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Thursday, May 31, 2007

Green Lantern: Rebirth

Green Lantern: Rebirth (Paperback)
by Geoff Johns
DC Comics; Trade Paper edition (April 1, 2006)

When I first heard this series was coming out (this was a couple of years ago), I was somewhere between skeptical and totally uninterested. Unlike many DC Comics readers of my generation, I didn’t grow up with Hal Jordan as GL. By the time I came into the DCU, Hal had gone crazy nuts, become Parallax, tried to restart time, and sacrificed himself nobly to defeat the Sun Eater. He was gone; he shortly resurfaced as the new Spectre in the Day of Vengeance storyline (not be confused with the Day of Vengeance title that was part of Countdown to Infinite Crisis), but to me, he was never Green Lantern.

For me, who came into DC Comics through Morrison’s amazing JLA run, Green Lantern was Kyle Rayner, a young artist who had been saddled with the task of not only being GL, but being the LAST GL in the universe. I really enjoyed Kyle as a Green Lantern, even if I thought he was better developed in Morrison’s run than he was in some parts of his own title. He was young, he was inexperienced, but he tried really damn hard. I thought he rocked.

But there were still legions of unsatisfied Hal Jordan fans out there, who firmly believed that Jordan was the one, true, Green Lantern, and would not rest nor cease complaining until their golden boy was restored to his rightful position. And that didn’t mean become the Spectre either; no, they wanted him with the ring back, fighting crime and Sinestro across the galaxy. And finally, Green Lantern: Rebirth came out, and it looked like they would get their wish.

For my part, I avoided this series because a) I was afraid that it would mean the ousting/end of Kyle Rayner and b) I just didn’t care about Hal Jordan. But recently, I’ve realized how much I like Green Lantern in general, and this is a pretty big part of the GL mythology. Between that, the upcoming Sinestro Corps series, and the fact that Diego Montoya had good things to say about the recently Hal Jordan series I figured I’d check this out.

I’m glad I did.

Bringing back Hal Jordan in itself is a challenge; bringing him back in a way that is interesting, that doesn’t shit on Kyle Rayner and his own legacy is harder. Doing it all in a way that adds something to the GL universe is virtually impossible. But Geoff Johns manages it.

While some people have criticized transforming Parallax into the Yellow Flaw, I actually think it’s a brilliant idea. Let’s face it: having Green be vulnerable to Yellow makes about as much intuitive sense as having the Flash be vulnerable to…I don’t know…egg nog. By making it part of the ring’s history and make up, Johns makes the Yellow Flaw something that seems like a reasonable vulnerability.

Kyle, to my surprise, doesn’t get the shaft at all. In fact, he gets a lot of respect, on par with Jordan himself. He’s instrumental in defeating Parallax, gets some good shots in against Sinestro, and generally proves that he has every right to wear the ring. He also happens to be the one around when Green Arrow tries to use a GL ring in a great scene that really establishes how tough it is to fight with a weapon that is powered by your will. It’s not easy.

But most impressively, for me, was the fact that Johns managed to make me like Hal Jordan. He took a character I really didn’t care about, and made me not only care about him, but genuinely interested in his fate. And the moment when he first stands up and tells Sinestro to “Get the hell away from them” (referring to a very beat up Kyle and Green Arrow) is pure gold. If this were a scene in a movie, I’d cheer.

I rather doubt there’s many GL fans out there who haven’t read this at this point, but those who haven’t, go pick it up. Great stuff.