In Brightest Day In Blackest Night A Green Lantern Retrospective

I wanted to review Green Lantern #20, but I couldn’t
write it without either spoiling the issue, or going over Johns’ whole run on
the book. So I figured with the issue being out for almost three weeks now,
whatever I mention here is not really a spoiler (unless you live under a rock),
and I get the chance to look at his run as a whole.

I have been reading Geoff Johns’ work for years now. I
started with Stars And S.T.R.P.I.E.S. From there I followed him to JSA,
Hawkman, Flash, Teen Titans
and then to Green Lantern, which is what
this article is all about.
First I must preface this with what happened before Geoff
Johns came on the book. Comic books have always been up and down in sales. In 1993
Green Lantern sales weren’t where DC wanted them and looking to boost
sales and bring in a new audience they decided to do something daring, turn Hal
Jordan, “The
Greatest Green Lantern Ever” evil. The plan was to replace Hal with a new guy,
Kyle Rayner and give him a bold new start as the sole Green Lantern, no
Guardians, no Corps, just him. What DC didn’t expect was how fans would react
to the replacement. DC had seen success when they killed off Barry Allen and
replaced him with the younger Wally West as the Flash, and thought fans
would accept Kyle. The big difference was that Barry died a hero and fans had
grew up with Wally as Kid Flash, so when he took over his mentor’s role it felt
like a natural progression, the circle of life. With Green Lantern
though fans felt DC disgraced a beloved character by having him go psycho and
tear the Corps apart not caring about his friends.
The backlash from fans was so great that DC tried to rectify
it by redeeming Hal Jordan
in 1996’s Final Night, where Hal would save the world and sacrifice
himself in the process. Hal Jordan
died a hero. But even Batman didn’t accept this as redemption and fans echoed
his feelings. Now enters Geoff Johns. Many people think Geoff started with Green
Lantern Rebirth
, but he actually started in the 1999 DC event Day of
. In this mini The Spectre’s host Jim Corrigan had finally ascended
to heaven, leaving the “Spirit of Vengeance” without a host. Geoff Johns made
Hal Jordan the
host, and changed the Spectre from the “Spirit of Vengance” to the “Spirit of
Redemption.” Geoff would use Hal Jordan
as the Spectre in his Flash run, giving Wally West his secret identity
back. None of this was enough for Green Lantern fans.
DC had a tricky situation while Hal had his fans, so did Kyle.
In 2004 DC released the 6-issue mini-series Green Lantern: Rebirth by
Geoff Johns. The mini-series was true to its title, a rebirth of Green
. Like sales during the end of Hal’s time as Green Lantern,
Kyle’s sales were down, and Rebirth gave the title and all of comics a
huge boost. Geoff Johns told an epic story on a scale that had not been done
until then. Geoff used 60 years of the character’s history in comics to weave a
tale that explained how Hal Jordan
was possessed by an evil entity named Parallax. Johns explained that Parallax
was the embodiment of fear and connected to the yellow power introducing the
Emotional Spectrum.

Johns along with artist Ethan Van Sciver showed us how Hal Jordan
became possessed by Parallax, explaining everything from Hal’s premature
graying, to the rings vulnerability to yellow. Johns used his first issue of
the newly relaunched Hal-centric Green Lantern title to set up future
stories promising us epic wars. Fans knew Johns had big plans for Green
, but none could fathom the level he would achieve.
Johns introduced the Emotional Spectrum setting up different
Corps, each representing a different color, and each color a different emotion,
or trait. With the Green light representing Will, Johns tied other Green
Lantern-like powers to the spectrum with Sinestro’s yellow ring tapping into
the Fear, the violet ring of the Star Sapphire: Love, and even giving the old
Green Lantern foe Black Hand a ring that represented Death.  He introduced new Corps with Red/Rage,
Blue/Hope, Orange/Avarice, Indigo/Compassion, and White/Life. Each Corps had a
guardian entity like Parallax and with it Johns had changed the Green
Mythos forever.

In 2007 the second part of the promised trilogy from Johns
started in the Sinestro Corps War, an 11-issue story that pitted Hal
Jordan and the newly reborn Green Lantern Corps against Sinestro’s own twisted
group, the Sinestro Corps. The event played out on an epic scale and led to the
third chapter in this trilogy, the Blackest Night in 2009.  By the time the Blackest Night came
along the Green Lantern Universe had grown to cover all the colors of the
emotional spectrum and the mini-series and its tie-ins left no corner of the
DCU untouched. Fans from all titles flocked to the mini-series with their
favorite character brought back from the dead as members of the Black Lantern
Corps. Johns used his encyclopedia-like knowledge of the DCU history to
resurrect characters from the mega popular like Earth-2 Superman to the little
known Teen Titan Kole, and affected everyone. After the Blackest Night,
DC had its Brightest Day a special event that brought in the White
Lantern power and brought back characters that had died.

In 2011 DC decided to gamble and dump over 70 years worth of
its history to relaunch every title. DC relaunched Green Lantern and Green
Lantern Corps
and released two more titles, Red Lanterns and Green
Lantern The New Guardians
in the New 52. The Green Lantern Universe was
bigger and more successful than ever, and Geoff Johns was responsible for it.
As popular as he had become, fans began to lose faith in Johns with the
lackluster “Rise of the Third Army” arc in the Green Lantern books. DC
announced that Johns along with all current Green Lantern title creative
teams were going to leave at the conclusion of John’s final Green Lantern
event “Rise of the First Lantern.” Fans all over began talking about how he
would end his nine year run. Some feared that it couldn’t live up to his
previous work like Blackest Night, which many hold up as the best of his work
to date. Throughout the crossover event fans pretty much had the same reaction while,
Johns told a good story in the Green Lantern title itself the rest of
the issues connected to the other Green Lantern titles dragged the
overall story down. Fans began to let the fear of Johns going out on a fizzle
and not a BANG creep in.
Johns is known for pulling rabbits out of his hat. He has
taken on characters and books that have been deemed impossible to get people to
read due to unpopularity or the weight of constant reboots and revisions
weighing them down and make them popular and easy for new and old readers to
jump on. With Green Lantern #20 he pulled out another rabbit. Just when
fans thought they were going to get another disappointing arc like “Rise of the
Third Army,” Johns in true Hal Jordan
fashion pulled up at the last minute and made a successful landing.

The issue not only wrapped up the “Wrath of the First
Lantern” arc, or his 9-year run on the book, it wrapped up the Green Lantern
title. You could close issue 20 and walk away from Green Lantern feeling
satisfied, whether you’re a Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner,
Sinestro or any other Lantern fan. Johns didn’t end a run, he ended an era. An
era that I am sure will be talked about in 25 years from now and beyond as epic
and revolutionary. The conclusion of the “Wrath of the First Lantern” arc
wasn’t all that eventful, it was actually anti-climatic by action standards,
but it was the personal moments and the character development in this issue
that made it in many fans (mine included) opinion comic of the year.
Every character in this book achieved their fandom’s ideal
happy ending with Guy Gardner still being true to himself knocking a guy out with
one punch using an ongoing JLE joke. John continues his fight for the everyday
man not as a Lantern, but as a political leader while finding love with
Fatality. Kyle fulfilled his role as the Torchbearer by bringing light to those
all over. Every Corps is touched on with some finding new loves, and others
their inner spirit. Hal Jordan and Carol got their happy ending as parents,
grandparents, and always as Lanterns. While those scenes were nice, the true
heart of this issue fell to Hal and Sinestro. When Hal asked Sinestro if they
had ever been friends, Sinestro lets him know that, that is the true tragedy of
all of this, that they will always be friends. That moment said so much about
these two characters and their six-decade long relationship and touched the
hearts of the fans.

Many saw that as “the moment” of the book, but for me it was
the one between Hal and his younger self. I lost my father a few years ago, and
when Johns put the moment where Hal lost his father as the time he felt real
fear hit home. Even though I was an adult when I lost my dad, my relationship
to him was close, he got me into comics, he was my hero, and was my best friend
until the day he passed. The scene where Hal hugs his younger self giving the
young boy that feeling of closure was something I connected to on a personal

While Johns delivered a lot of action in his run, introduced
a mess load of characters, and new creative concepts that will forever be a
part of the Green Lantern mythos, I think the true legacy he left behind
is the heart and soul that he gave each character throughout his run. He built
bridges between fans of Hal and Kyle, John and Guy uniting us all as Green
Lantern fans.

Let us know what you think about Green Lantern #20
and Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern in the comments. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to know whenever we post more
reviews, news and previews on Comic Frontline.
Thank you too all those that contributed to this retrospective.

Contribution Links
Brant Fowler
Comic Bloc
Comic Book Corner 2.0
Comic Uno
Zone 4 Podcast

Related posts

Leave a Comment