‘Phantom Stranger’ and ‘Green Lantern’: Two Unoriginal Origins

So, of the DC books this week, all of which are origin-themed zero issues, there are two actual new books this week. The first is the Phantom Stranger, and the second is the new Arabian-American Green Lantern.

And neither are that impressive out of the gate.

Let’s start with Simon Baz, the new Green Lantern. He’s a car thief who steals a stolen van that turns out to have a big fat bomb in it. He turned to stealing cars because he used to build them, see. He lives in Dearborn, Michigan, and gets sucked into the bowels of the government’s black op-

You know, I can’t finish this. I just can’t. If you had asked me to sit down and write a litany of cliches that some hack would immediately stick an Arabian-American character into, I would have written the basic plot description of this book. It’s an episode of 24 that ends with a Green Lantern ring instead of a Jack Bauer torture scene. It’s not that I object to the political content, it’s just so ham-fisted it hurts.

And it kills me because I don’t think Geoff Johns, who has Lebanese ancestry, has total control here. The opening of this book is actually fairly spare and effective, detailing the tough ten years Simon dealt with as neighbors become suspicious and friends become enemies. Then it starts taking a turn to the cliched. I know that these are serious issues, but they’re handled in a thudding, obvious way.

The final kick to the teeth is that DC can’t be arsed to even make the deaths in the annual they released last week stick. Yep, Hal and Sinestro are already back, sort of.

But at least it has potential. I’ll get the next issue, because there’s a lot of hanging plot threads here that are genuinely interesting, and I trust Johns to turn this book into something great.

Phantom Stranger, on the other hand… This is not inspiring confidence in the upcoming Trinity War.

The main problem is that it’s all setup, and the payoff is… another origin. The really painful part is that it’s a reboot of the Spectre, and this origin story isn’t even that well told.