Despite the battalion of inkers, a tagteam colorist effort and even the division of duties for the line art, “Green Lantern” #17 written by Geoff Johns is a fair encapsulation of Johns’ work on this series. As has been the case with Johns’ work on the Green Lantern franchise, this latest crisis explodes onto the scene before the previous crisis has truly been averted.
That previous crisis was “The Rise of the Third Army,” but in this opening chapter for “The Wrath of the First Lantern,” Johns wraps up a major plot from the Third Army story while stringing along a couple more subplots, like B’dg and Simon Baz squaring off against Black Hand, and Hal Jordan still missing. Johns introduces the First Lantern as the deus ex machina to shift crises and attention in “Green Lantern” #17. Bearing the name Volthoom, the First Lantern is on a quest for power and revelation, not unlike that of Krona, the mad Guardian, who receives a five-page appearance in this comic. That appearance is not unlike some of the events that encircled “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” Naturally, given DC’s decision to selectively ignore increments of its own history, the hand that Krona witnesses here is not entirely identical to the similar event of “Crisis.”
Dan Jurgens with finishes by Phil Jimenez set up that opening sequence, which makes it more prone to “Crisis” comparisons, but that scene quickly becomes a prologue, merely setting the stage for the rest of this issue. That remainder is drawn by Doug Mahnke, who provides strong storytelling and page composition, but suffers a bit from the natural inconsistency inherent in employing a quartet of inkers. Most important to the overall appearance of this comic book is the work from Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina. As the First Lantern has an appearance that encompasses a shifting rainbow, similar to that of a plasma ball, this issue would be nothing without colors. Not only does the coloring duo deliver beautiful constructs and gorgeous light shows from Volthoom and the other Lanterns, but the absence of color — and the layered method with which Sinclair and Avina deliver grayscale — is artistically stunning. The final scene of the book is cast in a place where only shadows color the landscape, but Sinclair and Avina perfectly accentuate that concept to make Mahnke’s artwork eerily amazing.
“Green Lantern” #17 is an exciting start to “The Wrath of the First Lantern” storyline, but putting three chapters of this latest event out on the same day as several other significant books is going to stretch readers (and their dollars) thin. Those that find this issue will enjoy it and discover a dense tale that reaches back through Green Lantern history to an almost overwhelming amount, but those that have enjoyed Lantern tales at all prior to this issue will find a story that packs in excitement, adventure and plenty of intrigue in the most cosmic of ways.