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52 Skidoo: DC One Year After Relaunch
Green Lantern Annual #1

After one year, DC unleashes a series of issues in a variety of forms that sum up, slingshot and (perhaps) launch new energy into books. Through articles here on Fanboy Planet and conversations on the Fanboy Planet Podcast, we'll check in with these "new directions" and see what's working.

I'm starting with the work of Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns because he is simultaneously one of DC's strongest writers and one of its most controversial figures. If you've read a headline in mainstream news about a DC Comics event, chances are Geoff Johns masterminded it.

Part 1 examined Aquaman #12. And now, Part 2...

Green Lantern Annual #1
written by Geoff Johns
art by Ethan Van Sciver

This is the title that really cemented Geoff Johns' good reputation and continues to do so. Part of it may stem from the energy that Ethan Van Sciver brings to the art; there's a high voltage intensity to it that even in relatively quiet moments never lets up.

Not that Green Lantern gets many quiet moments.

Since Johns revivified and revived Hal Jordan, this book has been in his hands alone, with I'm sure close supervision on the spin-off titles. When it spins off into other events -- War of the Lanterns, Blackest Night, Brightest Day and the upcoming Rise of the Third Army -- Green Lantern remains the strongest and best read.

Yes, again, kudos to Van Sciver, who inspires Johns to create a book that takes tremendous flights into wild worlds exterior and interior, and that crosses genre from science fiction to horror. Occasionally some of that credit should go to Doug Mahnke, too, but not in this Annual. This is all Ethan Van Sciver, and it's beautiful and horrifying at the same time.

Green Lantern was one of the few titles that didn't really reboot with the rest of the DC Universe -- some past details just got fuzzy, but for the most part, anything that Johns had added to the canon remained canon. And it plays to Johns' strengths -- Green Lantern is his epic contribution to comics, easily read as if it doesn't have anything to do with the rest of the DC Universe. It affects other titles; no other titles affect it.

And yet Johns writes it so efficiently that you can jump on at the beginning of any new chapter. This Annual proves the point perfectly. It begins with Hal escaping from a grave, put there by Black Hand, the former leader of the Black Lanterns. Buried elsewhere in the same graveyard is Sinestro, the Lantern of shifting spectrum, truest to the light of his own conviction.

Yes, all three had just had a thrilling complicated adventure on the homeworld of the Indigo Tribe, but none of that matters here. Johns and Van Sciver start us off with clawing out of a grave. We know who the bad guy is. We know what some of the stakes are.

And thanks to my getting bags of comics confused, I hadn't yet read Green Lantern #12, so I didn't know why Black Hand was so particularly ticked off this time around -- it doesn't matter. This is immediate. This is visceral. This is good comics.

It's also the launch of the next big chapter in the epic, which isn't so much about Hal Jordan as it is heroic yet human (in Sinestro's case, humanoid) Lanterns struggling against a book of prophecies. And this next (I find it hard to believe it will be the last) prophecy is a doozy.

After creating the android Manhunters, then evolving to the Green Lantern Corps, the Guardians of the Universe have reached the conclusion that it isn't emotion that causes evil. No, it's free will, that pesky thing that our Creator endowed us with and which, by the way, sort of powers the Corps. The Third Army that they create will have none of that.

As the Guardians go back to find the First Lantern, events on Earth make it clear that we're going to need a new Lantern. Even though DC marketing has made it clear what that Lantern will look like, Johns leaves a lot of room for anticipation as to what he will be like, and even what his powers might be.

And by the way, props to Van Sciver for making Black Hand terrifying, and then finding a way to top that with his vision of the Third Army. What could be more frightening than zombies? Thank you, Mr. Van Sciver, for answering that question for me.

The storyline will spin into Red Lanterns, The New Guardians and Green Lantern Corps, but I suspect that I will be happiest just sticking with Green Lantern. That's where the action is, and that's where Geoff Johns' heart lies, even if the marketplace demands crossovers and expansion. Johns' passion, and his best work, is here.

Derek McCaw

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