Review: Green Lantern-Rebirth

October 1959; DC comics editor Julius Schwartz, writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane introduce a new, Silver Age version of a classic comic character to the world – The Green Lantern.

Gone is the magically powered Alan Scott (the Golden Age Green Lantern), replaced by a fighter/test pilot named Hal Jordan who is the first human being enlisted by an interstellar police force known as the ‘Green Lantern Corps’.  Assigned to patrol sector 2814 by the Guardians on OA, Hal Jordan is a hero.  That lasts until the 90’s when stuff starts to go wrong for old Hal.  First he gives up the ring for Carol Ferris, his long time love, only to find out she’s been living a double life.  He finds he way back to the ring and, after the Guardians disappear for a bit, forms a new Corps on earth with some friends.  When that goes sour, he goes back to being just another GL until his home city is destroyed, the Guardians return and put him on trial and he decides he’s had it and becomes something new and different: Parallax.

As Parallax, Hal causes all sorts of trouble and becomes an enemy to just about everyone and everything.  Insane, he tries to rewrite history and it takes all the heroes around to stop him and kill him.  End of story, right?

Fraid not.

Hal’s spirit or soul becomes attached to or taken by The Spectre.  Normally a ‘spirit of vengeance’, the Spectre likes that Hal wants to make up for what he did as Parallax, so he/it decides to let Hal continue to try and redeem himself, which eventually leads to why we’re all here:

Green Lantern: Rebirth.

Rebirth is a trade paperback / graphic novel that brings together the 5 issue mini-series by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver & Prentis Rollins.

Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: DC Comics; Trade Paper edition (March 28, 2007)

Keep in mind that I haven’t picked up a GL comic since Kyle Rayner took over in the 90’s.  Rayner is not a favorite of mine at all, as I’ve mentioned before, and really all of his stuff came after I stopped with the comics on account I needed to pay my bills and my comic book habit was interfering with that.   So, when I decided to pick up ‘Rebirth’, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I knew the stuff above; that Jordan had gone nuts, that he’d died then come back, but didn’t know about the Spectre thing or that John Stewart was still running around with a ring.  Didn’t even know that Guy Gardner no longer had a ring and was, instead, some sort of ‘warrior’.

So no matter what happened, I had high hopes for something entertaining.  Sort of like seeing an old friend again after a long absence.  I wasn’t disappointed.

You can’t keep a good comic book character down

Comic book characters, like The Master from Doctor Who, just won’t stay dead no matter how many times or how many different ways you kill em.  That includes Hal Jordan.

A lot of times in comics, a ‘reboot’ of a character means they are either going to toss out the old mythology that you knew and loved in favor of a ‘new and reimagined’ version (Man of Steel, Ultimate Spider-Man).  With Green Lantern, they sort of already did that with Emerald Dawn 1 and 2.  A lot has happened since then so I was very happy to see that they weren’t just going to start over, they instead gave us a true ‘rebirth’ of the characters and the mythology but kept what we already knew, loved and in some cases, hated.

The first thing we see is Kyle Rayner doing his job, protecting the universe.  Not just his sector, all the sectors.  He is the only active Green Lantern left so it’s his job to protect everyone and everything.  Tough gig.

Then he gets a translated message from some locals on the very edge of the universe itself that makes him go, “Huh?!”

Yikes, right?!  I mean, that’s Hal Jordan! He was Parallax!

So now we see what old Hal is up to; he’s Hal, but he’s also The Spectre and there’s still a little bit of Parallax in there thrown in for good measure.  Kinda crowded in his head, really.

The first dozen or more pages are a walk down memory lane and a treat for those of us who’ve been around and reading forever.  We get to see the characters we’ve known while the new reader gets introductions and brief backstories.  We even get to see an Abin Sur-like crash landing to kick things off (Kyle crashing home to earth).

The little jaunt down memory lane reintroduces (or introduces, depending on your knowledge of the mythology) us to Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Carol Ferris, The Green Arrow (one of my absolute favorites), the Green Lantern Corps, The Spectre &, of course, Parallax.  If you aren’t familiar with the last ten years of mythology (like me), it’s a great quick and concise catch up that sets the foundation for the story.

We see that Hal still struggles with what he did as Parallax, that The Spectre isn’t content to just be a spirit of ‘redemption’ (he throws in some vengeance whenever he can), and that something bad is coming and coming soon.

The first clue is the message to Kyle Rayner, the second is when Guy Gardner’s new powers explode, the third when Coast City, Hal’s home town that was destroyed by Mongul after Superman’s death, suddenly reappears sans any people (something Hal tried to do but got blocked by the Guardians which lead to the whole Parallax thing in the first place).

Cameo’s from the Justice League show us that whatever’s afoot, Batman for one, is ready to blame Hal who, he says, “Always had an EGO.  He never worried when things came crashing down.  He never prepared.  He just flew in.  Damn the consequences.  We should’ve known back then a man like him couldn’t be trusted.”  This leads to one of the best moments in the book for me – John Stewart versus Batman that culminates in the following statement:

Brilliant.  That sums up the Dark Knight so well.

Meanwhile, we’re taking a walk down memory lane with Hal and Carol who’re remembering their past together.  Hal doesn’t seem to have any idea that anything weird is going on or that the Justice League is coming for him until they’re right on top of him.  At this point, John Stewart goes nuts and starts attacking people.  At this same moment, Hal Jordan’s old ring, now in the care of Green Arrow, activates and duplicate’s itself (which I didn’t know it could do!) and Guy Gardner’s condition changes and he becomes a Green Lantern again.

When John goes nuts and starts attacking the JLA, Hal tries to help but the Spectre says ‘no’ and takes him away for a chat where we learn the origins of Parallax (the ‘real’ origins).  I won’t ruin it for you.

We also learn that the big bad has returned and who is the biggest & baddest for the Green Lanterns?  Why, their greatest member, fallen into disgrace, of course.  Sinestro:

As an aside, can I just say – I love Green Arrow.  I love the smart-ass mouth, the attitude, the whole package.

I made a mistake when I bought this book; I thought they were resurrecting Hal Jordan which, really, they did – but that wasn’t the only goal here.  See, they were very smart and very cool and they really resurrected The Green Lantern; the Corps, the Guardians, the Enemies, the Mythos – and it’s fantastic.

You start to think that it’s going to be a JLA story (what with all the cameos), and for a while, as Parallax returns, it’s the JLA who hold him back.  But as Hal gets his ring on again, we see that it’s not about the JLA or Hal Jordan, but about the Green Lantern’s as a whole.  Oh, and he has it out with Batman which is priceless.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Bats, I do, but there aren’t enough people who just tell him to fuck off every once in a while.

He really should’ve seen that coming…

After this, the Corps gets the band back together to take care of business.

I’m being intentionally vague on these bits because I don’t want to be all spoilery on you.  But here’s a clue:

Overall, Green Lantern: Rebirth is a very entertaining book full of stuff for the long time fan but is also a nice starting point for someone just picking it up.  GL has always been full of scifi goodness and has a special place in my heart.  It’ll run you $18 (cover price sans any discounts you might have) at a brick and mortar store but you can find it online for $10 and it’s well worth your time and money.  The art and writing are fantastic but you won’t be able to read this one alone, oh no – you’ll find yourself wanting more…