We now take a break from our regularly scheduled programming to jump back ten billion years. Instead of following the adventures of the time-displaced Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, Green Lanterns #26 centers on Volthoom, the First Lantern who has been hiding out in the Guardian Rami’s body. We saw him make some major moves in the previous issue so this flashback loses all of the momentum that’s been built up to this point.
I question the necessity for this tale. We know that Volthoom is a big bad and he’s been pulling strings in the background for some time, unbeknownst to Jessica and Simon. Now he’s so close to his goal and we get this look back into his origin. Most of this is already known or not all that needed. Through the guise of Rami’s journal, we witness Volthoom’s fall from grace, going from a wide-eyed, confident center of positivity to a corrupt shell of a man.
This journey doesn’t pull on the heartstrings or make Volthoom a sympathetic character. He’s weird and his emotions are all over the place. This is illustrated well after the power battery is installed in his chest as swirls of color fly around him, highlighting which section of the emotional spectrum he’s tapping into. Colorist Ulises Arreola does a great job here. The energy crackles around Volthoom, highlighting just how powerful and dangerous he is, especially in this state.
This is matched by artist Ronan Cliquet’s depiction of Volthoom’s facial expressions. There’s a nice sequence where he’s going back and forth with Rami and the panels are bouncing between the two of them. Each time we flash to Volthoom, he’s changed to a different emotion and it looks like it’s pulling him apart.
Using Rami’s journal is a nice way to usher us through the story as we see it from his perspective. Writer Sam Humphries excels here, showing us a firsthand account as Rami’s hopes turn to heartbreak as Volthoom spirals out of control. This wasn’t something that happened quickly. It was a gradual descent into chaos. Reading this with the benefit of knowing the monster Volthoom would become allows us to see all the signs that Rami and the Guardians missed along the way. They were just getting started and they had the best of intentions in mind to protect the galaxy. As such, they couldn’t look past them to see how Volthoom was losing his grip on reality.
Green Lanterns #26 is a fine story. It just feels like something we’ve seen before. Did we really need this break from the action to show us an origin story we’re already aware of? The only appearance of the title characters, Jessica and Simon, is the cover. They do not appear in a single panel in the interior. This is disappointing after the oversized issue #25 and the beginnings of a payoff that’s been in the works for some time. From the looks of things, we’ll be returning to those adventures with the next issue.