We all knew this day was coming. Geoff Johns can’t write Green Lantern forever, though he probably would if he could. One day Johns was going to move on to new things and leave Green Lantern to finally sink or swim without its long time master. He’s been writing about Hal Jordan and the intergalactic police department for nine years now and in that time so many new ideas have been introduced and old concepts have been revamped.
Johns introduced the emotional spectrum, the Black Lantern Corps, made the Guardians into villains, and unearthed secret after secret of hidden Green Lantern Corps past. We can only imagine at this point what is ahead for Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, John Stewart and maybe even Simon Baz. But what will happen to Johns’ many creations and even the characters he saved from oblivion? I imagine the characters in other Green Lantern titles will continue unscathed. Atrocitus will continue to appear in Red Lanterns, Saint Walker will play an important role in Green Lantern: New Guardians, Larfleeze will be hanging out in Threshold. These ideas have long since taken on a life of their own beyond their creator. Geoff Johns or not, these stories can only continue to go in new directions and even higher heights.
Green Lantern was a dead brand before Johns came along. Hal Jordan had long since gone crazy and destroy the Green Lantern Corps and now Kyle Rayner was all that was left. Rayner kept the light burning for years, both in story and property, but only Hal Jordan’s return could usher in the sweeping changes that needed to take place. It was not always the best writing, but it was exactly what the brand needed. Now the line is a juggernaut with infinite possibilities and we need to thank Geoff Johns for that.
All that being said, lets not bow to the man. There were plenty of signs his run was coming to an end, even if it’s only obvious in retrospect. The long time storyline of the evil Guardian of the Universe finally became center stage. What better way to end a run than with a revolution? It was clear to me that after the success of the Sinestro Corps War, DC either finally noticed Green Lantern as the moneymaker it was becoming and stuck its hands in the mix or they gave Johns all the control he could ever wish for. Maybe that was a good thing, maybe that was a bad thing. That being said things definitely seemed to change from that point. Green Lantern became exclusively space-based and, while it gained so much potential, it also lost a lot of the subtler more character driven aspects that made it so good before. Green Lantern was now all spectacle. It gave the whole run a very decompressioned and meandering quality to it. Yes, space zombies were cool, but there was definitely a lack of personality to it. The story was interesting, but the writing waxed and waned in favor of more fanfare. Geoff Johns was essentially writing a fanboy’s dream come true comic. It couldn’t last forever.
I did enjoy Johns’ run, but I also began to wonder what other writers could do with the property. Final Crisis introduced me to the idea of a Grant Morrison written Corps and it sounded delightfully bizarre. I knew that when his time was up, Green Lantern would need a very good writer to keep up the high level of interest surrounding the title. But maybe Green Lantern needs to go in a different direction. A slower burning direction, one that can take time to reflect on ideas and feelings as more than just a physical manifestation as plot devices. Maybe Green Lantern Corps will bring in new characters, or Green Lantern will become less Hal Jordan-focused, or New Guardians will be much more Kyle Rayner-centric.
Maybe none of this happens and the Green Lantern universe, as we know it, ceases to exist. Could DC Comics actually reboot such a successful line of comics during a time when they’ve been canceling failing titles at all times? The Green Lantern universe was left almost completely intact after the New 52 reboot, probably the property most similar to its pre-reboot continuity, more so than even Batman. Geoff Johns was reboot-proof. Could DC start from scratch? Would the Green Lantern fanbase want to? We don’t know much right now. News will surely be flowing in soon, so only time will tell what happens.
Love him or hate him, Geoff Johns knows how to create hype even around the most unsuccessful properties and he’s the only reason we’re here right now. Sure, the end of his run started to dip in quality. The Third Army seemed to be yet another Black Lantern Corps, another Sinestro Corps, another army. The First Lantern was another Krona, another Black Hand, another Sinestro. Even so comics should be entertaining and they definitely were. So, thanks. I really look forward to see where this goes. Stories continue even after the end.