Editorial – DC’s Green Lantern Plans are a Step Backwards
In 1959 John Broome, under the guidance of DC Comics’ editor Julius Schwartz, gave the first rebirth to the Green Lantern franchise. In their vision one being from Earth would be selected for the rare opportunity to represent humanity in something greater, to serve as a member of the Green Lantern Corps. That singular individual would be chosen as the best humanity has to offer and while he would be like the rest of his fellow Green Lanterns he would be unique from his fellow heroes in the DC universe’s blossoming hero community.
Since then the number of Green Lanterns has been ever increasing and in doing so the novelty of being a human in an army of aliens has long since been erased. DC has struggled in balancing the increasing roster and at any given time over the past 75 years Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart or Kyle Rayner have found themselves as the “main” Green Lantern. The long term effect on the Green Lantern fan base has been a lot of divisiveness, but having the four Earth lanterns spread across three books seemed to alleviate that…until now. With today’s DC Rebirth WonderCon panel the comic book company announced their plans for the immediate future and reaction from the Green Lantern sector of comic fans has been more than mixed…and I agree with them.
In one corner we have Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps – a book where DC is cramming Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps (and Sinestro and his Corps) into one series. Yes it’s twice monthly, however with all four of the most popular Green Lanterns shoved into one series you can pretty much guarantee that there will be more talk about who’s featured the most than there will be about the stories themselves.
Rebirth is also about a new start, however DC is putting Green Lantern writer Robert Venditti on the series, and while I’m neither his biggest fan nor his harshest critic I do think that we needed a change. Green Lantern was once one of DC’s best selling books and even though it’s expected to have a sales drop when someone like Geoff Johns leaves a book, Venditti’s lukewarm reception by readers is enough to warrant a change when you’re trying to get fans excited about your books, especially a talent with name recognition. That Ethan Van Sciver is attached to the series as one of the two artists is a positive move, but at the end of the day readers aren’t going to stick around if they aren’t grabbed by the narrative.
Now in the other corner we have Green Lanterns being written by Sam Humphries and co-starring Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. Yes, a twice-monthly book co-starring the least favorite Green Lantern and the most under-developed Green Lantern character. The two latest additions to an already watered-down comics franchise will share page time in a book all their own. Oh, and it gets better – both will also be featured in the new Bryan Hitch written Justice League series. So readers can look for Simon and Jessica in four issues a month while they can find every other Green Lantern stuffed into two – this is better?
I can’t overstate how confused I am by the decision making here. There were already enough Green Lanterns and if DC’s answer to diversity is going to be “just create another Green Lantern that fits into a target demographic” then they’ve lost their ability to be creative. Of course it’s not just DC, Marvel has been making a fair number of diversity driven changes which seem to be equally deprived of creativity.
For Green Lantern it’s all just too much. From a purely narrative sense it’s laughable that six Green Lanterns would come from the same space sector let alone the same planet…and even moreso when you consider that all six come from the same country! DC seems so concerned about making sure that readers have someone “just like me” to read about that they willingly choose to further dilute an already watered down concept.
I was rather optimistic about DC’s Rebirth plans prior to today’s event. I’d hoped to see the wealth of the Green Lantern franchise spread around a bit more, with perhaps Jessica made a part of the Titans and the others spread around between the two Green Lantern titles and Hal once again a central figure in the Justice League. At the start of the panel DC Comics co-publisher Dan Didio made a promising statement that Rebirth is a “re-commitment to our fanbase”, but in the end all I feel is disappointment that many Green Lantern fans apparently aren’t a part of that fanbase.