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Geoff Johns’ final Green Lantern story arc, Wrath of the First Lantern, begins here in this issue. Volthoom moves to the forefront to start getting his wrath on while Simon Baz finds himself facing off against Black Hand. It’s a solid beginning that sets the stage for Johns to unveil on last piece of Green Lantern mythology.
Building this mythology has primarily been the focus of Johns’ long run on Green Lantern. It did begin with returning Hal Jordan to the role, but Jordan has rarely, if ever, really been the focus of the stories. He just served as a platform to kick things off from and then as a placeholder to keep them going. It began with Parallax, who was revamped into an entity of fear as the first piece of Johns’ new Green Lantern mythology. From Parallax’s revelation that yellow energy was powered by fear, we moved on to developing Sinestro as arguably the most focused on and developed character in Johns’ run. The development of his Sinestro Corps led to the entire Emotional Spectrum. The histories of the various Lantern Corps springing from that began revealing the Guardians’ secret sins. And finally, those sins are now leading us back to the beginning with Volthoom.
The prologue of this issue flashes back to the Guardians first encounter with Volthoom and is illustrated by Dan Jurgens and Phil Jiminez. I hate saying, but the art really undermines the whole scene. The designs of the characters are just so campy that I can’t read this scene with any degree of seriousness. I mean, this is our big reveal of Volthoom? It all looks silly and badly out of place with the rest of the issue in Doug Mahnke’s style and modern designs.
So it seems that Volthoom’s thing is to read people’s lifelines and have the power to alter it, thereby altering reality. This doesn’t really sound like it relates at all to someone powered by the full Emotional Spectrum, but this is what we got. There’s good potential in this gimmick, and it is a gimmick. This is a Geoff Johns event. Of course there’s a gimmick. This sets Volthoom on the path of having to recharge his power so that he can alter reality to his liking, which I guess means we will be seeing him mess with the lifelines of our main characters in the franchise.
Ganthet’s the lucky guy to get some of that treatment in this issue, though his current lack of emotion cuts it short. We do get a flashback to when the Guardians apparently made the decision to suppress their emotions, but there’s nothing particularly telling about it. In fact, it’s a little confusing. There’s such a small group of Guardians present. Shouldn’t there be several more back then? I see only one more than the current six featured in this issue, but there are more Guardians who should be alive and present back then. Off the top of my head, I can think of Sayd, Scar, the one Guardian who blew up on Superboy Prime and Appa Ali Apsa. It’s not a huge deal. But really, it’s attention to details that can make or break stories trying to do some mythology building.
Simon Baz’s role in this issue isn’t incredibly eventful. He and Black Hand grapple in confusion for a little while with neither understanding what to make of the other. Baz does make it somewhat interesting since he is sitll so new, though. I’d really like to see more of him, but the cliffhanger ending leaves me doubtful about it. We’re bringing back Jordan and Sinestro already? So much for Baz getting to do anything. That’s a real disappointment.
No, that’s not a big spoiler. Not a damn one of you actually thought those two were gone for good.
Mahnke is aided by a hell of a lot of inkers this time around, and there are some inconsistencies in the art where you can really tell. It’s nothing bad, but there are panels that get a little distracting when the style looks to momentarily shift to something else. I do have to say that the big spread of Volthoom accessing Ganthet’s “life constellation” is one hell of an awesome page, though.
The first impression of Wrath of the First Lantern I get here is that this is going to neither be Johns’ best arc or his worst. The worst was Rise of the Third Army, which was so underwhelming that I don’t even feel right referring to it as a legit story arc. Volthoom’s whole life constellation gimmick should make for an excellent way for Johns to say his goodbyes to these characters. Seriously. I can’t be the only one looking forward to seeing Volthoom dig into Sinestro’s.