Green Lantern has been one of DC Comics’ most successful franchises of the past decade. High profile re-launches, top-flight creative teams, compelling storylines and popular crossovers have vaulted Green Lantern to its highest peak in decades.
This past summer, following on the heels of the very successful Blackest Night story, DC expanded the Green Lantern franchise. There’s always a danger to expansion: diluting the quality of the franchise or having fans drop out because it is too expensive to follow the entire line.
But rather than looking at the marketing angle, I’m interested in the titles themselves. What holds them together as a franchise? What sets them apart as individual titles? And, most importantly, are they any good?Green Lantern
The main Green Lantern title is still being written by comic book superstar Geoff Johns- the man who kicked off this GL resurgence with his Rebirth mini-series in 2003. It is being drawn by artist Doug Mahnke, who has also been with the title for several years. They’re still a top-notch team. Mahnke’s maybe not as good as some of the artists from the earliest years of this volume, like Carlos Pacheco and Ivan Reis, but he works well here drawing action and determination with equal aplomb.
The focus of the main title continues to be Hal Jordan. He’s the most heralded Green
Lantern and the one with the biggest fan base. Yet a solo star always needs a supporting
cast to help him shine. This title has been inconsistent in that regard in the past,
sometimes using Hal’s Air Force friends and other times turning to his family to fill out
Right now, however, the supporting cast is one of the strongest features of the book.
Geoff Johns has surrounded Hal Jordan with the other exemplars of the rings. Carol
Ferris, as Star Sapphire, and the Orange Lantern Larfleeze occupy important recurring
Furthermore, Johns has given the post-Blackest Night stories a strong sense of direction.
Led by Hal and Carol, the various Lanterns are trying to track down the entities that
inhabit the power cores. It gives the central Lanterns a reason to work together. It gives the title a quest as they track down and capture the entities one at a time. And it has the title looking forward rather than backward.
All in all, Green Lantern continues to be an outstanding superhero comic.Green Lantern Corps
The second Green Lantern title has a fairly new creative team. Tony Bedard, known
for his work on cosmic and team titles like Negation and Exiles, has taken over as the
writer. And art is being handled by newcomer Ardian Syaf, who is about to be spelled by
Tyler Kirkham of Top Cow and WildStorm fame. The art has been fine so far. I have no
specific complaints. However, I also don’t have any particularly glowing piece of praise.
Green Lantern Corps was launched as a companion title to Green Lantern, focusing on
two other heroes who had formerly had their own titles: Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner.
They were the space team, located on the GL home planet and surrounded by alien faces- some of whom were familiar such as Kilowog and Salaak, others of whom were new such as Soranik Natu and Sodam Yat.
With the launch of a third GL title, that team is being broken up. Guy is off in his own title. However, Kyle remains the anchor in this one. He continues to have the entire corps as his supporting cast, with focus being placed on Dr. Soranik Natu and the former Guardian turned ring slinger Ganthet. The title also added Lantern John Stewart to the cast as a second human face (now that he’s no longer the GL to the JLA).
So far, the title has maintained its quality in terms of individual issues. The interaction between the cast and the individual characterization is strong. The stories continue to feel meaningful- such as the confrontation with the Cyborg Superman and the new status quo for the Alpha Lanterns.
However, there is a sense that GL Corps is spending too much time looking backward instead of forward. It appears to be the title that’s tying up the loose ends from Blackest Night. While those stories need to be told, it doesn’t give this title any sense of forward momentum or much of an individual identity. That might change with the next story line starting in October. But considering that its plot hinges on a leftover shard of the White
power battery, I’m doubtful that the feeling of looking backward will be left behind any time soon.Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors
This is the third title in the GL franchises. But that doesn’t mean this is a rookie creative
team. Peter Tomasi moved over from GL Corps to take the reins of this third title. He’s
joined by artist Fernando Pasarin, who brings the same style to this title that can be found in the others.
Peter Tomasi isn’t the only one to move from GL Corps to Emerald Warriors. As
already mentioned, Guy Gardner made the jump as well and he’s pretty much the
lead in this series. He’s not alone, however. Corps stalwarts Arisia and Kilowog
are accompanying Guy on his journey, giving him a very strong team to work with.
It’s not easy to assess Emerald Warriors considering that we’re only two issues in. The
story is only really getting started now. Although I’ll admit that is a bit of a complaint. I wish we had gotten to the midway point of issue two a lot sooner as that’s where things get interesting.
I was skeptical of the first issue for other reasons as well. Guy Gardner gave the “it’s time to be proactive” speech that I’ve read too many times in other comics to take seriously anymore.
And yet, Emerald Warriors looks like it might have a strong sense of direction. Guy Gardner is going to explore the Unexplored Territories beyond the Guardians’ Green Lantern grid. That gives motivation to the characters and momentum to the stories. It also gives Emerald Warriors the chance to introduce new characters, alien races and situations. It could be a lot of fun. Or it could remain chained to old premises like the first season or two of Star Trek: Voyager.
It’s too early to tell. The first arc has Guy Gardner visiting the home of the Blue Lanterns (and receiving a nasty surprise from a Red Lantern) before getting out of the galaxy. That’s okay- and fairly interesting so far- but I hope Guy’s trio doesn’t have too many pit stops before launching into new territory.