Review: Green Lantern #20 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke

GL20

Green Lantern #20

Written by Geoff Johns

Art by Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne, Marc Deering, Mark Irvin, Wade Von Grawbadger, Tom Nguyen, Alex Sinclair, and Tony Avina

Guest art by Patrick Gleason, Cully Hamner, Aaron Kuder, Jerry Ordway, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Oclair Albert, and Ethan Van Sciver

 

The short of it:

 

There WILL be spoilers. Just FYI.

In the future, long from now, the Green Lantern Corps still burns bright, and a new recruit has finally earned his badge. His first trip is to visit the Bookkeeper, to hear the story that all young Lanterns wish to hear upon passing their training. He wants to know the story of Hal Jordan. Hal, the first human to join the Corps, the host of Parallax, the destroyer of the Corps, he who died and returned to save the Corps. Enemy of the Manhunters, soldier in the War of Light, hero of the Blackest Night, and finally…a man left for dead with no escape in the Dead Zone. Right where we last saw him…just as Sinestro remains in the ruins of Korugar. Each worthy of a ring, neither of them Green.

The First Lantern has the Guardians where he wants them, and he has taken possession of the Great Heart. He forces them to feel again for the first time in eons, and retrieves his ring from the inside of Ganthet. Now, armed with so much power, he will finally be able to change reality, to rewrite existence. Not if the Corps has anything to say about it! Sure, they’re out matched, but the Red’s are ready to back them up, and then Kyle brings in the Blue and Sapphire cavalry. Oh, and Mogo. Mogo is the secret weapon, as he always should be, because he’s a fraking planet and he is awesome. It isn’t enough though, our two main heroes have yet to weigh in. When the Yellow Central Battery crushes Volthoom we have our first, though. Sinestro is back, the lord of fear has returned and he is furious. Still, it isn’t enough. The Indigo’s arrive, but they have no intention to fight. They just seek to usher in a friend to offer his help.

Black Lantern Hal Jordan, with an army of Black Lanterns. Still, it isn’t enough. With a wave Volthoom can vanquish his army, and with another he can rip through Hal’s soul and find his greatest moment of fear to bring to the surface. The fear of a little boy who just lost his father, and in that he finds more power than he ever expected. Enough to complete his plans of rewriting time. There is only one hope left, a fallen hero willing to risk his very soul to gain the power to save everyone. The Lord of Fear becomes the God of Fear, Sinestro finally becomes the host of Parallax, and his backup…Black Lantern Hal brings Nekrom from his tomb. The First Lantern is stripped of emotion and cut in half. The galaxy saved, Hal returned to life with his green ring, all is well, all is good. Good has vanquished evil….

And then the Sinestro Corps attacks….and then they realize Sinestro is going after the Guardians with vengeance on his mind. Hal goes to fight the Parallax empowered former Lantern, wanting to not save the blue skinned despots that have made everyones lives so terrible, but to save the man he has always considered his friend. Alas, it’s too late for that, and Sinestro had already completed the deed. The Guardians are gone, and Sinestro is prepared to leave forever as the universe no longer has anything left for him. He departs, along with his Corps, leaving the other colored Corps on Oa with the Templar Guardians, the ones that spent eons locked away with their souls fully intact. And that is the story of Hal Jordan.

Of course, the story is not quite over, and the Lantern in the future is sure to ask the Bookkeeper of this, and he shows the young one the future of our heroes. Of Guy Gardner, forever the Warrior, of John Stewart and his ability to bring people together, Kyle Rayner, the Torchbearer, and his helping of everyone until he could help no more. Simon Baz and his ability to make everyone shatter their limitations. Of the other New Guardians and their ultimate fates, and most importantly…of Hal and Carol’s happy ending together.

The only thing missing are the pages of Sinestro, burned from the book long ago…but we still get to see one last scene of his as Geoff Johns finally says goodbye.

 

What I liked:

  • Geoff threw everything he had into this issue in a big way. He’s not the first writer I’ve seen try to bring everything together for a finale, but he’s one of the few that really knocked it out. I mean, this wasn’t a homerun, it was a grand slam.

  • Gorgeous issue from Doug Mahnke, but what else is new? The man only knows how to bring his A game, but he managed to look even better than normal here. The issue featured guest art from many other Green Lantern artists, but I’d still have to say that he’s the best of them. Major props to all of his inkers and colorists as well, because it was definitely a group effort. The Black Lantern Corps spread was freaking awesome, hell, everything was freaking awesome!

  • Sinestro as Parallax makes for a great, and long overdue, visual. Him squaring off again Hal one last time is absolutely perfect.

  • So is his Adrian Veidt handling of the Guardians, accomplishing his goal before anyone has a chance to try and stop him. Letting Hal know that he’s already too late.

  • G’NORT!

  • Nekron coming up for the end of the fight was a great kitchen sink moment. Nothing else was working, and they had thrown everything at Volthoom, so Nekron is the answer. Such a great visual.

  • Sinestro’s sorrow is another great visual. No matter what he does in this issue, he doesn’t look evil. I mean, no, when he’s burning with Parallax hate he looks kinda evil, but for the most part he looks like a man doing what he feels he has to in order to even the score. There is no joy.

  • This was a truly fantastic issue, in my almost twenty years of reading GL, I can’t think of any better one…and I can think of some books that I called perfect.
  • How do you really justify an eight dollar price tag? THIS BOOK HAS NO ADS! I mean, yes, there are pages promoting the new GL creative teams, but those don’t count!

 

What I didn’t like:

  • I love prestige binding, but trying to review a book that uses it is one of the worst things ever. It keeps closing when I try to leave it open while I type! I almost wish I’d spent the extra dollar to get the digital version as well!

  • The “Congratulations Geoff Johns” pages, while understandable, could have just been put together in the back all at once instead of being scattered across the issue.

  • Hal just sorta comes back to life. Really the only plot hole I can think of.

 

Final thoughts:

So I’ve been reading Green Lantern since 1994. I’ve read every issue of Kyle’s run, all of the Johns, the Gleason and Tomasi, and I just haven’t missed anything in almost twenty years. I’ve been around for the good, the bad, the Ben Raab, the constantly changing canon of John Stewart, Blackest Nights, Brightest Days, three different versions of Ion, the destruction and rebirth of Oa, the death and rebirth and random reaging of the Guardians. I’ve read a LOT of Green Lantern, and most of it has been by Ron Marz and Geoff Johns. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of Peter Tomasi and Judd Winick in there too, but Ron and Geoff are who I always fall back to. Ron who created one of my all time favorite characters and made me a fan of the entire franchise thanks to him, and Geoff who made Green Lantern into something so much bigger than Kyle Rayner.

I was the guy who refused to read Green Lantern after Geoff brought Hal back, true story. I read Green Lantern Corps because I love Kyle and Guy, but I stayed away from the core title for two years, coming in exclusively for the Sinestro Corps War, and then proceeding to never miss an issue again. I had the trades of what I’d missed in a matter of weeks, and I regret nothing. Geoff turned Hal Jordan into a character I wanted to read about, even if it was at times just because he was the character in a story I was interested in. Kyle Rayner will always be Kyle Rayner, and Guy Gardner will always be Guy Gardner, but only Hal Jordan is Green Lantern…and I finally understand it now. He IS the Corps.

This story has been just as much about the journey of Thaal Sinestro, his vengeance, his rage, his honor…his and Hal’s are stories told in concert, with two characters who very much have needed each other to become who they are now. The callback to a conversation they had during the Rage of the Red Lanterns is brought up just so that we can finally get the answer to a question Hal never got to ask. That these two foes, these arch enemies who have fought to the death on so many occasions…they are friends. They always have been, they always will be, and that is why both have so often sought to help the other. Whether it be Hal trying to save Sinestro’s soul, or Sinestro trying to make Hal into a better person. The description of tragic is perfect, because that’s really what their story is.

The end of everyone’s stories were interesting. Guy as an old man still picking fights in bars, John and Fatality settling down on Earth as he becomes a Senator, Kyle as a miracle worker in space, and Simon as his own kind of hero. I liked it. I also liked that Larfleeze found his family, was happy, then got greedy again, and i also liked the Iroque finally reaches a point where she can be Indigo without her ring. Hal and Carol together forever is something that had to happen, and having a page devoted to them was perfect.

Though nothing was quite as perfect as the content of the destroyed pages, of the final fate of Ganthet and Sinestro’s soul. Of the final acts of redemption that have landed us where we are now. With Sinestro under the robes as the Keeper of the Book of Oa, and Ganthet and Sayd set free to be together so long as they never allow anyone to know that Sinestro spared them.

This volume has been Sinestro’s book since the beginning, save for the Baz issues, so the ending primarily focusing on him and the end of his journey is a fantastic touch.

I won’t be saying goodbye to Green Lantern as Geoff departs, though I have considered it. Geoff set a bar really high for my expectations of what Green Lantern should be, and it’s going to be hard to live up to it. But he said his final word, and he left the series wide open for the future. It’s been an amazing ride, and I’m looking forward to what comes next.

Thanks for the eight years and all of the memories, Geoff. When all is said and done, your Green Lantern will be one of the all time definitive runs on a book. Not unlike Claremont and Byrne on X-Men, or Simonson on Thor, or Mark Waid on Flash. This was truly one of the all time great runs on mainstream superheroes, and I wish it wasn’t cliche to give the book some unrealistic score like a 20/10, because I definitely considered it.


Overall: 10/10

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,