Johns, Geoff

About the Author:

 

Geoff Johns was born in Detroit, USA and studied media arts, screenwriting, film production and film theory at Michigan State University.  He worked as an assistant to movie director Richard Donner for four years before becoming a writer for DC Comics.  Johns has also written for film and television, including Smallville and Robot Chicken.

 

AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:

3.7 out of 5

(10 books)

Blackest Night

(Art by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert, Rob Hunter, Julio Ferreira and Joe Prado)

An epic event story in which the DC Universe finds itself under attack from the Black Lanterns, a legion of the resurrected dead whose goal is the extinction of all life and light.  As countless heroes fall and are brought back as evil Black Lanterns, it falls to Green Lantern Hal Jordan to try to unite the corps of the emotional spectrum to destroy the central Black Lantern itself.

Although this was a DC-wide event it is very much the culmination of the story of Hal Jordan's return to the Green Lantern Corps.  For me that was just fine because I've read my way through all of the GL books up to this point and have been eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the various plot threads introduced across the series.  I can imagine, however, that to anyone who's not up on their Lantern lore, then this book could easily be bewildering because it doesn't spend a lot of time explaining why there are a whole rainbow of Lanterns now, which is central to the story here.

What I liked most about this book is the way it addresses the history of superheroes and villains who've been killed off over the years and weaves their separate deaths and, in some cases, resurrections into the overarching narrative of life versus death.  This is most prominent in the use of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen as the main protagonists, both of whom have gone through the cycle of death and rebirth.  It's actually all quite a meta exploration of how these things happen in comics, but also gives Johns the opportunity to make use of characters who have long-since been written-out of the narrative.

It's not my favourite event story (I'm still a sucker for Onslaught) but it is a very good one if you're at all invested in Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns.

4 out of 5

 

Green Lantern: Agent Orange

(Art by Philip Tan, Eddy Barrows, Ivan Reis, Rafael Albuquerque, Doug Mahnke, Jonathan Glapion, Ruy Jose, Julio Ferreira, Oclair Albert, Christian Alamy and Tom Nguyen)

Following on from 'Rage of the Red Lanterns', Hal Jordan struggles with his blue and green power rings as the War of Light begins in earnest.  Then, in the forbidden Vega system, an ancient enemy is awoken who wields the orange light of avarice and covets Jordan's blue ring.

Part of the Prelude to Blackest Night, this book introduces another new lantern corps, albeit one with a difference.  Unfortunately, where the introduction of the new corps was really interesting at first, here you can't help but think 'Oh, we're doing this again are we?'.  I think it's because so many new power ring colours have been introduced one after another that it doesn't feel fresh anymore.  On top of that is that, off the back of the previous book 'Secret Origins', this feels like another diversion from the build up to 'Blackest Night', rather than a true advancement of that storyline.

Don't misunderstand; this is still an enjoyable Green Lantern book, it's just not as engaging as some of the other books of the series.

3 out of 5

 

Green Lantern: No Fear

(Art by Darwyn Cooke, Carlos Pacheco, Ethan Van Sciver, Simone Bianchi, Jesus Merino and Prentis Rollins)

Following on from 'Rebirth', this relaunch of the Green Lantern series sees the resurrected Hal Jordan settling back into his former life as Green Lantern.  Meanwhile, Earth is targeted not only by the deadly robotic Manhunters but also by a race of aliens intent on manipulating the human genome to turn them into living weapons.

I'm not someone who considers themselves a Green Lantern fan but I have to say that I really enjoyed 'Rebirth'.  This, however, was something of a disappointment, lacking both the scope and pathos of that preceding story.  This is pretty much just Hal Jordan getting on with normal life, which definitely feels like a comedown after the whole Parallax/Spectre thing.

I'm not saying it's a bad book, but it is a pretty average one.

3 out of 5

 

Green Lantern: Rebirth

(Art by Ethan Van Sciver, Prentis Rollins, Marlo Alquiza and Mick Gray)

The first book of the relaunched Green Lantern series.  Hal Jordan, once the greatest of the Green Lanterns, became the supervillain Parallax before dying and bonding with the spirit of vengeance, the Spectre.  His successor, Kyle Rayner makes the shocking discovery that Parallax is, in fact, a parasitic entity of pure fear which infected Jordan and is seeking to break free once more.  The remaining members of the shattered Green Lantern Corps have to unite to not only resurrect Hal Jordan in his true form, but also to defeat the unleashed Parallax.

I've never been that big a Green Lantern fan, with largely a passing knowledge of the series' lore (purists will be horrified that the 90s version of Kyle Rayner was the Lantern I was most familiar with), but this book does a great job of walking you through the history of the characters involved.  Long-time fans might feel this is hand-holding, but I found it to be a great jumping-on point.  Johns also seems very respectful of the preceeding lore and goes to great lengths to give roles to all the main human Lanterns; Jordan, Rayner, John Stewart and even Guy Gardner.

The book builds in impact very nicely across its length, feeling almost like a whole-DC Universe event storyline rather than just a Green Lantern one.  Also, where DC comics are often viewed as darker and less optimistic than their Marvel counterparts, this book ends on a really nice hopeful high, with the fire of the Green Lantern Corps relit once more.

If there was one criticism I would level at this book, it is simply that its real-world imperatives are a little too obvious.  Johns clearly had the remit to return the Green Lanterns to the status quo with the most famous incarnation of the character in the leading role; an annoying trope which happens over and over again across comics.  Basically, because Hal Jordan is the most famous and therefore marketable Lantern, this whole story was created just to put him back in the driving seat.  But it was beautifully done.

5 out of 5

 

Green Lantern: Rage Of The Red Lanterns

(Art by Mike McKone, Shane Davis, Ivan Reis, Andy Lanning, Mario Alquiza, Cam Smith, Mark Farmer, Norm Rapmund, Sandra Hope, Oclair Albert and Julio Ferreira)

A prelude to 'Blackest Night'.  Following on from the events of the Sinestro War (reviewed here), the Green Lantern Corps has been irrevocably changed not only by the rise of the fear-powered Sinestro Corps, but also by the Guardians' shift towards lethal force.  As Hal Jordan struggles with the implications of the Corps' intention to execute Sinestro, a new Corps appears powered by the red light of rage.

On one level the introduction of the Red Lanterns, the Blue Lanterns and the new corps of Star Sapphires is an interesting and colourful expansion of the Green Lantern mythos, but on another it's actually the least interesting thing going on in this book.  It would be easy to be distracted by the expansion of the emotional power spectrum and that doesn't work in the book's favour.

Instead what you should focus on, and what I most enjoyed, is seeing the deeper ways that the new corps affect the Lanterns and Hal in particular.  We see the Guardians becoming more ruthless and somewhat fascistic in reaction to Sinestro's fear powers, which actually plays directly into the villain's hands.  Meanwhile we also get to see Hal wrestle with his duty as a Lantern, his anger at Sinestro's crimes and his need to hope for a better universe.

4 out of 5

 

Green Lantern: Revenge Of The Green Lanterns

(Art by Carlos Pacheco, Jesus Merino, Ethan Van Sciver, Prentis Rollins, Ivan Reis, Mark Campos and Oclair Albert)

Book 2 (or 3, depending on whether you count 'Rebirth' as part of the main series or a separate standalone).  Having taken up his former life as Earth's Green Lantern, Hal Jordan now has to face the repercussions of his actions under the influence of Parallax.  This involves fighting the offspring of his hated enemy Mongul, winning back the trust of the Batman and launching a mission to rescue the Green Lanterns who he believed he had killed.

I liked the overarching theme of this book that although Hal has returned to his role and earned his redemption, that doesn't erase the damage he did as Parallax.  It's not all 'forgive and forget' for some his former colleagues and he still has a long road ahead to atone for his crimes.  I also liked the reintroduction of Hank Henshaw (AKA Cyborg Superman), a villain whose appearances I've enjoyed ever since he first turned up in 'The Return of Superman' (reviewed here).

Despite those positive points, the stories within the book feel fragmented and disassociated from one another.  The theme of facing his own mistakes is a good one but doesn't cohesively tie the whole book together, leaving it feeling less like a coherent graphic novel and more like a series of separate stories (which, of course, it would have been in its original serialised comic book format).

3 out of 5

 

Green Lantern: Secret Origin

(Art by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert and Julio Ferreira)

The story of how Hal Jordan came to be Green Lantern, retold in an updated way with extra details that lead into the 'Blackest Night' event.

Unlike heroes like Superman or Batman, my knowledge of Green Lantern's story was passing at best until I picked up the books of Johns' relaunch of the series (beginning with 'Rebirth').  However, just in those few (seven?) books I feel like Hal Jordan's background has been rehashed sufficiently that, to begin with at least, this felt a little like watching Thomas and Martha Wayne get shot all over again.  It feels a little like taking a massive swerve away from the really interesting build-up to 'Blackest Night' to reiterate something we already know.

That said, and almost certainly intentionally, this book would be a great jumping-on point for anyone who doesn't know Hal Jordan's story.  It really is very well told and expands the original version of the tale to retcon in details of the Green Lantern lore that hadn't even been invented when Hal first debuted (in 1959, I think).

Amusingly, my copy of this book is the edition re-released to coincide with the Ryan Reynolds Green Lantern movie.  It's quaint how the interviews and production stills in the back all act like they're gearing up for the next hit superhero movie.

3 out o5

 

Green Lantern: Wanted: Hal Jordan

(Art by Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert and Daniel Acuna)

Book 3.  When Hal Jordan's flying partner Cowgirl is shot down, he breaks international law and violates Russian airspace to save her from the terrorists who previously held them both captive.  Confronted by the Rocket Red Brigade, the Global Guardians, the Justice League and alien bounty hunters, Green Latern has to clear his name and save his friend.

I liked the idea that Hal considers himself above things like national jurisdictions, being the guardian of a whole sector of space and that this naturally causes friction with other Earth-based superheroes, particularly in the wake of 'Infinite Crisis'.  Despite this, the front half of this book is a bit messy and Hal's renegade status is all cleared up a little too quickly and conveniently for my tastes.

However, what took this book up a notch in my book was how it begins to lay the groundwork for conflicts to come.  Here we're introduced to the Sinestro Corps, as well as discovering Star Sapphire's surprising connection to the Guardians, giving us two new parallels for the Green Lantern Corps to contend with (and it won't stop there!).  Whilst nothing of this gets resolved or even comes to a head here, there is a definite and enjoyable feeling of the larger game being afoot.

4 out of 5

 

Infinite Crisis

(Art by Phil Jimenez, George Perez, Jerry Ordway, Ivan Reis, Andy Lanning, Oclair Albert, Marlo Alquiza, Marc Campos, Wayne Faucher, Drew Geraci, Jimmy Palmiotti, Sean Parsons, Norm Rapmund, Lary Stucker and Art Thibert)

'Infinite Crisis' is the most important story event to hit the DC Comics universe in twenty years and is a direct follow up to 1985's 'Crisis On Infinite Earths' by Marv Wolfman.  As the story here begins the OMAC warriors are killing metahumans worldwide, magic has been devastated by the Spectre's insane purge, the Society of supervillains has united to defeat their heroic enemies and an intergalactic war rages in deep space.  More significant than this, however, is the fact that Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman no longer trust one another and cannot unite to fight the growing darkness. 

Watching these events are characters from parallel Earths which were destroyed; Alex Luthor, Superboy Prime, Earth-2 Superman and his wife Lois Lane.  Apalled by the state of Earth they decide to intervene and establish Earth-2 as the only Earth, erasing the darkness growing on Earth-1.  I know it sounds complicated, but Johns makes sure we've got a full commentary of all the parallel world stuff, including a recap of the events of 'Crisis On Infinite Earths'. 

So much happens in this book that I can't begin to even summarise it all, but suffice to say that 'Infinite Crisis' sweeps through the entire DC universe, killing many of the characters and irrevocably changing many more.  A few highlights include; two Supermen getting some payback on Doomsday, the all-out war between heroes and villains in the streets of Metropolis, the introduction of a new Blue Beetle, a psychotic Superboy going on a kill-spree and the full might of the Green Lantern Corps unleashed. 

Amidst all this awesome stuff (the book's packed so full you'll read it again and again and still find things you missed before), two things stand out in my mind.  The first is the fact that, when things come to a head, because Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are still at odds, it is their younger counterparts Superboy, Nightwing and Wonder Girl who have to step up and combine their abilities to save the universe.  And one of them doesn't survive. 

The other stand-out bit will only appeal to long-time Bat-fans like me.  Early in the book the Joker is told he's too nuts to join Lex Luthor's Society.  However, Luthor has made bad mistake and at the end, after the universe has been to the brink of destruction and back, the Joker (along with the real Lex Luthor) shows up to knock him down for good. 

I honestly can't recommend this book and the entire lead-up series enough.  My only disappointment here was that there isn't enough of the Shadowpact (introduced in 'Day Of Vengeance') and absolutely no sign of the Secret Six (introduced in 'Villains United').

5 out of 5

 

Justice League Volume 2: The Villain's Journey

(Art by Jim Lee, Gene Ha, Carlos D'Anda, Ivan Reis, Ethan Van Sciver, David Finch, Scott Williams, Joe Prado, Mark Irwin, Jonathan Glapion, Sandra Hope, Matt Banning, Rob Hunter, Joe Weems, Alex Garner and Trevor Scott)

A New 52 book.  The Justice League are at the top of their game and are beloved by the world, however a vengeful new villain rises to threaten not only the League's public reputation but also their trust for each other.

The New 52 was intended as a reboot of the DC Universe to clear away all the lore which had built up since the 80s and deliver a fresher and purer version of the famous DC characters.  I hate reboots.  Because this incarnation of the Justice League doesn't have all that lore behind it, it feels totally unfamiliar despite having some of the most famous comic book characters of all time in it.  The chirpy, bantering characters we see here feel nothing like their pre-reboot selves and they now totally lack the chemistry and history which previously was the great thing about seeing these icons work together.

This isn't a bad book by any stretch, but it feels tonally weird and introduces an ultimately pointless new villain where there are any number of better ones Johns could've used.

3 out of 5

Collaborations & Anthologies:

Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War - Volume One (here)

Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War - Volume Two (here)

JLA: Crisis Of Conscience (here)

JLA/JSA: Virtue And Vice (here)

Justice League Volume 3: Throne Of Atlantis (here)

Power Girl (here)

Prelude To Infinite Crisis (here)

Superman: Secret Origin (here)

The Flash: Rogue War (here)

The OMAC Project (here)

The Vision: Behold... The Vision!/Avengers Icons - The Vision (here)

Ultimate X-Men: Ultimate Collection Book 1 (here)

Read more...

DC Comics (here)

Marvel Comics (here)