I'm a well read grad student who's bluntly honest about all things, although I try to be most honest about myself.
This is the second part in a crossover, which originally made me nervous. DC has been pretty bad at making it easy to read the second part of something, even second issues, without having read the first. When I got scolded and told 'how dare the authors and artists want you to read everything,' I pointed out I might want to dip my toes into something and have missed the first issue, or I might have gotten it in a grab bag and am trying it to see if I want to read more. Leaving me confused made me want to drop the title completely, to be honest.
I got this in a mystery swap box, because Batman. Which is awesome: I'm loving more characters in DC, but Batman, yeah, he's up there in my top ten. So I really wanted to be not confused, and I really wanted to love this - and it turns out I wasn't and didn't. Because there are legitimate reasons to start a series with issue 17, and I happened to have one: I'd gotten it as a gift, I was eager to read it, and I send 'I'm gonna.' And I'm glad I did: it turns out that DC is doing a better job of taking new readers into the fold, even those new readers who start mid-series! So, there's that to love about Rebirth, too. They don't have a 'previously on' page like Marvel does, but they folded just enough into the story to make me feel like I knew what was going on which also works. (I'm sure I didn't get the full story but just you watch me track down the first part of this crossover! Oh, there you are Green Lanterns #16. I see you. I should be downloading and reading you soon!)
Rebirth has been lauded for going back to what makes DC work, and has apparently outsold Marvel titles. (There's chatter about this, and about the 'oh, diversity is hurting us' from one of the Marvel VPs. One of the interesting things that I've been following when I have the urge is the discussion of why DC is outselling Marvel by the fans, and how they're going back to basic storytelling instead of swamping us with crossovers and titles that force you to read other titles, and higher prices, and the code thing that they're adding instead of dropping then adding. There's actually a lot of really insightful discussion between fans about what DC is doing right and what Marvel is doing wrong; if DC and Marvel are smart, they'll listen to what the fans are telling them, too, not just when it's all good.) One of the things that was said, that is of particular interest to me when it comes to this issue, is that DC was locking down some of the top writers. They signed an exclusive contract with Tom King to write Batman - look, directly relevant to this issue since Batman guest stars! - and I notice Sam Humphries is writing this series. (He wrote Star-Lord, Guardians Team-Up, and Kitty and Star-Lord amongst other titles for Marvel.) It does seem as if DC is poaching writers, and I see nothing wrong with this if they're offering more attractive terms - like more money and freedom in what they write - to those writers. (And artists, of course. But since many of the complaints focus on writers and not artists, I'll stick with that for the moment.) DC has taken notice of what the fans want, and the writers of quality entertainment, and have merged them. I love the issues Marvel is putting out, but I used to love them more than DC; now I love them equally, although the fact that so many writers jumped from Marvel to DC might be part of the reason why. (And might indicate something wrong with Marvel - like them not paying the writers well enough or even treating them badly, or a power struggle within, that we don't know about. Or maybe nothing's wrong with Marvel and it's simply that DC is offering more attractive terms. I figure with Jim Lee at the helm, or I believe co-helm, that there's a good chance he's bucking down, focusing on good storytelling and knows that part of that means paying for the top-line writers.)
Which means this long-ass review hasn't been about this particular story so far. It did, however, stir up feels about a lot of things happening in comic-land right now. So, this story had not only Green Lanterns and Batman, but Scarecrow as well. It was mostly somber: the fact that they needed to find a threat that had even infiltrated Batman's sanctuary to target Alfred meant that he was even more serious-face than usual. And he's got some serious serious-face. Simon is dealing with a crises of faith, unwilling to fully trust either the ring or himself. Jessica is a little bit overshadowed as they deal with these issues but she proves herself a reliable fighter despite what little time she gets to shine here. (And I can't say this is misogyny; this is one issue where Simon had shit to deal with, and Batman was along to help save people. I'm sure Jessica has issues where she's at the forefront, too, and until I know otherwise, I'm loathe to say that they're pushing her aside for Simon. It's a two person series, revolving around her and him, and some issues are bound to be more about one or the other.)
The Scarecrow using the powers of the Sinestro Corps is, by the way, one of the freakiest things I've ever heard of, and I'm hoping this comes back again at some point. For now, though, it looks like this series is headed onto another storyline. (Which I think might be a good idea; something too long with Batman might make him seem to overtake the series, especially given how he treats Simon at first. The last thing he says to Simon is more encouraging, but I can easily see him browbeating these two. Not only that, it's all his system in this: how he tracks down the villain, how he saves Alfred, so it'll be nice to see the Lanterns work on their own without taking his lead!)
All in all, though, an exciting issue that makes me want to read more of this series. Thank you to Sorry kids, no feet. for the comic in my package. I hadn't considered reading this series until I got this, so now I have a new thing to read :D