GREEN LANTERN #20 [Review]: All good things must come to an end…

Green Lantern is the title that got me back into superhero comics.

Around 6 months before the release of the Watchmen film, I was curious as to exactly what this certain cape-and-cowl phenomenon was. There was an Entertainment Weekly cover. Action figures. T-shirts. Lots of word of mouth. Like anyone this green, I hopped over to Borders (remember them?) and picked up the Watchmen graphic novel. Reading Alan Moore’s masterpiece several years after the fact, I was nonetheless blown to pieces.

Time to get curious.

In late 2008, many were conflicted about the then Batman comic written by Grant Morrison, R.I.P. That’s no surprise, considering the author would take an eclectic approach to writing Sesame Street if he had to. And just because Batman is naturally the first dude you think of when it comes to comic books, maybe jumping in this way would have not been the brightest idea. But there was a DC comic hovering at the time far more brighter, to which so many more recommended: Green Lantern. 

Wait. Green “Effing” Lantern!?!??

Yup. What the hell! I had been out of comics since there was a Spirits of Vengeance ongoing, when Jim Lee’s X-Men was to die for, and the Dark Knight was breaking his back over Knightfall. My Junior High School years are now considered a middling era of comic lore, with titles that should never reprise in any form or fashion: Slapstick, Silver SableSuperPro.

Geoff, A (younger, tanner-and-leaner) Pre-Moody, and some Batman: Halloween-writing fool flipping me off… ’cause I’m a creep.

So, you could understand my hesitation when it came to a mustard-fearing, space cadet carrying around a giant lamp.

Thankfully, Geoff Johns‘ sci-fi adventure blew me the Eff away. The first issue I picked up — part of the “Rage of the Red Lanterns” arc — instantly had me hooked. It was time to go trade shopping again. Soon, Rebirth, No Fear, and the Sinestro Corps War were all part of my collection.

I was a full-blown comic reading geek now!

Several years, several conventions, and several reviews & articles (for both Comics BulletinHero Complex, & GHG) later, Green Lantern is still my favorite DC character. Sure, I own more Batman figures (who doesn’t); I can’t stop thinking about Man of Steel (hey, he’s sexy); and, I’m a current addict to the subterranean badassness of Arthur Curry (he’s… wet?). But, the superstar scribe’s tremendous 9-year run on the Emerald Knight will likely be the one nearest to my heart.

Cool thing about this retirement, though? The run gets to go out with a bang. Green Lantern #20 closes off the whole 9-years, shoots through all the infinitely awesome intergalactic struggles, and wraps up the many plot lines of the GLC (Green Lantern Corps) and the rest of the Rainbow Ring Warriors in quite the colorful bow. Johns introduced nearly as many characters to the world of Green Lantern as the cinematic Star Wars lore; so, you could only imagine how awesome — and difficult — it is to finish off something so sprawlingly epic.

And when I mean finish, I mean finish. Johns actually gets to close up his Hal Jordan story, which is a rare feat in comics today in itself. There is no preview pages begging readers to “stay tuned for the next chapter.” No “maybe I’ll be back” speeches from the author. No “see-you-next-month!” Tony Schiavone Monday Night Nitro style serenade.

The greatest run on Green Lantern — and definitely one of the best runs in comics — has now come to “The End”.

Argh! Where’s the Power Rangers when you need ’em!

Key to this issue, is the beautiful Doug Mahnke double-page spread covering all there’s needed to know about the past nine years. If you’ve never read GL before (…then you probably never read comics), this actually wouldn’t be a bad place to start — and obviously finish. The massive vertical panel-driven 2-page recap should do little to distract longtime readers, and, at the very least, gear everyone up for the ish’s epic final conclusion.

Epic, of course, in typical Johns fashion, with several monumental “mood” swings, several gorgeous poster-inspired splash panels, and several costume “power-ups”. Not too many other comics could get away with these video game-like instances, where the intergalactic gods constantly play up their “bigger dick” cards — with constant one-ups of unfathomable revelations.

A few guys will change uniforms; it will look cool; and if you’ve been following along from the Corps War to Blackest Night to the latest Wrath of the First Lantern, it will actually make sense. Going a certain color at a pertinent instance — through the intensity of the emotional spectrum — is what the Green Lantern book does and does ever-so-well. *Cue corny race joke here*

All of the differing Corps play their part here in defying the odds, throwing away their inner demons, and setting aside their colossal differences for the good of man — or alien — kind. Much like our friend the high Senator Palpatine, there’s no surprise our Lantern Guardians have always been the truer evil in this story. They get their Evil Emperor moment; and even one or two have a surprisingly less juicier fate. Johns does a great job throughout the comic’s 55-pages at keeping the reader on their toes, despite the conclusion’s predictability. Its surely not what happens in “The End”, yo, but how.

They forgot Brown, for Union Strike.

Johns also reaches back into our hero Hal Jordan’s continued inner-struggle. How does “Highball” sustain such Will? (Besides Carol Ferris in a purple costume suitably designed by Victoria Secret), what’s his motivation? Are — and, if so, why are — Hal and Sinestro connected? I’m sure I’m not alone in stating that Wrath of the First Lantern hasn’t been nearly as great as the epic Lantern stories of the past, and that Volthoom — which dangerously sounds like vacuum, making total sense — has been a slightly underwhelming final villain. Though, without spoiling too much, the way this kid goes down will absolutely make up for any previous lackluster issues.

Paint it black.

Look, no one knows what the future Green Lantern saga will hold beyond this point, and perhaps many of us at this point don’t care — for longtime readers have been blessed to have their own Lucas Universe with Geoff Johns. Though, I’m positive you’ll see plenty of Green Lantern dominating the pages of Johns’ Justice League/Justice League of America comic endeavors, and maybe even in the pages of Aquaman. Either way, the writer will find a way to pen his pal, Hal.

Despite that notion, it may be a while before any superhero enjoys the run GL had in the past nine. There’d certainly have to be a suitable enough J.J.-like genius to fuck our brains all over again with a Hal Jordan ongoing; thus, it may be a really, really unfortunately long time before our favorite Air Force pilot returns to comic dominance.

But for now, I’m quite content with my lengthy collection of the color spectrum, and the other thousands of dollars placed in my bookcases.

Uhhh… Thanks, Geoff!

4.5 (out of 5) Bibles. Nuff said.

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