Thursday, 21 February 2013

Review: Green Lantern #17

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Publisher: DC Comics

It's the beginning of the end. At least for Geoff Johns.

Entering into the final arc of Geoff Johns' epic nine year run on Green Lantern, I can't help but be nervous. He's been wowing us for nearly a decade, now all he needs to do is stick the landing. In the past few months, we've seen other talented writers struggle with endings. Ed Brubaker on Captain America, Matt Fraction on Invincible Iron Man, Brian Michael Bendis on Avengers, etc. These guys knew how to keep the juggernaut chugging along in their sleep, but when it came to the ending, they bottled it. It's with these recent failures that I enter "Wrath of the First Lantern".

As most people do before they reach the end, they wax nostalgic. Geoff Johns is no different, beginning his final arc with a scene watching the creation of the Universe (and Multiverse). It's the immortal moment whereby rogue Guardian, Krona, decides to look back and discover just how everything began. The one detail having eluded us all this time - the hand holding the universe in it's palm...was wearing a Green Lantern ring! After numerous protests from mainstay Ganthet, the pair are rocked by the arrival of an astronaut named Volthoom, carrying what appears to be a White Lantern. He claims to be there in peace, but the fact he has eyes akin to Christopher Lloyd in Roger Rabbit says different.

Personally, I haven't landed on an opinion one way or the other in regard to this "First Lantern", let alone this original state as Volthoom. I'm hoping they stick to the far more imposing modern day look, whereby the man is totally clear, but for coloured veins signifying emotion. As with all the other Green Lantern books due out this week, the First Lantern picks on one character in particular and examines their life in excruciating detail. In this case, he chooses Ganthet, wanting to unravel the mystery as to how he has grown so cold and emotionless in recent issues, lamenting the loss of his connection to "The Great Heart".

One interesting little quirk in dealing with the First Lantern is his power to reshape the Universe, however he sees fit. For a brief moment, he was able to use Ganthet as a puppet to convince the Guardians not to give up their emotions those many millenia ago. This caused shocking repercussions across the galaxy, with some characters disappearing entirely and others long thought dead reappearing. A power he couldn't sustain of course (like we were going to see out Geoff Johns' GL masterpiece with Abin Sur in the lead!), reverting the Universe to normal...for now.

Meanwhile, new recruit Simon Baz has been freshly transported to the Chamber of Shadows (not to be confused with Harry Potter's Secrets), bringing him face to face for the first time with long-time villain, Black Hand. It's obligatory that the pair fight, but you'd think after untold days locked away, Hand would know better than to try and kill his first chance at escape!

Ultimately, even with one foot out the door, Geoff Johns is still building the Green Lantern universe. If his nine years of contributions weren't enough already, his most recent stories have introduced a brand new Green Lantern in Simon Baz, a brand new villain in Volthoom the First Lantern and looks to pay off the looming threat of the Guardians of the Universe once and for all. Making it hard to imagine a Green Lantern series beyond issue 20 when he leaves.

9 out of 10

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