Welcome to Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. This week it's all about Geoff Johns, and his epic conclusion to his 10 year run writing Green Lantern. Enjoy!
Green Lantern #20 (by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke)
Slight Spoilers below!
I've never been a big fan of Geoff Johns. He has written some books and issues that I've liked, but I never got attached to his style of writing like I did with his contemporary, Brian Michael Bendis. Now, before you balk at that comparison, I think you will find it apt if you give it a bit of thought. The simplest reason being they almost simultaneously emerged as the top writers and world builders of their respective publishers. Personally, I've always felt Bendis opened up the Marvel U to a larger, more modern world of storytelling and style, whereas Johns added some freshness and a bit of modernity to DC, but still colored within the lines of their tried and true formula. But enough of that, we're here to celebrate the man, and regardless of my views of his writing, I have to admire the epic run he has had in the last decade at the helm of Green Lantern. I've also never been a huge Green Lantern fan, but I know just how rabid the character's fan base is, and I've always kept current with what Johns was doing in the GL cosmos. Green Lantern #20 marks Johns' final tale wearing the green power ring, and even this doubter has to admit he's gone out with quite a bang.
Green Lantern always seems like it has a self-sustaining ecosystem of good and evil. The Green Lantern Corps. are always fighting some menace created by the very things they hold dear, or a lantern of a different color has designs to imbalance the spectrum. Green Lantern #20, the final chapter in the Wrath of the First Lantern storyline, is no different. Volthoom, the first lantern, with the power of every color, is exacting his revenge on the Guardians and the Green Lantern Corps. We get a very brief origin for him, but in Green Lantern speak it's enough to understand his motivations. To defeat him, Hal Jordan and Sinestro have to pull out all the stops, including Hal becoming a Black Lantern and Sinestro bonding with Parallax, and that's not even as far as it goes. If you have been craving the gigantic summer blockbuster Green Lantern story, then your ship has come in. There are gigantic moments that will probably make the faithful squeal with delight, and make the uninitiated want to spend more time in the world of the Lanterns. There is so much going on that it almost doesn't fit on the page, and you could probably re-read this issue a few times and still find things you missed.
The interesting thing is how Johns frames this story. It begins far in the future, where a newly minted Green Lantern named Snow asks the Bookkeeper to recount the legendary tale of Hal Jordan. As the issue rockets to its conclusion, you begin to feel as if this could be the end of the book, not just the end of Johns' run. He doesn't just bring this giant arc to a close, he gives you the futures and fates of the characters, and it makes you realize what a monumental task the incoming writer has on his or her hands. I think it would be prudent for DC and the new scribe to do something completely different, forget all the rules and lore that can weigh GL down, and bring back the Sci-Fi wonder. As for this issue, I would recommend it to anyone, whether you're a lifelong fan, or just curious to see what all the hype is about. You'll be able to pick up the story easy enough, and your eyeballs will quickly be overloaded. Speaking of, artist Doug Mahnke needs some special recognition, he has been one of the most underrated artists for a very long time, and this issue is a fantastic example of his strengths. Doug brings a huge amount of detail with very clean and powerful lines, and he makes the big moments and splash pages memorable. I'm very excited that he will be following Johns to the Justice League.
What else can I do but tip my hat to Geoff Johns- He created a decade-long run on a fan favorite character, and the readers seemed to have adored almost every minute of it. That's not easy, most writers would be on auto-pilot at this point, but Johns always seemed to have the next big thing up his sleeve. DC has done an admirable job at celebrating Johns' run in this issue, with a timeline of his work on GL, and notes of congratulations from some of the industry's best and beyond. It is well deserved.
Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.