The last issue of Geoff Johns’ epic tour as writer on “Green Lantern”, a run lasting over six years and multiple series, can’t be anything but personal for me, hence my breaking SOS protocol to write this review in the dreaded first-person.
I’ve been reading Johns’ Green Lantern books practically since the beginning, when I spotted the very first issue of the ongoing on the shelf of my local store and thought “Huh. Green Lantern. Never read that before”. I was hooked instantly. Yeah, it’s cliché, but I was, dammit. The crisp, clean art, world building, great characterization and emphasis on the expansive GL lore all came together into something I ate up like bacon wrapped in bacon wrapped in green spandex. Really, it’s Geoff Johns who made Green Lantern my favorite superhero.
Which really makes it so devastating that the final issue, which hit stands this week, is kind of messy and half-baked.
The issue, in a more immediate sense, wraps up the “First Lantern” storyarc, with Hal dead again and Volthoom (which continues to be a silly sounding name) on the brink of destroying the universe. To recap the issue would be spoiling things, but also fairly dull, which is really the heart of the problem with the issue.
Then there’s the villain. This is more a comment on the entire recent GL run as a whole, but it’s felt for a long time that the series has been spinning its wheels, and the latest big villain is the best example of this. Oh gumdrops, another big cosmic baddie whose power is that he throws energy at people while making hand movements like he’s singing “Stop! In the Name of Love”. Never seen that in a GL comic before. At least in the “Blackest Night” arc they were fighting freaking Death itself. Sure, Hal does get a brief, unimaginative fight with Sinestro at the end but….it’s brief and unimaginative. The stakes feel artificially heightened throughout, and we never have any real reason to believe this is any more of a climactic final battle between the forces of good and evil than any of the other 4 or 5 times it’s happened over the course of this run.
There are a few good things about the issue. The framing story of some future GL recruit being told the tale of Hal Jordan’s glory days is somewhat clever, and there is at least one good moment between Hal and Sinestro that recalls the more complex relationships and characters before everything started winding down like HAL 9000 singing “Daisy Bell”. And I do realize that pretty much any ending at this point would have felt like a letdown, after all how many series this epic and long-running have truly satisfying endings? But when I put down the issue, I still felt cheated somehow.
Geoff Johns’ run on “Green Lantern” is something I’ll always consider important in my life as a comic book reader. Sure, it wasn’t as ground-breaking and revolutionary as say,“Animal Man” or “Swamp Thing”. But it still took the once-stagnant Green Lantern universe and brought it back to its former glory, if not making it more intriguing and wondrous as ever. But for all the things this run will be remembered for, this ending isn’t one of them.