By Hilton Collins
DC Comics' "Godhead" mini-event began last week, a crossover that could have long-term ramifications for the cosmic corner of the publisher's library, and perhaps the entire DC Universe. I say "mini-event" because it will only run through Green Lantern family titles and the Green Lantern/New Gods Godhead special issues. It pits the various lantern light corps' against the New Gods in a storyline that may answer larger questions about the New 52 multiverse.
Previously, Kyle Rayner breached the Source Wall and returned in Lights Out, and the Guardians are keeping his return hush-hush. As far as anyone else knows, no one has ever made it through the wall and come back. They do know, however, that the wall's been breached. In Godhead #1, the New Gods learn that White Lantern energy has opened the wall, and Highfather concludes that the power rings' combined might is the key to harnessing the power of the Life Equation, breaching the Source Wall, and generating energy that will allow the denizens of New Genesis to defeat Darkseid. He wants to obtain rings and harness their light, whether the lanterns approve or not.
Godhead features a battle between two pillars of DC's outer space community, but the storyline has massive potential for the publisher in the long run, and here's why.
1. It's the first clash of two cosmic titans. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Godhead is that the New Gods and the Green Lanterns don't know much about each other at all before the storyline begins. Even Highfather, the New Gods' old king, has never met a lantern before, which is why he asks in Godhead #1 if Metron has heard of lanterns.
[Godhead #1, 2014]
Metron answers affirmatively, but it's unclear if he knows from his own experience or from what he's heard or observed in his journeys. Otherwise, he wouldn't have to ask his Mobius Chair about their power levels.
[Green Lantern #35, 2014]
As the story progresses, none of the lanterns seem to have met or heard of the New Gods either.
This makes Godhead a must-read for any Fourth World or Green Lantern fan, if only to see how their relationship unfolds in the New 52. Historically, the lanterns and Fourth Worlders have been the two most prominent cosmic communities in the DC Universe, aside from the Legion of Superheroes. Green Lantern stories have generated line-wide events, like Blackest Night, and New Gods tales spawned Darkseid, DC's most famous cosmic supervillain. Having the two groups meet—and fight—for the first time is important historically and will likely set the tone for future cosmic storylines.
2. We learn more about the New Gods as characters. We see lanterns all the time because there've been multiple Green Lantern family books coming out consistently, but Fourth World characters haven't had many books solely about them, so we don't see many of them much. Darkseid's a major villain, so he and his henchmen on Apokolips pop up in DC books often, but other New Gods don't receive as much attention. Highfather, for example, is important because he rules New Genesis, but he's appeared in comics less frequently than Orion and Metron have.
Godhead spotlights Highfather, which is great for his character development, even if the exposure's unfavorable. In Godhead #1, he concludes that power rings are the key to building a weapon to defeat Darkseid, but he orders New Gods to steal them from unwilling lanterns instead of asking for the ring bearers' help. Highfather uses the rings to build a tool to transform living creatures into fellow gods, but he doesn't test it before using it to turn the hapless people of the planet Aydin into new beings against their will. He accidentally transforms them into monsters who experience constant pain, and then he basically says, "Ooops! I messed up! Oh well… let's just kill the losers and put them out of their misery. It's the humane thing to do!"
Highfather's New 52 portrayal overall has been a departure from before. He's a harsh, stern leader these days who wears armor and doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. In the past, he resembled a biblical shepherd and had sworn off battle in his elder years for more peaceful ways. Writer Brian Azzarello even referred to the "old" Highfather as Space Moses in an interivew. DC chucked the kind, gentle Highfather in favor of a more active, darker version.
3. It may answer larger questions about the nature of the multiverse. Godhead's plot involves finding the Life Equation and breaching the Source Wall to harness what lies beyond. According to DC's multiverse map, the Source Wall is the barrier between the known multiverse and an area no one has entered and returned from—that anyone knows of, that is. If any New God or another lantern breaches the wall or forms the Life Equation, the nature of DC's multiverse may alter and lead to future crossovers, and maybe readers will learn something about its supernatural and natural laws that hasn't been revealed before.
Godhead's an important storyline to follow, if only so you can say, "Look! The Green Lanterns and the New Gods are meeting an fighting for the FIRST. TIME. EVER!!!!" That's entertaining enough on its own, but the story's payoff will determine how crucial the story beats are to the New 52 overall.
Writer and videographer Hilton Collins loves sci-fi and fantasy wherever he finds it, whether it's in comic books, movies, books, short stories, TV shows, or video games. On the video side, he studies filmmaking, motion graphics, and animation; and on the writing side, he covers what he loves for Bleeding Cool and on his own blog, Imagination Unplugged (www.imaginationunplugged.com), a website about entertainment and self-help for creative professionals. He is @HiltonCollins on Twitter.