Top 10 Changes to the Green Lantern UniverseA column article, Top Ten by: Chris Murman
I’m sure it will come as no surprise to regular readers of my Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, andBlackest Night reviews this began as an all-negative Top Ten column. Sure, there would be disagreement with my views of the current GL Universe, but nobody would blame me for ripping into Emerald Top Dog Geoff Johns for his decisions.
For the past six years, that scribe has set an unmistakable tone in this subset of the DCU: Hal Jordan needed to take his (seemingly) rightful place as top space cop and then lead the Corps out of the days of obscurity into one of the publisher’s most consistent sellers. Much like Bendis’ path with the Avengers,
Johns has taken the GLU under his wing and seen it not only grow exponentially in number of corps member, but in colors of corps members as well. Kyle Rayner has found love, Guy Gardner has found his mojo and John Stewart has found...well a ret-conned history. I say all that to say this: this is not your father’s Green Lantern Corps. Things have changed a great deal.
To say it has all been one fantastic idea after another, however, would be just plain foolish.
Anyone familiar with my writing knows I’m not the biggest Hal Jordan fan. Having been a DC fan since I was a little boy, I can say what attracts me to the publisher is the idea that icons exist in our world. I have had many moments in my life I can without embarrassment say I strive to be better because I know it’s possible. I’m in my 30’s and I know that Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman inspire.
Jordan doesn’t come close to entering the same breath as the Trinity. Hal inspires ego, chauvinism and hypocrisy. Icons do not inspire with those traits.
Hal can be used for compelling story telling, I just felt I needed to clarify my feelings towards the character when reading my list. With that addendum added in, I present to you the Top Ten Changes to the Green Lantern Universe (with a thumbs up or down added in for flavor):
1. There are currently two sets of Guardians (thumbs down)
Was I the only person who finished reading Blackest Night and thought the Guardians of Oa were all dead? I may have missed something, but there wasn’t mention of Scar’s spell being broken and life being restored to six of the original Oans (not counting Ganthet and Sayd). Then, all of the sudden in Green Lantern Corps #47 we see them sitting in their room sulking as usual.
I have no problem with the little blue men returning to their perch atop the hierarchy of the GLU, but it really confused me because for months we have been seeing covers and promotional material being distributed by DC announcing the seven Lanterns that fought together from their respective corps during BL were the “New Guardians.” Even now, the story line being played out in Green Lantern is titled “The New Guardians.” So if they are taking their place as Guardians, why do we need the old ones?
2. Ganthet is a Green Lantern now (thumbs up)
It’s funny to hear the Guardians still speak with contempt in reference to immortal Oans taking identifiable names. We’ll deal with their arrogance in a minute, but for now let’s deal with the original named Oan. Ganthet has been a fan favorite for some time, and took his rock star status to new heights when he and Sayd acknowledged their love for each other and that they were leaving Oa to start their own corps based on the emotion of hope.
He’s always been the most hands-on Guardian in the bunch going back to Kyle’s days as the Torchbearer. It only makes sense that he would put on his own ring and patrol Sector Zero as Oa’s Green Lantern. It spoke volumes to the new status quo. First off, it said that no matter where you are in the universe, you need a green cop looking out for you. Secondly, it said someone needs to be watching over the Guardians. Call him the Oan Ombudsman if you will. He will not only protect the little green men, but also keep them from patting each other on the back too much.
3. Women fighting over Kyle (thumbs down)
This particular point is personal to me, because Kyle’s my boy. Yes, it’s great that he’s found someone to be in a relationship with who doesn’t die when he’s not looking, but it just doesn’t feel right. There’s a lot that doesn’t feel right when it comes to the former Torchbearer, but most of it I’m getting over. I ripped into Pete Tomasi plenty during Sinestro Corps War because of the decisions he and Johns made regarding Rayner, so let’s not go there again.
I’m just referring to his love life.
Can we long time fans of the character really sit back and be okay with that fact that there are multiple women seemingly sparring for the man? Kyle’s the DCU’s Peter Parker, and I realize there are many times writers had women fighting over him as well, but purists can’t feel comfortable with the notion. Kyle’s a tortured soul who has loved and lost many times, so when he is getting some on a regular basis...we have truly jumped the shark.
4. The Guardians have lost their mystique (thumbs up)
Did you see the punch Arisa delivered to the jaw of one of the Guardians in last month’s Green Lantern Corps #47? There was a lot of emotion put into that one, anyone paying attention to her in the months since Sodam Yat sacrificed himself for his home world of Daxam knew something like that was coming. I was just shocked to see it because something like that actually happen to the Guardians. Who knew that in his last issue on the title, Pete Tomasi would actually pen a likeable moment?
The little blue men can’t have many fans, in or out of the fictional world they live in. I thought it was appropriately put in a recent issue when one of the corps members stated about their leaders, “[The Guardians] should be here...instead of floating around in the citadel. They should be with us here – paying their respects.” It would appear, however, the corps want more face time with the Oans. We are entering a new time of accountability. Questions will be answered and the remaining six Guardians can’t just expect their corps to blindly accept orders anymore.
5. The book of Oa is being re-written... (thumbs up)
...and nobody is happier about it than I am. I though these stupid rules being invented on the fly during the “war of colors” was unnecessary to begin with. As already stated, we all know the Guardians can be difficult at times, I guess it comes with the territory when you are an immortal, but the addition of these laws made them look like cowards that had lost the respect of their corps. Yes, they had a universe to look after, but real leadership doesn’t come from a book of laws. Here’s hoping the remaining six Guardians remember how to effectively lead their ring-bearers in the coming months and remember that the Book of Oa is just paper bound together.
6. Too many colors (thumbs down)
I do not approach this change from the standpoint most comic book fans that resist change do. After all, it’s only extending the original concept of the Green Lanterns. There’s obviously something very intriguing about taking the concept of willpower used as fuel for a power ring. It’s only logical that some creator would take it to the next level and explore the full emotional spectrum. When I saw the first double splash page Ethan Van Schiver drew during the Sinestro Corps War finale, my interest was piqued a bit.
In the end, with many creative concepts, the execution of that idea really disappointed me. I want to know how the other emotions got their rings. We know the Quardians helped out Sinestro, but as described by Ganthet recently, it takes great concentration and ability to create a power ring from scratch. Other than Ganthet and Sayd going to form their own corps and the fore-mentioned Sinestro Corps, the other emotions don’t have their own Guardians to create power rings. It’s a large contradiction that just leaves a sour taste in my mouth when I think of all seven emotions sticking around in canon for a while.
7. Kilowog steps down as DI (thumbs up)
This is an intriguing change to the corps, mainly because I have such affinity to the character and his role as drill instructor. At the same time, however, there’s been a lot of change in Kilowog personally. I wouldn’t say he’s softened, just seen his path change. He needs to go back to patrolling his sector again after seeing so many of his recruits buried.
I have a feeling there is a lot of story to be explored with him as a character that couldn’t happen with him still as a DI. Maybe we will see more of his home world, or family for that matter. The big lug is a fan favorite, yet I feel we have just begun to scratch his lottery ticket. Here’s hoping we get more of him soon.
8. The idea of emotion entities has been diminished (thumbs down)
I don’t remember which review it was posted in, but the day I found out the entity belonging to the Star Sapphire was named “Predator” I laughed for a good long while. It still brings a smile to my face when I read it.
Look, if we’re going to be forced to have all seven corps colors around, and I’ve already aired my grievances in regard to that, we should at least give readers the impression the writers are taking them seriously. When you name entities “The Predator” and “The Butcher” (the Red Lantern entity), it doesn’t appear you are. Parallax was an awesome addition to the mythos and it only made sense that there should be a willpower counterpart named Ion. The other given entities (as described in Green Lantern #54) seem to have some thought put into them. Adara (Blue) is the Ethiopian name for God, Ophidian (Orange) is a scientific order of snakes, and Proselyte (Indigo) is an ancient Biblical term for a pagan convert to Judaism that’s also used today to describe any religious convert.
See, how hard was that to put a little thought into it? Please tell me you didn’t run out of time when naming these things Geoff.
One final gripe and I’ll move on. In the issue where the five other entities are described, the image artist Doug Mahnke (a favorite of mine) gives an image of a man voyeuristically filming a girl taking her clothes off next to the image of the Predator. Is this what we are supposed to think of when we picture love? We struggle with semi-pornographic images enough in this medium as it is, can we at least have a little more idealistic view of the emotion please? This is, after all, an all ages (or supposed to be) comic book.
9. Everyone falls at the feet of Hal Jordan (thumbs down)
Yes, I realize this topic will just seem like sour grapes being served over and over again by a writer with an axe to grind. I get that, and I don’t blame those of you who feel that way. Just let me explain. This sub sect of the DCU is based around the idea that there is a group of beings who wield power rings fueled by willpower. If you want to have a solo book for a single character, I don’t mind that. Many titles in comics survive that way, but they are there for a reason. There isn’t an army of Spider-men who protect the universe. There is only one Batman (even his sidekicks get their own solo books). The same goes for Thor, Wonder Woman, Wolverine, and so on.
Which brings me to an even better point. The X-men franchise is a great example how ensemble books should be written. No X-man, regardless of how some writers try to portray things, is more important than the other. X-books function very well when there is balance. Can the same be said for the hierarchy in the Green Lantern books currently? Once, there was a Green Lantern who was viewed as higher in importance than the rest, and he acted that way. In the end, his hubris ended up being his downfall. His name?
Sinestro. I rest my case.
10. Has anything really changed? (thumbs up)
I think it truly has, and it’s not all such a bad thing. Say what you want about how Emperor Johns has run things since he assumed control of this group of titles, but he has managed to invigorate a level of interest at DC not seen since Kevin Smith brought Oliver Queen back from the grave. Hal Jordan is relevant again, there are ring bearers flying around all over the place, and sales have never been better for the little blue men from Oa.
I continue to read every issue with a level of scrutiny and skepticism. If he ever read any of my words, hopefully Geoff Johns will see that I only want the best for the Green Cops. I won’t let half-written scripts just slide by, because when you make the kind of bread these guys go for caretaking our favorite intellectual properties you should take it as seriously as we do. We’re all fans, no matter our connection to these issues. Here’s hoping the post-Blackest Night time for this family of titles continues to introduce great ideas and sees them through well.