Three or four years ago, if you googled Geoff Johns AND Green Lantern, a good third of your results would be of the ‘Johns mistreats Kyle Rayner to prop up his dreamboat Hal Jordan’ variety. While there is some merit in such assertions of conspiracy, those speculations were in reality mere misdirection.
The truth is that everything that’s happened over the last four or five years is part of a much bigger (misguided and ultimately doomed to fail) conspiracy. Call it slight of arc, if you will.
Now, I’ll keep this brief. To understand the conspiracy, you must follow these steps:
1. Close your eyes. Note: Only do this step if your Zen is strong!
2. Picture three different JLA group photos (the original line-up; the Big seven roster; and a mash-up between the original line-up and the Big seven roster). There’s considerable overlap, right? Also note: keep legacy characters “generational secret-identity neutral” (for the Big seven and Mash-up pictures).
3. Now focus on the two or three heroes at the centre of the Big Seven and Mash-up pictures.
4. Now focus on the blond guy with the green pants front and centre of the Original line-up.
5. Now focus on the two heroes just left or just right of those heroes referred to in Step 3 (in the Big Seven or Mash-up pictures).
6. Now focus on the same two heroes. Again, take note of their positions.
This is the essence of the conspiracy....drum roll please:
Medium Term: Didio and Johns want to move the heroes referred to from Step 5 and 6 (Barry Allen and Hal Jordan) to where the heroes from Step 3 (Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman) are standing. Basically, it involves removing those standing at the centre of all 3 photos as well as those who might organically slip into those spots or steal the show (as we see below).
Green Lantern: Rebirth (It began)
Identity Crisis (Step 1 in Ralph’s downward spiral, because the conspirators galled by the fact that he has a rather surprisingly prominent spot in the Original line-up. If you got outshined by elongated man...Well, you couldn’t come back from that)
Flash: Rebirth (It continued)
Countdown (Killing a hero who was popular, independent of Baal...er...Barry and Hal)
52 (Another Step in the removal of Elongated Man)
Final Crisis (Getting J’onn and Aquaman out of the way temporarily)
One year later (We need the Trinity! What? Out to lunch?)
New Krypton (I wonder where Supes is? He was supposed to be on monitor duty...)
Wonder Woman (not in the picture anymore – excuse the pun)
Cry for Justice (temporarily discredit the only other remaining [read: not dead or not missing/displaced] senior member – a guy who actually doesn’t feature much in as many JLA photos as you’d think...Travelling hard is for suckers, anyway.)
The New JLA line-up (Who are the only senior guys left here? Hmmm, lemme think...I give up)
Blackest Night (The Hawks out of the picture for most of it...Another opportunity for Baal...er...Barry and Hal to shine.)
Before I tell you why, here’s the low-down on my classification system:
In terms of this particular classification system, there’s a first string and then there’s second string of heroes. Nothing new here.
First string are your top heroes, your JLA and some JSA, and be divided into first line (basically DC’s Trinity) and next line and sometimes even line after next (the latter two subcategories are the rest of the first string or top heroes).
There are no subcategories under second string, because once you’re second string, your life is over :)
Okay back to the conspiracy:
Barry and Hal (or rather Flash and Green Lantern) are the next line, but the conspirators think “next line” would sound better if there were no other candidates for that subcategory.
Although the Long Term objective was never to replace the Trinity (in terms of heroic status), it was to make the “next line” (Barry and Hal) more elite in the minds of readers. That’s easier to do with no competitors for next line slots or, put differently, a greater divide between next line and the line after next.
It is doomed to fail in the long term, because three regimes down the line there may very well be people at the reigns of DC who don't worship Hal and Barry quite as much. In fact, such a scenario is extremely likely.