Review: Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular: In Brightest Day

Comic Books DC This Week Entertainment
Green Lantern 80th Anniversary Spectacular cover, via DC Comics.

Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super-Spectacular – James Tyion IV, Geoff Johns, Cullen Bunn, Dennis O’Neill, Ron Marz, Peter J. Tomasi, Charlotte Fullerton McDuffie/ChrisCross, Robert Venditti, Mariko Tamaki, Sina Grace, Writers; Gary Frank, Ivan Reis/Oclair Albert, Doug Mahnke, Mike Grell, Darryl Banks, Fernando Pasarin/Wade Von Grawbadger, ChrisCross/Jordi Tarragona, Rafa Sandoval/Jordi Tarragona, Mirka Andolfo, Ramon Villalobos, Artists; Steve Oliff, Alex Sinclair, David Baron, Lovern Kindzierski, Hi-Fi, Gabe Eltaeb, Luis Guerrero, Ivan Plascencia, Arif Priantio, Rico Renzi, Colorists

Ray – 9/10

Ray: Wrapping up a long streak of giant-sized anthologies celebrating DC’s most iconic heroes, villains, and antiheroes as they hit their 80th anniversary, it’s Green Lantern’s time in the spotlight. Like Robin, many characters have held that mantle over the years. That means this all-star collection of talent—including one legend giving us possibly his final story—have eight different leads, along with a Hal Jordan/Oliver Queen team-up and a story spotlighting the core four Earth lanterns as a unit. So how does this stack up against the other specials?

First up is “Dark Things Cannot Stand the Light,” a Golden Age-set Alan Scott tale by James Tynion IV and Gary Frank. It gets the book off to a very strong start, focusing on Alan Scott paying a visit to the mother of a young man who perished in the horrific train crash that led to him finding the lantern. It establishes a new origin and backstory for Scott, giving the crash a cause rooted in human evil. It also hints at some new nuance below Scott’s chiseled exterior, and I’d love to see that explored. Tynion is the third writer, along Snyder and Williamson, to give us a tease of this new JSA. Who will get the call to write the series?

Alan Scott’s mission. Via DC Comics.

Next up it’s the most iconic GL creative team of all time, Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis, doing a Hal Jordan solo story. And by “solo,” I mean solo. “Last Will” is a tale of what happens when Hal crashes on an unknown world with a malfunctioning, dying ring. With only seconds to send out a trio of messages that he hopes will reach their targets and lead to his rescue—or at least let people know where he died—the three he chooses are a great testament to Hal’s character. And then comes a shocking—and hilarious—coda that might be the perfect way for Johns to put a bow on his legendary run.

Crash landing. Via DC Comics.

Cullen Bunn wrote a surprisingly nuanced Sinestro solo series that turned Hal’s notorious villain into a complex antihero, and he works with artist Doug Mahnke on “The Meaning of Fear,” a story that focuses on Sinestro confronting an agent of a mysterious group, testing him to see if he’s able to resist fear. A bit too much of this is used to remind us of Sinestro’s origin, but Bunn is able to write the order-obsessed tyrant like few other writers. The ending definitely makes clear that this is a darker Sinestro than in the original series, though.

Next up is “Time Alone,” a reunion of two DC legends in what turns out to be a farewell act for one of them. Writer Denny O’Neill and artist Mike Grell return to the classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow team for a tale that has Ollie and Hal working on their biggest challenge—themselves. With Ollie reacting violently to an attack by Clock King and resenting Hal for a recent sojourn off-earth, the two hash out their differences and Ollie decides to take his own sojourn into isolation. It’s a surprisingly introspective, melancholy story with a distinct old-school bow—the ideal tribute to the classic run and a great send-off to O’Neill’s legendary career.

Next up is Ron Marz and Darryl Banks on “Legacy,” a Kyle Rayner-centric story that starts with Kyle returning to a storage facility in New York to retrieve some memorabilia from the destroyed Warriors bar—now based on Oa. But while talking with a guard who remembers Kyle’s time as the sole Green Lantern well, they accidentally activate a battle droid that was on display at the bar, providing some action. This is very much a tribute to Marz’s own run, and he had one of the longest GL tenures, making this a well-done and essential inclusion.

“Heart of the Corps” by Peter Tomasi and Fernando Pasarin, focuses on Guy Gardner and Kilowog as the two prickliest Lanterns (not counting the inevitable porcupine Lantern) are teamed on a mission to rescue regular supporting players Vath and Isamot from a hostage situation. Guy is a braggart and showboat, Kilowog is grumpier than usual, and the story doesn’t really seem to be going anywhere—until a twist that brings it back to one of the oldest tropes in sitcoms. It’s a little corny, sure, but it’s a great tribute to how even the huge Corps still feels like a family sometimes.

Charlotte Fullerton-McDuffie, the spouse of the late, great Dwayne McDuffie, teams with veteran creator ChrisCross for a story pairing John Stewart and Hawkgirl. Very reminiscent of the animated series, it pits them against Dr. Polaris as the mad scientist tries to get his hands on a powerful isotope they’ve secured. The plot is fast-paced and pretty basic, but the dialogue is strong and really sells what a dynamic couple these two are. The two shared a team in the recent Justice League run, but didn’t interact all that much, so this story is a great homage to that era and a way to honor Dwayne’s legacy.

Robert Venditti did one of the longest runs on Green Lantern, spanning two DC eras and almost a hundred issues. So his story fittingly focuses on all the core Earth Green Lanterns. “Four,” a tale set decades from now, focuses on an aged Hal, Kyle, and John meeting at a bar to share stories of their glory day—most about Guy being both their most valuable teammate and the biggest pain in their butts. Guy is supposedly “fashionably late” as always, but it doesn’t take too long to guess where he actually is. A bit predictable and sentimental, but that’s what the story calls for and it works.

Finally, the newest Lanterns get their spotlight, starting with “The Voice” by Mariko Tamaki and Mirka Andolfo. Focusing on Jessica Cruz, it’s a look inside her mind that shows how her anxiety operates and how she overcomes it. Sure, there are some villains including a massive parasitic alien and a giant version of King Shark, but Jessica’s biggest fight is against the way her mind plays tricks on her. It’s been a while since we got an introspective story like this about Jessica, and Tamaki does a great job of reminding us of why she’s one of the best Lanterns. When she makes it back from space, hopefully Tamaki can do more work with her.

Finally, it’s Sina Grace and Ramon Villalobos on a Simon Baz story. This one is a lot more fast-paced and action-packed than the others, focusing on Simon greeting family members visiting from Lebanon—just in time for racist terrorists to target major Detroit Islamic sites. Grace is of middle eastern descent himself, and his depiction of the culture and how it influences Simon’s ethics is powerful and well done. Baz is probably the Lantern who usually gets the least focus, so it’s good to see a strong spotlight for him here.

Overall, besides the first two stories, there aren’t too many classics here—but there also isn’t a single weak point. This is probably the most consistently strong of these giant one-shots, and it’s a fitting tribute to eighty years of the DCU’s greatest sci-fi franchise.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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