Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 7: Superhuman Trafficking trade paperback (DC Comics)

Green Lanterns Vol. 7: Superhuman Trafficking is not perhaps the sophisticated spy story I might normally expect from writer Tim Seeley, but it is an enjoyable vignette starring Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. On one hand I'm not completely enamored with the direction Seeley is taking these two characters; on the other hand, Seeley writes their interactions so well that I found myself ultimately convinced. Superhero Trafficking contains just that one four-part story, plus an annual by Andy Diggle, but far from feeling short, this seems just right; it's a focused dose that hits the right notes without too much excess.

[Review contains spoilers]

Though not "serious" per se, Trafficking is hardly devoid of substance. Similar to how Seeley's Green Lanterns Vol. 6: A World of Our Own used the immigration debate as a metaphor against a cosmic canvas, Seeley imagines dating app culture through a superheroic lens, and from there touches on both human trafficking and religious fealty. The larger Green Lantern Corps has a heavy presence throughout, as well as one of the Omega Men, making this feel more tied in and connected than Green Lanterns has before, the burgeoning site of main Green Lantern action in the DC Universe (for a few months, at least).

In and around the superhero dating app used to kidnap superhumans plotline is that Simon liked one of the women kidnapped, and Jessica matches with Simon when she uses the app. I don't "ship" Jessica and Simon, preferring this book go against form of opposite-gender partners falling in love than toward it (and also knowing, being comics, that a relationship is more likely to end in angst than a friendship), but Seeley does a good job making it believable. Jessica avoiding telling Simon about the match and then getting cut off when she does, and Simon misunderstanding Jessica's advice and avoiding a relationship instead of going toward one, are both straight out of the CW playbook (what we once would have called Friends-esque), and I'll be darned if I didn't want those two kids to just realize what they had in front of them by the end.

Seeley peppers the main story with lots of good stuff, including the Omega Men's Scrapps, Durlans, and a bevy of newly created, small-time superheroes. At one point Simon and Jessica have to appear to convert to an alien religion to gain passage to the kidnapped heroes, and rather than just make this a matter of course, Seeley takes a moment to acknowledge Simon's Islamic faith; the book, again, feels dialed-in, but also character-driven in a more focused and realistic ways than it did previously.

The four-part "Trafficking" includes two issues by Barnaby Bagenda, artist perhaps not coincidentally of Omega Men itself, and two by V. Ken Marion. Marion is tonally right for this book, with its bubblegum superheroics only subtly propped up by things more serious, but my own preference is Bagenda such to undercut that bubblegum tone a bit. Especially in the first issue, Bagenda (with inks by Mick Gray) often suggests more than he presents, leaving background characters half-drawn, and it's a nice effect that makes the action more subdued. Marion has a very direct style, reminiscent of Ian Churchill, which has its place but that I found too aggressive here.

The book ends with the first Green Lanterns annual, a Star Trek-y tale by Andy Diggle with art by Mike Perkins. The longer annual format gives Diggle room to play up, for instance, language barrier antics between Simon, Jessica, and their alien host, which is irreverent fun; also the speech that Diggle has Simon give the gathered crowd is impressive (though I was never clear why Simon and Jessica were the guest speakers). The story involving a strange alien hive is, again, good sci-fi, and I also enjoyed seeing Jessica and Simon teamed with Hal Jordan and John Stewart, and with that not necessarily being treated as a big deal, either.

Diggle does fall into the too-easy trap of just defining Jessica Cruz's anxiety disorder as whatever he needs for the purpose of the story (forgivable, perhaps, for a guest-spot); as good as the speech was that Diggle wrote for Simon, Jessica's mess-up was almost too bad to be believable. Perkins gives both Simon and Jessica six-pack abs that look rather silly on the still-amateur heroes.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Green Lanterns Vol. 7: Superhuman Trafficking

Green Lanterns has never been a title that's quite reached its full potential, and by the time Tim Seeley came along it already seemed on its way out; there has not been much of consequence in this run, nor will there be in Dan Jurgens' single volume to come, I'm sure of it. But Seeley's previous volume of Green Lanterns was pleasant and Green Lanterns Vol. 7: Superhuman Trafficking is more so, and perhaps because the stakes are somewhat low, I'm eager to read Seeley's next and final volume in the series, just for the fun of it, before Jurgens finishes it out. I know Jessica Cruz, at least, continues to Justice League Odyssey, so at least this isn't good-bye in any case.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Green Lanterns Vol. 7: Superhuman Trafficking
Author Rating
3.75 (scale of 1 to 5)


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