Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Green Lantern #50

Let's just say this: if you don't like a lot of moving cogs in your storytelling, stay far, far away from Green Lantern #50. If you haven't been keeping up with Blackest Night, the same guideline should apply. Don't have an intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the variously colored power rings that populate the DC Universe? You guessed it; steer clear. However, if you're a hardcore devotee, an active follower of the latest, greatest world-spanning crossover or just an interested observer with more than a casual understanding of what makes a lantern tick, this issue should be sheer ecstasy.

Geoff Johns has been building to this moment since before the book's relaunch, planting many of the seeds five years ago in the pages of Green Lantern: Rebirth. That makes for an incredibly rewarding climax for devoted followers, a payoff for years' worth of dedication that doesn't leave much room for complaint. The issue is complex because it's thorough, and while that may make for a few chaotic, crowded panels – okay, more than a few – they can be at least partially justified by the sheer magnitude of parallel storylines Johns is progressing. The author truly leaves no stone unturned, at once climaxing the individual stories he'd been telling in Hal Jordan's solo series and the mega-threads that had been raging through the pages of the crossover-dedicated Blackest Night.

Johns does stray on a few occasions from the traditional DC archetype into something that's more popcorn-greased, however, especially in a few of the more striking spreads during the raging battle between Black Lanterns and the combined forces of the opposition. Personally, I welcomed the change of perspective as I generally find the publisher's stories often lack precisely that sort of panache. More invested purists may not find the not-so-subtle shit in tone to be as welcome as I did, though.

Doug Mahnke and an entire platoon of inkers tackle the artwork, which is every bit as good as Johns's writing. I don't always enjoy the DC visual style, with its more character-focused, down-to-earth technique and concentration on storytelling over splash pages or exaggerated postures. Following the writer's lead, however, Mahnke has also infused the issue's visuals with a bit more flair than I'm expected. Effectively bridging the gap between two very different styles, he's managed to spin a visual tale that's overwhelmingly descriptive, brightly narrative but also excitingly framed and beautifully composed. Mahnke has obviously busted his ass on this issue, and the end result is worth every bit of the effort he's sunk into it.

This isn't the greatest issue ever published. Sorry to mislead you if I gave that impression in my lengthy preamble. What it is, though, is a damn fine anniversary issue that also, miraculously, serves as fitting pinnacle to a major supplemental series. Not many can even manage the former with any degree of success, let alone the latter. Geoff Johns hands in one of his finest plots this month, and though his dialog has some real eyeball-rolling moments, that's not enough to stop the issue from being a major success. Paired with a spectacular artistic showing from Doug Mahnke, he's come up with a real beauty. Buy it.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 9

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