I hated Hal Jordan. I really did. He bored me to tears when I was a kid. You have a ring that could do anything. Anything. And what do we get; giant boxing gloves, big scissors and a hero who could be beaten with a banana if thrown hard enough. Oh and he had the personality of a cold damp rag. He was boring.
Geoff Johns changed all that.
I was 17 when Hal went nuts and killed the Corps. We barely had the internet back then (1994 folks) so it was all really a surprise to me. I only got the issues involved because of its crossover with the Reign of the Supermen storyline. Then along came Kyle Rayner and it blew me away. Despite all the old fans screaming and crying about Hal’s breakdown and metamorphosis into villain-hood, I was thrilled. The new Green Lantern rocked! He was Young, He was an artist (so he made awesome constructs: raging armored knights, an armada of spaceships, giant babes in nurse uniforms to help when he’s down, Skyscraper sized samurais, etc.) He had a sense of humor, which was reflected quite often in his constructs as well, and, get this: No Yellow Weakness. Amen.
Needless to say I followed Kyle on his 100 plus issue journey from hapless rookie to full-fledged savior of the universe hero. Then I heard the rumors. Hal Jordan is coming back. Not as Parallax, not as the Spectre (cringe) No, as Green Lantern. Honestly I was bummed. I was a fan of Geoff Johns from his JSA and Hawkman run, but still. Hal Jordan. Bleh.
After the first issue of rebirth I was hooked. Bringing back Hal, in the way it was done, in the way everything was perfectly explained and how things like the yellow weakness, Sinestro’s ring and it’s origin, the secret of Parallax, and the whole emotional link was a literary feat of awesomeness, and a milestone for the comic industry. Johns proved, it doesn’t matter who the character is, there is always a way to make them cool. By giving Hal depth, with is father’s death and his guilt for it (My own father died in 2003, so all that yucky emotional stuff hit pretty close to home for me), his relationship with Carol, and how important the Corps and its ideals were to Hal , Johns changed the way I and many others viewed him as a character.
People can say what they want about Blackest Night and Brightest Day. They can hem and haw about the return of certain characters from the dead, they can poke fun and call it the Care Bear Corps, ask silly questions about all the different colors. What they can’t do is say it wasn’t done well. If you haven’t read it you have no idea the history and structure each colored Corps has, nor the varying ranges of their powers. You have no idea how cool it was to see the epic battles fought across multi-universal scales, yet reading some of the most down-to-earth characterization of heroes and villains you can find on the printed page. Johns’ Blackest Night run was the first mainstream ongoing title I was able to convince my girlfriend to collect, and collect she did, going back and getting every issue of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corp that preceded it, and hasn’t missed an issue yet. I’m pretty sure our next pet will be named Larfleeze. For this alone, I thank Johns immensely. Your work here was amazing and has set the stage for generations of GL stories.
There isn’t much I can say about his work on Green Lantern and in the industry that hasn’t been said before, by fans and creators alike, so I’ll leave you with a few quotes from the real professionals: (Check out Green Lantern #20 for the rest of the quotes from various creators that worked with Johns)
“Geoff, there’s a special magic in watching a writer take a character and a region of comics that nobody else believed in and create a whole universe on it’s back. You polished up the ring in many colours and made it glow.”
– Neil Gaiman
“When I played Sinestro in the Green Lantern movie, the guy I went to on set for a reaction my first day, before anyone else, was Geoff Johns. As far as I was concerned he was and is the GL bible. His endorsement and the look on his face were the reason I knew I was on the right track.”
– Mark Strong
“ With customary diligence, Geoff Johns set about polishing Green Lantern’s light to a prismatic radiance that illuminated new corners of an old franchise. His expansive myth-making imagination brought fresh life and new meaning to Sector 2814 and beyond, and his remarkable work will remain the standard for a generation”
– Grant Morrison
“ No one gets to the heart of a character like Geoff. His Green Lantern must rank among the most beautifuly realized character overhauls in the history of the medium”
“ Geoff, congratulations on your incredible nine year odyssey, and for creating one of the best superhero epics ever! You set the standard and raised the bar. In Brightest Day…”
– Jeff Lemire
“ In brightest day
And darkest night
Geoff Johns, you wrote
Green Latern Right! “
– Dave Gibbons