Green Lantern #17 Review

Green Lantern #17 is the beginning of the end for the Johns’ era of Green Lantern and the ride has been something special for Green Lantern fans both new and old more experienced.  The Wrath of the First Lantern takes its first steps in this issue and I’ve got one bit of speculation that, if true, could make this story one of the most epic arcs of the whole run.

The Story – 

The issue starts out over ten billion years ago where we witness a retelling of Krona’s efforts to witness the dawn of the universe and the familiar hand that has for so long been a part of the mythology of the DC Universe.  But what changes is that the hand turns over to reveal a ring before the image breaks apart in an explosion which results in the arrival of a very human looking Volthoom.
Returning to present day Simon Baz continues to be at the mercy of Black Hand in the Chamber of Shadows until Earth’s newest Green Lantern breaks free, but falls back under the control of Hand despite the pleas of the Hidden Ones to be set free before the First Lantern can power up.  Back on Oa the First Lantern makes easy work of the Third Army before turning his attention to Ganthet and the Guardians.  Volthoom reveals the secret that the Guardians have divorced themselves from their emotions, storing them as we’ve seen deep beneath the surface of Maltus in Red Lanterns #16.  However Ganthet never fully took the plunge and kept a small connection to his emotions until the Guardians took it all away back in the first post-Flashpoint relaunch issue of the series.

Volthoom’s arrival on Oa ten billion years ago.  Hmmm….my Lantern sense is tingling!

Volthoom reveals the “constellation” of Ganthet’s life and we see moments that span eons.  The First Lantern chooses the moment when the Guardians debated abandoning their emotions as a linchpin event in history and proceeds to manipulate Ganthet into lobbying his fellow beings to embrace them instead.  This leads to Baz and Black Hand to momentarily blinks in existence to be replaced by a very living William Hand and none other than Abin Sur.  The millenia of incarceration and being used by the Guardians during the Rise of the Third Army has left Volthoom in a weakened state and his inability to completely change history returns our reality back to its original path, allowing Baz the briefest of moments to free the Hidden Ones.
Volthoom sets a plan in motion to recharge himself by toying with the main players of the Green Lantern universe as Baz is sent by Black Hand into the Dead Zone where he lands at the feet of a very surprise Sinestro and Hal Jordan.

The Writing –
I’ve seen some early criticism about this final arc not starting with the wrath that the title implies, but I think there’s a need to make this story a personal one for the characters and the stakes need to be firmly established before we plunge headlong into the confrontation at hand.  This is the first part of a sixteen part story and there will be plenty of time for fisticuffs.

The origins of the Corps is a complex story we’re seeing told bit by bit.

There’s something very interesting here besides the revelations about the Guardians’ emotions that bears some really close examination.  There are two panels in particular that I think are being used to lay the groundwork for a shocker later on down the road.  The first is the appearance of Volthoom and the second is that intriguing panel where the First Lantern says the line, “and witness my rebirth” while looking at an image of Hal Jordan.  My gut tells me that before this is done we’re going to learn that Volthoom is either an future version of Hal, or, more likely, a Hal from another Earth in the multiverse.

Yeah, I know it sounds a bit crazy, but you know if you look at Volthoom and change the color of his hair and eyes he looks an awful lot like Hal, and he’s wearing what could certainly pass for an alternate U.S. astronaut uniform.  And the fact that he looks exclusively at Hal while talking about witnessing his rebirth is all the evidence I need to get my Lantern sense tingling.  And boy wouldn’t that explain the Guardians’ fear of Hal all these years!

Something else about this issue carries a similar sense of importance and that’s the imagery that fills the two page spread showing key moments from Ganthet’s past.  Of particular interest is the confirmation that the events of Rebirth are still in the post Flashpoint continuity.   For me it is the continued development of the history of the Guardians that I find most appealing with the elaboration that the Guardians voluntarily chose to eradicate their emotions.  That Ganthet kept a connection to them makes so much sense when you look back on how he has always been a bit different from his brethren and it then further explains what was done to him back in issue one.

The Hidden Ones – do they play a part of the future of the Corps?

I’m so familiar with the the story of Krona that I fully admit I never thought about the underside of the great hand!  Like the emotional spectrum this is another classic example of Geoff Johns taking the known and revealing another facet that existed under our noses all this time.  That the great hand wore a ring fits nicely with the reason why the Guardians ultimately settle on the same device to channel the energy of willpower as well as modeling the lantern after the one in Volthoom’s possession when he arrives.  It’s simple and elegant…and brilliant.

There’s little doubt that Baz will be instrumental to helping Hal and Sinestro escape from the Dead Zone and it’ll be interesting to see how he fits in as he’s surrounded by three of the greatest Green Lanterns in history who will no doubt have plenty of advise on what to do.  In fact I fully expect Sinestro to try to take the ring back, but I fully believe that the groundwork that Johns has laid already with Baz will be important going forward.  No one has told Baz what can’t be done with the ring and as we’ve seen the implied limitations have retarded the ring bearers before him.  If they can both take a back seat and let Baz drive they all just may get out of there alive.

So while this issue doesn’t see a whole lot of wrath I’m of the opinion that there’s plenty there to chew on as a reader and I’m looking forward to seeing this story played out, and if I’m hoping for anything from this final tale from Johns it’s in getting a lot more questions answered about the history of the Corps.  There are so many questions and I’m really hoping we get most if not all of the answers by issue twenty.

The Art –
Doug Mahnke is such a great visual storyteller and he capitalizes on every opportunity provided to him throughout this issue.  There’s not much more I can say other than that he’s done a great job following Ivan Reis on this series and he’s truly made it his own.

What Do I Think?
Green Lantern #17 doesn’t launch the Wrath of the First Lantern with a roar out of the starting gates.  No, instead it takes a bit more of a subtle approach, taking its time to set the stage for what I feel is going to be a tremendous conclusion by planting a seed or two and given them room to germinate.  The end is coming all too soon and this issue is a great way to round third as Geoff Johns’ run is heading for home.  Four out of five lanterns.

About the author

Life long Green Lantern fan and co-host of the Podcast of Oa. I'm a Barbecue snob and aficionado of blues music. Hal Jordan is my co-pilot!

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