Geoff Johns’ long project with the Green Lantern finally draws to a close with issue #10, the concluding chapter of “Secret of the Indigo Tribe”. It exposes most of the latter half of Green Lantern volume four (circa Fall 2007 till around the end of Summer, 2011) as something of an interregnum, as a kind of opening gambit that sets the board. And this issue finally returns to the deeper, more sincere character study that Geoff began in “Rebirth” and on all the way through to “Secret Origin”, interrupted slightly by the “Sinestro Corps War” megaevent.
But for me, that’s not really the thrill of this concluding chapter. For me that thrill lies in two things. In Hal Jordan’s reply to Indigo-One, and in trying to find a soundtrack for this issue. I’ve settled on Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs”. There’s a story to this, but I’m happy to fill you in.
Here’s a small bit of full disclosure. For me at least, there’s a long strange turn in Green Lantern volume four that plays out from “Sinestro Corps War” through to about “Blackest Night”. It’s a turn that loses touch with what I thought of as the most beautiful part of the most beautifully crafted Green Lantern book ever. And it’s the same long, strange turn that plays out in X-Files.
Those very first Green Lanterns were a poignant essay on the long lingering contact Earth has had with xenocultures, with alien civilizations. It’s the idea that Green Lantern doesn’t suddenly happen in a vacuum, that there’s been an unlikely path seeded down the years. In that first storyarc, “No Fear”, we discover that the USAF has been harvesting alien-tech from both the spaceship of Abin Sur (the Green Lantern Officer who Hal Jordan replaced) and from the Manhunters themselves, the cybernetic organisms that predated the Green Lanterns as intergalactic police force.
In the second storyarc, “Black Sheep” we find classic Green Lantern villains, Hector Hammond, King Shark and the Black Hand are being manipulated into inexplicable actions due to the avaricious capitalism of Space Gremlins. And later, in “A Perfect Life”, and later still in “Wanted: Hal Jordan” alien tyrants and alien bounty hunters come to Earth bearing a grudge. It’s in these pages, of these arcs that Geoff introduced something unique.
Hal Jordan had always been written, at his best in prior volumes, when he’s something of a renegade cop. The kind who flaunts the regulations, but gets results. Like House on Fox’s House or the countless dozens of other Cop Movies or Action Movies or Westerns that have spawned exactly that kind of hero. The space operatics in earlier Green Lanterns always seemed somehow incidental to the story of brash, reckless, undaunted Hal Jordan himself.
For Geoff to have found that inner X-Files in those early Green Lanterns he wrote, was not only a redemption of Green Lantern and its genres, but a profound statement about the cultural value of alien abductions. It was a period when Green Lantern treaded the same ground as Billion Dollar Secret and treaded the same ground that Paul Cornell’s very profound Saucer Country does now.
But unfortunately the worm turned—for both Green Lantern and for X-Files. In X-Files Mulder’s quest to uncover the truth behind alien abductions became adulterated by his secondary quest to bring to justice the men behind the cover-up. And Green Lantern’s beautiful mythography of the cultural impact of alien contact gave way to the evolving story of a Corps of Many Colors. Will, it turns out wasn’t the only emotion that could be stored and shaped as energy-constructs. There’s Rage (Red), Avarice (Orange), Fear (Yellow), Hope (Blue), Compassion (Indigo) and Love (Violet). And for the longest time, this turn felt exactly like Rudyard Kipling without the hope of a Walt Whitman. Like an Age of Empire at its peak, waiting for the rainstorm of postcolonialism.
I simply cannot put into words what it feels like to finally stand in these showers, to know that this rainstorm has finally come. It’s been nearly five years since the first warning shots of the “Sinestro Corps War”. And Geoff returns splendidly to those very first ideas. The ongoing story of alien contact as a mysterious imprint on worlds (in “Secret of the Indigo Tribe” this world is the distant planet of Nok, not our own) resurfaces as a major theme. And as well, Geoff’s unique take on the renegade cop theme that has coursed throughout Green Lantern’s publication history.
But most of all, Geoff gets there to that deep creativity that he touched the very first he wrote Green Lantern with one simple phrase, “I want to believe”. That’s Hal Jordan’s response to Indigo One, leader of the tribe for whom redemption is there cause and compassion their weapon. It’s the mark of true craftsmanship, not only does Geoff return to his original vision of an X-Files-inspired Green Lantern, but he connects that vision deeply with the earlier dominant genre of the renegade, rule-breaking, results-getting cop. For a single, powerful moment, it’s not just Green Lantern that is filled with the cultural weight of the alien contact genre (think E. T., think Close Encounters of the Third Kind, think Cocoon or Starman), but Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern himself.
And that leads neatly to the idea of a soundtrack. There should be one for this book, the long, slow road it took to finally get to here. And it really should be Fleetwood Mac’s “Silver Springs”. Not simply because that line “You will never be free from the sound…” connects so beautifully with Sinestro’s conversation with Hal Jordan. That conversation about being haunted, not by duty, but by responsibility.
And not simply because it’s the song written and sung by Stevie Nicks after her breakup with bandmate Lindsey Buckingham—a song with all the muted rage and blunted anger at having to work with a used up love long after the breakup came. But because of that single line, “Time cast a spell on you…”. And because this song that was first sung in 1977, this song that should have made it on to the 1979 album, we didn’t see again until The Dance the band’s reunion album some 19 years later.
Undiluted in every way, and poignant “Silver Springs” reminds us also why Hal Jordan’s Green Lantern spearheaded the Silver Age. And now, with the concluding chapter to “Secret of the Indigo Tribe” it feels like that groundbreaking Green Lantern has finally returned, wizened not weathered by the long road Geoff Johns took to bring him here.