Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spotlight: Green Lantern #21

(w) Robert Vendetti
(a) Billy Tan

After a grand send-off with Green Lantern #20, Geoff Johns has passed the series on to Robert Vendetti. Johns was with the franchise for almost ten years. He poured a lot of his time, energy, passion, and love into that title. In this modern age of comic books, it's very rare for a writer to stay with a 'Big Two' character for more than a few years, and that's an impressive run. Other than Brian Michael Bendis (and Robert Kirkman, if we're looking at indie labels as well), Johns is one of the only writers whose guided a single title for so long. This can also be perceived as a negative; one writer means one vision means one style. I love Geoff Johns' work, but it's definitely time for a new voice to be heard.

That voice is, as I mentioned above, Robert Vendetti. When i first heard the announcement, I didn't know what to think because I had no idea who Robert Vendetti was. Would this mysterious new writer be able to match Johns' quality while still doing things his own way? Then I read Valiant's X-O Manowar and I was completely at ease. At it's core, Green Lantern is a sci-fi story. Vendetti's work for Valiant is a clear and extremely strong example of how good he is at writing science fiction. This revitalized X-O Manowar is one of the most compelling ongoing series I read every month. By the time I caught up to the current issue, I knew Vendetti was going to make Green Lantern his own.

And thus he has.

Green Lantern #21 is not only a phenomenal opening salvo from Vendetti, it's one of the most refreshing GL stories in a while. Johns' work was solid and fun to read, but after a while, story after story dealing with the Guardians' mistakes again started getting stale. With a new status quo, Vendetti is able to shape Green Lantern into a much leaner version of it's former self. Johns packed on the pounds with loads of mythos, characters, expanding history, and overall pomp. Vendetti aims to trim down the franchise into something more manageable to the more casual reader. It's not dumbed down by any means, simply elegant in a way that could have proven difficult in the Johns era when it wasn't uncommon for two or three other-colored Lanterns to show up and get into something.


Yes, Larfleeze and Kyle Rayner (now a White Lantern) are both featured in Green Lantern #21. The difference here is that, 1.) Larfleeze isn't attacking Oa because of some prophecy or really anything to do with the emotional spectrum, and, 2.) Kyle Rayner is more or less a Green Lantern anyway. The point is that near the end, much of Johns work seemed to rely on the concept and plot device-ness of the emotional spectrum instead of building it. Here, Vendetti uses two other colors, but it's because they're part of the mythos he's working with, not something he's actively creating.

This isn't to say that Vendetti is just going to rest on the work of Johns. Quite the opposite, in fact. While we don't know yet who or what is going to be the next real adversary for the Green Lantern Corps, what we do know is that Vendetti isn't looking to just jump into another massive, intergalactic crisis. Throughout Green Lantern #21, we see elements of world building, but on a much more subtle level than usual. 

Vendetti is framing his initial arc upon the rebuilding of the GLC after the events of "Wrath of the First Lantern." Things are at an all-time low, and Hal Jordan has suddenly been shouldered with leading the entire Corps when the newly-freed Templar Guardians decide they've been away from the rest of the universe for too long and, thus, must depart Oa to grow and become worthy of leading their Corps. It's a surprisingly simple, yet highly effective way to lay the groundwork for new stories. 

Now that the terrible secrets of the original Guardians have all been revealed and all the awful prophecies have played out, it's time for a new direction for Green Lantern. Robert Vendetti is just the man to do it, and Green Lantern #21 is stellar.


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