May 25 2013

Review: Green Lantern #20

Green Lantern #20 - Dog Mahnke

It’s the end of an era as Geoff Johns delivers his final sensational issue of Green Lantern after a definitive decade-long run. 

Green Lantern #20 (2013)

Green Lantern #20

Writer: Geoff Johns

Artist: Doug Mahnke

Publisher: DC Comics

Rating:  ★★★★★

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As the opening montage to this oversized anniversary issue reminds us, writer Geoff Johns has fundamentally changed the Green Lantern universe. Under his guidance, we witnessed the rebirth of Hal Jordan, the resurgence of another classic character in “The Sinestro Corps War”, and the almost flawless events of “War of the Lanterns”, “Blackest Night” and “Brightest Day”, and the introduction of the first Arabic-American Lantern in Simon Baz. Expanding the universe into several other titles, Johns has spent over 100 issues leading up to his swan-song, the “Wrath of the First Lantern” arc. Having turned GL lore on its head over the last two years, Johns leaves no stone unturned in ensuring that his historic run will never be forgotten.

In true epic fashion, Green Lantern #20 begins at the end, during a distant future in which a young Lantern Corp recruit seeks out the legendary tale of Hal Jordan. He is told the epic journey of the greatest Lantern who ever lived, and we pick up from the apparent “death” of Jordan in an attempt to escape the Dead Zone. Hal harnesses the power of the Black Ring to combat the First Lantern, and an epic battle that involves the entire spectrum of light ensues.

From the very beginning of Johns’s run on Green Lantern, way back in 2004, Hal Jordan’s arc has been one of redemption. Returning the character to the DCU was perhaps simply to combat flagging Green Lantern sales and a lack of interest in substitute Lantern Kyle Rayner, but Johns has never relied on Jordan’s innate popularity to sell books. Almost entirely within the confines of the Lantern universe, Johns crafted an opera in defiance of the rest of the DCU. Indeed, when all other books were rebooted as part of the New 52 in 2011, his Green Lantern remained in tact and undisturbed, such was its strength. With this final issue, Johns gives Hal Jordan his redemption, and rewards long-term readers for their faith.

There isn’t a single wasted page in this oversized epic. It’s inflated in size not for pinups, sketches and other back-matter, but because the story requires it. It reads just as fast as a regular issue, despite the fact that Johns has poured the remaining bit of Green Lantern’s light he had left in him into the pages of this issue. Indeed, the only non-story material is a series of tributes from other creators, and we can hardly begrudge Johns that honour. Pound-for-pound, Johns packs every square inch of this issue with conclusions to all the strands he has been setting up, giving a shot at salvation not just to Jordan but to Sinestro and the Guardians. The First Lantern proves to be one of the strongest villains to date, taking every bit of light the universe can muster to defeat. Johns pulls on pieces of Lantern lore he introduced years ago to weave a story that is both true to its origins, and accessible to new readers. After all, if it feels authentic, it’s probably because Johns has invented that aspect himself. This is the stuff of classic heroes, and it will be difficult to find a reader not blown away by this climax.

Green Lantern #20 - Dog Mahnke

Doug Mahnke’s art for this issue is nothing short of breathtaking. It is unlikely that any artist this year will have to draw anything quite on the scale of this mammoth issue, or as many characters from the history of the Lantern universe. Primarily an action issue, we can be wowed by the splash pages that feature clashes between Jordan and Sinestro (pictured above), or quietly awed by the constructs of the First Lantern. As the entire spectrum of Lanterns from various corps invade another spread, it comes with an overwhelming sense of satisfaction.

It’s a mixture of excitement and sadness that fills the final pages of this issue. Robert Venditti will take over the book soon enough, and has some pretty big shoes when he takes over not only this title, but Green Lantern Corps as well. Yet Johns can’t help but indulge himself just a little, flashing forward to the “bookends of Rebirth” and giving an epilogue for each of the main players. It’s the job of other writers to carry the green torch now, but perhaps Johns has just ensured that his influence will be felt for many decades to come. A perfect way to end a spectacular run.

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2 pings

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