Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver (p), Prentis Rollins (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Earlier this year when DC announced that Hal Jordan would return as Green Lantern, a close friend of mine was apoplectic; “Hal Jordan is a mass murderer!” he cried. “I just don’t know how he can be restored as a Green Lantern, given that fact.”
Re-establish Hal Jordan as a noble super-hero while still acknowledging his murderous actions as Parallax. That was the dilemma Geoff Johns had to resolve when he accepted DC’s Executive Editor Dan DiDio’s offer to write Rebirth. And make no mistake; this was a mess of a problem to clean up.
Rebirth #3 presents Geoff Johns’s solution, and it is a clever one. It absolves Hal of his Parallax actions, and although it liberally “re-imagines” fundamental components of the Green Lantern mythos (specifically the famed “yellow impurity”), I appreciate how Johns coordinates his solution within established GL and DC continuity. As is his wont with the other DC titles he’s currently writing (The Flash, JSA, and Teen Titans), Johns would rather use (or at worst “tweak”) existing continuity than wipe it out and start anew (a la Hawkworld, John Byrne’s Doom Patrol or Mark Waid’s upcoming Legion of Super-Heroes). I greatly respect that.
As intriguing as the story developments are, I don’t think I would enjoy Rebirth without Van Sciver and Rollins’s artwork. There are some electric moments presented in this issue by the artists: Ganthet and Kilowog’s confrontation, Parallax destroying his Hal Jordan “shell,” and definitely, the issue’s final splash page.
I really have never been much of a Green Lantern fan (regardless of what GL you want to throw at me: Hal, Kyle, John, Guy, C’hp, G’nort), so it’s hard for me to get too charged up about the goings-on of Rebirth. However, I can’t deny that the mini-series so far has demonstrated notable writing on Johns’s part and been a glorious showcase for Van Sciver and Rollins.
Kyle Rayner explains to Oliver Queen what Parallax really is. Hal Jordan finds out from The Spectre. It turns out to be something older than the Green Lantern Corps. The power of the Green Lanterns is recast in a new light. And an old villain returns.
The word “parallax” means “apparent difference in the position or direction of an object caused when the observer’s position is changed.” That means the thing you’re looking at appears to change, but it’s just your perception that’s changed. Everything’s the same; you just look at it differently. Applied to this issue, Geoff Johns presents a different view of the Green Lantern power and Hal Jordan by introducing a new creature. Applied to the series as a whole, DC wants to bring back the old Green Lantern, but have new readers look at him differently. Applied to comics as a whole, the “Big Two” have been recycling the same ideas and characters for years. They only appear to be new because of their presentation to the audience. Nothing’s changed except the view. We have been experiencing parallax for as long as we’ve been reading comics.
I would have given this issue if Johns hadn’t found a means to alleviate some of Jordan’s responsibility for his actions as Parallax. At the risk of spoiling it, Jordan is revealed as being under the influence of an evil creature that drove him to attack the Corps and Guardians, and remake the universe. I liked the idea of Parallax; a hero whose desire to do good was tainted by his guilt. As Parallax, Jordan tried to undo all evil ever done. But he went too far and caused more suffering. As the Spectre, Jordan had the chance to atone for his mistakes by helping others redeem their sins. But atonement and prevention doesn’t make for popular comics stories.
Next issue, we might learn how Jordan was corrupted. Maybe he’s not as innocent as hardcore fans want him to be. We still get a great story from Johns. (This is the “slow down the action and explain the plot” part of the story.) Van Sciver turns in another fantastic art job. And Kyle Rayner is the hero because he knows fear. By recognizing it, he can fight it. Excellent!
The return of classic Green Lantern Hal Jordan continues with the true origin of Parallax! Ganthet, the last Guardian of the Universe, faces off against a mind-controlled Kilowog, a longtime leader of the Green Lantern Corps, over the corpse of Hal Jordan. Knowing the origins of Kilowog’s madness, Kyle Rayner refuses to use his own ring to defend himself from the battle raging around him, terrified of being corrupted by the force that has already taken Guy Gardner and John Stewart: the yellow impurity. Meanwhile, Hal Jordan struggles against Parallax and the Spectre, and no, it doesn’t look anything like Fight Club.
GL: Rebirth #3 offers an interesting take on Parallax, and how someone as noble as Hal Jordan could go so far astray. The revised origin is very much in keeping with Green Lantern’s more cosmic aspects and with an unusual dichotomy adds a Star Wars-type epic quality to the Oan mythos. It is regrettable, though, that any explanation for Jordan’s turn needs to be given; Emerald Twilight did a perfectly good job of that already. Of course, the nonsense that came after ET (Zero Hour, etc.) may have done enough to muck things up such that there had to be something going on.
Ethan Van Sciver’s art is dynamic and compelling, and here has rendered some of the most impressive battle scenes since the fall of Image. Kilowog’s rage is palpable as Van Sciver shows him spouting green steam from his huge nostrils, and Ganthet, one of the most powerful beings in the DCU, looks suitably majestic.
This miniseries is Green Lantern at its finest, full of devastating battles, ancient menaces, and the raw power of human potential. Rebirth works on every level, and should please fans of Green Lanterns past and present.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!