Guest Column: A Tribute to Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern by Scott Kanter

gl_20_cvr_02

The following is a guest editorial by Scott Kanter.

Geoff Johns’ final issue of Green Lantern is a bittersweet footnote to my return to comics. Like any junior high school student worth his weight in candy and potato chips, I read an obscene amount of Batman, Archie, and the Tick. Upon graduation, I swore comics off as trivial and financially irresponsible.

My hiatus from comics lasted more than twenty years. Then, I proposed to my wife.

Inexplicably, she said yes. I’m understandably self-deprecating, because my search for love lasted as long as my break from comics. My wife is a nurse practitioner for community-based health centers all around Chicago. The clinics serve low income patients, and anyone uninsured. Some are in rough neighborhoods. With just three short relationships to speak of, I was naturally obsessed with her safety. Six months before the wedding, she also became fearful.

In February of 2011, a chain of unfortunate events provoked her with a sense that she might be confronted or possibly harmed by a patient. This did not do much for my insecure and fragile 34-year-old psyche.

Months leading up to our wedding, I was consumed by fear and frailty. Stressing about wedding planning is not nearly as tormenting as worrying about if your fiancée will return home is. I needed an outlet. Curiosity led me to see Green Lantern in the theatre. It had flaws, as noted on iFanboy, but I connected thematically. I craved more. My solace and return to comics appropriately began with Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern: Rebirth.

In my eyes, his Parallax perfectly embodied fear’s strength and the unrelenting tight grip it can have on a person. The only way to defeat this powerful fear-inducing monster is with sheer willpower. I needed a ring.

The next day, I went down to a nearby comic book store and asked for one. After searching long and hard through a box, the heavily tattooed and pierced woman pulled one out. “It’s our last one,” she said showing it to be true. “The ring, it chose you.”

I had my symbol. I memorized the oath and recited it. Hal Jordan’s adventures brought me peace of mind. The fact that the stories were engaging and well written was an added bonus. I sought out all the Green Lantern comics I could find. I became horribly obsessed, so much so that my groomsmen wore blue rings for our wedding. Explaining how this would assist me in tapping into my ring’s full power was lost on them. I should have engraved money clips.

It can certainly be argued that other cures besides wielding a ring would have been more mature and suitable. I’m not denying that. Yet, when something connects with you in a meaningful way you go with what works. Green Lantern worked.

Since our wedding, I have returned to Batman, my beloved childhood superhero. He is positioned on the opposite side of the fear argument. Yet, I had an insatiable appetite to read more than superheroes. I have spent the past two years catching up on twenty years worth of comics, much to my wife’s chagrin.

So as I read other people’s tributes to Geoff Johns in his final Green Lantern I want him to know I will miss him. I am not sure if I will continue reading Green Lantern. It depends on who writes the next chapter. I certainly don’t envy anyone who has to follow his run. I do know I owe Geoff Johns my gratitude and for bringing me back to a childhood love, even if my wallet does not.

In brightest day…

 


Scott Kanter is a writer, educator, and freelance journalist. He lives in Chicago with his patient wife. He has become increasingly obsessed with bow ties. He doesn’t drink, but he would love to play board games with you or get pie.

Comments

  1. consafo80 (@consafo80) says:

    a lovely article.

  2. Thanks for sharing. I am up for board games in Chicago.

  3. “I needed a ring.” Great line.

  4. Fantastic article. My junior year in high school I wore a GL ring every day after I got it until I was ridiculed enough to stop. I regret giving in to peer pressure like that, but it happened. Johns’ GL run is something special, and besides a few brief dips in quality (War of the Green Lanterns) it’s been good fun reading which hopefully makes the Burgos strong enough to survive the next 20 years without trouble. I’m gonna try Robert Venditti’s first issue; he write “The Surrogates” and proved to me he can write Sci-Fi like a boss.

    • Sounds intriguing. I was unsure of who was taking over the series, but I will gladly check out Venditti’s first issue.

  5. A fantastic testimonial to the allegorical power Geoff Johns truly brought out in this character. The Sinestro Corps War came out shortly after my first foray into comics and after reading that story something changed within me. Up to that point I was an introvert, afraid that I wasn’t worth speaking to. I would let a lot of opportunities slip by me because I was too afraid to act, afraid of rejection, or afraid of failure. Green Lantern changed all that. It helped me realize that my fears were not insurmountable. All it took was a little will. And so “Know Will, No Fear” became a mantra by which I began to live my life. It’s served me well and while I don’t usually like to speak so boldly for myself, I’m a better, man now and Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern is major reason why. My humble gratitude to Mr. Johns and the immensely talented artists he’s worked with over the years.

    Thanks for sharing your story Scott.

  6. Do you play Go?

  7. What a pleasant story. I can relate to worrying excessively for a wife’s safety. We’re husbands, we’re hardwired to obsess over their well being. Whether it’s locking all the doors and windows a million times before bed, checking out those strange sounds at night or wondering if we should escort her everywhere she goes to ensure her safety. Sounds crazy, I know.
    I also took a hiatus from comics in the late 90’s. not to grow up, but because they were becoming terrible. I just got fed up and walked away. Picking up only the occasional TPB. In 2007, I happen by chance to pick up a comic book that caught my eye in a bookstore. It was Green Lantern #26 and the obsession began all over again. 😀

  8. A different Generation, but the same story.
    I first encountered Hal in his “Hard travelling heroes” days. Ive stayed with him, left, and come back to him a few times.
    But the idea of Willpower over fear is a strong one. When GL: Mosaic dame out over 20 years ago they gave away free plastic rings.
    I’ve been using that ring EVERY Year for over 2 decades as a teacher, telling my kids about hope, will and effort during exams.
    It’s such a part of my preparation for the kids that they freak out a little if they dont see me wearing it on exam day!
    Best of Luck to Queens Park HIgh School Chester class of 2013 ….

    • It’s a wonderful learning tool for students. I have gratuitously been using the ring as a model the past two years. I bought blue lantern rings for three classes I taught in. Then the comic book store ran out and I moved to white rings. I’m not sure what I’ll do if they run out of those. I also use the oath, with a few minor tweaks, as a classroom management tool to gain the attention of students. Now Green Lantern has finally joined Batman, Superman, and Iron Man in lunchroom conversations of cool superheroes. I will continue to convert the next generation of Green Lantern fans. Your welcome, DC!

  9. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    After reading Johns’ last issue, I can’t help but feel he threw Venditti the keys to a car with a boot on it. He has the right to close all those story lines, but he essentially Six Feet Undered it. He’s a hard enough act to follow, but every Green Lantern story after this would now be considered an installment in Lost Tales of the Green Lantern Corps.

    • I had similar thoughts. I expected him to wrap it up, but I didn’t expect him to pull the bow quite so tight.

    • How dare he, so resolutely end a story he’s worked for 6 years?! Seriously, has anybody ever complained “Man, this guy wrote the ending too well”. It’s kinda funny, usually people complain endings are too weak.

    • Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      Except it’s not the end of a series. It’s the last issue of a run. As I said, he has a right to do it given the amount of time and effort he spent on the book.

      You didn’t pull the book, so I’m assuming you didn’t read it. To explain, he essentially took Sinestro off the table and revealed the futures of each main character, including all of the human Lanterns. He gave some of them post Corps careers and in one case a marriage. It’s a great way to end a series. But the series is continuing. Can great stories be told after this point? Absolutely. It’s just an amusing choice and creates a major challenge for the next guy.

      (I also wasn’t saying “Man, this guy wrote the ending too well.” It’s kind of a mess. But it does offer a lot of fan service and ties everything up in a neat bow. That’s a great thing for fans of this run, but maybe not the best choice for the future of the title.)

    • I didn’t mean to sound snarky, I just find it alittle funny that Johns’ ending is too strong or too complete. Most of the time when someone ends their time on a run it’s usually lacking, like JMS and “Amazing Spider-Man”.

      You’re right, I didn’t pull the issue because I’m already pulling 9 other series every month but I wish I had been pulling GL when it renumbered and I didn’t know Geoff Johns was leaving after #20.

      About the future of the characters being reveled, Morrison’s done that in Batman; showing Damian (alive and well in his 30s) as Batman taking over from Dick and Tim, Bruce back to life as a old man mentoring Terry Meginnis, or even showing robot versions of Batman and Robin in the far future. My point is just because a writer shows what’s gonna happen in the future doesn’t mean it’s actually gonna happen because the characters can’t really age, they’re stuck in “the present”. I’m sure Robert Venditti could work around the future Johns detailed but more likely he’ll just ignore it since Hal,John, Guy, and Kyle will be 30-something for the next several decades and will never reach the aforementioned post-corps careers and marriage.
      And I’m sorry if this or my last post came off as snarky, totally unintentional. I’m actually gonna catch up in trade on GL, but I’m still on volume 2. Could I pick up #20 and just follow along or would I need to read #13-19 first?

    • @IthoSapien: I didn’t pull it either, but I did hear that #20 does include recaps of his run. The folks that were discussing it were saying that this seemed odd, since “who is going to want to jump-in on the run on the final issue?” When I heard there were recaps I actually considered doing just that, but the $8 cover price kinda killed that idea.

    • Thanks @Master Destructi for the heads up. I don’t want to wait 3-4 months for the trade to find out how Johns finished his 9 run. I’ve read up to “The Revenge of Black Hand” so all I’d be behind on is the last 8-9 issues.

      I know the $8 price seems expensive, but this is the finale of a 9 year run and I’ve heard the art is incredible. Honestly I’d rather pay $8 for Geoff Johns GL finale than those assorted Anthology stories that DC has done, I’ve never paid full price for those nor do I want to.

  10. i was about to write a blog about the fact that johns’ GL run reeled me back to reading comics when i read this piece and i could not have said it any better.his style and fortunately the artists who drew his stories was to my liking.the GL TPBs were the first comic books i bought since 1995.from those few TPBs,my collections grew and now its two shelves full.after blackest night,i sort of dropped out because of the numerous titles i was reading but dived back in after the new52 launched.anyway,its sad to see a run end when that run got you started ie josh on hellblazer.but its time anyway…

  11. Slammaster23 (@greenemachine3) says:

    Amazing article. Thanks for sharing. It brought a smile to my face.