Green Lantern Corps 20

green lantern corps 20 wrath

Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing Green Lantern Corps 20, originally released May 8th, 2013. This issue is part of the Wrath of the First Lantern crossover event. Click here for our First Lantern coverage. 

Patrick: It might be pure, dumb circumstance that this issue of Green Lantern Corps came out a full two weeks before this epic run of Green Lantern stories comes to a close. The cover of this issue brashly proclaims that the story within is an “epilogue.” And it is – in the strictest sense, everything that happens in this issue takes place immediately after the crossover has been resolved. Peter Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin’s preemptive coda challenges the very idea that a Green Lantern story could end and explores a deeper truth about what we want, what we need and what we expect from serialized storytelling.

The First Lantern has been defeated, the Guardians are dead. Even though Guy Gardner’s whole reality had been tied up in defeating these threats, he still has unfinished business: that dude Xar — introduced in the zero issue — still has a serious mad-on for Gardner’s family. Guy decides he’s not going to take any chances, so he grabs Saint Walker and zips towards Earth, Walker’s blue ring supercharging his green ring all the while. When he gets to Earth, Guy has more than enough firepower to simply obliterate Xar, rescuing his family in the nick of time. That sounds like a fitting Final Act for Green Lantern Sentinel Guy Gardner, so he decides to give up the ring and lead a normal life with his family in Baltimore. Boredom and restlessness set in after about a week and a half of mundane civilian-life, and Guy lights up his ring and takes to the skies again. Then Tomasi cheekily signs off:

Never the End

Yes, and why would this be the end? For all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the very public departure of Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi and the rest from the Green Lantern family of books, there’s no way this was ever going to be the end of the adventures of Guy Gardner, John Stewart or the Green Lantern Corps. We wouldn’t want that – since Green Lantern: Rebirth, these series have been synonymous nearly neverending stories, each epic rolling into the next. Getting the reader excited for what was coming next has often been more important to this series than what actually happened in the issue. Think about it: how frequently did you find yourself saying “I can’t wait to see where this is going?” If you’re anything like me, it was basically every time you put down an issue. What Tomasi’s final issue does so effectively is remind us that we were never in it for the ending.

The issue begins with Salaak in the dark – both literally and figuratively. He has no idea what’s transpired in the final battle. Take a second to notice how the blackness of that opening panel extends all the way into the gutters, but the panels below have clean white gutters.

Salaak in the dark

In that moment, we are Salaak: our perspectives are identical in that neither of us know what’s transpired. Guy and Kilowog offer an explanation of what happened, complete with some incoherent constructs to dramatize the violence. I absolutely adore Guy’s take on the events:

You know, lots of colors, blasting, blood, screaming, surround-sound destruction, wide-screen mayhem, good versus evil, stuff that makes an epic epic.

It doesn’t matter how they won, the point is they won. Tomasi is so wonderfully cavalier with the details, to the point where they could be copied and pasted from the “conclusion” of any previous GL event. War of the Green Lanterns? Yup. Blackest Night? Yup. Sinestro Corps War? You bet. Even as far back as Rebirth? Yes, even that far back. You don’t need those details any more – you already know them.

The same goes for Guy’s manhunt for Xar. The solution is obvious – just hit the bad guy really, really hard. The great thing is that Tomasi just lets this non-plan work. There’s no complication and no moment where it seems like Xar may have a leg up on our hero. Guy just nails him with a beam of solid Green Lantern energy, the construct doesn’t even take a creative form – it’s just pure, no-bullshit violence.

Guy blasts Xar with like 500% energy

Again, the solution doesn’t really matter. Guy saves the day because OF COURSE HE DOES.

Mike, there’s been a lot of navel-gazing in all of the books in this event, and you and I talked last month about how that issue was a celebration of what’s always been so fun about Green Lantern. This issue is sort of the antecedent to that, gleefully reminding us that we don’t want conclusions in our space operatics. It’s a sly acknowledgement that Johns and Tomasi knew exactly what they were doing all along. So, I ask you: are you excited to see where this is going?

Mikyzptlk: Not only don’t we want conclusions to our space operatics, we don’t want conclusions to any of our beloved superhero properties. For all of the good and some of the bad that that entails, our colorfully-clad heroes are forever destined to fight the good fight until the cows come home…and then leave that home yet again. Since the birth of Superman, the very concept of the superhero is something that was destined to last far longer than any mere reader. By extension, their stories are meant, simply, to continue. Sure, they might get retconned or rebooted, but in the end, we’ll return to their adventures again and again. So, to answer your question: I will always be excited to see where this is going.

Circling back to this specific issue though, Tomasi was able to give his contribution to the Green Lantern mythos a sweet and satisfying conclusion. It’s extremely rare that our favorite ring-slingers ever get the time off they they deserve, so it’s always a treat to see them revel in it. Towards the beginning of the issue, we find John Stewart and Fatality finally getting down to business. By that I mean, well, just take a look for yourself.

John and Fatality

Awwwwwww yeahhhhh. Okay, that’s enough of that. It’s obvious that these two have been headed towards this…conclusion for quite awhile now and I’m glad that Tomasi was finally able to get them there. These two characters have been through A LOT in their lives ever since John accidentally destroyed Xanshi all the way back in 1988 (Cosmic Odyssey). Since then, John has been carrying the guilt of that on his shoulders and it has come to redefine him as a character. This moment feels like Tomasi is telling John that it’s finally okay for him to forgive himself as Fatality —sorry— Yrra, the last remaining piece of Xanshi, embraces him. More than that though, I feel like Tomasi is giving John over to a new writer with a clean slate, giving him the opportunity to take John to the next stage of his life, whatever that may be.

Patrick, you mentioned that Guy saved the day because “of course he does” and you are absolutely spot-on, but what I also liked about that speedy resolution was that it allowed us, or more specifically Guy, to get the resolution with his family that Tomasi wanted to give him. Guy hasn’t exactly had the greatest relationship with his family, but it’s always been clear that they share a great deal of love for one another.  Tomasi introduced a great deal of conflict between Guy and his family and seeing Guy spend some down-time with them was a nice way to close that particular chapter of Guy’s life. Yet again, Tomasi is passing the baton over to the next writer of Guy’s adventures.

In the end, that’s really all the writer of a run as long as this can do, pass the baton. There can never truly be an end to these characters (no matter how many times they die), so with that, Tomasi has been able to bow out quite gracefully as he concludes his contribution to these fan-favorite characters. He’s left a mark on these characters, and their lives, that will not soon be forgotten.

Oh, and by the way: Best. Moment. Ever.

Salak

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

14 comments on “Green Lantern Corps 20

  1. Yeah, I could have gone without having the end of the crossover epic spoiled by one of it’s own books. I totally respect that Tomasi wants to have his little goodbye never-the-ending, but I do not want my saccharine epilogue before my bad-ass conclusion.

    • I did NOT want to read this issue. In fact, I wouldn’t have if not for the fact that I was writing about it. I get that these books are on a schedule, but it’s so frustrating to have this on the shelf before the actual conclusion. They should have just delayed this book. It’s confusing for fans too. I actually thought I’d somehow missed GL 20!

      It’s funny though, Marvel just did this with their X-Men books too. However, they just spoiled something minor (Angel leaving). Still, get your shit together people!

    • I maintain that this is the point of the issue: our feverish desire for a conclusion is silly, especially when we all know what it’s going to be (exactly like Guy’s tossed-off description). Just about every other issue of this event has commented on the nature of these characters, these series, or these kinds of events – this is just the issue that addressed the arbitrary nature of the “ends” of these stories. I actually love that this game out before the conclusion.

      • I don’t think desiring a conclusion, closure to a major arc is silly, I think it’s how story-telling works. Even if the conclusion is “there is no conclusion,” that is still a conclusion. To bypass that, render it as little more than “blah blah blah, same stupid fight as usual,” makes whatever emotional resonance we could get out of this epilogue a lot more meaningless.

        Plus, it basically calls the readers silly for wanting to see the conclusion; I don’t need a comic book, one of the silliest things IN THE WORLD, telling me I’M the silly one for wanting to see the conclusion before the epilogue.

        • You’re still going to get your conclusion – it’s not that it doesn’t exist, just that you have to wait another two weeks. And on top of that, you’ll get ANOTHER epilogue in the form of New Guardians 20. There’s more than enough space to explore the very concept of stories ending AND whatever big dumb fight happens in Green Lantern 20.

          And the whole “silly” thing – I think you’re imposing a value-judgement on the word that I don’t mean to imbue it with. I will feel great reading GL 20 (especially with Doug Mahnke back in the artist’s chair), and I’ll be excited and thrilled and moved by all the fireworks. But these same fireworks have been thrilling me for years, and that does feel a little silly.

        • Knowing the conclusion already takes a lot of fun out of it. I would have loved going into GL 20 not knowing that the Guardians were going to be dead by the end of it.

          We’ll see how GL 20 and New Guardians 20 go, but I feel like a lot of whatever impact this arc could have was diminished by releasing this issue first.

        • This may just be part of me being a lot less spoiler-averse than most people, but knowing that the Guardians die doesn’t make me any less excited for the finale. In fact, I can’t wait to see that happen now. You think they all got offed or is there one still lurking somewhere? And what about Krona? We saw him come back from the dead (right? I don’t actually read or like Red Lanterns, but I think that’s what happened there…)

        • But Guy’s explanation here is too vague to spoil anything. Like, we knew Green Lantern 20 was going to feature “lots of colors, blasting, blood, screaming, surround-sound destruction, wide-screen mayhem, good versus evil, stuff that makes an epic epic,” and I think Patrick is right for including that. This isn’t some twist ending that got spoiled — it’s just confirming what we were expecting anyway. Like this issue reveals just as much information about the events of Green Lantern 20 as the fact that DC will be publishing a Green Lantern 21 does.

          More than anything, I don’t want to hold the release schedule against this issue. I think it was certainly designed to be read after Green Lantern 20, but Patrick makes some good points about finding a silver lining in this reading order. It’s a good enough issue that I think it works even without Green Lantern 20.

        • Maybe that’s my problem; I didn’t think it was all that great. It all felt a little hollow, and Guy flying off into space with that shit-eating grin on his face just elicited an eye-roll.

  2. Mike, I think it’s interesting that Guy’s resolution is basically realizing that his family isn’t enough for him – he still needs to be a superhero because Gardners are BORING. Having just visited my parent’s house a few weeks ago, I CAN RELATE. I don’t know how he made it 10 days.

    • Right. They are boring, but at least they don’t seem to hate him anymore. I’m mostly referring to his dad when I say that. You can’t play a friendly game of cards with someone you hate right? Though I did think it was odd that he didn’t see Guy off like his siblings did.

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