The Men Who Restored the Mythos
The Tenth in a Series Examining Green Lantern History
Throughout the summer we have been celebrating the 75th anniversary of Green Lantern’s first appearance via a series of features each of which focuses on the characters and creators who had a lasting impact on the rich history of Green Lantern mythology. This final installment focuses on the creators who left their mark on the Green Lantern universe during the Modern Age.
Born in Michigan in 1973, Geoff Johns’ first experience with comic books came through the discovery of a collection of Silver Age comics in his Grandmother’s attic. Johns became particularly attracted to DC Comics and developed a particular interest in The Flash. After high school graduation studied media arts, screenwriting, film production, and film theory before graduating from Michigan State University in 1995. Moving to Los Angeles Johns famously became a production assistant for director Richard Donner after cold calling his office. In 1997 while in New York Johns met several people from DC Comics while working on the film Conspiracy Theory, which led to a rebirth in his interest in the comics industry.
The resulting tour of DC’s offices led to the creation of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. which focused on the second Star-Spangled Kid, Courtney Whitmore, and her stepfather. Whitmore was based on Johns’ sister, Courtney, who died tragically in the explosion of TWA flight 800 in 1996. While Johns considered comics writing as a secondary job he was soon ushered into the industry by Mike Carlin, David Goyer, and James Robinson, who brought Geoff in as a co-writer on the JSA series. Later that year Johns was given the opportunity to write The Flash and he dipped his toes in the Marvel universe with stories in books like The Avengers and Ultimate X-Men.
Johns would jump full-time into DC Comics and wrote the Day of Judgement event which brought Hal Jordan back to life in the mantle of The Spectre. Johns would return Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps to the DC Universe in 2004 when he teamed with artist Ethan Van Sciver on Green Lantern: Rebirth. The limited series would be a major success for DC Comics and led to the eventual launch of a new Green Lantern series.
During the following years, Johns would shepherd the Green Lantern universe to unprecedented popularity as the book became a mainstay in the top 10 selling comics in part to the creative energy poured into revising the Silver Age mythology for the 21st century. Stories like The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night would turn Green Lantern into a major franchise for DC Comics and propel Johns to superstar status in the industry. Johns would win the Wizard Fan Award for Best Writer in 2005 and 2006 as well as find himself named Best Comic Book Writer by Spike television two years in a row.
It was Johns’ notion of the emotional spectrum that would set the Green Lantern universe ablaze, making a connection between the spectrum of light and various emotions which would greatly expand the mythology and create many characters which have become vital parts of the DC Universe. Green Lantern’s popularity reached a fever pitch as 2010 approached with the characters getting a massive merchandising push. Green Lantern t-shirts and cosplay were ubiquitous at comic book conventions around the world.
When Warner Brothers created DC Entertainment in 2010 Geoff Johns was elevated to the position of Chief Creative Officer and began to oversee a number of efforts to bring DC’s library of characters to all forms of media. Johns was the obvious choice to be a creative consultant when Warner Brothers would decide to launch a Green Lantern major motion picture which debuted in 2011. His new duties would stunt his comics writing output and in 2013 he stepped away from the Green Lantern series.
Johns continues to work with DC to this day, continuing to help bring DC’s roster to life in ways that go far beyond their two-dimensional adventures.
Ethan Van Sciver
Ethan Van Sciver knew at an early age that he wanted to draw comics for a living, an aspiration shared by most of his friends that he grew up with in New Jersey. Van Sciver was the one who remained focused on that goal and as a result has become one of the most talented artists of the Modern Age, recognized for his meticulous attention to detail. Born in 1974 Van Sciver paid his artistic dues by doing caricatures, children’s books, and creating often bootleg clothing items before breaking into the comics industry with the Cyberfrog series which he both wrote and drew.
His work eventually brought him to DC Comics where he provided the artwork for a number of issues of Impulse and then drew a few issues of New X-men and Wolverine at Marvel Comics. In 2001 Ethan Van Sciver worked with Geoff Johns on the Flash graphic novel, Iron Heights, and drew the Batman/Catwoman: Trail of the Gun two-issue mini-series. But it was his re-teaming and collaboration with Geoff Johns on Green Lantern: Rebirth in 2004 which made people really begin to notice his talent.
Van Sciver would provide input on the series and made a number of valuable contributions, not the least of which was the notion that if Hal Jordan was going to return as Green Lantern then Sinestro must come back as well. Van Sciver poured his creative energies into the redesign of the Green Lantern uniform, keeping Gil Kane’s classic design but adding updates that were both instantly recognizable and modernized for a 21st Century audience. Ethan provided a great deal of character design work which became the visual cornerstone of Johns’ expansion of the Green Lantern universe which still serves as a vital part of the mythology years later.
Ethan Van Sciver has since gone on to work on the great pantheon of heroes in the DC Comics stable of characters, working on single issues and covers. He reunited with Geoff Johns for Flash: Rebirth which returned Barry Allen to prominence and has revisited the Green Lantern universe providing the art for issues of Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Sinestro.