Last month’s annual issues from DC end with this one. I can finally get on with Zero Month. It’s GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #1, and the Prologue to Rise of the Third Army. Warning: You won’t understand anything in the Green Lantern books for the next several issues unless you read this one.

Getting this out of the way first, I love the cover to GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #1. It’s just this massive black cover with a dripping GL symbol. Like some kind of black album, except with a bunch of other stuff. And it is fitting, I’ll give them that.

So if you’ve been reading the Green Lantern books since the relaunch, you know that the Guardians of the Universe – the short blue bosses that run the Green lantern corps – have been up to something. But if you’ve been reading basically anything of the GL mythos since Geoff Johns took creative control over the franchise, you know the seeds of their betrayal were planted long ago. Anyone who paid attention to the story for the last several years knows that the Guardians have been actively bordering on supervilain behavior for a long time, and with the reboot we’ve seen them finally drop the pretense of being good guys.

So now, they’ve decided to dispense with the Green Lantern Corps entirely, and raise their “Third Army”. And they need the “First Lantern” to do this. What are these besides cryptic bullshit?

The Guardians’ first army was the Manhunters, androids built to uphold the law and be without emotion. But then they killed an entire sector of space (in turn leading to the advent of Atrocitus, his Red Lanterns, and the Empire of Tears), so the Guardians cut them loose. The second army was, naturally, the Green Lantern Corps, the objective being that fear in particular caused the universes ills. But in the recent books, all these different lantern corps rose up to upset the balance of power, and the GL corps itself became unwieldy for the Guardians due to overly willful members like Hal Jordan. The Guardians, being full of themselves and demanding of absolute control, have just decided that free will itself is the problem.

You can probably see where this is going, but basically the Third Army would exist as soldiers mainlined to the will of the Guardians. Which is where the First lantern comes in.

Did you know there were an entire group of Oans (the race the Guardians come from) just sitting in a huge stone box somewhere in a vortex of darkness? Well there are, guys we’ve never heard of before, and they guard the First Lantern against any who would seize its power, even and especially the Guardians themselves. By the way, these other oans look and dress like stereotypical blue gnomes. They have long beards and look like they ought to be baking cookies somewhere. Or taking care of Snow White. The point I’m trying to make is that these guys fail to stop the Guardians, and the latter get the first lantern.

What is the first lantern? No idea. He’s this nondescript obsidian-colored naked guy in a massive, multi-colored glass lantern that’s totally transparent. And everyone involved is extra careful of not letting him out of the lantern, much to the guy’s irritation.

And then the making of the Third Army begins. And it’s weird. You really need to see it to understand, but the end result is the power of the First Lantern channeled into a mass of the Guardians’ own flesh, which turns into this big blue thing with glowing open wounds and exposed brain matter. So this is our next big enemy for the franchise, huh? It can turn other living things into more of it, but I’m already worried. I was actually really digging this whole thing until this part, because the Third Army…things look dumb. They look like naked zombies that glow and have no mouths.

Thing is, I’ve been hoping the GL books would eventually move away from having all significant players being some kind of lantern. The various lanterns were great and all, but I kind of wanted some variety in my antagonists. Wasn’t expecting this, a pack of generic enemies more reminiscent of the Will Smith version of I Am Legend than anything I would find in a Green Lantern comic. They’ll do the deed, I guess, but I’m disappointed.

Oh, and while all this is going on, Hal and Sinestro were still fighting Black Hand. That goes on for a bit before the Guardians come along, forcefully “recruit” Black Hand for their own ends, and banish both Green Lanterns to the dead zone. It’s really, really cool and makes it seem like the status quo of the franchise is officially changed. And unlike back in the nineties where they tried to get rid of Hal in favor of a replacement, this situation 1) seems like the logical outcome of years of storytelling, and 2) holds the door open for both characters coming back one day, albeit with great effort on their part.

And it didn’t require Hal Jordan becoming evil. That also helps.

Speaking of that, as you may have noticed from promotional material and the next covers, we get a new Green Lantern. We’ll talk more on him later when we talk about GREEN LANTERN #0. But that’s for another time. For now, just know that, minus the lackluster new enemies, I really enjoyed this issue. It feels like everything was inevitable given how Johns has characterized the Guardians. And the art is top notch, more so than usual. If you’re looking for a good place to get into the Green Lantern books, I’d recommend tracking down the Secret Origin trade, and work through the back issues of the Johns run first. Because this is more for those who have already been following the series, and it relies on knowing what’s already going on. And on that front, it’s a great issue.

Me, I’m going to be handling some schoolwork for much of the next few days. But expect the extra-sixed Weekly Pull coming up, where we examine the first crop of zero issues.

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