STORY: Geoff Johns
ART: Renato Guedes and Jim Calafiore
With a workload as big as Geoff Johns’, it’s not surprising that some of his work would fall behind the others, even if it’s just a little bit. In the initial months of the ‘New 52’, many agreed that Justice League took the title of the ‘less good’ Geoff Johns series. Green Lantern is beginning to show signs that Johns has turned his focus elsewhere, which is unfortunate as he really brought the Emerald Warriors back into the limelight with Green Lantern: Rebirth, which reintroduced Hal Jordan back into the world of the living and altered the stats quo for GL forever. Then he took his initial ideas even further, spurring a war between the Green Lanterns and Sinestro’s fear-mongering yellow Corps, the revelation of the existence seven colored Corps, the great war against the Black Lanterns, and the subsequent fallout that resulted in the first White Lantern. Really, Geoff Johns has plotted Green Lantern’s trajectory for the past eight years. It’s this fact that makes the ‘New 52’ Green Lantern just so disappointing.
Because GL history wasn’t rebooted – allowing the past five reals years of comic books to still matter – the three arcs of Green Lantern since last September have all been direct continuations of the events preceding the relaunch. But while Johns’ pre-‘New 52’ arcs seemed filled with action, adventure, and mystery, these new arcs feel bogged down under their own weight. Too often in the past year, I’ve found myself wondering why so much time is being given to so little plot or characterization. Sure, the Indigo Tribe was a thorn in everybody’s side, but their story probably shouldn’t have been condensed to a four-issue arc that basically mirrored Hal’s earlier encounter with Larfleeze.
And now, “The Revenge of Black Hand”; yet another dredging-up of an old story element that has me (and I’m guessing a bunch of other readers) saying “This again?” Green Lantern #12 is a typical filler issue. Hot off the end of “Indigo”, William Hand escaped and killed himself, thereby producing a brand spanking new Black Lantern and ring. Last month’s cliffhanger led me to believe a showdown was coming this month between Hal and Will, something that actually could have been interesting. Instead, we’re treated to an issue of rhetoric, more of the Guardian’s being Guardians, and generally no plot advancement at all.
GL #12 starts off with Black Hand’s confusion over the Book of Black – an ancient tome containing Black Lantern prophecies – and it’s newly cast claim that “Hal Jordan is NOT your enemy.” Before anything is allowed to develop, Hal uses his ring to “fried every synapse in his brain”, a torturous technique that’s apparently acceptable when the man you’re fighting isn’t technically alive. Hand is out for the rest of the issue, leaving Hal and Sinestro to talk amongst themselves – a back-and-forth that is becoming increasingly less witty and special when it happens every other issue – and the Guardians to wax poetic about how much they’ve screwed up and how everybody else is going to pay for it.
Oh, and there are zombies. Because we don’t have enough zombies in every inch of media these days.
Then, seven pages are dedicated to a short fight ended by a four-year-old battle tactic against a five-year-old enemy. Hal and Sinestro need a second colored Lantern to make their green constructs lethal to Black Lantern connections. We’ve known this for years. A bunch of fighting happens, and then Sinestro grabs his Yellow Lantern from a pocket dimension and they destroy it, thereby unleashing the yellow energy and severing Black Hand’s connection to his zombie army. And it only succeeded in slowing down the Black Lantern, not destroying him. With a plot so full of cliches from so many sources, it’s a wonder anyone is taking Green Lantern seriously right now. Black Hand is back? Boring. Zombies? Just like everywhere else. Multi-colored assault? You mean like the entirety of Blackest Night and Brightest Day??? It’s all so mundane at this point that it’s hard to even like Hal Jordan anymore. While he’s pretty egotistical and vain in Justice League, at least he has personality, unlike the wooden plank he’s become in Green Lantern.
The big reveal at the end of the issue leads up to the new Green Lantern, the Islamic one we’ve been seeing in promo shots and that appeared on the final page spread of The New 52 #1 this year for ‘Free Comic Book Day’. A few months ago, nobody understood how this new GL fit into things, but as we get closer to October’s “Rise of the Third Army”, everything is starting to become clearer. Hopefully, this crossover can inject some life into this series, which has slowly been on the decline since last September.