’s writing ends up asking a lot of Fernando Pasarin’s pencils, though. There are constantly at least five characters main characters at a time on any given panel in the scenes on Xabas (John Stewart and friends), and it’s not uncommon for there to be even more. It’s not as crazy as Spider Island’s waves of Spider-Men, though it’s similar.
The main difference between the two is that Humberto Ramos, on Amazing Spider-Man, had the room to use large panels, or even two-page spreads. With the amount of story being presented by Tomasi, Pasarin is forced to use small panels, and it’s not uncommon for the art to get cramped in them. The entire army of Keepers is dressed the exact same: black body suits with green accents, carrying green lightsabers (And they are lightsabers, let’s be honest). John Stewart, Vandor, and the other Green Lanterns, though, are dressed… in green and black. And they’re fighting on green grass. At its worst, this leads to a two-colored mess, where it’s hard to tell who’s who and what body parts belong to which body.
It’s not all bad, though. Pasarin, with Gabe Eltaeb on colors, work to make it as clear as possible. Given what it could have been, they succeeded. The scenes with Guy Gardner are a welcome break from the craziness of the other story, as most panels only have Guy and the mysterious Keeper in them.
Both in the writing and in the art, Green Lantern Corps #4 is a busy book. There’s a lot to almost every part of it. Fortunately, you don’t really have to go out of your way to get everything out of it. It’s not as confusing as it looks on the surface. If you persevere, it’s a story worth reading. All of the Green Lantern books from the New 52 have been good so far, and Green Lantern Corps #4 keeps it up. Issue five looks to have just as much action, and I’m bracing myself for more cramped panels.