For some reason, DC decided to release the first three parts of “Wrath of the First Lantern” in the same week. It all starts in GREEN LANTERN #17. Who is the mysterious Volthoom? How did he come to be the First Lantern? And how does his presence in the universe affect the state of the Green Lantern mythos at large?
Remember all that stuff that happened in Rise of the Third Army? Yeah, forget all that. It’s done.
For those who didn’t read Green Lantern Corps Annual #1, everybody came together to fight the Guardians of the Universe because they went full supervillains on us. Except Simon Baz, who took a trip into the Book of the Black, looking for Hal Jordan.
And then the First Lantern got out of the confinement the Guardians had him in, and proceeded to envelope everyone in white light.
I almost didn’t want to say this because spoilers, but then I realized they broke it within the first four pages, so screw it. Volthoom was, apparently, at one point a human being who traveled back in time. Or at least I think he is, because GREEN LANTERN #17 starts things off with a flashback prologue. It’s all a little confusing.
Okay, so there are two GL mythos background details (although one of them is a DCU background detail in general) you need to know in order to understand this. First, there’s the business with Krona, the guy from the same race as the Guardians who tried to view the beginning of the universe. In past continuity (and presumably current continuity), this had the side effect of creating the multiverse. Krona was also the antagonist in the GL books right before Flashpoint rebooted everything.
The second thing you need to know is Volthoom, who isn’t so much an entity to begin with as he is a reference. This is also where things get really complicated. Way back in the Silver Age of comics, DC comics decided to consolidate the Golden Age heroes with its newer batch of heroes. They did this by making the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America inhabit parallel worlds (see the above reference to the multiverse). And for a while, DC used this as an opportunity to let the two groups cross over on a yearly basis in what became the original series of Crisis crossovers. The third one they did (After “Crisis on Earth 1” and “Crisis on Earth 2”) was Crisis on Earth 3, where the two fought their counterparts from a parallel Earth where all of them were evil. One of those was a guy named Owlman, the evil counterpart to Batman.
Now, what you need to know from that obscure mess is that Owlman used an invention or some crap to allow his comrades to retreat back to their own universe if they started losing their fight with the JLA. The way the device was activated was by them saying the code word…. “Volthoom”. This nonsense word would eventually become heavily associated with Earth 3 and other evil mirror universe incarnations of these characters. I think that it was eventually stated that Volthoom was a space monk of some kind who provided the power for Power Ring’s power ring (Power Ring being the evil version of Hal Jordan).
By the way, you’ll probably never be able to see the phrase “power ring” as real words with meaning after that last sentence.
So what does any of that have to do with the current situation in the Green Lantern books? Really, nothing whatsoever. Volthoom as a word is basically a huge mythology joke that Geoff Johns decided to recycle as the bad guy in his last GL storyline.
Oh, did I forget to mention? Yeah, after Wrath of the First Lantern, Geoff Johns is stepping away from the GL books after nearly a decade of masterminding them so he can work on other stuff. Mostly the Justice League stuff like Trinity War.
You’re probably asking, “Well, then who the hell is Volthoom in this story? And why did you waste so much of my time?” As I stated earlier, Volthoom was apparently a human at some point, but he found his way back in time billions of years to the dawn of Oan civilization. It’s revealed in this issue that he did something that 1) led him to ascend to a higher form of life that could use the emotional ties people have (which somehow gives him the ability to alter reality), and 2) affected the Guardians in such a way that warranted his imprisonment. It’s also stated to be why the Guardians abandoned emotions in the first place, though what that is has yet to be revealed.
While we’re learning all this, Simon Baz is busy in the Chamber of Shadows, the prison in a black hole that once housed the First Lantern and which now holds Black Hand and the ancient Guardians who remained within to guard the First Lantern. Black Hand, as you might imagine, does not appreciate being trapped, and intends to take his frustration out on Simon.
Now that we have the non-spoilers taken care of, I’m faced with a quandry. My spoiler policy dictates I shouldn’t reveal any more about the plot. After all, if I spoil everything in a book, what incentive do you have to buy the things? But I have two more issues I need to talk about after this, and they follow directly from this one (or at least partially).
Regardless, my only real complaint concerning this issue is just how abrupt the shift is from Rise of the Third Army to Wrath of the First Lantern. The Third Army, this incredible fighting force made from the Guardians’ flesh and the assimilated souls of innocent people, the army that is meant to replace the Green Lantern Corps and all organic life…is entirely killed off unceremoniously in the span of two panels. They’re just gone.
So the obvious question becomes: what the hell was the point of that? Not only were the Third Army not particularly visually appealing, but they didn’t even matter all that much in the overall story. They’re here, and then they’re gone. And now the entire climactic fight against the Guardians is rendered moot.
Won’t even get a chance to use them in the Green Lantern animated series as generic mook enemies, because the show isn’t structured in such a way as to allow the Guardians to be antagonists any time soon. From what I hear, anyway.
This issue wasn’t bad, though it’s obvious Geoff Johns is moving fast to wrap up the storyline. Buy this one before you buy any of the other GL books, at the very least.