It's the proverbial beginning of the end as Geoff Johns marches toward his final issue of writing Green Lantern. There are nine years and a whole lot of amazing stories that have come before this, and judging by Green Lantern #18, Johns is looking to change the franchise in big ways right here at his finale. "Wrath of the First Lantern" graces the issues' cover even though Volthoom never even shows up, and the sour relationship between Hal Jordan and Sinestro rears it's head, once again putting the two egomaniacs at odds.
Hal and Sinestro aren't all that different -- they both have elephant-sized egos, it's just that more often than not, Hal has luck on his side while Sinestro has had to overcome extreme adversity to legitimize his overconfidence. Where these two Lanterns diverge is in their charm because Hal can talk to and persuade almost anyone to see things his way, while Sinestro likes to yell and curse to flaunt his mental psychological superiority. Johns encourages this poisonous relationship by throwing Simon Baz into the Dead Zone along with his two predecessors to see what the ring's presence will do to them.
The biggest letdown on Green Lantern #18 is the detailed explanation of Volthoom by Tomar Re. First off, it's too long; an entire two-page spread is dedicated to the story of the First Lantern and how he came to be, which is nice. But the entire tale feels shoehorned into an issue that should have focused solely on Hal and Sinestro finding a way back to the land of the living. Instead, Tomar Re's exposition dump hits the brakes on any momentum Johns was building and leaves the rest of the issue feeling sluggish. Sure, we get a fight between Hal and Sinestro for possession of the atomically-split second GL ring, but after a long lecture from a dead guy about someone else who isn't even in this issue, the brawl felt too short and overlooked.
Green Lantern #18 is a great issue when it's focused on Hal, Sinestro, and Simon. While Johns does take some minor detours that feel underwhelming, the overall experience is pleasant. Szymon Kudranski's art is spectacular and fits with the Dead Zone backdrop perfectly. Is it a coincidence that Hal seems to look a lot like Geoff Johns himself? "Wrath of the First Lantern" is a mixed bag when it comes to quality. I wasn't impressed with the first four issues of the crossover and GL #18 doesn't even feature the eponymous Lantern. As an actual story, it's nothing to shake a stick at, but the effects of the First Lantern's existence are causing all sorts of indirect results that are far more interesting than yet another emotional spectrum conflict.