Amateur But Necessary Surgical Work
In the spirit of tying together all the major events of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern epic as he comes to his grand conclusion, The Dead Zone really opens a lot of interconnected windows in the grand scheme of things. Blackest Night is a vital connection to all of this, as a cornerstone of the Johns' Lantern Saga, and it's being thrust back to importance here without feeling repeated or forced. Also in the spirit of the uniting of the old and new, Baz finally meets his dual predecessor, Hal Jordan and Sinestro, and the three of them soon realize he's essentially a mix of their respective personalities, with his own personal touch. Geoff Johns manages to pull this off without it feeling like he's forcing Baz as the centerpiece of the grand finale. Baz is merely a reflection of everything Johns' has done with Hal Jordan and Sinestro, and a vision of a more diverse future. More and more each day I'm finding it impossible not to accept him as a worthy Green Lantern.
The only big problem with the story here, is that all of the awkward pacing problems left over from Rise of the Third Army come to a head here, as Baz needs to be caught up on everything else, Hal and Sinestro need to be caught up on the present events, the banished Guardians are some other balance of needing to be caught up.... basically, especially when it comes to Hal, Sinestro, and Baz, everyone needs to get put on the same page, and this is the issue that finally sorts that out. So it feels like a little side story, like it should've been a one-shot tying into Wrath of the First Lantern, because it's wrapping up a loose pocket story still stuck in the previous arc. Also this causes the issue to be INCREDIBLY dialogue heavy, not that that's inherently a bad thing. Honestly, the dialogue is really good, albeit a lot of the same good we're used to from Johns on Green Lantern, but there comes a point where you just want the issue to get to the point. And even by the end of the issue it still hasn't exactly reached that 'point,' as the whole psychic willpower wrestling match between Hal and Sinestro ends rather darkly.
The sudden switch to Szymon Kudranski and a pinch of Ardrian Syaf also lends to the 'one-shot/side story' tone of this issue, but doesn't actually lower the quality. Honestly I wish all the Dead Zone scenes thus far had been drawn by Kudranski, because his work is absolutely PERFECT for these scenes. His work is often excessively overloaded with shadows that obstruct coherence, but in the Dead Zone this actually works in perfect synch with the atmosphere the story is setting. It's really gorgeous and moody and it's actually a bit of jarring shame in those small handful of pages we jump to Syaf's work. Syaf never really delivers his best in cosmic stories, his work on Revolt of the Alpha Lanterns was decent but descended into mediocre, and his work on Birds of Prey and Batgirl has generally been significantly better.
In Conclusion: 3.5/5
The atmosphere of this issue was undeniably epic, and it carried along plot points that needed tying up, but overall these's just this nagging sense of disconnection here. This issue is basically stitching key components back onto the body that is the wider Green Lantern 'Family,' but it did a bit of a Frankenstein patchwork job with that, and the stitches are incredibly blatant. But in the long run it did it's job in smoothing out the loose hiccups left over from the messy collective pacing of Rise of the Third Army.