And so, after 87 issues of the ongoing solo series across two series (to say nothing of the annuals, <em>Rebirth</em> miniseries, <em>Secret Files</em> special issues and <em>Green Lantern Corps</em> co-writing chores and GL-propelled event <i>Blackest Night</i>), Geoff Johns has stepped down from his leadership role of DC's <em>Green Lantern</em> franchise, with his final issue, <b>Green Lantern #20</b>, out this week (<a href=http://www.newsarama.com/17863-preview-green-lantern-20-geoff-johns-final-issue.html>preview here</a>). <p>During his nine-year run with the character, Johns has turned <em>Green Lantern</em> into one of the publisher's most well-known and highest-selling properties, arguably eclipsing even Wonder Woman in terms of profile. The writer has also given a lot to the series and franchise in terms of story and concept. Here are the 10 biggest additions he's given to the mythology of the ring-slinging space cops.
It seems almost ridiculous to think of now, but prior to <em>Green Lantern: Rebirth</em>, Hal Jordan hadn't been the regular GL for more than a decade, having gone rogue in 1994's "Emerald Twilight" storyline, when he killed the Guardians and destroyed the Corps. <p>Since then, he'd redeemed himself by sacrificing himself to reignite the sun in 1996's <em>The Final Night</em> event, and returned as the Spectre as a result of 1999's <em>Day of Judgment</em> crossover (written by one Geoff Johns, in fact), but the idea of Hal as a Green Lantern — especially the premier Green Lantern — was something abandoned to nostalgia and wishful thinking. Within just six issues, Johns changed that — and without damaging then-current Kyle Rayner's reputation, surprisingly. <p>Maybe there was room for multiple GLs in comics, after all.
Early on in <em>Rebirth</em>, Green Arrow tries to use a Green Lantern ring and... Well, pretty much fails. That was a shift from the past, when it seemed as if anyone could use the ring if they wore it — remember the early days of Gerard Jones' run when the rings were stolen by rednecks? — and a decision that made every single Lantern seem that little bit more impressive (yes, even G'Nort). <p>Simply stating that it's actually <em>difficult</em> to muster up the willpower to do anything with the ring — never mind use it for superheroics — was something that made the Lanterns just a little bit cooler.
One of the biggest retcons of Johns' take on the <em>GL</em> mythology was the importance of fearlessness — that ring bearers weren't chosen because they were without fear, but because they could <em>overcome</em> fear... something that at once made the Lanterns a little bit more relatable for the reader (who hasn't had to overcome fear at some point in their life, after all?) and removed one of the more outrageous parts of the core concept, which had <a href=http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2012/11/10/the-abandoned-an-forsaked-so-is-hal-jordan-really-without-fear-or-what/>even been parodied within the series itself</a> at one point. <p>Not to mention, it tied in with...
Before Johns, the Green Lantern Corps was powered by a giant green lantern and cosmic energy that we didn't really want to think too much about. Now, of course, we know that it's also powered by Ion, a avatar created by the green wavelength of the emotional spectrum, and that Ion (based on a pre-existing concept originally introduced by Judd Winick) is only one of seven such emotional avatars in the universe. <p>That Ion shared the giant green lantern with Parallax, the fear avatar, explained multiple plots from previous <em>Green Lantern</em> stories, and also set up a number of new ones, opening up the <em>GL</em> mythology to a whole new army of Lanterns of different hues. Which brings us to...
Once upon a time, there were the Green Lanterns, plus one villain with a yellow ring, and one Star Sapphire. Johns took these elements as a starting point, and built an expansive — occasionally ridiculous (the avatar of love is called "The Predator"? really?) — universe around them, taking multiple threads of <em>Lantern</em> lore to their natural conclusion. <p>These days, it's hard to imagine there being no Sinestro Corps, Indigo Tribe or Black Lanterns, but all of that comes from Johns' time on the title.
On the face of it, the notion that every space sector should have <em>two</em> Green Lanterns instead of one is an unimportant one that's just a fix for the "How can we deal with having multiple human Green Lanterns at once?" problem that's plagued the franchise for the last 20-odd years, but there's actually something wonderfully elegant about the way in which it opens up the <em>GL</em> concept to dramatic possibilities, creating tension and/or comedy within each sector depending on the pairs that are created by the new rule. <p>Plus, it doubles the amount of <em>GL</em>s out there for creators to tell stories about, which is nice.
With 7,200 Lanterns to play with and a reborn Corps to build, Johns (and other writers, notably Dave Gibbons and Peter Tomasi on <em>Green Lantern Corps</em>) got to work filling out the small stuff: Can Lanterns get promoted? Who keeps tabs on where everyone is? Where do the Lanterns relax? And so on. <p>With today's fandom more interested in the minutiae of superheroic day-to-day business, it was only a matter of time before someone had to decide whether or not the Guardians had a glorified secretary (Hi, Salaak!), and thankfully Johns led the charge to answer almost every question that could be asked...
Who watches the Watchm — wait, that's a different comic. But Johns (with the help of Grant Morrison) came up with the Lanterns' own internal affairs division with the only-somewhat-terrifying Alpha Lanterns, cyborgs whose hearts were literally replaced by green lanterns, which allowed them to depower Lanterns who were judged to be unworthy of the power and responsibility they possessed. <p>Both fulfilling a need for the Corps and material for future storylines — particularly in <em>Final Crisis</em> and <em>Green Lantern Corps</em> — the Alpha Lanterns were the first true signs that perhaps it wasn't that the Guardians were unknowable, but just downright up to no good.
The depiction of the the Guardians of The Universe has varied wildly throughout the years, depending on society's take on authority figures in general and the <em>Green Lantern</em> series' take on the concept in particular. They've gone from being all-knowing, benign overlords to out-of-touch bosses who need to spend some time learning about humanity, from aliens with an agenda that we can't understand to... Well, there's little chance that anyone reading recent <em>Green Lantern</em> titles could consider them anything other than villains. <p>While almost everything else Johns has done to the <em>GL</em> franchise has been additive, this is at best transformative and at worst destructive in its long-term application — though with one Johns-written issue left, there may be more changes to come.
Who is the First Lantern? Well, he was revealed to be Volthoom — <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Power_Ring_%28DC_supervillains%29>a name familiar to fans of DC's Silver Age Earth 3</a> — a being charged up by the Guardians before the creation of the Green Lantern Corps to defend the universe, who ended up being imprisoned by the Guardians due to his vast power. <p>Another piece of Johns' expansion of the Lanterns' creation myth, the First Lantern suggests that the Guardians have been up to shady business for quite some time, and complicated the good versus evil worldview of the organization as a whole.