Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 8: Ghosts of the Past trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Green Lanterns Vol. 8: Ghosts of the Past marks the unceremonious end of Tim Seeley's short run on this title. It's a shame, because Seeley approaches a central, untold mystery of Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, but turns back just before the resolution and, of course, has no opportunity for follow-up. DC new talent Aaron Gillespie contributes an equally good two-parter that also falls just short of its mark. In both of these, we see that Green Lanterns and characters Jessica and Simon Baz have a lot of potential that's never been fully utilized; I doubt that's bound to happen in the last volume of this title remaining, but maybe there's hope for the future.

[Review contains spoilers]

Both the "Ghosts of the Past" and "Rebel Run" stories make good use of this title's recent history, making these two arcs feel, at least, like natural outgrowths of what came before. "Ghosts" brings back Singularity Jain, villain from Seeley's first volume, Green Lanterns Vol. 6: A World of Our Own, with a devil's bargain for Jessica; in "Rebel," too, Gillespie unexpectedly brings back some allies from "World" that I didn't expect we'd see again, making that story — despite being written by a guest-writer — a fully-realized part of the Green Lanterns world.

In "Ghosts," Seeley finally explores the details of the incident in which, on a hunting trip, two men killed Jessica's friends and left her the only survivor. Much has been written about Jessica's post-traumatic stress from what happened, but less about the who, what, and where of this seemingly bizarre occurrence (or at least, not much in recent continuity): what brought Jessica out on a hunting trip, who were these men that murdered her friends, and why haven't they ever been arrested? Seeley gives Jessica backstory that includes studying forestry management, something that, if not invented by Seeley, has hardly been mentioned in the couple of years Jessica's been on the scene. Seeley also posits a heap of comics esoterica involving Jessica not being able to remember the murdering men's faces else she release an evil double bent on revenge, to explain why those men haven't been caught before now.

For me that's been a big black hole in the Jessica Cruz story for a while (no pun intended, but the revelation thereof includes a black hole), that her superhero origin story includes her friends getting murdered but, in almost fifty issues, no one ever explored why that happened or who did it. Seeley does well making that oversight purposeful through a bit of retroactive continuity (blaming it on Jessica's former ring-host Volthoom), though in this day, age, and continuity, it's hard to believe Batman wouldn't have tracked down the culprits ages ago even without Jessica's help. (Granted Batman's had an on-and-off relationship with knowing Joe Chill's identity himself.) Essentially, it's hard to believe no one's done this before now, but I'm glad at least that Seeley did it.

Unfortunately, and surprisingly, that's about where the story ends. Jessica emerges from Singularity Jain's prison, now recalling the faces of the men who killed her friends; she resolves to go to the police; and that's it. Surely it is never the end in comics, but it feels like a piece is missing; all the while we've wondered about Jessica's trauma, now we've seen it firsthand, and ... now the police will handle it. That's a lot of build-up for no resolution, and leaves Seeley's run feeling unfinished.

Again, Aaron Gillespie's "Rebel Run" that follows is really fine, and I wouldn't have minded Gillespie getting a shot at this title for a while. This is Green Lanterns by way of Fugitive, with Jessica on the run for a crime she doesn't remember committing, and as mentioned, Gillespie does well using some unexpected cameos from "World of Our Own." It is in Jessica and Simon's opposition, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, that Gillespie slips just a little. I grant that Hal is more established than he has been in the past, but his immediate suspicion of Jessica and Simon, and siding with the villain, seems too simple for Hal. Surely after everything Hal's been through, he'd be inclined to give fellow Lanterns more leeway; Hal remaining doubtful, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, seems distinctly un-Hal.

Ronan Cliquet again does well in this volume with art that's mainly in DC's house style, but with attractively curved lines; Paul Pelletier draws a cover here and I was sorry not to see him draw an interior, but Cliquet is a good substitute. Roge Antonio also finishes out well Cliquet's second story, "Rebel Run," with a bit more sketchiness a la Rafael Albuquerque. For "Ghosts of the Past," DC replaces Cliquet halfway through with V. Ken Marion and it's a much worse fit, with too-dark lines and Marion's tendency to draw 1990s-esque grimaces on every face.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Green Lanterns Vol. 8: Ghosts of the Past

Another bit of "continuity" in Green Lanterns Vol. 8: Out of the Past is that Tim Seeley also guest-stars John Constantine, whom he wrote for a bit in Hellblazer. Seeley had Constantine and Simon Baz together in a Grayson annual once upon a time and they're a fun duo, perhaps because they're both a bit skeptical of traditional superheroics. Seeley also writes a good moment where spiritual Constantine is deferential to Simon's faith. Tim Seeley's off this title now, and Jessica Cruz is soon to join Justice League Odyssey, but if Seeley wanted to team Simon and Constantine again (guest-starring Dick Grayson), I think that'd be a blast.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Green Lanterns Vol. 8: Ghosts of the Past
Author Rating
3.5 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 1 )

  1. If Jessica and Simon have anywhere near the luck of Hal, Guy, John, & Kyle, there will be plenty of times in the years and decades to come to flesh out their potential. I'm glad this series happened at all, and apparently that Seeley got around to explaining more of Jessica's backstory.


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