Reimagining an Entire Universe: Geoff Johns’s Run on Green Lantern

I’ve read an awful lot of comics since I decided to stop putting so much pressure on myself and stopped writing about each and every trade I read.  When I stop and think back to everything I’ve read, both since I stopped writing so prolifically and since I began reading comics period, I’m struck by quite how far I’ve come. I’m  reading comics published in our current decade now, a goal that had felt practically unattainable when I first began.  What truly strikes me, though, is how much the storytelling has changed since I first started.  Creators and styles have come and gone, with writers and artists bringing their own unique interpretation to a character, putting their own touches here and there on stories they likely grew up with as children.  It’s a fascinating study really, being able to trace someone’s progression from fan to creator on a series.  It’s no secret that Geoff Johns is perhaps one of the most recognizable fanboy-turned-writer around, but thinking about his entire run on Green Lantern, and everything he did with that character’s mythos, is truly astounding.

Johns gave us the Sinestro Corps Wars. He gave us Blackest Night. He gave us an entire arsenal of power rings, each with its own unique powers and weaknesses. It’s easy to take the stories for granted now, especially given that I’ve read them in such a condensed period of time.  When I stop and think about it though, it’s truly astounding what he was able to create with just his imagination and a basic story as a jumping off point.

I must admit, prior to Johns’s writing, I wasn’t the biggest Green Lantern fan. I liked him well enough, but oftentimes the stories about the Corps felt too far removed from everything else happening in DC to really feel relevant (perhaps that’s how others feel about Aquaman).  I like the individual Corps members, but there were just so many of them, and we never got to delve too deeply into their characters.  They simply existed as a balance to Earth’s Green Lantern, be it Hal, Guy, John, or Kyle.  When Johns got ahold of the title though, it was as though he had the whole universe mapped out in his head.  His stories unfold slowly across a number of titles, with each detail paying off at one point or another.  The sheer scope in which he’s able to think is impressive.  True, he didn’t invent the character of Green Lantern; he had the basic characters and storyline to start from. Still, everything he wrote during his run on the title was nothing short of legendary.  Most writers only have to focus on a handful of characters, but Johns had the entire Corps to contend with, meaning the entire universe.  The fact that he was able to craft such engaging stories while also giving up a more fully fleshed out Corps continues to impress me.

Okay, this wasn’t meant to be a love letter to Geoff Johns, but the man’s Green Lantern run was just so well done.  Even if fans take issue with certain story arcs or directions characters were taken, they can’t deny that this was a massive undertaking for any one writer to take on.  Have I even reached the end of his run yet? I’m honestly not sure. A part of me doesn’t want it to end, simply because I want to know where he sees all of these characters going next.  If it is the end, at least Johns has given us a truly rich, immersive story.  Green Lantern went from being a character I read about without investing too much into the story, to feeling like a must-read comic.  All in all, I’d say that’s pretty damn good by anyone’s standards.

-Jess

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