The Death Machine
After the more subtle and surreal covers in Wrath of the First Lantern, it's kind of nice to see one that's a more accurate portrayal of the specific surreality of the event. I loved the first covers, they were best for the beginning of the event, but now that we know the basic structure it makes sense to have a more specific cover.
I hate to say it, but I'm already feeling a bit fatigued by the 'mess with people's lives' m.o. of Volthoom, and dedicating an entire issue per character each time. I mean, we're already about halfway through this big finale of an event and there hasn't been much forward momentum, we're still dealing with the same kind of plot as when we started. However, it's a good way to tie up all the major events in each characters lives as we head into the conclusion of over half a decade of storytelling, and I have to appreciate that an effort has been made to change up Volthoom's approach a bit for each character. With Guy Gardner he took some surgical strikes to lead to one big crippling blow, with Kyle Rayner he had a small set of well placed shots each a full attempt to crush him, and with John Stewart he's going for a more scattershot approach, changing far more events to lead to a more specific epiphany.
I'm really just not a big fan of Chriscross' artwork. His work back in the days of Milestone was great, but his modern stuff just isn't my cup of tea. Most of the scenery and action is just fine, but his faces are so damn awkward, especially when people are screaming, and there's a LOT of screaming in this issue.
There's a strong focus in this issue on John's tendency to make the tough decisions, and Volthoom stretches them just a tiny bit further to create a frighteningly believable death dealer of a man. Alpha Lantern John was a particularly awesome nightmare, but everything had the same kind of focus, which then took a further twist when Volthoom showed an alternate outcome to War of the Green Lanterns. And just for good measure, he twisted it one last time to show the deepest secret truth in John's soul. The raw guilt for all the lives he has and could have taken when he had no other choice. He even twists the very nature of John's decisions back against him to completely crush his spirit brilliantly.
In Conclusion: 3.5/5
I would be a hypocrite if I said Guy Gardner deserved an entire issue and John didn't but regardless, we're already about halfway through this event and mainly everyone's just had their spirits crushed. It there going to be enough pages left for all of them to pick up the pieces of their shattered spirits and face their demons on the path to the ultimate victory? And when space is so limited, did we really need to give page time to have Volthoom make a half assed attempt to dig into Fatality? It just seemed like he felt he had to include her because she happened to be there, and her little addition felt a bit forced. Add the fact that I just wasn't feeling the artwork and this issue basically takes the unfortunate brunt of my concerns about the entire structure of the arc. But if you're a John Stewart fan this is an absolutely can't miss issue.