Release Date: February 20, 2013
Cover Date: April 2013
Story: Geoff Johns
Pencils: Dan Jurgens and Doug Mahnke
Inks: Phil Jimenez, Keith Champagne, Christian Alamy, Mark Irwin, Tom Nguyen, and Doug Mahnke
Cover: Doug Mahnke and Mark Irwin
Billions of years ago on Oa, Krona tries to look past the beginning of the universe, over his colleague Ganthet’s objections. They see a giant hand wearing a ring…then the viewscreen shatters, and an astronaut holding a White Lantern power battery introduces himself as Volthoom. In the present day, Simon Baz squares off against Black Hand in the Chamber of Shadows, while Volthoom has dissolved the Third Army and locked up the Guardians on Maltus. He digs through Ganthet’s memories and attempts to alter the past, but he’s not strong enough yet, so he takes off to find someone emotional to drain. Baz breaks the Hidden Ones out of prison, but then Black Hand sends him to meet Hal Jordan inside his ring.
And thus, the massive retcons have begun in earnest for Geoff Johns’ final storyarc. To be fair, since this is still the “New 52,” plenty of these are just the new history, not actual retcons, but they’re going to piss off longtime fans all the same. The “changes” to Krona, Ganthet, the Guardians…what a mess, but we’ll see how it plays out. The defeat of the Third Army was one of the dumbest things I’ve seen in a comic book in quite some time: Volthoom literally waved a hand, and they crumbled to dust over a single panel. After months and months of building up how badass they were? What a waste!
What’s more irritating is that there’s stuff in this issue that just doesn’t make any sense. For example, we see that Ganthet was still possessed by Parallax…but when did that happen, since Rebirth was retconned away in the pages of Green Lantern: New Guardians and elsewhere? At the same time, this is the first evidence we’ve seen of any emotional entity in post-Flashpoint continuity. I was hoping we’d be rid of them, but no such luck.
Although “adult” Ganthet looked incredibly stupid, I loved that Dan Jurgens handled the art. I wish he could’ve drawn the whole book! No offense to Doug Mahnke, of course; his illustrations were dynamic and powerful as always. A lot of Green Lantern fans seem to grumble about this artwork, but I’ve been a fan of Mahnke’s work since his days on The Mask, and it’ll be a shame to see him go after issue #20. From the Chamber of Shadows to Volthoom’s crib, the wide variety of styles on display here are a testament to his skill. I’m not quite sold on the design of First Lantern Volthoom, but perhaps it’ll grow on me.
It was intriguing that Volthoom appears to be a human male wearing a United States spacesuit, but I’ve already got a theory on that: he’s from the present day or near future Earth, he gets a White Lantern power battery somehow, travels back in time (which he alluded to anyway), and eventually becomes the First Lantern, creating a hackneyed predestination paradox.
I lamented before that “Wrath of the First Lantern” could very well scorch the earth of the Green Lantern mythos, and it seems to be the case so far. I really wish I was wrong.