Fish and Cherries Productions

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Ronin Reads – Green Lantern: Wrath of the First Lantern

Title: Green Lantern: The Wrath of the First Lantern
Author: Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Tony Bedard, Peter Milligan
Type: Comic Book
Genre: Superhero, Space Opera

Summary: Let me tell you about a man named Geoff Johns.

Geoff Johns is a writer at DC Comics who is currently the Chief Creative Officer at the company. But back in 2004, he was just a writer who was brought on to the Green Lantern book to fix a horrible mistake made a decade prior. See, there was a story where the Green Lantern known as Hal Jordan was turned evil and killed off as a publicity stunt that went over horribly with the critics and the audiences. Geoff Johns was given the opportunity to fix this and he struck gold.

After his Rebirth story, he knocked it out of the park again with the Green Lantern story Sinestro Corps War and again in 2009 with the company-wide crossover Blackest Night. Now, with his final story in his run of Green Lantern, Wrath of the First Lantern, Johns has shown us that lightning can strike four times.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps had just defeated the Third Army, an attempt by their overseers the Guardians’ at creating a completely subservient force – but their destruction led to a reawakening of Volthoom, the first of the Lanterns under the Emotional Spectrum. Fueled by his anger at the Guardians for imprisoning him for eons, he strives to tear down everything they have built and presided over, which pretty much means all of reality.

But Volthoom doesn’t strike down his foes with swords, lasers, or armies, rather with their own inner demons, forcing them to relive painful memories and even twist them to have different outcomes that feel just as real, all the while draining their emotions to slowly become godlike. It’s up to Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Carol Ferris, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Simon Baz, and even their former foes Sinestro and Atrocitus to fight back and stop a mad god.

What people have to understand before going on is that this is actually a collection of four different comic lines tied together in the same story: Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, and Red Lanterns. As such, it alternates between the titles after each issue. Unlike Rise of the Third Army, which was a far less pleasant story, this one actually makes the story seem much more grand and connects to make the narrative feel fleshed out. This is especially amazing when you consider that not a lot happens in this story, but that gives them time to give all the characters the focus they need and make their struggle truly meaningful.

Sadly, the weak link comes in the form of the Red Lanterns title. The events concerning Volthoom have to share time with a subplot involving Rankorr – the first human Red Lantern – discovering his purpose and I will freely admit, I don’t care about this character. His plight does not match the epic tone of the series or hopeful feeling at the end and feels like an unnecessary afterthought, like the writer was only half committed to the events of this title-shaking crossover. All in all, it’s a malignant tumor on what was nearly a perfect book.

Framing a good chunk of the story as a cross between a clip show and a collection of what if scenarios was a brilliant way to bring the continuity of the past ten years to the forefront to lead up to one final, gratifying hurrah. I will admit that I wish that the final epilogue of what happened to all the characters was the last thing we read in the book rather than the Red Lanterns issue, but given the way the book was structured, I understand that was impossible. While the epilogue is a feel-good masterpiece, a big part of me worries that DC will do something that contradicts it, killing or mentally scaring one of the characters to make a big story seem gritty and adult.

But what DC does in the future is not important. This is about Geoff Johns – the greatest of all the Green Lantern writers. The inspiration he left behind continues to burn bright. He was the spark that started the everlasting fire.

Posted under Ronin Reads

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