Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern One Year Later—Emerald Yawn?

A recent review by Ryan at Film Fodder Comics of Green Lantern #19 got us thinking as to just how dissatisfied or at least how under-whelmed we’ve been at Geoff Johns’ performance on Green Lantern since One Year Later.

Never one to let a blog item to go to waste, you can read our original post (which is pretty much what you’ll read below), as well as Ryan’s reply at

Meanwhile, our issues with the current creative direction of Green Lantern we think can be attributed to Geoff Johns overbooking himself (pun intended) as writer on too many titles. The book’s de-facto bi-monthly status for much of last year due to the deadline challenged (DC) art team resulted in a serious loss of storytelling momentum.

At the top of our list of gripes is the practical banishment of Green Lantern John Stewart. This is a topic for a whole separate posting but suffice to say that it’s hardly a coincidence by my reckoning that John Stewart—the most publicly recognized Green Lantern thanks to Cartoon Network’s Justice League Unlimited—disappeared “undercover” at virtually the same moment JLU left the airwaves.

But beyond the royal screwing (again) of John Stewart, Geoff Johns’ two One Year Later story arcs—Revenge of the Green Lanterns and Wanted Hal Jordan—both involved dramatic set ups rife with great potential only to be resolved hastily and/or clumsily by the writer pressing the “easy button.”

During the “Wanted” arc, Johns was one of the few writers to successfully utilize the “missing year” by having Captain Hal Jordan U.S.A.F. as a P.O.W. in Chechnya as a result of his arrogant and foolhardy flyboy habit of removing his power ring while flying on Air Force time—it bit him in the Emerald arse big time.

Furthermore, Johns spent many issues (both in GL and in early months of 52) building an interesting concept—Green Lantern 2814.1 is assigned to protect the planet Earth but many of the planet’s nation-states don’t want his help or presence within their borders. Regardless, GL goes where he feels he must to “serve and protect” borders be damned. So the aforementioned nation-states declare him an outlaw.

This was resolved with the Golden Age GL Alan Scott and the Justice League of America being dispatched to bring him in. But faster than you can say easy button, Johns has Alan Scott and the JLA fall all over themselves to “help” him clear his name and drop the charges and Johns moves on to the ultra-inferior Amon Sur storyline.

Worse, a couple issues earlier during the “Revenge” story arc, Johns revealed that all of the Green Lanterns that Hal “killed” during his mind-controlled Parallax days were actually secretly alive all this time. Thrown in a not really dead Arisia and a pre-Johns resurrected from the dead Kilowog and the end result is that Hal Jordan is let completely off the hook for his crimes committed as Parallax.

How much better of a hero and a character would Hal Jordan be if he had to live with the sins committed by his hand because his fear permitted Parallax to corrupt his spirit?
We’ll even go out on a limb to say that we liked Hal Jordan as a villain a heck of a lot better than we ever did as Green Lantern.

This is due, in no small measure, to the fact that the unfortunate consequence of the Denny O’Neill/Neal Adams “Hard Traveling Heroes” era that turned Hal Jordan into a whiny self-actualized crybaby.

GL writers since then—from Marv Wolfman to Steve Englehart to Keith Giffen and Gerard Jones—have handled Jordan as best they could—usually as a battlefield mastermind, but a peace-time screw up.

Yet Geoff Johns deserves high praise for doing the impossible by not just finding an ingenious way to bring Jordan back from the dead WITHOUT re-writing DCU history, but for reconstructing Hal Jordan’s personality.

Before Johns, some of the best Hal Jordan that had been written had come after Jordan had “died” in the form of flashback revisionist history. Johns portrayal of an extremely competent and confident bordering on arrogant (typical fighter jock) for us made Hal Jordan, if not likable, at least readable—until recently that is.

With the upcoming Sinestro Corps’ slow and deliberate build up, hopefully Johns will find his mojo again and start fulfilling this book’s unrealized potential (bringing back John Stewart would be a good place to start).


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