This graphic novel is just right.
As with so many long-running superhero comic books, it can be tough for new readers to know where to start with the Green Lantern franchise. The good news is that there’s now a perfect option for readers wanting to dive into the world of Hal Jordan and experience the full scope of his cosmic adventures. Look no further than Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Book 1.
Whether you judge it by its sheer quality of its lasting impact on the larger franchise, Johns’ Green Lantern run has rightfully become the gold standard for Green Lantern stories. This is the run that managed to not only redeem Hal Jordan following his corruption as Parallax, but make him a more dynamic and exciting hero than ever. Through stories like The Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night, Johns and his collaborators introduced an entire spectrum of Lantern Corps and greatly expanded the mythology fueling the Green Lantern Corps. And on top of everything else, Johns proved that Sinestro is one of the greatest villains in superhero comics.
In short, Johns’ Green Lantern run is bold, ambitious and expertly crafted while still being completely accessible to newcomers. It really is the perfect jumping-on point for anyone interested in characters like Hal, Sinestro, Carol Ferris and Atrocitus. And even several years after its conclusion, the impact of Johns’ work is still being felt in the DCU.
But given that Johns’ run ended back in 2013, what makes this new book so special? Haven’t Green Lantern collections been readily available to new readers for years at this point? Yes, but with one significant caveat. DC has never reprinted Johns’ work in an ideal form before. There’s never been a great option for readers who want a neatly organized and affordable series of graphic novels. Until now, anyway.
The problem is that Johns’ Green Lantern run underwent several relaunches and transformations over the course of those ten years. It started in the miniseries Green Lantern Rebirth before transitioning into a new, monthly Green Lantern comic. That comic was relaunched in 2011 as part of the New 52 reboot. Johns’ run also connects to other miniseries like Blackest Night. That’s to say nothing of ancillary titles like Green Lantern Corps. Though Johns didn’t write that series, it tended to intertwine with the main Green Lantern comic so directly that it sometimes became a necessary companion piece.
Unless you were following all those books from month-to-month and keeping track of the complicated reading order, it can be difficult to make sense of all this material in hindsight, Making matters worse is that DC’s original series of Green Lantern hardcovers and trade paperbacks failed to organize these dozens of comics in a clean, orderly fashion. If you’re accustomed to the simplicity of series like The Walking Dead or Fables, which follow a straightforward system of numbered graphic novels, reading Johns’ Green Lantern saga can be an exercise in frustration. Where does Green Lantern Corps Recharge fit in? At what points do you flip from the Blackest Night trade paperback to Green Lantern: Blackest Night and back again? It makes the whole process feel much more like homework than it should.
DC technically solved the problem with their trio of Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus hardcovers. Those books do manage to organize Johns’ run and all the key tie-ins in chronological order. But they also open up a whole new set of problems instead. DC’s hardcover Omnibuses have never made for an ideal reading experience. They’re extremely large and bulky, not to mention pricey. These books look great on a shelf, but they’re not particularly fun to actually hold and read. And isn’t that sort of missing the point?
Thankfully, this latest attempt at reprinting Johns’ run offers the best of both worlds. Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Book 1 includes all the essential material to get started, including Rebirth, Green Lantern Corps: Recharge and the first several issues of the 2004 Green Lantern series. But it doesn’t attempt to cram as much content into one book as the Omnibus, and its $25 cover price makes it a much more attractive proposition than a $125 hardcover. Fans who just want the simplicity of progressing from one clearly labeled and organized graphic novel to the next finally have a good option.
Whether you’re a hardcore Green Lantern fan who needed an excuse to dive back into Johns’ run or a complete newbie in need of a good gateway comic, Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Book 1 is perfect. It takes all the hassle out of actually reading this complex story, and it offers a much better value than previous collections.
The only real drawback is that Book 1 is just a starting point. Here’s hoping we won’t have to wait long before the full story of Hal Jordan’s return and Sinestro’s rise and fall is collected in this handy little series.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter, or Kicksplode on MyIGN.