Overview: We get to learn a lot about Teen Lantern while the rest of the team flounders in ignorance.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): Our story begins in Bolivia, one month before any of this ever began. There we find Teen Lantern before she ever got her powers and was only known as Keli. We find her and an older boy named Marcos scavenging for something in the city dump. Marcos seems to know more than he’s letting Keli in on, as they pick through the garbage of what appears to be the ruins of a STAR Labs remains. As Keli tries to pump Marcos for info on why they’re really there, they spot a scary man on a motorcycle come in and then shoot a strange alien they have never seen before. Marcos grabs Keli and runs her off to safety, but the little girl witnesses the execution in person.
Afterwards, Keli runs to a woman named Cher and asks for her phone. She gives a timely “don’t buy stuff” before handing it to her, and Keli then starts googling different things trying to understand what happened. That night she has flashbacks to the murder and is unable to sleep. Her eyes jitter as she gets up and leaves in the night and returns to the junkyard. There she finds the alien, barely alive. They talk. The alien seems to be wearing a green costume, like a green lantern, and hands Keli a strange robotic gauntlet. There is a bit of a language barrier between them as the alien doesn’t seem to understand some of the words Keli uses (like “sorry”). He tells Keli to “own this world with [the guantlet] and then throw [the guantlet] in the fire.” He then dies, bewildered by Keli calling him a Lantern and asking if he swore her in or not.
Keli spends a moment to take it all in, and then we jump right into the “present” day, with Keli fighting her Earth-3 counterpart. There is some backtalk and bickering between them. We’re all sorta lost in the moment as the Earth-3 counterpart wants to take Keli’s tech from her, while Keli is still very confused about what anything is about. Then Keli’s gauntlet starts to freak out and neither of them knows what is going on.
Flashing back to a Keli first getting the gauntlet and running over to Marcos to let him know about last night. Marcos doesn’t believe that the guy was a Lantern at all, since, you know, he was gunned down by a guy on a motorcycle. Also, the fact that Green Lantern rings are, you know, RINGS. But Keli isn’t listening to reason and doesn’t want to give up the technology. She decides to fly off to Metropolis to prove herself as a superhero.
Flash forward again to the present day, Keli comes out of nowhere to rescue Jinny Hex from her evil twin, revealing to have both her and her evil twin’s technology now and wants to get out of there. But they don’t know where the rest of the team is. In truth, the rest of the team is with Stephanie Brown, who’s this universe’s Batwoman and runs her own Batcave. They get a map of the multiverse. Steph says she got it from her universe’s Doctor Fate before she died and Tim starts to form a plan.
Analysis: Since this is broken up between two stories, the past and the future, I’ll break up my analysis of the story as well.
The story’s big focus is giving us Teen Lantern’s origin this issue, and while I heard some people giving this origin some negative takes, I quite like it. Keli’s behavior is identical to that of a kid her age. She warps logic to suit her own needs and wants, refusing to believe anything that could contradict her own wish fulfillment (I know as I still do this even now). The actual events around Keli, an explicit, gruesome murder and extreme poverty, Keli is retreating into whatever fantasy she can find to hide everything that happened, and since this is a superhero story, it works, since she ran off to be a superhero.
The comic does a good job of giving Keli a lot of breathing room. There are entire pages where nothing happens but Keli’s own reactions, but there’s enough actually happening in Keli’s life that the quiet moments actually do their job at giving us some breathing room. You can really understand Keli’s psyche just by her expressions and the way she talks to other people, and she never does any exposition or soliloquies.
The present-day plot isn’t as interesting on its own, but it does its job to keep us involved in the current machinations around us. We still don’t know what the technology is in the present day, so Keli’s reaction to the tech going out of her control parallels nicely to Keli taking ownership of the tech without thinking about it in the past. And the stinger at the end sets up more to come really well.
Final Thoughts: This is an excellent issue that stands alone as a well-written origin for Keli. I really hope DC does more with her after this run ends, she’s certainly my favorite of the cast at the moment. The art is also phenomenal; definitely some top-notch work here.