Green Lantern #43-51
Geoff Johns, writer
Doug Mahnke, artist
Ed Benes, artist on issue #47
22 story pages each except #50 which was longer
Off the top of my head, here’s the stuff you’ll find in these Blackest Night tie-in issues of the ongoing Green Lantern series: Black Hand, Black Hand becomes the embodiment of the Black Lantern Corps, Martian Manhunter, Abin Sur, Abin Sur’s sister and Sinestro’s girlfriend Arin Sur, Barry Allen, John Stewart and that planet he blew up, John Stewart was part of Black Hawk Down, the Star Sapphires vs. the Sinestro Corps, Sinestro vs. Mongul for control of the Yellow Lanterns, the new Rainbow Lantern team featuring the Flash and Wonder Woman and Lex Luthor and so on, the Spectre, Parallax, Hal Jordan deliberately becoming Parallax again, Parallax getting kidnapped by some force only Hector Hammond is aware of, the Predator escapes from Zamaron, Blue Lanterns vs. Orange Lanterns, Red Lanterns vs. Green Lanterns, all the leaders of the different Corps teaming up, Orange Lantern Lex Luthor figures out that the Black Lantern Corps works the same way that the Orange Lantern “Corps” does, Ganthet becomes a Green Lantern, it looks like the Spectre might be to the Red Lanterns what Parallax is to Yellow and Ion is to Green and Predator is to Violet and Black Hand is to Black but he’s not but there’s a Red entity out there someplace…It’s crazy. The Yellow Lantern Scarecrow gets crucified at one point–in Siege, the weight of that one beat would anchor an entire issue, but in this storyline it’s like half a page.
What you have here, in other words, is supercompressed storytelling as filtered through the sensibilities of someone who really isn’t interested in formal play (unlike Grant Morrison and…uh, um, those other writers who do supercompressed superhero comics besides Grant Morrison, you know the ones) so much as just taking every aspect of the greater Green Lantern mythos and exploring every possible permutation of it in as rapid succession as possible. Having had no brief with Green Lantern before Geoff Johns started writing him, I’m surprised to find myself enjoying this stuff this much, and on this geeky a level. I mean, when I read today’s issue and realized that the Spectre might be the Red Entity, I actually gasped out loud. And I couldn’t care about the Spectre less! It’s just that kind of comic. If you enjoy the world Johns has built from the pieces of Green Lantern he found lying around and started connecting, watching the increasingly elaborate edifice he’s constructing here is a true treat.
And when you sit and read it all at once, it’s not even incoherent–it’s just like a constant stream of rad shit hitting your eyeballs, and provided you have the kind of brain equipped to file away genre arcana and recall it as necessary, it flows from one thing into the next with the clarity and purpose of a freight train. Artist Doug Mahnke is an indispensable part of why this works. Mahnke rapidly ascended into my half-dozen or so favorite contemporary superhero artists over the course of his past three major projects; his segue from Final Crisis/Superman Beyond to these key Blackest Night tie-ins is arguably the first smooth transition from one project to another that any of DC’s event-comics artists have pulled off. (Seriously, Rags Morales, Phil Jimenez, J.G. Jones, and Carlos Pacheco all disappeared from DC after their star turns.) What makes him such a good fit here is both his proficiency with horror and monster-movie imagery (standout moments include Black Lantern Abin Sur using his ring to create a ravenous horde of giant floating disembodied black skulls, like he’s Stardust the Super-Wizard or something, and the way he paced Parallax’s fight with the Godzilla-sized Black Lantern Spectre to interrupt Orange Lantern Luthor’s tussle with Orange Lantern Larfleeze with the fall of one mighty foot) and the way his thick line, emboldened by inker Christian Alamy, holds the bright colors that the material demands. The funny thing is that the “dudes zapping dudes in all different directions” fight un-choreography I always complain about when I see it in ’90s X-Men books or contemporary Avengers titles is inherent to how these characters operate, but Mahnke’s visual imagination and ability to harness those effects and make them feel consequential rather than full of sound and fury but signifying nothing gets them over as involving battles anyway. This storyline–especially when read divorced from the larger plot points of Blackest Night with which it intertwines–is one of the great gonzo thrills provided by genre comics right now.