May 3, 2009

Not Just Another Geoff Johns Sunday

(Spoiler Free, for your protection!)

It would be very easy - and tempting - to draw parallels between Geoff Johns and Brian Bendis. Both men have helped rebuild key franchises at key comic companies; both are known for writing big event comics, and both have ardent fanbases.

For me, however, I prefer Johns over Bendis - Johns has strengths in both huge, crossever, "event" writing as well as smaller, more personal moments, often within the same book. Johns also allows for unique, why-the-heck-didn't-I-think-of-that moments and concepts with existing characters. Although Bendis can write dialogue and personal moments well...some of his "big screen" writing can seem a little jarring and, well, filled with inconsistent characters.

(At least, that's my opinion, I could be wrong).

Green Lantern # 40 and Blackest Night # 0 (the latter part of Free Comic Book Day) are both really good examples of Johns' ability with large scale events. Combining the slightly fannish concept of the "emotional spectrum" of Lanterns (or, "Why Aren't There Lanterns of Other Colors?"), these two issues begin to set the scene for this summer's "event" comic...and quite frankly, it looks promising. GL 40 focuses on the threat of the Orange Lanterns (who represent greed on the "emotional spectrum"), as well as asking a key question (What does Hal Jordan hope for?). They're both really well-done, and quite frankly...make me want to read more. No event comic could get off to a better start...and the Black Lantern Oath? Chilling.

But Johns also seems (unlike Bendis) to walk away from certain comics, and Justice Society of America # 26 is his final issue. Unlike the whole Thy Kingdom Come/One Nation Under Gog arc (which was a seven or eight issue arc that could have easily been told in three), this is a done-in-one that is solely a character-focused story...and allows Johns to say goodbye to a team he helped revive. It's much better than some of his past issues, and admittedly, I would rather he move on than...well, do another Thy Kingdom Come/Under Nation Under Gog.

But sometimes, even the best writers have their down moments, and unfortunately, Legion of Three Worlds # 4 is one of them. Luckily, it's close to the end, so some plot threads begin coming together. However, one character's resurrection is explained, there are events that...well, do we really need another explanation of the Time Trapper's identity? And amongst some of the "big events" is one that...well, is simultaneously clever and rather cynical. (Won't spoil it, because other sites will, but it just tends to ring false). At the very least, one plot point from issue # 3, towards the end, is explained...and if I understand it correctly, means that the character will remain at a given state.

Johns is, admittedly, one of my favorite writers, and today meant reading four books within the same week. Any comics author with three hits (Green Lantern, Blackest Night and Justice Society) and one miss (Legion of Three Worlds) would be impressive - the fact that Johns continues to perform as such on a regular basis is rather astounding.

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