There are runs of comic books that forever forge an unbreakable association between characters and creators: Frank Miller and Daredevil; Mark Waid and the Flash; Alan Moore and Swamp Thing; Neal Adams and Batman. Green Lantern and Geoff Johns will almost certainly be added to that list.
“Green Lantern” #20 delivers Geoff Johns’ final (for now) ring-slinging story, and does so in spectacular fashion, completing Hal Jordan’s journey under Johns’ pen while also visiting Sinestro, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and many more favorites one more time.
The final chapter opens as Rookie Green Lantern Snow finds Green Lantern Bookkeeper Toris and requests the story of Hal Jordan from the Book of Oa. Johns makes a smart decision here, recapping all of his work with the Green Lantern mythology in two pages thanks to the masterful, poster-worthy work of artist Doug Mahnke, who jams nine years of stories into twelve vertical panels. Those twelve iconic images have a propaganda-like quality to them that beautifully summarize the action and adventure with a level of detail only Mahnke could provide. The recap shared, “Green Lantern” #20 swiftly returns to the struggles of the present day as Volthoom’s reign of terror against the Guardians continues.
The emotional spectrum factors in significantly, as do all of the representative Lanterns — Green, Red, Blue, etc. — many of whom play prominent roles. Johns delivers the complete origin of the First Lantern and all but draws up an organizational chart to connect the different Corps. As the battle progresses and emotions ride high from the combatants, the Guardians experience floods of emotion. Johns frames them in such a manner that the heartless, previously emotionless beings are almost comical in their Muppet-like simplicity and reactions to feelings they’ve not experienced in millennia. Johns’ story hits all the right notes providing an ample workout for his star-studded art team of Mahnke, Patrick Gleason, Cully Hamner, Aaron Kuder, Jerry Ordway, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Ethan Van Sciver and many more. Letterer Dave Sharpe is the only one who does not get an assist on his output for “Green Lantern” #20 and for that, Johns rewards him with the greatest comic book sound effect ever, “AAIIEEE!” from Volthoom.
The greatest gift “Green Lantern” #20 delivers is its fifty-five pages of art from Doug Mahnke with an assist from his phalanx of inkers as well as colorists Alex Sinclair and Tony Avina. Mahnke is at the very top of his craft, delivering mind-numbing detail for characters and settings that have become familiar to Green Lantern readers. The artist fills every panel with setting, character and expression. Even the hideous and ugly become wondrous and fascinating under Mahnke’s pencil. He does a fantastic job composing the panels and the pages, delivering a final product that deserves to be read and re-read, studied and analyzed. The artist following Mahnke on this title has some very large shoes to fill, as Johns brings his frequent collaborator over to “Justice League of America” just in time for “Trinity War.”
Johns, who frequently provides glimpses into the future for his titles, includes several post-credits scenes depicting the future of the most beloved members of the rebuilt Lantern pantheon. This is how eras should end. This issue is missing something, however, in that it does not provide readers — especially devoted fans of Johns’ work — any major reasons to stick around for the post-Johns era. These glimpses work more like codas for these characters rather than hints about what’s next now that “Green Lantern” #20 has closed the Book of Oa. For some, this is a nice jumping off point, for others, a satisfying conclusion to an epic tale. I view it as a grand encapsulation of everything Geoff Johns brought to the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe. Arguably, without Johns, Green Lantern may not have made it to either the silver or the small screen, and we certainly wouldn’t have five titles featuring ring bearers.
This impressively thick comic book is finished off with congratulatory notes to Geoff Johns from various peers and friends as well as a letter from Johns himself, signing off from Sector 2814 one last time in a fashion that makes me glad to see that with “Green Lantern” #20, DC Comics has figured out how to celebrate milestones and accomplishments once again.