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Thursday, March 07, 2013 

IO9 fawns over Geoff Johns' GL work and stoops to cheap character criticism

The IO9 site wrote an article about Geoff Johns leaving his position as writer of Green Lantern that's both sugary and puts down Hal Jordan instead of how he's written:
Geoff Johns has helmed the Green Lantern comics for over nine years, and now he's stepping down from the comic and the character most associated with his name, after issue #20. To say he's been a success would be an understatement. He revitalized the character. He's arguably contributed more to the Green Lantern universe than anybody, ever. His Green Lantern work was so well-received that it led to DC naming him Chief Creative Officer back in 2010, and now he helps steer all of DC's comics, as well as writing many of its most major titles, including Justice League. And while the Green Lantern movie was terrible, the only reason it was ever made because Johns' work on the Green Lantern comic was so fresh it catapulted the character not just in comics, but in all of pop culture.
Oh sure. There's two things going against his work. One is the jarring violence that riddled much of his run. Another was the frequent flood of crossovers that affected GL to boot, including - but not limited to - Blackest Night. And turning Hal Jordan into a guy who's bitter over the death of his father to the point of not enjoying the best parts of his adult life was preposterous.

I don't agree that the GL movie's production stemmed from his alleged success on the series either. I think his writing was done precisely to give them material on which to cobble the screenplay together, and boy did they ever: they had at least 4 writers credited!

And in the end, did GL really become a gigantic pop culture reference? I doubt it. Sales should say something.
But that's not to say Johns' work on GL has been infallible. Many critiqued him for essentially shoving then-GL Kyle Rayner in the corner to resurrect Hal Jordan when he took over the series. Although Green Lantern's comics sales were slipping before Johns took the helm in 2004, there are still many comics fans who can't understand the appeal of the square-jawed, Silver Age machismo of Hal Jordan over the more nuanced, interesting Rayner. Some readers have criticized Johns for what they call "the Skittles Lanterns," saying that by adding so may Lantern Corps, each with their own colors and rings, they dilute Green Lantern's importance. And his massive Blackest Night story, the culmination of his Green Lantern "trilogy," which began in Green Lantern: Rebirth and continued in The Sinestro Corps. War, was just kind of a mess (especially when it became Brightest Day).
Here we go again with another mindless buffoon implying it's all the character's fault and not the writer for supposedly being boring, and maybe even "too old". Gee, if the fans they speak of really have a problem with Hal, why don't they just show the courage to lay their issues at the feet of the late John Broome, Gil Kane and Gardner Fox, among others; they're the ones who first created and worked on Hal in better times.

The superficial assertion that Kyle was more engaging is also asking a lot. How is a character who was put through the wringer of so-called motivation by having his original girlfriend wiped out by a psychopath who shoves her corpse into a refridgerator and whose only girlfriends to follow consist of two established heroines - Donna Troy and Jade - plus an alien member of the GL Corps named Soranik Natu who turns out to be the offspring of Sinestro, more interesting in every way, shape and form than Hal? It's all in the eye of the beholder, I'm afraid. Where Johns failed to do better was if he didn't defend Hal as the fictional character he is, and argue that fans should give him a chance to prove he could do a better job of characterizing him, which he didn't if all he could do with Hal was make him obsess over his late dad and fly into company wide crossovers.
So let's start with #1, shall we? There's no denying that Hal Jordan never stood out among Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and even Aquaman, personality-wise.
Well in that case, Supes, Bats and WW didn't stand out personality-wise either! Again, someone's forgetting to fault the writers if they really think this.
There was a reason DC replaced him with Kyle Rayner, and that's because so many fans found Hal Jordan boring in the first place, and wanted someone more fun and relatable.
Here we go again with that tiresome cliche of a claim. Now I don't dislike Kyle, it's the quality of the writing in 1994-2004 that I do, and I'm can't comprehend how anyone could think Hal was "boring" yet not think the same capable of happening with Kyle. No, the reason Hal was replaced was because of the horrific obsession developed with publicity stunts. If they really had to replace Hal with Kyle, why didn't they at least respect the hero in Hal till the bitter end as DC did with Barry Allen and amazingly enough, even Oliver Queen a year after Emerald Twilight? If they'd followed that path, they wouldn't have had so much opposition, something they don't even mention.
But there's also no denying that when Johns came on board, Green Lantern comic sales were down.
And they still are.
You could argue that Johns could have written his stories with Rayner instead of Hal Jordan, but the fact of the matter is Johns loves his Silver Age characters — which is why he's resurrected so many of them throughout his DC career.
If he really loved them, he wouldn't go miles out of his way to darken their pasts. Now, grisly-laden origins are the derivative norm, and no genuine optimism anywhere. And he hasn't resurrected all of the Silver Age heroes they imply - the minor ones like Elongated Man have been thrown away. So too in fact was the Silver Age Hawkwoman. And he didn't bring back Katma Tui or even the Silver Age Aquagirl.
Moreover, one thing Rayner could not have done was have Jordan's relationship with his nemesis Sinestro, which Johns has slowly turned into one of the most interesting, yet-still-mostly-adversarial relationships in superhero comics.
What if Rayner could? Except he's not real, so the claim is rather absurd. And the way Hal and Sinestro are now less enemies and more allies is stupid too. After all the criminal activities the former Korugarian GL committed, he's suddenly considered legitimate among the Corps? Please.
As for the Emotional Spectrum — that is, the addition of the yellow, fear-powered Sinestro Corps, the raging Red Lanterns, the greedy Orange Lantern (there's only one, because he's greedy!), the hopeful Blue Lanterns, the compassionate Indigo Trible, and the violet, love-powered Star Sapphires — it's very possibly the best thing to happen to Green Lantern since DC rebooted the series in 1959. Johns not only broaded the Green Lantern universe immeasurably, he also made it make a sort of sense.
With the gruesome violence and other nasty visuals clogging up much of his run, it's not the best to happen at all. And the rainbow Lanterns? What a joke, except for the Red Lanterns with their power of belching, which was repellant. Turning Carol Ferris into Star Sapphire again is a leading example of when people say Johns is overindulging in past story elements that would've been better put to rest.

This is one of the worst types of gushing I've seen, and another example of how comics criticism on the web has been dumbed down.

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Johns "catapulted" GL, "not just in comics, but in all of pop culture"? Do you know anyone who is not into comics who knows about Green Lantern? If they have heard of the character, it is from the movie (that bombed) or from references and allusions by the characters on "The Big Bang Theory."

Yeah, it hasn't increased Green Lantern's profile at all. My parents certainly don't know who he is, nor do any of my friends who don't read comics. They just know him from the awful 2011 movie with Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively. And the periodic references to various comics characters on "The Big Bang Theory," like Anonymous said.

I personally thought his run on Green Lantern was atrocious, and spat on everything that came before. I hated all the retconned stuff, I hated the Skittles Lanterns (they were completely unnecessary, IMO) and they make Carol into Star Sapphire again, which didn't make any sense.

Hey, I like Soranik Natu... Heh.

Anyway, yeah, I don't like when reviewers or analysts can't separate what the writer does vs. say, organic actions and behavior from the character he or she is writing.

This passage is most interesting:

"Although Green Lantern's comics sales were slipping before Johns took the helm in 2004, there are still many comics fans who can't understand the appeal of the square-jawed, Silver Age machismo of Hal Jordan over the more nuanced, interesting Rayner."

Is it because these fans grew up under feminism and liberalism and how traditional males and their characters, like Hal, are now to be mocked or, perhaps intentionally misunderstood? In which case, modern fans or, say, potential beta male fans, for obvious reasons, may not would understand Hal's appeal and/or dismiss him as a product of another time or figure to say he's sexist, racist, etc. I'm surprised more fans, as per comic fanboy leftism, haven't done that, or give them time.

(In which case, then Kyle, being the more sensitive of the two, or used as a political mouthpiece by Judd Winick in the 2000's, is really a product of his times, like Hal was.)

Of course, that aside, DC never knew what to do with Hal, Johns or not, so that didn't help matters, either. What else is new? On the other hand, hopefully, people will realize that Johns' work, GL or otherwise, is largely overrated, and that's being charitable.

He does alright, but he'd be easier to take, if he didn't have the urge to insert violence in nearly every damn comic thing he writes. If he wrote Barbie, he'd find some way to write in an arena of death.

Okay, that would be awesome, but still, you get my point.

Carl, in slight defense to Carol being Star Sapphire once again, I understood why, as Carol is the most iconic in the role. When I go, "Star Sapphire," people will always think, "Carol."

Plus, admittedly, it was a decent way to re-kindle the Hal/Carol romance, which Johns totally squandered. I see it more of a wasted opportunity, but I get its validity.

(Plus, I'm developing a soft spot for Hal/Carol, so I admit some bias on my part.)

As for the racist issue, looks like Comics Alliance foreshadowed that in a 2010 article:

http://www.comicsalliance.com/2010/05/06/the-racial-politics-of-regressive-storytelling/

So, if you like the old character or old team if he/she or they were White, you're racist. Okay, then.

(Apologies to Carl, as he linked to it, recently. I had to bump it, as it were.)

Yeah, I remember that article. LOL. The irony of that article is that its writer is a white dude.

A white liberal, I might add.

Indeed. White liberals, they can be strange, strange creatures. And these days, they almost now develop a form of "guilt-porn."

http://barelyablog.com/left-liberals-the-erotica-of-racial-subjugation/

(I've been reading a lot of Ilana Mercer, Libertarian, and I want to share this insightful commentary.)

The take-away quote is this:

"Either way, if you get off on taking punishment for doing no harm to anyone other than existing in your skin—you probably deserve the real punishment that will invariably follow."

And why I don't follow many bloggers, save for you guys. It's bad enough I still read modern comics and their crappy writing, I don't need to feel guilty about them, too. Silly Comics Alliance.

(I love how he said, 'I'm not saying Geoff Johns' is racist, for liking Hal and white Silver Age characters so much,' except that he is saying that Johns is racist for liking Silver Age white characters so much.)

As for the link and the issue of White Guilt, as, gosh, that Comics Alliance writer is trying his best to make sure his readers know it, Robert Stacy McCain has an excellent tear-down about the subject.

http://theothermccain.com/2013/03/08/just-in-case-new-york-times-readers-dont-feel-enough-white-guilt-yet/

Consider it as a palate cleanser, in light of the CA article (and bless you if you managed to read the whole thing, as I couldn't).

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