Reading Green Lantern #3, I couldn't help but notice the social commentary that was clearly printed on the pages of Sam Humphries' latest tale of the buddy cop protectors of Sector 2814. Here you have as diverse a pairing as you can get for superheroes in Lebanese-American Simon Baz from Dearborn, Michigan and female Jessica Cruz, tracking down Atrocitus and his group of Red Lanterns who are infecting humans across the globe with rage spouting from a Hell Tower that hopes to turn the entire planet into one big ball of anger.
Yeah I know, sounds a little like I just read a news report, right? Well maybe not quite, but you can see where this is headed. Atrocitus sends one of his Red Lanterns, a woman named Bleez to St. Louis to take down Simon and Jessica and in the middle of the battle, she manages to briefly infect Simon with the rage virus and we peer into the depths of his anger, which is mostly centered around the improper treatment of his family, all Muslims, who are having a tough time in the United States.
And that's where Green Lanterns #3 took a really serious turn into social commentary and spoke about a real issue facing our world today. The Islamophobia that is ever present in the United States because of the actions of extremists and public perception of Muslims is well-documented, but to see it presented in this light, in the mind of a Lebanese-American superhero who knows that pain and feels it for his family, especially his little nephew Farid, puts it in a different perspective, especially when Simon finds a way to bury that rage and find the goodness in his heart and willpower to overcome it at that moment.
As someone that hasn't read any of the New 52 issues that introduced Simon Baz, this one struck me pretty poignantly as a morality tale. A planet Earth being overcome with rage by the thousands seemingly every minute, with absolute evil fueling it and hoping to turn every human being into the perfect fireball of extreme fury.......
......and the only hope for the planet lies with a Muslim superhero and his female counterpart. Poetic.
It's even better that Simon and Jessica are rookies to the Green Lantern Corps and are constantly making mistakes, punishing themselves internally for not making the right call or yelling at each other for not making the right call. They are incredibly vulnerable heroes, placed in an unenviable position from the start and thrust into an alien situation they are seemingly unprepared for, but that their power rings have entrusted them to deal with. Watching them psyche themselves into being heroes despite their lack of self-confidence is just as entertaining as watching them actually deal with the Red Lantern rage crisis.
Well to be fair, it's Jessica that has the self-confidence and anxiety issues. Simon is confident, but very much so to a fault and not as cautious going into dangerous situations. He's also someone that is more than prepared for the day that his ring either stops working or is taken away from him, an understandable situation from a minority male in the 21st Century that spent time in jail for a crime he didn't commit and worries everyday about how the world treats his family, especially Farid.
Green Lanterns #3 might be one of the most important series in DC Rebirth right now for cultural and sociopolitical reasons, as it is truly pulling a "Star Trek" type move and telling a story about today's world in the framework of the comic book world. It's not necessarily the most original idea, but it's still a good one.
5 out of 5 stars - DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH: Green Lanterns #3
This series is biweekly, next issue due out August 3rd.