(a) Doug Mahnke
(i) Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Tom Nguyen, and Mark Irwin
Since his first appearance in last September's Green Lantern #0, Simon Baz has polarized internet discussion boards for a variety of reasons. From readers who felt Baz was an unnecessary attempt at diversity, to those who felt his 'mistaken terrorist' storyline was too politically motivated, to others who simply disliked the fact that a Green Lantern was carrying a gun. Of course, for all the detractors, there were just as many fans who were vocal in their excitement for a superhero more representative of modern American culture. Green Lantern #16 offers a good helping of plot advancement thanks to the arrival of B'dg, a squirrel-like Green Lantern most recently featured in Robot Chicken's "DC Comics Special" in a segment highlighting some of the more ridiculous characters in DC's pantheon. It seems as though Geoff Johns took this slight to the might B'dg to heart. The adorably bad-ass B'dg becomes Baz's teacher/coach by default once he learns Hal Jordan is technically dead.
One of the best things about Simon Baz has been the way Johns has characterized him beyond the ring. Too many times in comic books, characters are introduced and made to accept their fate with little to no question for the sake of moving the story along quickly enough to keep readers interested. Johns, instead, has taken the time to flesh out Simon as a person. Simon's journey has two parallel narratives that play off one another and pay off in big ways throughout this issue. Simon's primary goal is clearing his name of terrorist actions. By focusing on a more human task, Johns is able to incorporate the Green Lantern element as the secondary narrative that's just now coming to a head. B'dg's arrival signals a turning point for Simon's career as a Green Lantern, from amateur with a ring to a member of the most powerful and revered peacekeeping force in the universe.
The final pages of Green Lantern #16 prove that Simon Baz is no temporary replacement; for a while, I was worried that Baz was more of an experiment that could be ended as quickly as it was started. Of course, that could still be the case, but Simon's inclusion in the upcoming Justice League of America coupled with the fact that the Green Lantern Corps really hasn't ever had a problem with there being an inordinate number of Lanterns from Earth points to his being around for a while. With "Rise of the Third Army" coming to a close next week, and "Wrath of the First Lantern" coming next month, I'm sure the Corps will be needing all the firepower it can get.