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

June 22, 2022

 ·  16 comments

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.

2.75

Rating

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?  ↩

Comments ( 16 )

  1. AnonymousJune 22, 2022

    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.

    Byt

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

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    2. AnonymousJune 26, 2022

      Yeah, I value Blog of Oa's opinions. It was them who convinced me to come back and give Venditti a try in 2018 (as I'd had no interested in ever coming back to GL after Johns).

      And I'm glad I did. While I had mixed feelings about Venditti's New 52 era stuff, the 'Hal and Pals' phase of the run ended up becoming one of my favorite DC Rebirth titles.

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    3. AnonymousJune 27, 2022

      I was someone who valued Blog of Oas opinion but their reviews of Thornes run have left me very dissapointed. They reacted quite negatively to Thorne ever since the Bleeding Cool article came out about how much he "hates" Hal Jordan. I've found his reviews overly pessimistic, often nitpicky and a little disingenuous with how they choose to frame certain things from Thornes perspective. I looked back on some of their other reviews and found certain things they were quick to criticise Thorne for werent an issue when say Venditti did the same thing.
      Its a shame that a lot of people wrote Thorne off before they even gave him a chance because of Bleeding Cool

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  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.

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    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.

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    2. AnonymousJune 26, 2022

      Yeah, for me, that's one of the long-term costs of the success of the Sinestro Corps War 15 years ago.

      Yes, it elevated the franchise to new heights and it was a fantastic time. It's still my favorite GL story, don't get me wrong.

      But it also locked Johns into nonstop Space Opera/even mode for the remainder of his run and the Earth-based elements and storytelling focus basically got abandoned (Cowgirl, the USAF, Hal's family). And then Venditti carried it forward (had too, arguably).

      That was one thing, at least, that I liked about the DC Rebirth era and the GL titles. You had the cosmic Space Opera stuff in Hal Jordan and balanced it out with mostly-Earth-based GL stories in Green Lanterns.

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    3. I too feel like Green Lantern really needs to return to the roots of being on Earth and fighting bad guys/protecting a city......Not everything has to be a cosmic level event that threatens the universe. I used to like the variety of stories that Hal and Kyle had in their respective runs.

      In terms of Sinestro Corps War's success...that followed by Blackest Night locked the Lanterns into higher stakes that even arguably Geoff Johns had trouble topping as he moved into the latter part of his run......

      GL needs a really strong writer that can handle personal stories as well as cosmic level stories.....I don't want to see the GLC decimated each and every time....eventually being rebuilt years down the line. I think that's lazy writing now....the challenge is how to make GL interesting and relatable again.

      I agree that Green Lanterns was a nice down to Earth (pun intended) book, but that run was cut short by low sales.....I guess that Cruz and Baz can't carry a book on their own.

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    4. AnonymousJune 27, 2022

      "In terms of Sinestro Corps War's success...that followed by Blackest Night locked the Lanterns into higher stakes that even arguably Geoff Johns had trouble topping as he moved into the latter part of his run......"

      Bingo. Part of me still wishes to this day that Johns HAD exited with BLACKEST NIGHT (and I think originally he WAS going to before changing his mind). That felt like the end of the story that begun in GL: REBIRTH.

      I mean, I did enjoy the final 3 years of the run, but it never really recaptured the same level of excitement and anticipation of what came before.

      It's just the latest instance of writers who, while they crafted defining takes, still stayed on their books too long (ex. Brubaker's CAPTAIN AMERICA and CATWOMAN, Bendis' AVENGERS, etc.).

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    5. "It's just the latest instance of writers who, while they crafted defining takes, still stayed on their books too long (ex. Brubaker's CAPTAIN AMERICA and CATWOMAN, Bendis' AVENGERS, etc.)."

      Well said! Also, like you, I enjoyed the final three years, but it just was missing something for me...that excitement as you said (ex. War of the Green Lanterns fell a little flat for me).

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    6. AnonymousJune 30, 2022

      Yeah, I mean I get the major comics publishers having to keep popular creators on board for consumer appeal (and said creators enjoying their work and having a good time).

      And with Johns and the post-BLACKEST NIGHT era of the run, there *was* value in chronicling the fallout and doing more world building with the Entities and the Indigos.

      But there comes a point where you have to question and accept that it might be time to head for the door and go out on a high note.

      That being said, at least Johns wasn't running on fumes as badly as other long runners. I mentioned Brubaker's CAP before and the post-FEAR ITSELF era.

      There's a perfect example. I love that run, but man, I *hated* the post-event 2011 relaunch of the main CAPTAIN AMERIC book. And it was clear Brubaker was just going through the motions there (whereas he was ironically and obviously more energized on the WINTER SOLDIER spinoff).

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  3. Andersonh1June 27, 2022

    I did not like the art or the direction for this series at all. In theory, a story that went back and revisited what happened to John Stewart at the end of Mosaic should have been right up my alley, but I couldn't get past yet another trip down "destroy the central power battery, kill most of the Corps, kill the Guardians" storyline YET AGAIN. This is what, the third time they've gone down this road? I was turned off in the first issue, and whenever I'd read one of the following issues, things just got worse, particularly all the off-screen deaths and sidelining of Hal. I hope we're done with Thorne after 12 issues, I have no interest in any more Green Lantern from him.

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    1. I was excited by that brief reference to the end of Mosaic; curious to see where Thorne goes with that.

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  4. Okay! I got around to this one. It's been a while since I read Future State, and I wonder how it might have colored my reading if I'd gone back to the longboxes for it (I'd forgotten G'nort was involved, and so I was tickled to see him appear in the series proper).

    I'm liking this one plenty so far, especially the stuff with Jo Mullein and Keli Quintela. There are so many GLs in play that it's nice to see more than just Hal Jordan get attention. It almost makes one long for the days of GLC Quarterly... If Thorne can make sense of the disparate demi-Lanterns, it'll be a win for continuity. Though it seemed like gilding the lily to have the "crux planets" as an explanation for earth's seven lanterns (is Jo the seventh?) - I had thought Johns established that earth's surplus Lanterns were in response to the life entity residing at the core of the planet. Ultimately, though, this is one of those "don't gaze into the abyss" continuity problems.

    I'm eager to dive into the second volume now. Making Jessica Cruz a Yellow Lantern seems inspired, a fun way to flip the script on the Sinestro Corps while still respecting Jessica's character. Every time an established character gets a yellow ring, it's felt like "What if [hero], but scary?" But Jess feels like the first time since Batman that a character made sense with a yellow ring.

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    1. I'd have read a book starring Jo Mullein, Keli Quintela, and Simon Baz forever. For all that DC's high on backup stories lately, they haven't dipped back into quarterly anthologies, but there does seem plenty fodder for a JL Quarterly or GLC Quarterly revamp — give us Far Sector stories, a place for miniseries like Fire & Ice, etc., etc.

      Curious to hear though what you think of Green Lantern Vol. 2 ...

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    2. Looking forward to your review! I might hold my fuller thoughts for there, but points to Thorne for dancing between the raindrops of New Gods continuity and finding a creative use for Esak as the Superboy-Prime of New Genesis. And of course, The Source!

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