I have to hand it to Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke; if they were to rename “Green Lantern” something like “The Other Half of Blackest Night” for eight months, I don’t think anyone would bat an eye. Johns and Mahnke have done an excellent job of both making “Green Lantern” an essential part of the greater “Blackest Night” story, and also simultaneously running its own storyline in parallel to the event so that you can sit down with issues of “Green Lantern” and not end up with a disjointed narrative.
It’s helped that “Green Lantern” is letting itself focus on specific characters that aren’t getting as much of the spotlight in “Blackest Night” as one would suspect. So while the other heroes of Earth continue to fight the Black Lanterns, we see the continuation of Indigo-1’s quest to gather up one of each type of Lantern. There’s more to “Green Lantern” than just that, though. We’re getting little bits of character moments for just about all of the players, here. Atrocitus’ confrontation on Ysmault is a reminder not only of what a nasty creature he is, but also just how bad things are getting for the entire universe. St. Walker and the Blue Lanterns continue to show just how even in overwhelming odds, they can still be the bastion of hope without coming across as a Pollyanna. And most interestingly, we continue to dig into the back story of Sinestro and how he went from hero to villain. “Green Lantern” and “Green Lantern Corps” as of late have done a surprisingly good job of fleshing out a character who had already seemed well-rounded, and continue to make him more interesting. Johns is certainly setting the character up for a greater role in the DC Universe (well, provided he survives) after “Blackest Night” is over, and I’m enjoying that journey immensely.
Mahnke has knocked “Green Lantern” out of the park ever since he took over the art, and I hope he stays around for a long time to come. The opening pages alone are fantastic, as the Black Lanterns on Ysmault look even nastier and surreal than they did while alive. He’s able to bring a lot of punch to the page, drawing explicit gory detail in every panel in ways that are both unnerving and at the same time, not gratuitous. From barking energy skulls snapping at our heroes, to a smile of joy on St. Walker’s face, there are lots of little moments that just sing under Mahnke’s pencil.
It’s been a delight to see “Green Lantern” have the space to help expand what even eight full issues of “Blackest Night” doesn’t have time for. Normally I’d be complaining that characters like John Stewart are only getting one page of forward movement, but looking at Mahnke’s pencils here, it’s such a wonderfully creepy moment that I’m all right with that. When “Blackest Night” is collected, I hope they release a volume of all of the connected “Green Lantern” issues at the same time. Really, this is required reading; not only because it’s showing what the rest of the characters are up to, but because it’s an excellent story in its own right.