Between the time Geoff Johns started his work with Green Lantern on “Green Lantern: Rebirth” and now, 60 issues later, the size and scope of the flagship book of the “Green Lantern Universe” has grown by leaps and bounds. Â The sort of craziness that made something like “The Sinestro Corps War” so outrageous and entertaining is now commonplace. Â There are entities just as powerful as Parallax running around all over the place and a threat like Sinestro has been converted into (for all intents and purposes) an ally. Â This has robbed the book of a lot of its immediacy. Â Grounding elements like a relationship with Cowgirl or Hal’s kinship with a growing Coast City have faded away almost completely and what’s left is simply the wide scale action, which is as fun as it ever was, but, without the soul the book used to have, it’s feeling a little flat.
It would almost be enough to cause me to start to lose interest, if it weren’t for the best thing to happen to Green Lantern comics since maybe even “Rebirth”: the artwork of Doug Mahnke. Â If you want evidence of just how fantastic an artist and visual storyteller Mahnke is, look no further than the double page spread in which The Flash punches Green Lantern three times. Â Green Lantern appears in five separate positions across the spread, with several iterations of the Flash following him. Â It’s a remarkable feat of draftsmanship and, sure, momentum. Â Miraculously, even when time constraints result in him being inked by several artists (including occasionally himself), there is never a loss of detail or any real evidence of inconsistency. Â “Green Lantern” made Ivan Reis a superstar. Â He’s a fantastic artist, to be sure, but hopefully this book will do the same for Mahnke, who deserves a spot in the Pantheon.
This issue also features a trademark Johns reveal, the bandaged bad guy who’s been collecting Entities since Blackest Night ended. Â And in true Geoff Johns fashion, I had to Wiki it. Â I’m sure I’m in the minority, not knowing who this guy is immediately, and I’m sure ComicBloc has had an enjoyably feverish few months of speculating on his identity, but when you replace character-based nemeses with ones that are simply continuity-bait, again, you’re back to losing urgency. Â I shouldn’t necessarily have to look up a character on the internet to figure out why they’re mad. Â There should be some kind of link to the main character of the book, one that provides an implicit risk. Â Like, for example, at the beginning of this issue where the entity that ruined Hal Jordan’s life took over his best friend. Â But instead of that kind of threat, we’re given some guy that I’m probably supposed to be more familiar with.
In closing “Green Lantern” is still a fun comic to read, but the heart that used to reside in the circumstances revolving around its main character has been transplanted into the sheer virtuosity of its main artist. Â It would probably be nice to have both, though.