Review: Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super-Spectacular #1
[Editor’s Note: This review DEFINITELY contains spoilers]
Writers: James Tynion IV, Geoff Johns, Cullen Bunn, Dennis O’Neil, Ron Marz, Peter J. Tomasi, Charlotte (Fullerton) McDuffie, Chriscross, Robert Venditti, Mariko Tamaki, Sina Grace
Art: Gary Frank, Ivan Reis, Oclair Albert, Doug Mahnke, Mike Grell, Daryl Banks, Fernando Pasarin, Wade Von Grawbadger, Chriscross, Jordi Taragona, Rafa Sandoval, Mirka Andolfo, Ramon Villalobos
Colors: Steve Oliff, Alex Sinclair, David Baron, Lovern Kindzierski, Hi-Fi, Gabe Eltaeb, Luis Guerrero, Ivan Plascencia, Arif Prianto, Rico Renzi
Letters: Tom Napolitano, Rob Leigh, Carlos M. Mangual, Clem Robbins, Josh Reed, Steve Wands, Dave Sharpe, Gabriella Downie, Andworld Design
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the Emerald Gladiator with more Green Lanterns than you can shake a stick at! Alan Scott! Hal Jordan! John Stewart! Guy Gardner! Kyle Rayner! Jessica Cruz! Simon Baz! Sinestro! Sinestro? Yes, even Sinestro! It’s 100-pages with something for nearly everyone…maybe…
With such a large book and extensive cast of Green Lanterns at play- it may be hard to hit all the high notes, but let’s start at the beginning with Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern in “Dark Things Cannot Stand the Light,” Whether you like the story itself, James Tynion IV turns in a tight, well written, clever script. Gary Frank’s art, however, is an audition for either a Green Lantern or Justice Society of America series set in the 1940’s. His art is absolutely spectacular! Those who have read Doomsday Clock know how well he can depict characters from different eras. All this is on display as he nails the fashions and feel of the Golden Age of Comics…the story itself…? Well, we’ll have to come back to that in a little bit…
Geoff Johns turns in a humorous tale that serves to tell the reader a lot about Hal Jordan. It’s quite effective despite the comical twist at the end. This is wonderfully illustrated by Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert. It’s nice to see Johns and Reis on GL again. “Time Alone,” with Denny O’Neil’s recent passing, will clearly be one of this legendary writer’s last stories. It is a beautiful tribute to the “Hard Travelling Heroes” era of the Green Lantern/ Green Arrow team. The theme of the story fits right in with the original series of stories. While Neal Adams is not on hand for this reunion, Mike Grell is! Grell not only drew Green Lantern/Green Arrow for a time in the ’70’s, but was instrumental in Green Arrow’s development through the late ’80’s and ’90’s in Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters and his subsequent ongoing series.
Even Sinestro’s story, “The Meaning of Fear” evokes the conflict in Sinestro’s character. Far from the simple villain of his naissance in the ’60’s, the one-time-Green Lantern of Korugar has developed over the years into a likable evil character, because his story has so much impact on his reliance on fear. And, fear is relatable. And, there always seems that the door to redemption is open just a little bit…perhaps, that’s the fear.
Aside from “And the Dark Things Cannot Stand the Light,” all these stories pay tribute to the characters and eras they represent. With so many individuals having “wielded the ring” in the history of the concept, there are subtleties and nuances to each character and in just a few pages it’s very easy to be taken right back into that era. “Legacy” starring Kyle Rayner does this perfectly, with just a few references to his time in the ’90’s as Earth’s main Green Lantern. Notably, Fernando Pasarin appears to channel Kevin Maguire a bit in the story featuring Guy and Killowog. This takes the reader back to Guy and his Giffen/Dematteis Justice League days!
Robert Venditti’s “Four” touches on many elements from his run and really brings the Guy into the spotlight. As a reader who never really liked Guy Gardner, Venditti makes even me like Guy. Fans of the Justice League animated series that featured John Stewart and Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl) as a romantic item will appreciate the Dwayne McDuffie tribute, “Reverse the Polarity,” written by McDuffie’s widow.
There’s one big negative that stands out in Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super-Spectacular: “And the Dark Things Cannot Stand the Light” has taken a cue from “The New 52” title, Earth 2 and presented Alan Scott as homosexual. There was some controversy over this in 2012, but that version of Alan Scott was essentially a brand new character, he just happened to share the name with the Golden Age Green Lantern. In this case, however, this retcon would seem to eliminate the rich history of Alan Scott that DC fans know and love. One of the hallmarks of the character is his children, Jade and Obsidian. It would seem extremely difficult to work them back in. Not to mention his marriage to Molly Mayne, the Golden Age Harlequin.
The return of the Justice Society of America has been anticipated for the past four years since it was hinted at in DC Universe: Rebirth. This was finally realized in both Scott Snyder’s recent run on Justice League and in Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Doomsday Clock. Those stories seemed to fit somewhere between “these are the same characters you’ve always loved” (Doomsday Clock) and “things may be familiar, but some things may have changed” (Justice League). It certainly deflates the balloon of excitement for the return of the characters that have been missed for so long.
Furthermore, it calls into question how Alan would be treated by his fellow JSAers in the forties. It would be wrong to present everyone being accepting, because that’s not how it was in those days. Is “Doiby” Dickles going to get it?It would be disingenuous and anachronistic. Alan Scott’s son, Obsidian remains an excellent character and an example of diversity. It is not quite comprehensible why DC would make this change without considering all the ramifications. With the “Rebirth” initiative four years ago, it seemed like DC understood the things fans wanted back. They wanted history, legacy, continuity and character development. This change makes it seem that DC really doesn’t understand at all.
With the current Young Animal title, Far Sector featuring Jo Mullein, it’s a little disappointing that she didn’t make an appearance here in a story. Plus, there are a few other Lanterns that didn’t get any space that would’ve been lovely to see, Abin Sur, Katma Tui, Tomar Re, Ch’p, Arisa and of course the greatest of them all- (see below!)
Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super-Spectacular is an extremely fun trip through the history of the wielders of the green ring. Outside of the Alan Scott tale, they all deliver that nostalgia and sense of of scope of those who have worn the Green Lantern power ring. Most importantly, they focus on character. They not only remind the reader of a particular time or era, but reconnect the reader with why the Green Lantern concept is transferable to so many different individuals. Unfortunately, Alan Scott’s story is unable to do the same thing, feeling like something new rather than something familiar. Oh, and G’nort (see above) wonders where his story is!