Saturday, June 7, 2014

All Good Things . . . Green Lantern: The End Resolves The Franchise! (My 500th Book Review!)

The Good: Decent artwork, Moments of character, Good storytelling
The Bad: Anticlimactic end to the Third Army, Gaps in story
The Basics: The nefarious plan of the Guardians Of The Universe comes to an abrupt end when Simon Baz becomes a Green Lantern in Green Lantern: The End!

When it comes to comic books, it is hard to reinvent classic characters without a huge backlash from the fans. That might be why, when DC Comics completely revamped their entire universe of books with its “New 52” concept, the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe remained largely unchanged. But even with the revamp, there was a time limit on how long the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe could remain doing its own thing. That came to an end with the end of Geoff Johns’s run on Green Lantern. Appropriately enough, the final storyline from Johns was encapsulated in the graphic novel Green Lantern: The End.

Green Lantern: The End has overlaps with other Green Lantern graphic novels, most notably Green Lantern: Rise Of The Third Army (reviewed here!). While the book is generally good, there are gaps in storytelling that come from a climax that hinges on a larger sense of the Green Lantern Universe. Given that there were four comic book titles that were being produced in that franchise at the time of Green Lantern: The End, the end comes somewhat out of nowhere for those just reading this volume.

Following the loss of Hal Jordan and Sinestro during their battle with Black Hand, Sinestro’s ring seeks out a new potential Green Lantern. The ring finds Simon Baz, an Arab-American man living in Dearborn, Michigan. Baz is a car thief, who stole a truck that turned out to be filled with explosives. In order to prevent anyone from getting hurt, Simon drove the truck into an abandoned factory. When the bomb goes off, Baz is labeled as a terrorist and hunted by the Federal government. Tortured and extradicted against his will, Simon Baz tries to exonerate himself when he is broken out by a Green Lantern ring. After fleeing both the Justice League and the forces of the Third Army, the newly minted Green Lantern Simon Baz is rescued by B’Dg. After getting the ring-born message from Sinestro and Hal, Simon Baz prepares to go off with B’Dg to try to find Hal and twart the Third Army. Amazing B’Dg, Baz restores his comatose brother-in-law Nazir.

When Simon Baz enters the Black Hand’s Black Lantern ring, he learns who the Guardians are and how they have gone mad trying to destroy the universe. Flashing back to the beginning of the (DC) universe, the renegade Guardian witnesses Valthoom essentially create the universe. When Hal Jordan tells Simon Baz how he might save the universe, Baz flees the Dead Zone with Sinestro. Valthoom begins messing with all of reality, tugging strings of the universe to see how that might change the way the universe evolved. Sinestro takes Parallax to try to destroy Valthoom and the Guardians. Leaping to his apparent death within the Dead Zone, Hal Jordan enters the dray as a Black Lantern. With Mogo, the Lanterns (of all colors) work to destroy Valthoom.

Despite the storytelling gaps, Green Lantern: The End ends the Green Lantern story well. After all the build-up with the Third Army, the shift to Valthoom – The First Lantern – is abrupt, but makes for a more compelling one-on-one character conflict. Valthoom has been siphoned as a source of power for the Guardians’ Third Army, but after the attack on Earth that Simon Baz and B’dg thwart, the Third Army virtually disappears. Valthoom breaks loose of the Guardians and after that, the story shifts to being about the multitude of Lanterns fighting the First Lantern.

On the character front, Green Lantern: The End devotes most of its time to establishing Simon Baz and resolving the character arc of Sinestro. Simon Baz is an intriguing addition to the Green Lantern “family” and given that the volume ends with closing the book on the various Green Lanterns, including Baz, it’s unfortunate that he was not given more time to truly shine.

At the other end of the spectrum is Sinestro. Valthoom, in twisting reality, causes Sinestro to experience an existence where he never was a Green Lantern and his love for Arsona and his home planet of Korugar are torn asunder. This leads to a remarkably satisfying end arc for Sinestro. Green Lantern: The End minimizes Hal Jordan, surprisingly enough, though the Jordan/Sinestro arc also comes to a decent resolution. Geoff Johns clearly wanted Sinestro to be the tragic hero of his vision of Green Lantern and that arc reaches a good coda in Green Lantern: The End.

Green Lantern: The End has good artwork. The Dead Zone is a great contrast to the usual bright colors of a Green Lantern book as it is filled with muted grays and has a painting-quality style of artwork. The rest of the volume is, predictably colorful and the artwork surrounding the emotionally-charged, multicolored version of Valthoom is very cool.

Green Lantern: The End is a decent end, despite the fidelity to the issues as opposed to the storyline. The graphic novel features an extensive cover gallery and a nice note from Geoff Johns, essentially saying “good bye” to his run of Green Lantern. And while one might doubt it – given how comic book characters never seem to truly die and DC Comics is obsessed with remaining profitable and will always go back to the characters that make it money – if this truly is the closing of the book of Green Lantern, Green Lantern: The End is good, not just adequate.

For other Green Lantern-related books, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
Green Lantern/Green Arrow – Volume 1
Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn
Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn II
Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight - A New Dawn
Green Lantern: Legacy - The Last Will And Testament Of Hal Jordan
Green Lantern: Rebirth
Blackest Night: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns
The World Of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern
Revenge Of The Black Hand


For other book reviews, please check out my Book Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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