Green Lantern #20–For Geoff Johns fans, a finale not to be missed

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In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.

For the past nine years Geoff Johns has been writing DC Comics’ Green Lantern monthly series, including tales interweaving the stories of Earth’s five Green Lanterns: Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and the New 52 creation Simon Baz.  In the first DC Comics prestige format comic book in a long time, Johns says farewell to writing for Green Lantern this week in Green Lantern, Issue #20.  Although it’s not a good entry point for readers not familiar with the Green Lantern Corps, it is a must read for fans both of Geoff Johns’s writing and his many Green Lantern stories now available in various trade editions.  Johns is probably the single most important contributor to Lantern lore since O’Neil and Adams’ run in the 1970s and it’s his Hal Jordan, like it or not, that ended up in the big screen adaptation back in 2011.

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As last stories go, Johns manages to do something unprecedented with his last issue–the book seems like a memorial not only to Green Lantern Hal Jordan but oddly a memorial of sorts for Johns himself.  You might ask yourself:  Is Johns seriously ill?  Did I not get the memo?  The format begs these questions because a full nine pages are offered as mini-notes from friends and admirers of Johns congratulating him for his long run on the series.  It’s strangely self-indulgent, but if you can skip over these tombstone-like epitaph pages, the ads for the continuing Green Lantern (featuring Hal Jordan), Green Lantern Corps (featuring John Stewart), Green Lantern: New Guardians (featuring Kyle Rayner), and Red Lanterns (featuring Guy Gardner) monthly series, Johns’ sign-off note to fans and four pages documenting his past works in trade editions, there is still a complete story here, including panel art, splash pages and a fold out poster contributed by the likes of Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason, Cully Hamner, Aaron Kuder, Jerry Ordway, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, and Marc Deering.  I think even diehard fans of Johns would probably rather see the nine pages of commentary replaced with all of the commentary on one page in a smaller font and more story and art.

Look for a key confrontation by Hal Jordan and Sinestro, and appearances by Parallax, Volthoom, Nekron, Atrocitus, Larfleeze, Saint Walker, Iroque, Star Sapphire, and the fate of the Guardians.

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The strangest is the reveal of the future ends of Earth’s Green Lanterns, and the set up for a future female Green Lantern as Johns plants a new story thread even in his own finale, with a note about Lantern Simon Baz: “He was ultimately responsible for training the first female ring bearer of Earth—Jessica Cruz—a controversial figure herself who came into possession of her ring in the wake of the Justice League’s death.”  No doubt some readers will see this as boxing future stories in, but like other future telling works such as Kingdom Come, writers may or may not pull from this book in future stories.  And what do they mean by “the Justice League’s death”?

Still, this is clearly a love letter to fans of Johns, and they will be happy with this rare finale issue honoring someone responsible for such a large body of work.  Never fear, all the Lanterns will continue appearing in the ongoing DC Comics New 52 series, including Simon Baz in the pages of Justice League of America.

C.J. Bunce

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