26th Jun2020

‘Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Various | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics

DC character 80th anniversaries are the gift that keep on giving for everyone. For fans like me, these Specials have been fantastic. For creators, a chance to do a stand-alone tale from a specific era, or for a creator with a long history with that character a chance to go home again. Obviously for DC, those balance sheets should look decent too. Green Lantern’s 80th is slightly different, in that there have been many Green Lantern’s down the years. The most famous, Hal Jordan, didn’t appear until the dawn of the Silver Age in the 1950’s, so DC are cheating a little here, as it’s really the 80th anniversary of the original Green Lantern himself, Alan Scott. My favourite Justice Society of America member, as it happens, but probably not a guy to carry a 100 page book by himself. Still, with 10 stories to tell, and many Green Lanterns available to star in them, this should be a fun ride.

First up, naturally enough, is Alan Scott in ‘Dark Things Cannot Stand the Light’, by James Tynion and Gary Frank. It’s a lovely little character piece, shining a (Lantern) light on how Alan became Green Lantern. He meets with the mother of a young man who died in the train crash from which Alan found the Lantern and ring, and there’s a nice little discussion about darkness and light. Frank’s art is beautifully timeless too. Next up is Hal Jordan in ‘Last Will’, and who else could write and draw Hal but Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis. Hal comes to on a barren planet with no memory of getting there, and a malfunctioning power ring. The ring can give him power to send 3 messages out, which reminded me of a genie and 3 wishes, intentional or not. Message one was sent out to the entire Green and Blue Lantern Corps, to assist if possible. Message two, a little oddly, to Bruce Wayne himself, the person Hal aspired to be. Lastly, to Carol Ferris herself, as the ring dies and Hal’s oxygen supply runs out…or does it. Let’s just say Johns has been watching the Twilight Zone lately. Reis and Johns had fun with this.

Up next, former Green Lantern Sinestro in ‘The Meaning of Fear’, by Cullen Bunn and Doug Mahnke, another great creative duo. In another nice character piece Bunn gives us insight into Sinestro’s mindset, how he believes he was pushed out of the GL Corps for being too strong-willed, too good at his job for the Guardians to be happy about. He then harnessed fear as his power source, becoming a Yellow Lantern. Just when you feel some empathy and sympathy for him, he reverts to type at the end. Lovely stuff by Bunn and Mahnke, with typically widescreen visuals. Story number four is a blast from the past, as the great Denny O’Neil and Mike Grell bring us Green Lantern and Green Arrow teaming up in ‘Time Alone’. With beautiful echoes of their social conscience run in the 1970’s, with Grell doing a decent Adams substitution, this looks at why sometimes we all need to take a step back so we can reevaluate ourselves and our lives. Beautifully done.

Story five brings us to the much maligned, at least at first, Kyle Rayner era, by Kyle’s actual creators, Ron Marz and Darryl Banks. Kyle’s off to a warehouse to try and salvage some stuff from Guy Gardener’s old bar, Warriors (the one on Earth that is). Love the way Marz is doubling down on that era’s stories, and Kyle’s comments throughout echo Marz’s sentiments. Nice little love note to that era. Story six continues the newer era with a Guy Gardener and Kilowog story by Peter Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin, although more of a Corps ensemble with those nice Salaak and Mogo cameos among others. The fun is in the banter throughout, which Tomasi always wrote well in the Lantern books, and a nice little surprise twist at the end. A nice little tribute to the more recent Corps era, and for some enduring supporting characters.

Story seven, ‘Reverse the Polarity’ features John Stewart in a story by Charlotte McDuffie (Dwayne McDuffie’s widow) and Chrisscross. The Hawkgirl guest starring role is a little nod to the Justice League animated series Dwayne oversaw methinks, as is the use of villain Dr. Polaris. It’s a slight story, but nice enough. ‘Four’ by Robert Venditti and Rafa Sandoval is the most low key of the stories, set in the future. It looks at legacy and friendship, as Hal, John, Kyle and Guy meet up once a year, every year to remember the old times, both good and bad. The drinks flow, the stories come, but this year the four corpsmen are only three. Nice story, with suitably sombre colouring and art.

Home stretch now with ‘The Voice’, by Mariko Tamiko and Mirka Andolfo, featuring the Green Lantern I am least familiar with, Jessica Cruz. This story helped with that, as it was a sort of mini origin recap, with a little bit of in Jessica’s head stuff too. She’s not the overly confident type like some, suffering anxiety, and she has a pretty sad background. Still learning her trade I’d say. The final story features Simon Baz, which to be honest is a character I’ve never really warmed to. Sina Grace and Ramon Villalobos, with ‘Homegrown Hero’ told probably my least favourite story, as I didn’t really warm to the art either. The story was ok, I certainly agree with the sentiment, though more a look at being a hero and respecting where you come from more than a Green Lantern story.

Honourable mentions must go as well to the fantastic art and pin ups scattered throughout the issue, and the eight pages of Secret Files text and art at the end. If nothing else, a great value book. Overall, this is a fantastic issue. It covers the entire history of the Green Lanterns, everyone gets a decent story from it, and whoever is your favourite you won’t be disappointed. For me, the Alan Scott and Denny O’Neil GL/GA stories shone the most, though none totally disappoint.

If only we could all look this good in green. And spandex.

****½  4.5/5

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