Green Lantern Vol. 3: The End. Though Johns had already had successes with JSA, Flash, Teen Titans, and Hawkman at the time that he took on Green Lantern, undoubtedly Green Lantern served to cement his reputation as a writer able to breathe new life into properties once thought untenable.
I specifically stopped reading the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Green Lantern series because I didn't find Hal Jordan compelling, only picking it up again when DC Comics killed off Hal for Kyle Rayner; that Johns made me a Hal Jordan fan -- that he proved that Hal Jordan must always necessarily be at the center of the Green Lantern series -- is an accomplishment indeed.
Of course, ending a run of 100-plus story issues in a manner that's going to satisfy everyone is a near impossible task. The End contains just the Green Lantern issues of the "Rise of the Third Army" and "Wrath of the First Lantern" crossovers, Green Lantern #13-20; having read the "Third Army" crossover volume that also includes Green Lantern Corps and other titles, I can say that "Third Army," at least, is more epic if you read Green Lantern and Corps together.
The finale of this book lacks the pop that, for instance, the Blackest Night-era Green Lantern #50 offered independently. It is rushed, at times nonsensical, and Johns does not tie up every thematic thread that I might have hoped he would. At the same time, I can agree that the thematic threads Johns does address are the book's most important ones, and if the Green Lantern conclusion can't do everything, it still for the most part does what it needs to.
[Review contains spoilers]
The "Third Army" half of this book doesn't actually involve the zombie Third Army so much as it does the inaugural adventures of Earth's newest Green Lantern, Simon Baz. On its own, I like Johns's Simon Baz story; Baz offers Hal Jordan's heroism along with the fun toughness of Guy Gardner or Sinestro. We haven't had a new Earth Green Lantern in twenty years, and it's always nice when a new Green Lantern can put the focus back on being a guy with a magic ring rather than the machinations of the Guardians of the Universe and a half-dozen other multi-colored Lanterns.
But while I'm eager to see Baz's story continue in Justice League of America, his introduction feels ill-timed here at the end of Johns's Green Lantern run. There is precious little Hal Jordan in this book, with more focus on Baz and Sinestro. In a way the book under-serves Hal; there's plenty of talk in the book about how Hal is the greatest of the Green Lanterns, but this is never shown necessarily; there is not, as one might expect at the end of Hal Jordan's long journey of redemption, a scene of the Green Lantern Corps rallying behind Hal as they did in the years prior to the character's disgrace.
Some of the book's most gripping moments are indeed Sinestro's. After years of struggle, Sinestro's home planet Korugar finally re-accepts him as their hero, only to have Korugar destroyed by the crazed First Lantern. Sinestro finally merges with Parallax, treating the reader to our first image of a Parallax-ified Sinestro. Sinestro even gets the book's best lines, as Hal finally asks him the series' long-standing unspoken question, "Were we ever truly friends?" and Sinestro replies that that's the tragedy of all of this (of the whole series, really): "We'll always be friends." Clearly Johns knows, as the reader does, that the heart of this book is (or became, somewhere midway through) Hal and Sinestro's strained friendship, and these closing lines cut to the core of what makes that friendship so compelling.
Unfortunately, the Hal Jordan/Sinestro conflict effectively eclipses everything else from the conclusion. Hal and Star Sapphire Carol Ferris have come as far as almost marriage in this series, and the epilogue suggest they will be married, but alongside their growth has always been Hal's inescapable addiction to his ring. There's a strong indication in the New 52 Green Lantern Vol. 1 that Hal takes up with Carol again only because he believes he can't be Green Lantern any more. The End ties a nice bow on it, but doesn't seriously address Hal Jordan's character arc that's been a part of this series. As well, there's no specific moments with Hal and Baz (echoing, perhaps, the important Hal/Kyle handshake in Green Lantern: Rebirth, nor do Lanterns Hal, Guy, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner have any notable interactions before the story finishes.
The "Third Army" story mostly doesn't need the other books (though Green Lantern Corps helps), but the "First Lantern" chapters in this volume do suggest the reader is missing something. The story follows from issue to issue, but a lot of who the First Lantern is and why he's doing what he's doing seem to be detailed better elsewhere; also there's a subplot about a "Great Heart" that's somehow also the "First Lantern" that's hinted at here but occurs somewhere else.
The final fight with the First Lantern speeds from explosion to explosion at breakneck speed. Sinestro charges in -- no, wait, Sinestro is defeated. Black Lantern Hal Jordan charges in -- nope, wait, Hal's defeated, too. Hal gets the idea, seemingly out of nowhere, to bring in Blackest Night's Nekron; while Nekron's visuals are cool, his inclusion seems "just because." Hal determines, mysteriously again, that the "emotional spectrum" must be expelled from the First Lantern's body, which Hal accomplishes ... somehow; then Nekron magically delivers the killing blow.
What's moving about the conclusion -- the Hal/Sinestro bits -- comes afterward, and I might have preferred this First Lantern business had been excised entirely, "Third Army" had been Green Lantern's big hurrah, and more room could have been saved at the end for wrap-up. As it is, Hal Jordan meets his late father again -- whose death was a major factor in Johns's Green Lantern series -- and that reunion is relegated to just four very thin panels.
Green Lantern Vol. 3: The End does not do everything very well, though I'm hard-pressed to think of a comics or television finale that does. The End does some things well, and if this were just another volume of Green Lantern with more coming behind it (don't we wish!), I might feel more sanguine about it. While this conclusion didn't thrill me completely, it does not diminish my esteem for what Johns accomplished on Green Lantern overall. Get ready -- I have no doubt the Green Lantern by Geoff Johns omnibuses are going to start rolling out any minute now ...
Next week, Justice League Dark and more -- be there!