Saturday, May 25, 2013

Geoff Johns' Epic Green Lantern Concludes!

“I’m obviously ending my run with a little sadness because I love these characters, every single one of them. But I’m walking away feeling very proud of what we’ve done and very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with so many fellow creators. It’s that collaboration, and every reader out there, who have made this a truly special experience… Thank you again for reading- whether you started with REBIRTH or started with this issue- I sincerely appreciate your time and imagination.”
-       Geoff Johns,
reflecting back on his epic run,
in his final issue

Green Lantern #20. Wrath of the First Lantern, The Epic Finale came on sale this week, effectively ending Geoff Johns nearly decade-long run on the series. Along with Doug Manke the book’s art is divided among those who worked with Johns over the course of the decade. Notable names include: Ethan Van Sciver, Patrick Gleason and Ivan Reis, currently working with Johns on Aquaman. The book concludes the New 52’s latest story arc “Wrath of the First Lantern” while tying up any loose ends created over the past nine years, all within the story’s 78 pages. The story and the art come together to create one of the single greatest comic books I’ve ever read. 
      Everything comes full circle for Johns’ time on the book. References to REBIRTH are made and worthy conclusions are set for every character, giving each of them a deserving finale. ComicVine gave the issue 5/5 stars, while IGN gave it a 9.4/10 rating, along with dozens of other sites praising the book. Who wouldn’t?
       Looking back on all the greatest writers in comics and their most distinguished runs (Stan Lee on Spiderman, Brad Meltzer on Justice League of America, or more recently, Matt Fraction on The Invincible Ironman) Johns’ take on the series will go down as the most extraordinary of them all. From reviving a fallen character to making him more successful then Batman or Superman, to creating some of the most epic stories in comics, to creating literally a whole universe of characters and stories that we “cared” about and wanted to read more of each week.
      Johns’ run began with the mini-series titled: “Green Lantern: REBIRTH”, which explained the Corps’ greatest tragedy, and the truth behind Parallax, redeeming Hal Jordan of ever being considered purely evil. It was around this time that I was a kid, watching the Justice League cartoon every day. I always wondered why the role of Green Lantern went to John Stewart and not Hal Jordan. Of course at the age of ten the only comics I was reading were my brothers’ old, slightly ripped ones lying around the house. I was more of a cartoon/DVD guy, but I distinctly remember reading about REBIRTH and all the success it was receiving. I also discovered the details of Parallax and Hal Jordan’s unpopularity among fans at that time. I immediately realized the reason for his absence in the TV series. 
     For a while I kept up with the GL stories, reading about the wildly successful Sinestro Corps War, followed by Rage of the Red Lanterns, then Blackest Night. I bought a few issues of Blackest Night and instantly fell in love with the work. The art, the colors, the story, it was all intriguing and got me hooked on comics. I’d always loved superheroes, but now I was really into comics. I knew that the overall series was good, but I didn’t know just how good until about two years ago when I decided to buy all 67 issues in collected editions.
Upon reading stories like Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night and Revenge of the Green Lanterns, something occurred to me: I’d always said that Batman or Spiderman were my favorite characters because of they’re the “coolest” or the most relatable, but there’s a bit of inaccuracy when declaring your favorite superhero. 

      So I like Batman, does that mean I like all incarnations of him? No. You’ll always find yourself diving further into your reasoning, like choosing a certain time period for that character. It was then that I realized it’s impractical to declare your favorite superhero. What you’re really declaring is your favorite writing of that character, which ultimately means you like the writer. Everything that you pinpoint about a character comes from the mind of that writer or artist. After reading Johns’ entire run he became my favorite writer. I don’t view comics quite the same after reading his work. There’s something about his style that differentiates him from other writers. I’m sure everyone has their own opinion as to what makes him great but for me it was two things. 
      First, were the evolutions of his characters. Hal Jordan learned lessons, faced tragedy, won when the odds were against him, but when we’re reading it, we understand how or why he does what he does. Starting from #1 in 2004, up until now, it is clear that everything that happened to him or any other character happened for a reason and effected the characters and the story deeply. Its very rare when a writer can keep that level of continuity and emotion, especially after a decade of the same characters. 
      Second, is his ability to create the most epic scenes. Obviously the artist has a lot of the credit with this one too, but when a comic book sends chills down your spine, you know you’re not reading any ordinary comic book. I would always relate reading a Geoff Johns comic to watching the end of The Dark Knight; Batman, taking out the SWAT teams, then confronting the Joker at the end, while the passengers on the boats await their inevitable demise. Johns could create that same level of anticipation and excitement in the pages of a comic, with no noise, no sound effects or voices, just words, and his ability to describe them.
     As I said before, I don’t have a favorite superhero anymore, I have a favorite writer. Whether it be Flashpoint, New 52’s Justice League, Batman: Earth One or Green Lantern: REBIRTH, Geoff Johns is, in my opinion and many other’s, arguably the greatest comic book writer of all time, and even though his run on Green Lantern has come to an end, more epic, unforgettable stories await. And 10 years from now those unforgettable stories will be analyzed and reviewed and called the greatest comic stories of all time. But whether its Batman, Flash, Green Lantern or Plastic Man, as long as Geoff Johns is writing them, they will be.

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