Review: Green Lantern Vol. 1: Invictus trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

When I read the first main chapter of Geoffrey Thorne’s Green Lantern Vol. 1: Invictus, I found it a cogent, readable, but not particularly ground-breaking Green Lantern story of politics and alien sparring.

The second chapter blew my mind, defied all my expectations, and set the tone for a bold new Green Lantern era. The extent to which Thorne plucks mystery from the realm of the commonplace and opens a new avenue for the Green Lantern mythos echoes the work of another “Geoff” — Geoff Johns — which is certainly a fine place to start.

Ring-slinging fans have plenty to enjoy — more probably in the next volume than this — but those who, in the style of Thorne’s Future State: Green Lantern tale, want a more stripped-down, character-based story, particularly focused on John Stewart, should be very, very happy.

Don’t read the back of the book before you start this one, folks.

[Review contains spoilers]

It is not as though we haven’t been here before. Oa decimated — check. Few to no ring-bearers left — check. But Thorne sets it all up so well. The rather mundane murder of a Guardian (the likes of which we’ve seen before) leads to a drastic, shocking reshuffling of the Green Lantern Corps in the wake of joining the United Planets1 — a politically fascinating development, with some Lanterns becoming ad hoc diplomats and bodyguards, that could support a whole series all on its own.

[See the latest DC trade solicitations.]

Then we get into still more hidden-in-plain-sight revelations about the Lanterns, specifically the seven2 human Lanterns and how they relate to so-called “crux worlds.” Then John Stewart accepts responsibility for leading a thousand other Lanterns on a space ship across the cosmos to investigate an anomaly, which again could have been its own series. And then, no sooner does the space ship take off than the Central Power Battery explodes, stranding those Lanterns powerless and far from home, killing others, and leaving among the only active Green Lanterns Far Sector’s Sojourner Mullein, Corps leader by default, and Teen Lantern Keli Quintela.

Some of the off-screen deaths hurt — Arisia, Vath Sarn, Isamot Kol — but better the reader feels something than doesn’t here, and surely Thorne has a way to resurrect any Lantern he chooses later on (we can be sure, for instance, Kyle Rayner’s straits aren’t so dire as they seem). And Thorne’s take on John Stewart is exactly what I’m looking for — not only an oblique reference to the events of Green Lantern: Mosaic, but nary a mention of the ill-fitting “John Stewart as military sniper” history that Johns appended but that I never thought quite fit with John Stewart’s character overall.

I thought Thorne did well tying his Future State stories (included here) with his main series in subtle, indirect ways. We see new Lantern Kenz in the background, and John’s pairing of Salaak and G’nort foreshadows their much different status in the “future.” Ilo is here too, and it’ll be interesting to see how to close Thorne gets to his prospective future over the course of his run — we assume John and the Lanterns won’t be stuck in the Dark Sector for decades and decades, but I wonder if Ilo will still join their band, and Hood and the others.

As mentioned, back in our galaxy Thorne has Jo Mullein leading a team that includes Simon Baz and Keli Quintela. They’re three newer Lanterns and all less inclined to follow the rules even than self-proclaimed rogue Hal Jordan, which ought make for interesting reading. On one hand, perhaps we can expect from them not the same old thing; on the other hand, Thorne has plenty story possibility in seeing three problem-child Lanterns now have to stand in for the whole Corps. I wouldn’t mind at all if Thorne even leaves aside the Dark Sector for a story or two and pits Jo against Evil Star, Goldface, or the like — brand-new Lanterns against classic Lantern villains, as it were.

Given all the good representation in Thorne’s Green Lantern, I did pause at pause at Thorne peppering Keli’s speech with what seemed basic Spanish (“loco,” “agua chica”); it’s an odd, artificial narrative othering given that the Lantern rings translate everyone else’s words for the reader perfectly. Happily, as it turns out, there’s intention here on Thorne’s part, as Jo herself wonders later why Keli’s speech isn’t translated perfectly, a clue into the mystery of Keli’s Lantern gauntlet. I think I’d have preferred Thorne arrive at this some other way without the appearance of that particular gaffe, but good at least that it was not actually a gaffe.



My high praise for artists Dexter Soy and Marco Santucci in Green Lantern Vol. 1: Invictus is that both artists at times reminded me of Billy Tan’s blockbuster work on Robert Venditti’s Green Lantern. Geoffrey Thorne’s Invictus is a good-looking book, and surprising, and perhaps the biggest knock against it is that DC only collects four issues of the main series here (plus the Future State story), so it feels like it’s barely gotten started. The good news is, the second volume comes out only a month from now and is said to collect issues #5–12 and an annual, so if it holds, there’s plenty more to come. For me, among the best debuts of the Infinite Frontier era so far.

[Includes original and variant covers]

  1. Given our discussions with Justice League Vol. 1: Prisms and etc. how Brian Michael Bendis’ plans at DC seem to have come to naught, it’s impressive a variety of titles that have taken the United Planets development from Superman and run with it.  ↩

  2. I'm only counting six (Hal, John, Guy, Kyle, Simon, Jessica), unless they also mean new Teen Lantern Keli Quintela. Or Alan Scott? Or Jennie–Lynn Hayden?  ↩

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  1. Interesting assessment.

    I haven't come back to GL since the end of Venditti's run back in 2018. I wasn't especially interested in Morrison/Sharp and the tone of Thorne's pre-release interviews last year really rubbed me the wrong way.

    Blog of Oa's also been VERY critical of the Thorne era, so it made me even less interested. But I *might* give it a second chance now based on your review.


    1. I'll have to check out those reviews, see where our takes are similar or different.

  2. Interesting review. I have to say that I enjoyed the storyline, though again the Corps is decimated....again the Guardians are in peril or seemingly dead.....Hal has been basically sidelined (at least in this first volume) - and my favorite Lantern Kyle Rayner is missing in action. That being said, the book was enjoyable, with good art - and I am looking forward to the second paperback. The strengths of the book for me were a focus on John Stewart, Jo Mullen (a great new addition to the mythos), Teen Lantern, and Simon Baz (totally underutilized and a fascinating character that deserves more of the spotlight).....made the book an interesting one. I'm along for the ride.....I do hope that Thorne can stick a satisfying landing.

    1. True, the only way to tell a Green Lantern story these days is to destroy the Green Lanterns ... not a great look for the franchise overall. I'd still be interested in a more straightforward superhero take on Green Lantern one of these days — leave aside all this cosmic stuff and just follow a Lantern, on Earth, fighting bad guys and protecting a city. We haven't had that in a long time.