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The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

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The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

The Season Finale!

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Warning: Spoilers Below

“A single thought, one solitary wish–and everything changes in accordance with will.”

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That right there, that’s the basics of Green Lantern. That’s the foundational concept at the heart of this entire myth. And in The Green Lantern #12, that very concept, that basis of the entire idea, is weaponized against it. Grant Morrison, Liam Sharp, Steve Oliff and Tom Orzechowski bring us this final ‘episode’ of the series, this season finale and like every installment before, it is full of ideas and awe-inspiring imagery. And amongst the storm of those ideas, the terrifying weaponization of the myth’s foundation may be the most powerful and horrific. But to truly understand how that’s been managed, what it involves and how we got here, we need to re-examine. We need to take a look at the entire season now, as this finale slams home a final shot, closing the curtain on one act and opening another for the next.

The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

Picking up from the last issue, we open on Hal Jordan answering the distress call of Trilla-Tru and her fellow Lanterns, taking place at the place where this entire story began: Weirwimm, the planet in The No-Zone, from where The Qwa-Man first came through. And so Hal arrives at last to this scene of crime, as the book treats us to a bit of fun back and forth between Hal and his ring Pengowirr. Free will in the face of control has proven to be the core theme of the book thus far and so seeing the ring comment on Hal’s free spirit, where in he cannot be controlled, with sass is interesting.

And then, as book switches from gleaming worlds and stars to decaying lands and decrepit atmosphere, the stage is set for what must come. The book, which has avoided using double-page spreads throughout its entire run, save for in issue #1 (a close character shot of Hal lying on the floor), opts for a double page-spread in this issue. This is a deliberate choice. The previous 15 years of Green Lantern, driven and inspired by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis and Doug Mahnke’s seminal work on the property, has been heavy on the double-page spreads, usually boasting armadas at war. The focus has been on a certain type of storytelling, even very visually and The Green Lantern made a conscious decision to move away from all that, using only one spread to show us its lead hero in #1. This isn’t about the rare, once-in-a-life-time prophetic events coming to life, which is where the decision for constant double-page spreads made the most sense, in that context. This is about the cosmic everyday in the DC Universe. This isn’t Star Wars. This is Doctor Who.

What that effectively means is, since space indicates importance in a visual medium like comics and the title has steered clear of doing them, despite being as epic and cosmic it has been to date, when it does do them, they’re far more effective. Their absence makes any presence of one at all much more special and meaningful. And so after 10 issues in between #1 and #12, the team finally does their long earned double-page spread. And boy does it work.

The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

This lets you know, instantly, this confrontation between Hal and Anti-Hal, this is big. This is monumental. This isn’t the same as all the things up until now in the book. This one’s going to be different. This is on a different scale. Immediately, on a very visual level, the storytelling can establish that for its reader and make that link, that connection and it’s because of the deliberate and careful choices in the basic storytelling on behalf of the team.

Beyond that, the issue is largely a brutal slug-fest, uniting all the figures and ideas we’ve seen throughout the run, for the most part. From Lanterns and Blackstars to Guardians and Controllers, from Anti-Matter beings to The Superwatch, they’re all in this jam packed  issue. It’s all about this conflict on Weirwimm as Matter and Anti-Matter collide and many parties with many agendas play their roles. There’s a lovely symmetry to the run here as this final issue, like #1, is an over sized 30 page story, boasting one proper double-page spread. That alone should convey the sense that things have come back around and that is, textually, literalized in the return of Maxim Tox from #1, whose arrival is the most blatant marker of all the ties in place.

And the ties are certainly worth digging into, one by one, as the run’s key threads all come to a head in this finale.

The Crooked Cop

This has been one of the key elements of the book, the idea that there’s a mole, a traitor in the force. The presence of the Blackstar informant is what propels a lot of the series, where in Hal must go undercover into The Blackstars. So that question, the ‘who is the traitor’ needs to be answered clearly for the story to work and it definitely is. The idea of a traitor Lantern isn’t necessarily new, as it’s a bit of a staple, from your Sinestros to Universos. But the way the team decides to tackle that conceit feels classical yet fresh. One often just simply expects a Lantern to have been evil, just the character being that character. But what one doesn’t often expect is a Durlan spy pretending to be a Lantern, having taken their place. Now this is a fun one, because when you really think ‘Who could infiltrate anything and be the perfect mole?’, in the context of a cosmic DC universe, Durlans are a pretty good answer. They’re a Legion staple and ‘Durlan spy’ is a classic idea. But oddly enough, due to their lack of play in Green Lantern on any consistent basis, no one really expects them or thinks of them. It’s a classical DC element worth applying here. And so skewing expectation with an elegantly simple and DC-specific answer proves to be a strength here.

The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

And who could the Durlan be but Chriselon? This is a bit of pure narrative satisfaction, as it ties together so much of the title. Chriselon’s inciting accident was what pulled Hal into the story to begin with and in said accident, it was implied that the crooks that broke loose did so due to a Luck Dial they had. But Hal would go onto prove that their dial was fake and they escaped off sheer luck. And then we found out the whole thing was a distraction, a deliberate setup. So the entire escape didn’t make much sense…unless Chriselon was part of The Blackstars’ plans and crashed his plane near Hal and let the crooks escape on purpose. It was all planned. What you’ll notice here is a fundamental, horrific twist, a perversion of a basic notion of Green Lantern. ‘What if the accident of the fallen Lantern wasn’t an accident, what if it was a secret plan, a ploy?’

There’s a darkness to that idea and that’s what is embodied in this twist, as we find out Ziggle, the Durlan Blackstar seen in #1 and #2 of the run is the one who’s been going about pretending to be Chriselon. Morrison, Sharp, Oliff and Orzechowski didn’t just introduce the Durlan here, but set the character up and then took her off the board, with few asking ‘Where’d she go?’, which is some clever, clever plotting. The truth staring you in the face, the clues all there, the puzzle pieces readied, which all come together at the precise moment they’re supposed to, being a legitimate surprise. There’s a lot of seeding in general in regards to this plot, with Chriselon constantly digging for details about Hal and his location and business. The team, with this resolution, ties together a lot, as it’s a vital part of the larger schemes in play. Ziggle was tasked with keeping Hal safe, while gathering Intel, which is key.

The Controller Conspiracy

The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

Controller Mu has been the ever-haunting antagonist of this run thus far, embodying the very idea of control and treating it almost as a cult-like, religious notion. And it’s his conspiracies and plans that plague Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns right now. He’s put a lot of wheels in motion and the time for payoff has arrived here, as his vision becomes clear. His return here is simple and well executed, fitting in with all the pre-established information and it’s a genuine moment of ‘aha, that really works’. Throughout the course of the story we’ve seen the recurring idea of The Five Components, necessary for Mu’s construction of The Ultimate Asset, an absolute device that will realize his absolute vision of peace, love and harmony for the universe. Thus far, we’ve known only four components:

1) The Venturan Luck Dial

2) The Auran Star-Band

3) The Anti-Matter Battery

4) The Green Lantern Power Ring.

We learn of the final fifth component here, as well as what The Ultimate Asset is here and they’re both very much what some have guessed. Hal Jordan himself, is the secret fifth component. Thus Ziggle’s mission of getting Hal back in the game and keeping him safe. He’s necessary. And as for the asset? It’s The Miracle Machine.

The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

An old, powerful artifact from Silver Age Legion Of Super-Heroes comics, it was a central part of Morrison’s Final Crisis epic. Dubbed Geh-Jedollah-The-Absolute, it was the ultimate wish-granting technology, built off Guardian science, by The Controllers. Its name was untranslatable, its true meaning unknown. And that was in the 31st Century. The machine has long been a secret and key tool that is mythic even within an already mythic universe. It’s the ultimate version of a Green Lantern, a wishing machine.

Superman used it to save all of existence by learning about it from the future, but in The Green Lantern, we get its proper canonical origin. The first ever Miracle Machine is made here and the untranslatable and mysterious name’s meaning is unveiled. Geh-Jedollah means Genesis Box. Imagine that. Imagine doing an event and bringing in this big, mysterious idea and then explaining it precisely 10 years later, delving into its origins and myth. That is the sort of wild long-game material that is rare. And this is the sort of storytelling born of confidence, an assurance of experience rather than the passion of youth. This is the book you get when you have been weaving a whole DC saga long enough that you can make 30 year old-deep cuts and revamps of stuff you were doing when you were in your 20’s at DC. As is evident, with this issue, the run firmly cements its place in the larger macro-saga Morrison’s been weaving for 30 years now across his various DC books. This isn’t just a Green Lantern or any Green Lantern, this is a run that’s effectively a coda to all the important work Morrison’s done, as is evident in the text. Its purpose in the larger scheme of things is clearer and that is exciting. But past that, what’s even more exciting and terrifying is how this choice, with the all-important Miracle Machine is played out.

The Green Lantern. A magical will-powered device that can alter reality to grant you your wish. Much like the team inverted the basics of the Abin Sur origin with Ziggle pretending to Chriselon, there’s a horrific perversion here. Hal Jordan, the man renowned for his will, for his ability to wish and make the impossible possible must do what he always does: wish. And doing so is what damns the entire universe. The very act of Hal using his ring and wishing is corrupted, twisted and made into this horrific thing. Something so simple, basic and fundamental weaponized by the antagonist here. It’s something you’ve seen so many times before, Hal wishing and doing the impossible to save the world, facing death. But it’s this twisted reflection. And at the same time, there’s also a fascinating parallel of him doing this, changing reality, as the Blackstars call him Parallax, given he wanted to rewrite reality in the 90’s too as Parallax the villain. Except the differences here are really interesting. There’s a lot in play here, as the creative is all too keenly aware. Reality will be changed by the time we get into next month’s Blackstars, but Hal Jordan’s character arc continues.

The Anti-Matter Beings

The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

Then there’s the case of all the Anti-Matter business, orchestrated into place by Mu, but part of its own independent design as well. We see the meeting, at last, of our Anti-Matter Sinestro and Matter Hal Jordan. Morrison makes some clever tweaks here in the idea of the classical Hal-Sinestro dynamic with this new character of his. This riffs on the classical Sinestro, the mustache-twirling foe, but moves his motives from revenge or order to simply pure profit. He doesn’t want to rule or be adored, he doesn’t think himself a hero, in fact he’ll insist to you he’s not, he’s just a charming rogue looking to make profit. He’s not necessarily good or bad, pay him enough and he’ll help you get a lot done. In fact, the whole series of events in the run occur because Anti-Sinestro took the pay from Mu and his Blackstars and now he wants to get paid more by clearing up the mess. So you love him and he loves you, but he’s a free spirit driven only by the power of profit. He’s a drastically different character and antagonist from the ‘main’ Sinestro we have, who believes himself heroic. Anti-Sinestro is, oddly more honest and open and thus charming. He’ll flash you a pretty grin and chat you up, being incredibly personable. The talkative and seductive devil knows he’s bad, but he doesn’t really care. He’s sort of a Catwoman-esque figure for Hal here, which is quite neat.

But apart from Sinestro, there’s the two other Anti-Matter cases. The titular Qwa-Man and and Anti-Matter Titan looking for him and Sinestro. The latter is revealed to be part of a set-up. A lawman of The Reversoverse? Sure, but their law isn’t ours. It isn’t mutual agreement or trust. It’s trickery, bait and cruelty. It’s setups and robberies. It’s backstabbing and abuse of our own laws. And that works. But what’s more interesting is The Qwa-Man, who is revealed to be one of an entire species known as The Weaponeers. Except, he’s an extremely weak and nerfed down Weaponeer, lacking his Anti-Matter Lantern/Battery heart and his Qwa-Bolt weaponry. This is terrifying, namely because if a terribly weak Weaponeer is giving so much trouble to so many, a proper one feels like an impossible menace.

The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

But building off that, the big Season 2 tease here is The Weaponeers, who are effectively, DC Daleks. If Manhunters, like The Cybermen, cleanse emotion, then The Weaponeers channel it. Except, like The Daleks, the only emotion they’re capable of is hate. And they are designed to never die, to keep on living no matter what. Thus making them quite sick and mad. Of course, the Weaponeers don’t look much like The Daleks, because they’re DC and Green Lantern-specific, emergent from asking natural questions. In the realm of Doctor Who and its dated police boxes, The Daleks are a perfectly odd, retro sci-fi design that get at the notion of ‘what does hate in this universe look like?’. If you were to, however approach that question from a GL standpoint, you’d likely get The Weaponeers. Mortals who’ve been made into horrible, mutated weapons, soldiers who just keep on fighting with their cyber-power and feel nothing except hatred. For a franchise built on emotion, giving them their own equivalent of The Daleks makes a tremendous amount of sense. (The Weaponeers, in classic Morrison fashion, are an idea he came up with 20 years ago and is now expanding on. The idea debuted in JLA #9)

The Green Lantern #12 Annotations: Endgame

But, rather than say ‘Exterminate!’, they’re, once again, GL specific. Lanterns have oaths, which are always 4 lines, said in a proper order and sequence. But The Weaponeers instead have 4 words, which are constantly screamed in random order, in all their furious madness. HATE! DEATH! KILL! PAIN! These 4 words are their oath, their chant of absolute destruction. And as seen above, letterer extraordinaire Tom Orzechowski letters all of them in reverse, punctuating their nature clearly. And to top it all off, there’s that X-ray esque effect one sees when zapped by a Dalek, but rather than a shade of blue, it’s yellow and a shade of red. Sharp almost certainly had fun designing these weapons of mass destructions, as that energy is rather evident.

The Green Lantern #12 is a loaded, loaded finale. It’s an oversized dense dish that is wonderfully pulled off with great skill, as Sharp brings his A-game, Morrison drops a bunch of big bombs, Oliff continues to deliver above and Orzechowski continues to bring it all together seamlessly. It’s got great, bloody action, it’s got humor where emotionless lanterns contemplate emotion, it’s got genuinely lovely worldbuilding ideas thrown at the reader left and right, from GOD WAR ONE to Durlan diversity of genders. It’s a cosmic title that happens when you get a really imaginative roster of talent that can be modern while synthesizing the best comics history has to offer. Whether it be Guardian Stratagems or Controller Conspiracies, this is your book. Season 1 was just the start. The ride is only beginning. You’ll want in on this one.

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