Green Lantern Annual #1 is definitely the game-changing issue all of us were expecting, but while it has some great things going for it, there is sadly one thing Geoff Johns and Co. got dead wrong:
They killed off Hal Jordan so quickly it was almost an afterthought.
For someone who has been crowned the Greatest Green Lantern, Geoff Johns sure treats his death like anything but. The worst part is, Johns actually tries to hide the fact that he has so unceremoniously ridded the DC Universe of Hal. The issue starts out with such strong writing – reminiscent of Johns’ greatest moments in Green Lantern: Rebirth, Sinestro Corps War, and Blackest Night. Black Hand has finally reached that point of becoming what I would consider one of the greatest comic book villains of all time, and the panels are ripe with emotional intensity and a true sense of everything being at stake. Our hearts are racing as Hal digs himself out of his shallow grave to take on Black Hand with a powerless ring; our breath is bated as Black Hand threatens to resurrect Hal’s father right in front of his eyes. When the story moves on to follow the Guardians for a few pages, the sense of anticipation is palpable: we are promised a glimpse of the fabled First Lantern, the most powerful Lantern in the universe and the Guardian’s greatest secret. With our appetites whetted, Johns thrusts us back to the drama unfolding in the Coast City graveyard as Sinestro bursts from his grave and he and Hal make one last desperate attempt to defeat Black Hand in one of the greatest moments in Green Lantern history: Hal and Sinestro pull a power battery from Sinestro’s pocket dimension and recharge while both reciting the Oath. Jumping back to the Guardians and their Chamber of Shadows, the source of the voice from the power rings in the last issues of Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Green Lantern: New Guardians is revealed: the First Lantern has been screaming to be released. And as the Guardians make their way back to Oa with the First Lantern in tow – he is the only being truly capable of creating their Third Army – the unthinkable happens so fast you almost don’t care: the all-seeing Guardians see Hal and Sinestro battling Black Hand and after imbuing Black Hand with some of the power of the First Lantern, Hal and Sinestro are disintegrated in a matter of seconds. But at this point, everything is so amped up, the story is so intense, the First Lantern concept is so wicked cool, the fact that Hal Jordan – let alone Sinestro – have just been murdered doesn’t really register. There is no sense of mourning, no great, overwhelming sense of loss that a hero like Hal Jordan so richly deserves: just a sickening, mildewed aftertaste of an unshakable conviction that Geoff Johns and his cohorts just wanted Hal Jordan out-of-the-way so they could bank on this new Green Lantern that will be revealed in Green Lantern #0.
As a long time reader and superfan of Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern, I find myself asking this question over and over as I think about this sad turn of events: Where’s the loyalty to this character? Where’s the loyalty to the Hal Jordan Geoff Johns poured so much into making him one of the greatest superheroes of all time? Where’s the loyalty to us fans? Whatever the answer is, I’m very sick over what has been done to my favorite superhero, and the way that it happened. Sure, I probably won’t cancel my subscription to Green Lantern – there’s a part of me that is hoping against hope that Hal will come back and that this whole schtick was a roundabout way of proving (once again) what an incredible character Hal Jordan is – but I definitely won’t be looking forward to it each month like I had been for the last couple years. I’ve lost faith in Geoff Johns. My only consolation is that Tony Bedard’s Green Lantern: New Guardians and Peter Tomasi’s Green Lantern Corps are both so great that at least the green light that Hal championed still burns brightly in some parts of the galaxy.
As for this new Lantern who carries a gun – Baz, or whatever his name is – I wish him nothing but failure. They killed my favorite superhero to make room for you, you lucha-libre looking putz.