So if you have a story that has dragged on way, way, waaaaaay too long, how do you resolve it? If you’re Geoff Johns and the story is this "Rise Of The Third Army," you issue a Green Lantern Annual as a prologue and then make the entire story completely convoluted and overly complex. That’ll keep the comic folks guessing, that’ll make them think this a layered and nuanced story instead of a complete re-hash of old ideas wearing the skin of deep storytelling.
Our Green Lantern Annual #1 opens with Hal Jordan buried alive. He begins to explain that Black Hand buried him alive but, instead of dying, Hal Jordan will fight back. Once out of his crypt, Jordan proceeds to dig up Sinestro, but gets interrupted by Black Hand, who gives yet another sanctimonious speech and then offers to resurrect Hal Jordan’s father if Hal agrees to kill Sinestro. Cue Sinestro, who tries to decapitate Black Hand. The two uneasy allies, Jordan & Sinestro, combine their forces to try and stop Black Hand.
Meanwhile, the Guardians, who have had the slowest decent into madness I’ve ever read, are rocketing towards a new place we learn about called The Chamber Of Shadows, which sounds alarmingly like something Geoff Johns found in the Harry Potter dumpster. The Guardians go there and, when the chamber opens, there are more little blue Guardians, although they’re dressed like elves so we know that they’re the good guys. Turns out, a millennia ago, the Guardians split their group in half (Dark Crystal anyone?). Half went into the Chamber Of Secrets to protect the First Lantern, who is so powerful that if he escapes reality will be ripped apart. The Guardians we know (bad) want to take the First Lantern, but the new Guardians (elves, good) are opposed to it on an epic scale.
The Good Guardians and Bad Guardians do battle and the Bad Guardians win. They take the First Lantern to Earth in order to help Black Hand kill Hal Jordan and Sinestro. Yeah, I know, my WTF alarms started going off, too. After saving Black Hand, the Guardians whisk him away to be held prisoner in the Chamber Of Secrets. Green Lantern Annual #1 ends with the Guardians using their minds and the power of the First Lantern to create their new army. This army consists of giant blue guys who look like a cross between a Terminator exoskeleton, Swamp Thing, and Rom The Space Knight. If you want to find out how the whole New Army thing plays out then you have to buy three to four issues of every Green Lantern title out there. Best of luck with that.
Let’s see how many rehashes we can cram into one event. The Guardians are mad, check. A new lantern army threat rises to annihilate the Green Lanterns, check. Seriously, after Sinestro Corps, Black Lanterns, Alpha Lanterns and all the other battles between Lanterns, you’d think another idea might pop into the editorial meetings at DC Anyway, back to the list. Hal Jordan might be dead, check. Sinestro might be the anti-hero we need, check. The Lanterns can’t possibly survive, check. Yep, all the rehashes are present and accounted for. After years of moving towards this Guardians-go-nutzoid story, Geoff Johns basically staples old Lantern scripts together and passes it off as new material.
Ethan Van Sciver’s art is a saving grace here. His highly detailed work helps to bring movement and flow to the story. I like his panel placements and his human faces are some of the best out there. Even when the panel is small or there isn’t too much going on, Van Sciver manages to work lots of small bits and pieces into his bigger whole. For a real idea of how good Van Sciver is, look at his splash page featuring the good and bad demons fighting or the way he draws the muscles and veins in Black Hand’s arm. It’s all first rate stuff that is sadly wasted on a lackluster story.
The title "Rise Of The T,hird Army" would be better suited paying homage to the Beastie Boys album and calling itself Some Old Bullshit.
(1 Story, 4 Art)