Since “Green Lantern: Rebirth,” Geoff Johns has been telling one of the best extended superhero serials ever. That might seem like hyperbole, but how many runs have lasted 50+ tightly-plotted issues, continually escalated the conflicts, and provided satisfying narrative chunks on an issue-by-issue basis? Not too many. Ed Brubaker has done it with “Captain America,” Brian Michael Bendis has done it with “Ultimate Spider-Man,” but Geoff Johns is in pretty elite company in the field of long-form superhero storytelling — at least in the modern era.
Unfortunately, “Green Lantern” #49 is the worst issue of the series so far.
Part of the problem is the “Secret Invasion” syndrome. Remember — how could you forget? — when Bendis was in the middle of “Secret Invasion” and every one of his tie-ins was yet another reveal of how so-and-so became a Skrull? It was a series of tedious exercises, and it just seemed to last forever, even if it was only a handful of issues.
That’s what’s going on here, with this “Blackest Night” tie-in. Only instead of a Skrull reveal flashback (which, honestly, would be refreshing at this point), we get yet another story of Black Lantern zombie hordes and the hero trying to stand against them.
It doesn’t help that recent months have given us “Blackest Night: Titans,” and “Blackest Night: Batman,” and “Blackest Night: Inferior Five” (okay, that last one’s not real, but it would probably have been my favorite if it were), and in all those series it’s just been a grind of zombie fighting. I get that each tie-in accentuates how that particular hero or team struggles with the Black Lanterns, and that the psychology of the conflict reveals something essential about who they are — their inner demons, their past tragedies — but, at this point, it has just become a whole lot of tedium. It’s too repetitive, even for superhero comics.
And in “Green Lantern” #49 we get page after page of John Stewart fighting the resurrected inhabitants of a planet he destroyed, and since he’s full of guilt it has attempts at pathos, and because he’s an ex-military guy, it’s full of green soldiers and guns made from willpower. It’s a fine concept, and maybe the larger “Blackest Night” saga somehow benefits from this thin issue of John Stewart mowing down people he’s already once killed, but in the context of this series, in the context of the line-wide event, it just feels tired. It feels stale. It’s not a satisfying single dose of comics, and it’s just one of many similar stories from DC this season.
Ed Benes provides the art, which doesn’t help. His sub-par Jim Lee impression is a significant step down from Doug Mahnke or Ivan Reis. And though Jerry Ordway gives us a short little back-up story involving the Atom being kissed by his dead wife as they travel through dark matter, well, it’s not enough.
No one who has been reading “Green Lantern” since Johns’ run began is going to skip this issue, but, for the first time, you could. You should. Even if you know you won’t.