My Green Lantern Homework

National Novel Writing Month has been working out very well for me so far. I have been elbows-deep in the annual project, which challenges participants to write a 50,000 word novel during one of the busiest months of the year while September and March are sitting right over there twiddling their thumbs. But never mind the mad planning that put this task’s most stressful period right in the middle of Thanksgiving, and never mind my preemptive attempt to use that as an excuse. NaNoWriMo has been immensely fulfilling for me. By giving me a daily writing goal to hang precariously over my head, silently judging me every waking moment of every single day, it has really honed my talents as a procrastinator. You guys, you would not believe how much I have gotten done in order to avoid getting any writing done! I am a dynamo. I have read every book in this house. Magazines that have piled up on the coffee table like this was a dentist’s office have been relegated to the recycling bin once and for all. I was finally able to finish Entertainment Weekly‘s summer movie preview to get the hottest scoop on what’s coming out four months ago. This has been an incredibly productive time in all but the literal, actual sense of the word “productive.”

Needless to say, my stack is a thing of the distant past. As I plowed through it book by book with the zeal of a traveling preacher, I couldn’t help appreciating some irony there; after all, what is a stack if not things you have procrastinated reading? Books I had allowed to sit untouched for six months were suddenly my refuge, things I had put off now enlisted to help me put off doing something else.

In the end, only one small pile remained, the one I had put off more than anything all year. I either had to dive into the pile or face the blank page. There was no more denying it.

I had to do my Green Lantern homework.

A word of caution to the enthusiastic fan: keep an eye on how you sing the praises of your favorite thing, and how often. True, if enough people like you bang the drum loudly enough for a book, you will get some people to try it who otherwise would have ignored it. On the other hand, you may cross the “All right, already!” line and cause the uninitiated to start resenting it out of hand. When I think about how much I cannot stand Deadpool, 60% of that has to do with how genuinely lackluster and paint-by-numbers Deadpool is typically written (he knows he’s in a comic! Ha ha, that will still be hilarious on the next page!) but a good 40% of it is the people who just will not shut up about Deadpool. “Deadpool is so great, it introduced me to my wife! Deadpool just saved me a bunch of money on my car insurance,” etc. I read Hercules and enjoy it, but I could see where its boosters might have started doing more harm than good. The more I hear about it, my opinion of Mad Men has gradually shifted from “that sounds interesting” to “apparently, Mad Men is humanity’s finest endeavor since walking upright” to “so help me God, when I put that DVD in it had better change my ****ing life. It had better make me smarter and get revenge on that girl who dumped me in high school. Always with the goddamned Mad Men.”

So it was with Green Lantern. As an architect and caretaker for the DC Universe, Geoff Johns has been almost universally praised for as long as I’ve known his name, so eventually I had to cave in and see what all the fuss was about. For some reason (which I dare not delve into for fear of igniting the traditional wildfire that breaks out here whenever DC and Marvel are compared) I have always had a hard time emotionally investing in DC’s characters, but after hearing enough people exclaim, “I touched The Sinestro Corps War, and it healed me!!” I figured, “comics is comics” and started buying trades and back issues. I let them pile up, figuring that I’d pull the old Christopher Columbus Maneuver: I’d get to them years after everyone else had been there and act like I discovered them. (“Hey, you guys! Red Lanterns!” “…Yeah. We know.”) In the meantime, though, I would grow to resent the pile, regarding the series as one might regard raking leaves or cleaning out the gutters.

Page one is not a great place for resentment, but I am happy to report that I got over it pretty quickly. As it turns out– and I don’t know if people are really aware of this– Green Lantern by Geoff Johns is a pretty good comic book. I dove in at the aforementioned Sinestro Corps War and got absorbed in the story right away, and you could not possibly come into a series with less foreknowledge than I had; in fact, all I knew about Green Lantern was that Rebirth #1 was absolutely impenetrable to me and that I was a little irritated with the Blackest Night talk. The fact that I am now engaging in the Blackest Night talk is a testament to the writing, and to giving things a second chance. And not judging a book by anything but its contents. And coming up with testaments to things.

BLEEEAGHMind you, there is a learning curve. Before I abandoned The Flash: Rebirth, I was taken aback by the writer’s solemn-as-a-fresh-grave approach to what I thought of as essentially lighthearted material, and I have some of the same reservations where the Emerald Accessorizer is concerned. I know these are people fighting wars for the very soul of the universe… but I didn’t expect them to take it all so seriously! There have been times when I’ve felt like I was reading a Garth Ennis Battlefields book about Snoopy’s vendetta against the Red Baron. I guess when you’re hanging your story on the ring rainbow, either everything is funny or nothing is. Or maybe it’s just that I’ve spent all my previous time in space with Rocket Raccoon.

But then, what do I make of the rage kitty? There’s a kitty in the book that becomes a Red Lantern, a kitty that hates you so much he vomits all his blood. What could possibly have made that kitty so mad?

Oddly enough, actually, it seems like Hal Jordan only lightened up once the dead started rising. He was so stonefaced through the orange rings and the blue rings, but the black rings come out and suddenly he’s doing Spider-Man banter. I’m a fairly inconsistent person myself, but I can promise you this: if my doorbell rings in a minute, and it’s my dead grandma, and she punches me in the windpipe, I’m not going to crack a joke. I’m going to slam the front door, run out the back door, and cry until someone sedates me. And that is why I have not been chosen for the Corps.

Here is every word balloon in a comic about me being confronted by a dead friend: “AAAAAGH! AAAAAGH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!”

Still, these are merely observations, not criticism. (Criticism would be more like, “I have seen enough two page spreads of floating people I don’t recognize hitting each other for a while.” Do you long-time Green Lantern guys know who all those people are?) These are books I knew nothing about and had less than no interest in until you all goaded me into taking a chance on them, and I thank you for doing it. This week when you’re at your shop, give some thought to trying out that book you’ve been hearing so much about. Either you’re out a couple of bucks, or you discover something great, like the West Indies.

Jim Mroczkowski isn’t buying any of the tie-ins, but he would buy that kitty’s miniseries and Twitter about it all day.


  1. If the ring wasn’t lit you must acquit 

  2. Very funny stuff, as usual.  Though maybe a follow up article is worth reading?  Not much depth on the actual comic was given.  I haven’t read it. Only Rebirth and GL vol. 1.  Didn’t love it, plus it’s DC so I dropped it.  Going to get "Secret Origins" in graphic novel, ’cause I love a good origin story!

    (Drop Entertainment Weekly, it sucks)

  3. I had the same feeling with Sinestro Corps War. But my only knowledge of GL was that Hal Jordan used to be a good guy and then became a bad guy and died. I didn’t even like the character and thought the whole idea was stupid.

    Also, according to Shane Davis, the guy who designed the Dex-Starr the Rage Kitty, aka Ruffles the Rage Cat as the internet named it,Dex-starr was a fill in character for 2-page spread and was supposed to be a joke that really got the editors, who asked him to bring it to the fore-front. The rest is Internet-meme histroy.

  4. I love rage kitty!

  5. EXCELLENT article.  I’m glad the buildup didn’t ruin your experience with Green Lantern.  
    I’m in the same situation with Mad Men.  At this point, if this: Digital Short: Jizz doesn’t happen when I watch the first episode, I will be extremely disappointed.

  6. I’d do anything for a Dex-Starr vs. Ch’p mini…

  7. And… pow! Jim saves the website.

  8. MAD MEN allowed me the ability to feel love for the first time.  Seriously though, I just saw the first season with my wife and we both really enjoyed it.  Will you love it when you see it?  I dunno.  Do I recommend you check it out so you can decide for yourself?  Sure.

    This is exactly why I dig this website so much.  Everyone has their own thing they really dig and everyone wants to share that thing with you.  Sometimes, when you try that new thing out, it turns out to be something you find yourself enjoying too.  Other times, you discover it’s not for you or you thought it was just okay.  Glad to hear that you’ve tried something new and liked it, Jim.

    Too bad about FLASH: REBIRTH though. 😉 

  9. I wish that Kitty had a mini-series; or at least give it a one-shot. I wanna know more about the Red kitten of Rage!

    Hey that’s a good title for it…

  10. Hey what have you thought of Johns other stuff like JSA or Booster Gold? I think you would like Booster Gold a lot Jim.

  11. MAD MEN will change your life

  12. This is exactly how I feel about Glee. No idea when I’ll get around to doing this for that, though.

  13. @anson17 I watched the Glee pilot at the same time as everyone else and was amazed that everyone loved it so much. I on the other hand really didn’t care for it. Now I am scratching my head wondering if I missed something. But different strokes for different folks I guess.

  14. I don’t have much charitable to say about Glee. Smart people I like are being made happy by it every week, so I’m not one to quibble.

    Timmy: I haven’t read Booster Gold or… much of anything, really. It’s a long-term problem that I’ll rectify the next time I have more money and time than I have use for.

  15. The only thing that could have made the Columbus jokes any better would have been if this would have seen print on Columbus day.  Awesome stuff Jimski.

  16. Great article. Also, I would love to read a Battlefields: Snoopy/Red Baron

  17. @Jimski – That’s kinda the approach I’m taking with it. I’m sure one of my freinds who is obsessed wtih it will pick up the DVDs then I’ll just borrow them or something. Now about the actual article (i was short on time before) I compltely agree with your sentiments on the over-praising thing. It’s dangerous and annoying.I always think of Deadpool as the perfect example of this. That and when people hate on something in the same sentence as praising something else. You’re just alieanating the people that like the one thing and your praise about whatever it is you’re hocking is going to mean nothing to them.

  18. Prediction: In two years Jim will copy paste this article and replace Green Lantern with Flash.

  19. Green Lantern got me back into buying comics on a regular basis – I had no previous experience with the character or DC outside of Vertigo. But I started with Sinestro Corps, moved to Rebirth, started picking up issues as they came out in the wake of Sinestro Corps and it just spreads from there – to Flash, to 52, to Morrison’s run on Justice League – I’ve become really engrossed in DC (if past me knew present me loved Superboy, past me would have a hearty laugh about it).

     Still, hype kills things for me, and I’d hate to pass that on to other people. Green Lantern is not the best comic book coming out right now, but it’s the comic that I look forward to the most – the comic that entertains the hell out of me and makes me feel swell. And that, folks, is worth a lot.

  20. So where are you on the NaNoWriMo novel? 

  21. So if we want to get into GL, where should we st-

     hey! ow! hey, stop throwing things at me!

  22. Where is the best place to look for a red lantern? that picture of the kitty got me interested.

  23. sorry I meant, where can I find a good red lantern story?

  24. @Stepho. There’s really only two stories so far with them in it. Rage of the Red Lanterns and The Green Lantern (and Corps) issues that tie into Blackest Night. The leader of the Reds shows up in Secret Origin. That’s about it so far.

  25. @junoro, I am about halfway through my NaNoWriMo novel, having recently hit The Wall. I have a lot lot lot to say about this event now that I’ve participated; maybe I’ll get to say it on a podcast, at length, at the top of my lungs. With swears.

  26. For those looking for a Kitty story, wait! Johns has said that there is going to be a Krypto/Dex-starr fight.

  27. By all rights, Dex-Starr should beat Krypto like a bitch. 🙂


  28. @Diabhol… but, but… Krypto’s sooooo cuuuute.

  29. To answer your question, Jim, I don’t think there’s been an appearance of a character yet I haven’t recognized in BN. 😉 Great article, glad your onboard. Hal’s been my favorite superhero for… geez… 18 years now and for 10 of that he wasn’t even around!

  30. Green Lantern got me into the DC universe on a regular basis, 

  31. Ahhh the "Everyone says it is awesome, and I just HAVE to read it" resentment.

    I hear you loud and clear.

    I have all the Criminal books.

    And the Powers books.

    And I Kill Giants.

    And because of that very same reason, I haven’t read ANY of em! It’s stupid, and ridiculous, and I hold Ifanboy, and it’s constituency personally responsible.

  32. yeah same hear i figured out along time ago that they guys have totally different tastes in books than i do (although sometimes i think they dont have any) after reading some picks of the weeks and burning them halfway in reading them. i feel i am informed and have read enough to know if ill like a book at this point but still i seldomly pick up a hyped book on a lark just in the hopes that i might discover another great series, like in the case of astro city i procrastinated on that book for years for some reason even tho i had interest in it. now i have all the trades thanks guys.

  33. Anson17: That may be, but Dex-Starr is cuter. And more badass! 🙂

    As for the problem of over-hyping, I’m usually only susceptible to things that don’t sound interesting when I first hear about them. If it looks like it might be good and everyone loves it, I’ll deal. If it doesn’t look like it’s my bag and everyone loves it, that’s kinda annoying. 


  34. @Unoob – Then send them to me. I’ll read all of em!

    @Diabhol – obviously you haven’t seen Manapaul’s drawings of him in Adventure.