– This post was originally published on my now-defunct site, New to Comics. –
New to Comics is a segment where I look at various comic-books, explaining their background, reviewing them, and breaking them down for readers unfamiliar to the medium. The title is a reference to a former university project that I carried on as its own site for several years before laying it to rest.
Previously, we’ve looked at writer Geoff Johns’ attempts to return Barry Allen back to the forefront of the Flash mythos after a death that stuck for several decades, quite the contrary to what usually occurs with comic-book character deaths. This week, we look at another attempt of Johns’ to return a classic character to his former glory. More specifically, the ‘Rebirth’ of Earths original Green Lantern Corpsman, Hal Jordan.
Published by: DC Comics
Written by: Geoff Johns
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver
Real Name: Harold Jordan
Affiliation: The Justice League
First Appearance: Showcase #22 (October 1959)
Based from the centre of the universe, a group of alien beings known as the Guardians began dedicating themselves to creating an orderly universe, designing the ‘power rings’ – the most powerful weapons in the universe, and bestowing them upon chosen corpsmen to create an intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps, known for their ability to overcome great fear.
Hal Jordan, a former test-pilot, became the first human to ever join the ranks of the Corps, after he discovered the dying Abin Sur – former protector of space sector 2814. Now, Jordan patrols the space-ways – his power ring able to create anything that his imagination can conjure. After a stint of being possessed by an evil, universal force, Jordan has returned to the light and his place as the greatest Green Lantern in all creation.
WHAT’s THE STORY?
This story is actually a precursor to Geoff Johns’ The Flash: Rebirth, but in a way, features a subject matter that’s infinitely more complex. While The Flash: Rebirth had to simply deal with the return of Barry Allen, his feud with his archnemesis Reverse-Flash and the Speed Force, from which they gained their powers, Green Lantern: Rebirth was dealing with a character with a heck of a lot more baggage.
Hal Jordan’s initial descent from the spotlight came in 1994 when DC decided that they wanted to replace him as the main Green Lantern with a newer, younger character called Kyle Rayner. What follows was a series of storylines in which Hal Jordan succumbed to madness, and devolved into a mass-murdering super-villain called Parallax.
Jordan’s turn to the darkness was pretty definitive. He killed many of the Green Lantern Corps, wiped out all bar one of their leaders, and went on to try and destroy the whole of reality itself in a crossover story called Zero Hour. Obviously, fans of the character were a tad pissed off at this new chapter of his story, and so DC had to backpedal a bit to try and redeem him. Ensuing stories saw Hal sacrifice himself to save the world, and later, see his spirit bonded with a powerful entity called the Spectre (kind of like DC’s Ghost Rider, but a lot more powerful). This way, Hal could continue to operate as a hero, but without stealing the spotlight from Rayner.
Declining sales in both Jordan’s new Spectre comic and the main Green Lantern series lead DC to try and restore things back to how they originally were, and thus, Green Lantern: Rebirth was born.
WHAT’s THE PLOT?
After Kyle Rayner crashlands on Earth with a foreboding message about the return of Parallax, Hal Jordan, the Spectre, begins to become increasingly unstable, using his godlike powers in unpredictable and dangerous ways. Elsewhere, fellow former Lantern Corpsmen Guy Gardner and John Stewart also feel their powers destabilising and lose control of themselves.
As the former Green Lanterns of Earth spiral out of control, the Justice League begin searching for the best way to keep the peace when facing off against their own members. But unbeknownst to them, there is far more at stake than the minds of four Earth-born heroes, as a destructive force is gunning for Earth, and his agent of evil prepares to cripple the heroes and unleash fear across the cosmos.
IS IT ACCESSIBLE?
Initially, you may think no, what with the fact that the comic is dealing with a large number of comic-book characters and concepts from the Green Lantern mythos. However, what with this being the reintroduction of a character, Johns goes to great lengths to establish how and why each Lantern is unique, in a way that clearly defines their characters to new audiences.
Furthermore, it fills out the characters and the Corps’ backstory through context, illuminating you on various facets of their history, such as their strange weakness to the colour yellow, Hal’s feud with former Lantern Sinestro and the scope that their adventures can take. Furthermore, it also defines other characteristics of the DC Universe, what with the story starting at a point where Hal’s spirit is still bonded to Spectre, the ‘Spirit of Vengeance’.
However, a passing knowledge of who Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrow and the Justice League are wouldn’t hurt when going in.
WHAT’s THE VERDICT?
I went into this comic with minimal Green Lantern knowledge or appreciation, and I’ve come out of it wanting to buy all the following Johns penned stories.
In this one story, you get caught up on the big moments of Hal Jordan’s life spanning back to the nineties, you get to understand the lore of the character and the organisation he’s a part of, you meet his friends and enemies, understanding the relationships he holds with each of them. It’s just such a great comic-book, packed with loads of fascinating details and a well-written story with great dialogue.
The art is awesome, consistent and bombastic, really complimenting Johns’ writing. As one of the characters points out in the group, each Green Lanterns powers are expressed differently, and Sciver really hammers down on that, showing that just even the beams of light emanating from the Power Rings are all so dynamic and unique.
Even better, unlike The Flash: Rebirth, it isn’t convoluted and doesn’t descend into nonsense. It stays true to the story it’s trying to tell, taking complex pieces of Green Lantern’s history and fleshing them out.
There’s a lot of love in this comic-book, and it oozes off of every page.
I usually write more in this section, but honestly, I think that about covers it; this is honestly one of the most enjoyable comics we’ve looked at on this site.