Green Lantern: Mosaic Part 2
Green Lantern: Mosaic #1-9 (1992-1993)
If you thought the four-part prelude would prepare you for what Gerard Jones had planned for the Mosaic ongoing series, you would be incredibly surprised. From the first issue, Jones is making a bold statement about what direction he is going, and it ended up being unlike anything DC Comics was publishing at the time. In fact, Mosaic often feels like a series that should be coming out under the Vertigo banner, DC’s imprint for mature reader comics. Mosaic deals with issues of racism and mental illness, but also delves into surreal and metaphysical places. Let’s just take a look at issue one for an example of how strange things were going to get.
The first stark difference from the “Mosaic” story in Green Lantern is the art style. The Mosaic series is illustrated by Cully Hamner and Dan Panosian who bring a more dreamlike and dark look to Mosaic World. The alien life seen in the ongoing is less humanoid than what was seen before. The first page shows sentient flowers and winged globes of water, both of which were part of the beings brought to Oa. The most terrifying thing we are shown during John Stewart’s monologue are The Glad Girls. This duo of female humanoid aliens appear to feed on pain caused by violence and John allows them to eviscerate himself with knives. His ring heals him afterward and he seems unphased.
Throughout this monologue, Stewart makes a multitude of references and quotes, revealing a more literary and erudite side of him than we had seen before this point. During this, he explains his master plan to construct a series of highways between the various settlements to bring the being together and establish constructive relationships. Stewart appears to be in control of his faculties for most of this issue until near the end when Stewart remembers back to recharging his ring upon the creation of Mosaic. He mentions he feels “Something hot. Something red.” A detail that will grow in significance as the series progresses.
Issues two and three focus on this “something red” as Stewart is reunited with former Lanterns Ch’p and Salaak. Both characters had much more light-hearted portrayals in the late 1980s Green Lantern Corps series. But here, in the pages of Mosaic, they are severely scarred and traumatized. Ch’p’s people, the H’lvenites, are a sentient race of squirrel-like aliens, something typically presented as a cartoon. Gerard Jones chooses to display the savagery of an animal race, Ch’p having gained enlightenment is distant from his people and decides instead to spend time with Salaak. Salaak’s mind is completely broken from the fallout of the old Corps. They seek out Stewart after learning there is a new Corps and desperately want to join. Tragedy strikes as the red presence felt by Stewart is revealed to be remnants of the villain Sinestro that have festered in the Central Battery.
Issue four was actually the first Mosaic issue I ever picked up and read. The plot is focused on a group of teenagers living in Greenville. Their parents have begun to pick up broadcasts of vintage American television sitcoms and use these shows as a drug to numb their anxieties about their predicament on Oa. The teenagers have a sense of exploration and want to discover the other races beyond the city limits. They all almost get killed by a giant creature, but Stewart swoops in to save them. One child is fatally struck, and Stewart becomes horrified by the total lack of reaction his parents have. Stewart is impressed by these teenagers and forges power rings for them to use in the hopes they will explore and reach out to the alien communities throughout Mosaic.
There is a two-parter that has Hal Jordan and some of the new Lanterns confronting Stewart and plays out as standard as a Mosaic story can be told. This is followed up by some interesting one-offs that further explore ideas of philosophy, religion, and race within the context of this bizarre world. I was struck while reading through this run at how deep Gerard Jones was taking these stories. At the time the Green Lantern franchise was booming at DC Comics. There was the main Green Lantern title, Mosaic, Guy Gardner, and Green Lantern Corps Quarterly, all of which were written by Gerard Jones. He was also the writer on Justice League Europe which featured Hal Jordan as the Lantern of the series. Remarkably, each of these series had a very distinct look and feel and reflecting back on this, I am surprised he doesn’t get more recognition for his contributions to DC Comics. When we conclude our look at Mosaic, we’ll look at the final nine issues and at some interviews with Gerard Jones and Cully Hamner that give some clues about why Mosaic was canceled.