Writer: Geoff Johns
Pencillers: Ethan Van Sciver and Pete Woods
Inkers: Ethan Van Sciver and Cam Smith
Colourists: Hi-Fi and Tony Avina
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Previously, in Green Lantern: The Green Lantern Corps has been deemed obsolete by the Guardians of the Universe, who have decided to remove them due to their reliance on emotions, and the interference of the other emotional Lantern Corps. The Guardians have proposed a brand new law enforcement agency for the universe, known so far only as the Third Army.
Meanwhile, Sinestro and Hal Jordan have found themselves in peril at the hands of Black Hand, the universe’s only Black Lantern. Black Hand is worried that Hal Jordan is attempting to usurp him as the keeper of the Book of the Black, which has recently undergone some drastic changes – namely, every page now reads that ‘Hal Jordan will be the greatest Black Lantern’!
Like most events in the Green Lantern universe since Geoff Johns took over, the Rise of the Third Army has been teased for a while now, with the Guardians of the Universe hovering around in the background getting steadily more evil as they attempt to ‘fix’ the universe of its problems, whether the universe wants it or not. This issue sees their plans come to a head as the Third Army is created, as well as the culmination of the Revenge of Black Hand story that has been running through the last few issues of the main title.
Johns has always played the balance between explaining old questions and asking new ones, and never more so than here, as the answer to the mysterious ‘LET ME OUT’ that has been ringing (pun intended) out across all of the coloured Lantern Corps is revealed, but introduces even more plot points that will likely make sense later on in the story. It’s a great way to keep readers interested if you can do it properly, by making sure there’s always a reason to come back but without alienating them with too much mystery, and Johns has had so much practise that he can do it almost effortlessly here. The extended page count for the annual makes it even easier, I’m sure, as there’s plenty of page time for both the Guardians, and Hal and Sinestro.
There’s also a short back-up story that introduces the Third Army proper, and it’s safe to say that these guys are going to be formidable foes for the Lantern Corps. Born from the flesh of the Guardians themselves, they resemble the OMACs of the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe, assimilating those they touch and turning them into replicas of themselves, and all without free will. The back-up feels like the beginning of something big, and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of fun to be had over the next few months in the Green Lantern universe as a result of this effective prologue.
The Black Hand plot does feel a little rushed, given that it doesn’t really resolve so much as get put on hold until the Guardians deem it necessary to pull Black Hand back out. There’s nothing wrong with the execution, but it does feel like the storyline is swept off the board a little too quick in order to accommodate the Third Army instead. There’s also the point of what exactly happens to Hal and Sinestro as a result of Black Hand’s powers, but I think that’s more of a problem with the art on those particular pages than anything else.
Speaking of art, Johns’ collaborator on the event that restarted all of this, Green Lantern: Rebirth, Ethan Van Sciver, returns to draw this annual and it is glorious to behold. His art is crisp, clear, inventive, and in some cases downright creepy. There are a few moments as I mentioned earlier where it’s a little difficult to work out exactly what’s going on, but this is more due to the panel choices than the art itself.
The extra pages in this Green Lantern Annual mean that this book is about twice as good as usual. Despite a few pacing and panelling problems, the issue is well worth picking up, even if you’ve not been a fan of the Green Lantern universe so far – this is a springboard for everything that’s going on in all of the Lantern titles over the next few months, and you owe it to yourself to check it out.
GO Rating: 4/5