Green Lantern Annual: Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Hi-Fi, Sal Cipriano
Epiloge: The First Soldier: Geoff Johns, Pete Woods, Cam Smith, Tony Avina, Sal Cipriano
It’s s&$t-fan hitting time. Time for the Guardians to put their plan into motion. Time to finally see what they’re talking about! If there’s anything you can count on when it comes to Geoff Johns, it’s mysteries and riddles. Clue-laden stories that culminate in a huge universe-undoing event. It’s frustrating because, sometimes, there are so many of these clues that one starts to forget about some of them, and then when it comes time for the payoff, it doesn’t mean as much because we’ve been so distracted by everything else.
I feel like this whole Third Army deal is a little like that. There have been so many inclusions, so many proper nouns like “The First Lantern,” and “The Hidden Ones,” and so many moving parts that it feels like the most complicated crossover event Johns has written to date. I could be wrong, I mean I can’t speak for the man, but each Corps is threatened by this, and will be included in the event. It’s not quite “universe-spanning” like “Blackest Night” was, but it feels big still.
We start the issue, funny enough, with Hal Jordan in a box. Apparently Johns liked Ryan Reynolds as Hal so much, he included a “Buried” homage in the ish. He escapes to find Sinestro in a similar predicament, and tries to dig him out. But Black Hand offers Hal a deal that leaves Hal very conflicted. I like it. It’s a good twist that I’m surprised wasn’t explored more during “Blackest Night.” I wonder how hard Johns is kicking himself over that.
He and Sinestro team up and take on Black Hand, but the Guardians show up and empower Black Hand, ordering him to kill the Lanterns. Well…if it wasn’t obvious to Hal and Sinny before, it should be painfully clear that the smurfs don’t want them kicking around their universe anymore. This is where Hal’s ring merges back with Sinestro’s, and they fight over what type of person the ring should choose next. This, and I think also the influence of Black Hand over Hal, causes an “Error” in the ring as it flies off (to go get Simon Baz, don’t forget).
This, of course, leaves Hal powerless to stop Black Hand’s madness at the behest of the Book of the Black: “Hal Jordan will be the greatest Black Lantern.” Zwuuhh?!
The Guardians, now, are putting their plan into motion. They go to their special little prison rock, the Chamber of Shadows. Inside are the Hidden Ones, who are of the Guardians species apparently, and guard the Chamber of
Secrets Shadows with their lives. When the Guardians of Oa say they’re there for the First Lantern, the Hidden Ones defend it fruitlessly.
In the Epilogue, The Guardians take the First Lantern, and the mysterious being within it, to Earth…where they draw power from the First Lantern to make the first of their Third Army. It kind of reminds me of the hybrid infant at the end of Alien Resurrection. So the First Soldier (all these numbers!! First Lantern, Third Army! GAH!!) attacks a sheriff or something and gets beneath his skin to infect him, kind of, with this Third Army gene or whatever. It’s not really explained. Just that it’s a process of spreading and overtaking people to turn them into beings of the Third Army.
Whoever falls under the influence, and is transformed, apparently loses all of their free will and is subject to absolute control by the Guardians. This is their plan, to replace free will with total compliance and obedience. See, the Guardians have decided that, of all their failures, their biggest one was the use of Will to police the universe because Will is the most dangerous and unpredictable of all emotions. It is the cause of chaos. So, in their psychotic little brains, to provide absolute peace and order to the universe, they must eradicate free will. Fun!
Couple of different artists in this Annual: Van Sciver takes over for the main issue, and delivers a pretty great punch with his style. Though I can definitely see Ronnie Raymond in Hal Jordan’s face. I think this is because Ronnie’s drawn to look way older than he is. Please see: Becky Cloonan, or Ig Guara, or RB Silva, on how to draw teens. Van Sciver does a good job, though. Pete Woods comes over from Legion Lost to handle the Epilogue story, showing us the Third Army soldiers for the first time ever. He does a good job, but I’m definitely not afraid of this thing. It looks waaaay too cartoony. I would’ve hired someone who can make something that looks devastatingly scary, so as to actually have an effect on their targets that doesn’t include laughing their asses off.
Green Lantern Annual #1, the verdict: It was a good Annual. I’ll say that much. It was entertaining, and it definitely moved the story forward. That’s the biggest thing, I say, because it feels like we’ve been on this journey for a long time now (what, about a year, you think?) and the Guardians have been all talk up until now. One might argue they’ve been influencing events and people this whole time, to prepare for their move…but I don’t know, it just feels like it’s been taking too long. But I have to play devil’s advocate and admit that, if this whole thing had happened within the first 6 issues of the series, I would’ve complained that it went too fast. So I guess this way is better. Muuuuch better! (Name that 90’s show!)
(Photo Source: IGN)