For the past 9 years, (starting with Green Lantern: Rebirth in 2004) Geoff Johns has been a key writer on Green Lantern titles. If you've noticed a lot of Hal Jordan in DC lately, it's because of Geoff Johns. That whole multi-colored lantern spectrum? That was him, too. And then there's Peter Tomasi, who first worked as an editor alongside Johns, then as a writer, primarily of the Green Lantern Corps books. Between the two of them, Green Lantern's universe has been expanded and changed in ways that will last for decades. And now, these two architects are stepping down from their luminous Lantern legacies. New creative teams are taking over all of the GL books. It's the end of an era.
As we move forward into the next chapter of the Book of Oa, I want to celebrate some of the great moments of the last 9 years of Green Lantern, the state of the franchise now, and the future of the Corps.
Geoff Johns and Peter Tomasi both left enormous marks on the legacy of Green Lantern. Their runs have paved the way for the future of the GL franchise and the DCU as a whole. They’ve re-established Green Lantern as a force to respected and feared. No matter which Lantern is your favorite, each has left a distinct mark.
Johns' work redeemed Hal Jordan and brought him back as the key Green Lantern in the DC universe. He's since resurrected Barry Allen and made him the DCU’s key Flash, made Aquaman cool, and made Cyborg an integral member of the Justice League. In that same nostalgic direction, Johns re-invigorated Sinestro and a lot of the classic themes built up throughout the franchise's history.
Tomasi's Green Lantern Corps has concurrently proven that there is a place for Guy Gardner, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner. Tomasi managed to bring cult favorite Guy Gardner back into the Corps while also allowing for "Hal's replacements" John and Kyle to shine. We also got great moments from Kilowog, Soranik Natu, Arisia, Laira, Isamot Kol, and Vath San. The GLC book truly was about The Corps, not just the Earth lanterns...and it was still awesome. When a book full of secondary characters is consistently good, that’s no small feat.
The introduction of Simon Baz has proven to be more than a push for diversity as the character continues to prove himself worthy of the ring. I so hope to see a female Lantern of Earth some day, but I’ll settle for the return of Soranik Natu and Arisia for now (that’s a hint Dan DiDio).
There's no doubt that the groundwork laid here will move forward as a part of the permanent Green Lantern legacy.
The Whole Gang’s Here
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “Hal got all the spotlight.” Sure, Hal got the main GL title, but it’s not like everyone else took a hike into frontier space. Guy, John, and Kyle all got some great moments in the GL Corps book, and post-New 52 Kyle got his own solo effort in Green Lantern: New Guardians, while Guy and John took over leading the GLC title. For the first time in history, each Lantern of Earth was featured in an active GL title at the same time.
For the last nine years, it hasn’t mattered which is your favorite because you can find them in at least one book a month. More than anything, this is what I’d love to see continue. John Stewart, for example, is my second favorite Lantern. Fans reacted strongly to the rumor that he might be killed off soon, a notion that has since been squashed. Many (including myself) grew up with John on Justice League, and it's good to see him get his due as the tough Lantern, the guy who’ll make the hard decisions at the critical moments that no one else will (or possibly could) make. His choice to kill Mogo before he infected the whole Corps still ranks in my top 3 greatest moments of the Johns/Tomasi era.
Before Rebirth, we had a corps of space cops with awesome rings and this really weird weakness to anything yellow. Whatever, it was a hokey trope invented in the 50’s with Hal Jordan; at least we’re not that other GL who’s allergic to wood, right? Along comes Rebirth and we suddenly get an explanation for the stupidest super-weakness ever — Parallax, the evil entity of fear responsible for Hal's corruption, is actually an embodiment of the yellow emotional spectrum. It's really a clever retcon, considering the end result, and it sounds a lot cooler when it’s in comics.
The notion of the emotional spectrum was fully explored in the main Green Lantern title when it seemed like Hal was wearing a different ring every month. It started with The Sinestro Corps War (another Johns/Tomasi Lantern-verse brainchild) and then we see Rage of the Red Lanterns, Agent Orange, the Blue Lantern Corps, and the Star Sapphire Corps. We finally culminate in the crossover event Blackest Night with the Indigo Tribe, the Black Lanterns and the White Entity. Even the lukewarm War of the Green Lanterns was centralized around the emotional spectrum and the Entities. This has become an intricate mythology that’s blossomed over the last nine years.
Ion, Parallax and the emotional spectrum started us down a road and mythology that strengthened the GL franchise and universe into something beyond just “random space cop adventures.” There is a mythology to drive the entire universe, much like Star Wars has its mythology surrounding The Force. Yellow isn’t just a hokey Kryptonite analog anymore; it’s a legitimate threat.
Let’s face it: before the Johns/Tomasi era, Sinestro was just a pink guy with a wannabe Captain Hook mustache and wannabe Hector Hammond forehead in a black and blue jester’s costume. When he busts out of Oa, forges a slew of yellow rings and forms the Sinestro Corps, another hokey villain from the Silver Age turns into a compelling character and appropriate foil for any Green Lantern. Let’s not forget that he’s had just as huge a character arc as Hal Jordan in the last few years, going from the leader of the fear-powered Sinestro Corps to temporary host of the White Entity to reluctant Green Lantern of sector 1417 again. He’s become a deeply flawed and intriguing Lantern, villain, and now anti-hero; Sinestro now has a place among the most well-developed characters in the DCU.
Johns and Tomasi gave the same makeovers to other cheesy Silver Age villains like Nekron, Hector Hammond, Krona, and Black Hand; they’re all legit villains now who’ve all come very close to killing everyone. Johns and Tomasi turned the Guardians of the Universe from benevolent, immortal Smurfs into straight-up conniving, would-be dictators. Add in new faces like Atrocitus, Arkillo, Lyssa Drak, Alpha Lanterns, The Reach and the Weaponers and suddenly the GL-verse has a rogues’ gallery of serious threats to rival The Flash.
The Green Lantern universe truly is facing major changes! Green Lantern: The Animated Series aired its final (fantastic) episode on March 14, and now we have these two figureheads stepping down. My hat is off you both, Geoff and Peter. Thank you some of the best stories in GL history and a mythology that redefined an entire sector of the DC universe. The Lanterns of Sector 2814 will miss you both, but their rings will shine brighter because of the stories and universe you built for them.