Tue
Aug 2 2011 4:46pm
Reader’s Guide to the New DC Universe: Green Lantern Corps

Each weekday, Tim will take a look at what we know about each of the upcoming 52 new comics from the September DC relaunch, one series at a time. Today: GREEN LANTERN CORPS!

The Concept and Characters: Soon after Geoff Johns brought Hal Jordan back to prominence, this secondary series, starring Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, and John Stewart (and a bunch of alien Green Lanterns), kicked off, and has nearly kept pace with it’s big-brother series ever since.

The solicitations for the first issue talk about an “elite Green Lantern strike force,” and that may be a slight tweak on the concept for the series, but this looks like the same kind of Green Lantern Corps book we’ve seen at DC for years. Peter Tomasi made the biggest mark on the series, before leaving to scribe the Emerald Warriors spin-off a year ago, and he’s back to shepherd this relaunched version of the Green Lantern gang. Looks like Kyle Rayner won’t be joining him this time, as he has his own New Guardians comic to lead.

So it’s Guy Gardner and John Stewart as the main characters here, though if Tomasi’s previous work (and the cover image) hints at what he’ll do here, than don’t be surprised to see other Green Lantern Corps members take prominent roles. Tomasi has maintained a consistent focus on the ensemble nature of this series in the past, and while the main Green Lantern book has led the way for this series—in terms of the major plot events—Tomasi has always done a nice job highlighting his Corps members and giving them subplots with emotional impact.

What’s been relatively unusual with this series in the past, is how closely it has tied into it’s companion series. It’s not like the Superman or Batman comics, where sometimes the multiple series in each franchise will cross over for some important mini-event. No, Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps, barring a few issues of exception, have been telling the same story since the beginning. It’s just that the focus has been different, with the main series telling of Hal Jordan’s journey and the major conflicts he becomes involved in, and the Corps series focusing on the bigger picture, or the smaller stories that spin out of the major GL plot points.

You’re more likely to see an extended romantic subplot in this series than in the main Green Lantern book, for example. You’re more likely to see the after-effects of trauma. More likely to see political maneuverings. More likely to see heroes in conflict with one another. Green Lantern Corps has been part sci-fi war comic and part superhero comic all along. I don’t see any reason to think that the relaunched series will be much different.

The Creative Team: Peter Tomasi was Geoff Johns’s Green Lantern editor before he quit the editing desk to become a freelance writer, so it’s only appropriate that he works so closely with Johns on the long-form plotting of the Green Lantern universe. Some of Tomasi’s best writing has come out of his previous Green Lantern Corps run, and he’s the ideal choice to helm this companion series and follow Geoff Johns’s lead.

Fernando Pasarin draws this series, and that means we’ll get both the writer and artist from Emerald Warriors back together for this Corps series. Pasarin has a hyper-detailed, hyper-slick style that dips a little into the uncanny valley at times, but he’s quite a good artist. Interestingly, though Pasarin’s work is strong, and Tomasi has proven himself to be a reliable writer, their Emerald Warriors collaboration didn’t result in a very good comic. It was Tomasi’s weakest work to date, and it’s difficult to pin down exactly why. It was as if he was trying to do a different kind of Green Lantern comic, maybe out from the shadow of Geoff Johns, and it just didn’t have a satisfying rhythm. It seemed out-of-sync with the rest of the franchise. Still, both Tomasi and Pasarin have talent, and experience with these characters, and we can only hope that this relaunched series will be more like the Green Lantern Corps of old than the short-lived Emerald Warriors series of the past year.

Recommendation: Buy it, only if you’re buying the Green Lantern series. Though this comic may work on it’s own, it will work best as a companion piece to the main series. Even if the opening arc of both comic have nothing to do with one another, these comics will inevitably merge to tell a single story. The story of the Green Lanterns throughout the universe. It’s been a pretty good story so far. One of the best in superhero comics, actually.

 


Tim Callahan writes about comics for Tor.com, Comic Book Resources, Back Issue magazine, and his own Geniusboy Firemelon blog.

4 comments
Lenny Bailes
1. lennyb
My comic reading tastes are at odds with your weighting of the relative merits of Green Lantern vs. Green Lantern Corps. Over the last two years, I've generally preferred Green Lantern Corps (occasionally written by Tomasi) to Johns' Green Lantern. (In particular, I actually almost liked the recent GLC story arc on the Chief Weaponer of Qward written by Tony Bedard.)

As a reader and fan of Green Lantern for a long, long time, I'm bored with and alienated from what Geoff Johns has been doing with the book, particularly since the "Black Lantern" arc.

The "Black Lantern" story arc seems to have been a marketing attempt originally aimed at capturing the audience built for Marvel Zombies. It turned into a smash success due to Geoff Johns' intuition of what Dan DiDio's target audience really wanted to read:

("You, Dick Grayson! Some hero you are! Your mother wears combat boots! You, Kyle Rayner! What kind of hero lets his girlfriend be stuffed into a refrigerator? Careful Lois! Your skeleton wrist is breaking off. Flsssh! Sluurp! DiDio negative-emotion market charge now at 70%.")

I wasn't very thrilled with Johns' earlier, (also highly successful) Sinestro War and Emotional Spectrum arcs, either. In interviews given before these arcs emerged, Dan DiDio as much as said that the characters he most empathized with in the DC universe were the villains, not the heros. Putting this viewpoint into Sinestro's mouth -- having Sinestro declare success after convincing the Guardians that killing people was an acceptable response for a superhero -- this fit right into the sentiments DiDio expressed in those interviews.

I wish there were still Internet links to the set of satirical cartoons about the Spectrum of Emotional Indifference, which appeared during the Atrocitus-blcch (don't forget the cat!), Rainbow Lantern arc.

FWIW, I also remember Geoff Johns as someone capable of writing great and moving stories (stories, as opposed to monthly "sploosh" incidents). I have nothing but admiration for Johns' work on the JSA "Thy Kingdom Come" arc.

As recently as five years ago, I appreciated Johns as doing reasonably good work on the tough assignment of bringing Hal Jordan back from the dead (again), giving Guy Gardner his ring back and reviving Arisia. (This was the "resurrection soup" era of Green Lantern.) Johns was obviously impressed by Darwyn Cooke's excellent JLA New Frontier story and successfully migrated a number of Hal Jordan character facets developed by Cooke into his own treatment of Green Lantern. (Then, in just my opinion, he has kind of run those facets into the ground -- daddy's jacket, Highball, "look at the racing jets," etc.)

I'll concede that the recent sales figures on Green Lantern prove I'm in a minority demographic, in terms of my story preferences. But I do have some company over at Scans_Daily.
Tim Callahan
2. TimCallahan
Hey lenny, I can see where you're coming from. Honestly, if Manhke hadn't been drawing the GL series for the past year or two, I might even feel the same way, but his art kicks the main series several notches about the GLC comic. He's one of the best guys working today.
Lenny Bailes
3. lennyb
Fernando Pasarin is not exactly a slouch. I loved his work on Tangent: Superman's Reign.

Also, I'm finicky. I like reading individual issues where the story (or even stories, *sigh*) deliver some sense of satori : introduction, rising action, and conclusion in that issue -- in addition to whatever you're supposed to get by reading a whole year's worth of the title. GLC has generally been more likely to do that than GL. (I'm not a fan of the "monthly sploosh" approach to delivering comic books, which is sometimes evident in GLC as well as GL.)
Tim Callahan
4. TimCallahan
GLC does have better one-issue narratives (even while keeping up with the bigger plotlines), but GL has better spectacle.

(And I would say it's a matter of taste, but Mankhe is measurably better than Pasarin at every part of the job. Except making people look glossy.)

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