It’s the end of an era. GREEN LANTERN #20 is the grand finale to Wrath of the First Lantern, and the capstone to Geoff Johns’ writing run on the GL books. Everyone is in place, including the First Lantern himself. Who will live? Who will die? Who will live again? And how will the course of GL history be changed forever (or until the next continuity reboot)?
What I can say for certain is…Geoff Johns will be missed. On the GL books, at least. He’ll still be working at DC on the Justice League books.
Over nearly ten years, writer Geoff Johns worked to turn the struggling Green Lantern franchise into one of DC’s most profitable properties. He did this by taking all the best parts of the mythos up to that point, removing the worst parts, and consolidating it all into a coherent myth arc. Whereas many comics owned by the big publishers would be lucky to have any single vision or creative team for more than six months, Johns became the mastermind behind the whole Green Lantern show. And with GREEN LANTERN #20, he finally wraps up his tenure on the book and its last story arc with the finale to Wrath of the First Lantern.
Volthoom, formerly a human (or humanoid being) who traveled to the past of the Guardians of Oa, managed to swing things such that he gained power cosmic over the emotional spectrum. His unique state made it so no one could dare kill him for fear of destroying the universe, not that it would be an easy feat in the first place. The Guardians locked him away, guarded by a subset of their bretherin in a black hole. The Guardians that remained outside had divorced themselves of their emotions, in doing so ensuring everything bad that would happen to the DC universe as a whole, directly or indirectly.
Or at least that was the case before the 2011 reboot. They’re now only responsible for most of the badness in the universe.
Deciding they had to do what was necessary to finally ensure order, the Guardians used the power of the First Lantern to create an army that could assimilate the entire cosmos and bend to their will alone. But when everyone in the GL books took issue with this, they fought so hard against the Guardians that the First Lantern was set free. His goal: drain the emotions of everyone in the franchise worth mentioning and using it to remake reality in his image.
And between all that, some stuff happened to the main characters of GREEN LANTERN in particular: Sinestro became a GL again, only to lose his entire homeworld. And Hal Jordan got dead. Again. In GREEN LANTERN #20, the two are met with a roughly identical choice, and both take it out of grief or necessity. Sinestro forsakes willpower to become a fear lantern again. And Hal forsakes living in order to become a Black Lantern, in order to escape his imprisonment in the Dead Zone.
Also a bunch of other stuff happens. Remember, even with an oversized issue, GREEN LANTERN #20 still has to resolve most of the lingering plot threads from throughout Johns’ run.
It does so, thankfully. A good deal of the main thrust of Wrath of the First Lantern is resolved here, though the other books in the GL line have their own epilogues to the event. But most importantly, this issue takes the time to wrap up the entire Johns run. We’re treated to a distant epilogue to the whole GL universe, showing readers how all the various characters lived the rest of their lives. At first I was skeptical of anything that attempts to tie up the series in a bow. There’s a little room for future adventures, but knowing this character lives long enough to do this or that could be very constricting for future writers.
On the other hand, Johns made the GL mythos what it is now, and it makes sense he’d want to provide closure for everything. As I recall, the great Alan Moore provided something like this for Superman in one of his stories, providing a true conclusion to the Silver Age Superman books. Then again, that was an imaginary story in the classic sense (the last such story in fact), whereas GREEN LANTERN #20 most certainly is supposed to be canon. Personally I liked it from a narrative standpoint, but what do I know?
With this, the GL books will continue under new creative teams. I’m not sure whether I’m going to keep reading any of them. It would be nice to remove some books from my pull list after so long. And if there’s any time to jump off of the franchise, now would be it. Everything that comes after will be examined from the perspective of these last nine years of stories. Inevitably someone will be unhappy with what comes next. But we can’t let our expectations get in the way of what could be perfectly good stories, so I urge readers to give what comes next a shot.
For myself, it gets me wondering what I’ll be doing next. In more ways than one.