It’s worth saying straight away that, almost two years ago to the day, it was Green Lantern: Rebirth that got me into comics.
Since then, 730 comics later, I look back at it in the same way I look back at Star Trek: TNG as the show that got me into sci-fi many many years ago.
So with that in mind, this blog will sadly sum up my unhappiness with the current Green Lantern titles. A backlash from some of my twitter people is expected!
Having not been a long-time reader of comics, it wasn’t a big deal when I read that Geoff Johns, as well as Tomasi, Milligan, and Bedard were leaving their respective Lantern titles. I did initially think it was a bit extreme they were leaving at the same time although, after a while of looking at it, it made sense that they started with a clean slate in the wake of Johns leaving. Whilst the other writers were given their own space for their titles, it was Johns that took the Lantern universe and raised it to a level not too far behind that of Bats and Supes. As such, with his exit, he had every right to end it his way. A simple transition to another writer and another story arc wouldn’t have felt right.
This is where, however, the problem lies.
In Green Lantern #20, not only did Johns wrap up the First Lantern storyline, he also adds a coda that concludes the journey of pretty much every Green Lantern character. Hal and Carol get married, Kyle continues as the White Lantern, John Stewart becomes a politician, Guy just hangs around bars telling his tales, and so on.
How Johns was allowed to get away with such an ending is beyond me. Fair play to him for the work he did over the years, however what chance has he given the new writers in creating a future by effectively writing the characters’ endings before their run even starts. What options does Robert Venditti have as new Green Lantern writer? If he deviates from the ending of #20, this will just create confusion amongst readers and make them question Johns’ ending. Alternatively, what freedom does he have in leaving his own creative mark? Even as a Green Lantern fan, it seems like a selfish indulgence on Johns’ part. In my opinion, this would not be the first time this has happened, a la the creation of Simon Baz.
Despite this, I do not intend to use this blog to completely bash Geoff Johns as there are current faults in the GL setup he is not responsible for.
As part of the Lantern re-jig, Guy Gardner is sent off to infiltrate and take command of the Red Lanterns (something he does far too easily for my liking). Taking him off Green Lantern Corps, this seemingly was done to ensure there is a human lantern as the lead character in all their titles, excluding Larfleeze. I can see the logic behind this to keep each title ‘important’ as Red Lanterns was fast becoming of little worth. Whilst the Third Army / First Lantern arcs did crossover into the title, the Red Lanterns played little part in both conclusions.
Taking Gardner off Green Lantern Corps, however, seems an odd strange decision. Whilst I have never liked him, (far too loud and annoying), he is effectively Green Lantern Number 2, after Hal, and GLC was also the next title, in terms of importance, after GL. Putting him into the least popular of the four Lantern titles seems a waste of the character. Not to mention, the limitations a character has when they slip on the red ring. Whilst those in green can, occasionally, show various layers of personality, depth of character etc, a RL is resorted to nothing except being driven by their desire to unleash their rage on their victims. I was a supporter of RL in its early days however, due to this lack of character progression, it didn’t seem to be going anywhere so I dropped it around #15.
Going back to the choice of Guy as the RL leader, stretching the human lantern quota does raise the issue of…..where the hell is Simon Baz?
He turns up during DC’s Zero month in September 2012, replaces Hal as the lead Green Lantern, and is now, a year later, relegated to occasional appearances in the Justice League of America ? It begs the questions, what was the point in creating the character in the first place? It gives the impression he was Johns’ little pet project and, with him now out of the GL picture, the other writers just don’t want anything to do with him. On this, I may be proved wrong and, genuinely, I wish I am. My idea would be to have John Stewart go to Red Lanterns (this would have been a natural progression from the issues he has gone through in the New 52) and have Guy team up with Baz in Green Lantern Corps. This would have been ideal for Baz as an introduction to the Corps and find his feet as a character.
As far as the future direction of the Lantern titles is concerned, I would dearly like to see them depart from these epic ‘end of the universe’ events as they all seem repeat one another as one multi-lantern battle follows another. In all honesty, my biggest issue with Green Lantern, across all titles, is that the action often looks like multi-coloured crazy shit. Trying to create more and more ridiculous constructs makes a potentially serious matter just seem farcical. By reducing the scale of the action, and not trying to fit everything into the page at once, will ultimately create a better storyline. I realise this will never happen, so I am not getting my hopes up.
In conclusion, I will sadly be turning my back on the GL universe except for the main Green Lantern title. As Hal got me into comics, I can’t turn my back on him. At only £2 / £3 a month, I can live with it. As for the other titles, I wish them well but they will be disappearing off my pull list. I am interested in how the Hal / Carol / Kyle arc pans out, a nice change in direction, but other than that, it’s time to move on to other titles.