By: Adam Basciano
When my appreciation for comic books came back to me, I had little to no exposure to the Green Lantern character. As far as I knew he was the guy with a magical ring in the Justice League animated series. When it was time to add another comic book to my reading list, I turned to a friend for advice. Without hesitation, he suggested Green Lantern. When I asked him to sell me on the concept he simply said, “it’s Star Wars meets Superman.” I was sold immediately, but he cautioned me to wait and start with the mini – series Green Lantern: Rebirth. ” Hal Jordan was considered the greatest Green Lantern of them all. But Jordan lost control, allowed himself to be corrupted and transformed into the villainous Parallax. Later, Jordan reappeared and made the ultimate sacrifice — a sacrifice that allowed him to become the Spectre, the Wrath of God. After several years of activity on Earth, The Spectre became restless and sought a way to prove himself worthy of that noble reputation. See how a man born without fear and seeking to rebuild his life, puts cosmic forces into motion that will have repercussions not only on Earth but across the universe.”
This book is the perfect jumping on point for readers who are new to Green Lantern. This is more then Hal Jordan’s return to the DC Universe. At its core it is a Green Lantern origin story that establishes the mythology, and rebuilds the Green Lantern Corps. The exposition in this book that explains the mythology to the reader never feels like a “history lesson” because it’s all integral, and has a direct importance to Hal Jordan’s rebirth. The combination of flashbacks and “real-time”, references get the reader caught up with 20 years worth of continuity, while keeping the attention firmly on the focal point of the story. There is a lot happening in this story. Hal’s responsibilities as the Spectre, the sudden reappearance of Coast City, the return of Parallax, and the attempt by the Guardians to save Hal Jordan’s body and soul. That’s a lot of storyline packed into under 200 pages. Geoff John’s flawlessly handles each plot point. Each one is given the right amount of time to play out. Nothing feels short-changed. Once you start reading this book you wont want to put it down. That’s a testament to the material and writer Geoff John’s. In lesser hands, some of the Green Lantern concepts, such as the impurity to yellow, and the Guardian’s may come of as hokey and childish. Johns treats these concepts with the utmost seriousness, and uses them to weave a stunning sci-fi tapestry that George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry would be proud of.
One of the strongest aspects of the Green Lantern mythology is that there is more than one. A police force for the universe if you will. Hal Jordan was the first human selected by the guardians, but as Rebirth reminds us, since the destruction of coast city, and Hal’s attempt to annihilate the corps as Parallax, three men have succeeded him. While Hal Jordan may be the most popular Earth man to wear the ring, Guy Gardiner, John Stewart, and Kyle Rayner have all gained a fan following. Since Rebirth’s main goal was to reinstate Hal Jordan into the world of the living, and as Green Lantern, fans wondered if the return of Hal Jordan would render the other three useless. Happily, this is not the case. Each of the other Green Lantern’s played a key role in the resolution of the story. John Stewart and Guy Gardiner helped Ganthet fight off Parallax, while Kyle Rayner was charged with guarding Hal Jordan’s body. Kyle also aids Hal in defeating Sinestro. Several battles in the final part of the story showcase the unique skill set each bring to the Green Lantern Corps, and why they are so valuable to the Corps. John Stewart is a tactician. Every construct he creates is like architecture, you can see how it works from the inside out. There’s a method to his madness so to speak. Guy Gardner is more of a loose cannon, thus his constructs are “like a leaky faucet just waiting to get free” Finally, there’s Kyle Rayner, who’s background as an artist means his constructs are constantly being refined for perfection, but are limitless given his creative imagination. There is a fantastic exchange between Hal and Kyle, where Hal acknowledges all Kyle has done in his absence. This was a nice touch by Geoff Johns, as if to acknowledge fans of Kyle, assuring them that he is here to stay despite Hal’s return.
The art for this story matched the quality of the writing. Many comic book artist today suffer from what I like to call “SFD”, or same face disease. That is to say, all the superheroes look identical. The only difference being the costume. Ethan van Sciver doesn’t fall into this category. His superheroes all have different facial characteristics that make them unique. This is especially important for Green Lantern, as they all have the same costume with slight variations. His pages that flash back to Hal’s origins are breathtaking, especially the scene when Hal watched his father’s jet crash. The reader see’s this moment reflected in Hal’s eyeball. In that one image, you can feel young Hal’s horror, grief, and sorrow leap off the page. Van Sciver also draws one of the most dark, brooding, and menacing Batman I’ve ever seen. So, the moment Hal punches him really emphasizes his fearlessness towards The Dark Knight. The splash page with the JLA was poster worthy, and the cover to issue #6 exemplifies the power and unity of the Green Lantern Corps. The art in this book is flawless from the first page to the last.
Green Lantern Rebirth is really a story about the human condition. Overcoming our greatest fears, and atoning for past mistakes is something we all have to face in life. That’s exactly the journey Hal Jordan takes in this story. The sci-fi backdrop simply increases the entertainment value. I can count on one hand the amount of comic book stories I consider perfect. Green Lantern Rebirth is on that list. My friends initial description of Green Lantern was right, it is Star Wars meets Superman. I’m glad I listened to him. Since Rebirth’s initial release, I’ve read over 70 issues of Green Lantern comic books, and have yet to be disappointed. Green Lantern Rebirth is an example of comic book writing at its finest. Having said that, after reading this book don’t stop here. Where Green Lantern is concerned, the best is yet to come.
Overall Grade: 10/10