AfterTime Comics in Alexandria, Virginia.]
Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 2 collects Green Lantern #182, 183, 185-193. It follows three journeys: John Stewart settling in as Earth's Green Lantern, Hal Jordan’s coming to grips with choosing his love of Carol Ferris over being a Lantern, and the beginnings of something epic in the Green Lantern universe. I remember when I bought this series in 1984. DC hasn’t used John Stewart much since he debuted in Green Lantern #87 in 1972. This run (and, later, the animated Justice League cartoon) took the “abandoned” character of John Stewart and made him into a mainstay.
Issues #182, #183, and #185 (by comics greats Len Wein and Dave Gibbons) give us some great storytelling and art but it’s still missing something. Issue #187 is a good “Day in His Life” by Paul Kupperberg and Bill Willingham, featuring the return of Green Lantern Katma Tui. But for my money the heart of the trade begins with issue #188. Here the new creative team of writer Steve Englehart (Avengers, Captain America, Justice League of America), penciler Joe Staton (twice Eisner Award winner for Dick Tracy), and inker Bruce Patterson gives the Green Lantern mythos the shot in the arm it desperately needed at that time. Staton's are definitely has a cartoony flair but that only makes it more fun, and he does well in both the action and the quiet moments. Bruce Patterson’s superb inks offer just the right balance.
Steve Englehart’s take on Green Lantern John Stewart is similar to his work on the Falcon in the pages of Captain America and the Falcon. As with Falcon, Englehart fleshes out John’s character and makes him stand tall all on his own. To use my love for I Spy references, Hal is Kelly Robinson (heart/head) and John is Alexander Scott (head/heart). This makes them equals and interesting.
In one scene, after almost messing up a space shuttle rescue, John goes to the Guardians and admits he needs some guidance. This brings in Katma Tui, who the Guardians send to earth to train and mentor John in all things Lantern. Their rapport is one of the key great moments in this trade. Their relationship, starting as teacher/pupil then becoming partners and finally lovers felt natural, never forced.
Meanwhile, Hal Jordan isn't settling into retirement quietly and his life with Carol is not what he pictured. Hal’s not thrilled with John as his replacement, and the writers portray Carol as ... not so nice. It seems out of character by today's standards for Carol to demand that Halchoose her or the ring (and helping people). I was reminded of Green Lantern #30, Katma Tui's first appearance, in which Katma wants to quit being a Lantern because she was in love and wanted to settle down. Hal, instructed by the Guardians, goes to her home planet to talk her out of it. It's hard to reconcile that with Hal's decisions here.
This isn't to say the entire book is interpersonal drama. The new Green Lantern squares off against some classic DC villains, including Eclipso, Major Disaster, and Sonar (in his band leader uniform). We also have some sub-plots by way of Star Sapphire, the mysterious Mr. Smith, and The Predator (and his “connection” to Carol).
We also get some other cool stuff, such as the return of Guy Gardner and hints of the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths. I really enjoyed Englehart's build-up, involving John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Star Sapphire, the Star Sapphire's Zamarons, the Guardians, and the Green Lantern Corps. My only regrets are that this book doesn't include John Stewart’s first appearance in Green Lantern #87, nor his first team-up with the Justice League in Justice League of America #110. Even as this title collects a run, not a character, this might've helped flesh out John even further for new readers. And an introduction by Englehart himself would be icing on the cake.
I appreciate Joe Staton autographing my copy of Green Lantern #188 and my copy of Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 2. Now if only DC would get rolling on those Green Lantern: Mosaic trades, my John Stewart collection would be complete.