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Sunday Slugfest - Green Lantern: Rebirth #1

Posted: Sunday, October 31, 2004
By: Keith Dallas

ďBlackest NightĒ

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

Publisher: DC Comics





Average Rating: 8/10

Jason Cornwell:
Keith Dallas:
Michael Deeley:
Jim Kingman:
James Redington:




Jason Cornwell

Plot:
After opening with Kyle Rayner emerging out of the Sun, to crash to Earth with a coffin & an ominous sounding message, the issue turns to Guy and John Stewart as they discover Hal Jordan is no longer someone they can pal around with. This is followed by a series of strange developments, from Guyís body suddenly starting to break down, to the partial return of Coast City, and these all point toward the return of Hal Jordan.

Comments:
Iím not a big Hal Jordan fan, as while I always found the power ring to be one of the cooler gimmicks in the DCU, Halís personality always struck me as being a little too one-note, and Geoff John doesnít exactly offer up much hope that this has changed, as thereís only so many ways one can present the idea that Hal was a fearless heroic figure who would never give up, but this doesnít stop Geoff Johns from beating the readers over the head with this observation. However, my interest in this material picked up considerably in the final page as Batman stepped out of the shadows to remind the rest of the JLA that Hal isn't exactly as pure as newly fallen snow. Now Iím sure there are a number of Hal fans who would like to see the characterís insane lunatic phase exorcised from DCU continuity, so they could have their square-jawed hero back, but Iím glad to see Geoff Johns isnít shying away from the idea that there is a very real cause for concern, and the final pages of this opening issue do bring up the question of whether Hal is a threat that the JLA need to be concerned about. I also have to say that as a devoted fan of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, Iím absolutely delighted to see Guyís Vuldarian genetics being rejected, as the whole Guy Gardner: Warrior concept never won me over, and a powerless Guy leaves the door open for the return of my all-time favourite Green Lantern. Yes I am one of the proud few who consider Guy Gardnerís return to the Green Lantern Corps to be a fantastic development, and this issue looks to have taken a promising first step down this path.

Ethan Van Sciver is a wonderful artist, and while the considerable level of detail that he puts on the page always leaves me concerned about his ability to meet the deadlines, itís also worth noting that heís never really attached himself to a monthly title after he left ďImpulse,Ē so perhaps heís fully aware that heís a better fit for mini-series and one-shots. I certainly welcome his presence on this mini-series, as he brings a highly polished style, and he does a wonderful job capturing the sheer visual impact of several moments in this issue, from the splashy opening arrival of Kyle Rayner, to the horrific sequence where we see Guyís body begin to reject itís alien elements. Whatís even more impressive is that he manages to make the goofy visual that is Hector Hammond into something decidedly sinister, and the art also does a great job on the scene where John tells Batman that enough is enough. The scene where Halís attempt to enjoy the baseball game is disrupted also made for a powerful looking sequence.




Keith Dallas

Let me claim right off the bat that this is a completely uninvested review. That is, I have NO allegiance to or ďwarm fuzziesĒ about either Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner. Although I am familiar with the crucial events of Green Lantern history, I have only read a handful of Green Lantern comic books in the 30 years that I have been reading comic books. I share this information because the events of Green Lantern: Rebirth will be contentiously debated between the devotees of Hal Jordan who want to see the Silver Age hero returned to his ďrightfulĒ place in the DC universe and the devotees of Kyle Rayner who feel it would be disgraceful for the young accomplished Green Lantern (who has saved Earth a few times in some high-profile DC projects like DC One Million) to be shoved into obscurity just because some gray-haired, relentlessly vocal fans want to re-visit their 1970s and 1980s childhood.

To be honest, I have no interest in choosing a side in this feud. It doesnít matter to me WHO emerges as DCís most prominent Green Lantern. Connect Hal and Kyle at the hip and make them Siamese Twin Green Lanterns. Let it be GíNort or that damn chipmunk, Chíp, for all I care. I just want to read an entertaining story that doesnít take the lazy route of ret-conning published events out of DC continuity.

And judging by its first issue, Rebirth not only greatly entertains, it also respects continuity. Familiar Green Lantern persona like Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Carol Ferris, Hector Hammond, and Oliver Queen all play pivotal roles in the story, and Hal Jordanís past homicidal actions are being directly confronted rather than brushed under a rug. The issue makes clear that Hal is a conflicted, disturbed individual, even in his Spectre-linked afterlife. At the end of the issue an electric confrontation between Batman and John Stewart demonstrates how some DC super-heroes view Hal as an all-powerful menace who canít ever be trusted again, and Iím very interested to see how Geoff Johns resolves Halís inter- and intra-character conflicts.

Ethan Van Sciverís artwork is glorious. It reminds me of Phil Jimenez and Brian Bolland. The foregrounds, backgrounds and facial expressions are so detailed that I recommend everyone re-read the issue slowly and deliberately so as not to overlook the wonderful and intriguing elements in these panels: the impact of Kyle Raynerís spaceship upon its crash, Halís contented look of serenity at a baseball game and teeth-bared leer when he disintegrates a villainís hand (notice too that the Spectreís costume changed to Parallaxís before the disintegration), Hector Hammondís pathetically bloated yet sinister-looking head, and Batmanís shadowy scowl. Maybe the cover provides the best example of my point on Van Sciver: The Spectreís penetrating stare dominates the coverís space, but the Lantern power battery in the foreground reflects a sadistically elated Hal Jordan visage in complete contrast to the serious, unemotional Spectre that initially draws our attention.

This season weíve been presented with too many ďmust-readĒ story arcs by both Marvel and DC Comics (Identity Crisis, Avengers Disassembled, Amazing Spider-Man: ďSins of the PastĒ), but with its first issue, Green Lantern: Rebirth lives up to its hype. The best compliment I can pay to any comic book is that I canít wait to read the next issue, and Rebirth #2 canít be published soon enough.




Michael Deeley

If this was a stand-alone story, Iíd give it five bullets.

Everyone involved with Hal Jordanís life appears in the book. Kyle Rayner brings an ominous message from the sun while John Stewart and Guy Gardner talk about the old days. Later, Guyís power literally explodes from his body, and Hal Jordan shows he canít live like a human being anymore thanks to The Spectre. It also seems like Hal is losing control over The Spectreís sadistic nature, and somehow Coast City is rebuilding itself.

Right, I want to say this: I really donít care if Hal Jordan comes back or not. I never read a Green Lantern comic until Kyle Rayner came along. And frankly, I prefer Kyle as the ring bearer. His ring constructs are more imaginative than Halís ever were. Iíve read the old stories with Hal. All he made were power beams, bubbles, and big gloves. Kyle creates monsters, people, detailed machines, and hot girls. Visually, Kyleís the more interesting of the two. Maybe that says more about the difference between Silver Age and Modern Age artists than the characters, but thatís how I feel.

As for their personalities, attitudes, and behaviors, that depends on the writers. Jordan has been written by Gardner Fox, Dennis OíNeil, and Christopher Priest (a.k.a. Jim Owsley). Kyle has been written by Ron Marz, Judd Winick, and Grant Morrison. Again, a matter of taste, but I prefer the modern writers.

So whatever happens, however this mini-series ends, Iíd like to see Kyle keep a Green Lantern ring. If thereís going to be a new Corps, make him a member. If not, keep Hal on Earth, and send Kyle into space. Or vice-versa. So long as Kyle Rayner keeps fighting the good fight in his style, Iím not complaining.

As for this issue, itís great. Ethan Van Sciver is the new Brian Bolland. Beautiful artwork here; incredibly detailed, very emotional, and sometimes creepy. Iíve never seen a big-headed villain look more satanic than Sciverís rendition of Hector Hammond. Geoff Johns tells you everything you need to know about Hal, the Green Lanterns, John and Guy through natural conversations and actions. Good writing. If you donít know whatís up with Hal these days, this will bring you up to speed.

In short, this is a very good comic. I highly recommend buying this series, if not the trade book. I like Kyle. And Guy too. I knew someone in real life who was like Guy: an asshole on the surface, but decent deep down. I hope he pulls through.

And Hal? Welcome back, I guess.




Jim Kingman

A long time ago, in a continuity still pretty much intact, Green Lantern Hal Jordan mentally collapsed after the destruction of his hometown Coast City, and in a fit of madness destroyed the Guardians of the Universe, the Green Lantern Corps, and his arch-foe Sinestro. He then became Parallax, and Kyle Rayner became the new Green Lantern. Hal attempted to alter DCís timeline ďto make things rightĒ in Zero Hour and later sacrificed his life to re-ignite Earthís extinguished sun in The Final Night. He then returned from Purgatory during Day of Judgment and became the new Spectre, Godís Spirit of Redemption.

Now Hal is set to become Green Lantern again, and it begins here in Green Lantern: Rebirth.

Rebirth opens as the saga of Hal Jordan did forty-five years ago, with a spaceship carrying a Green Lantern crash-landing in the American desert. Nice touch. So who is in the coffin that Kyle Rayner has brought from outer space? ďÖIt has a nameÖĒ moans Kyle. Sinestro? Hal? Itty?

After reading this comic my first thought was, ďDang it, weíre not getting inside Hal Jordanís head.Ē I expect that to change in upcoming issues, but for now Hal is just dropping in briefly on people he knows, relating a few ominous or vague comments, and then moving on. Until this issueís cliffhanger, of course, where he appears before longtime sweetheart, Carol Ferris. Their discussion to be continued!

Ethan Van Sciverís artwork is very good. Reminds me of Brian Bolland in places.

Thereís a great verbal confrontation between John (GL) Stewart and Batman, who really had it coming from John. Every time I see The Batman giving Hal Jordanís actions a hard time, as he does with blistering venom in this issue, I think of a scene at the end of Batman: The Killing Joke. The Joker, a multi-murderer a gazillion times over, has been brought down by the Dark Knight after crippling Barbara Gordon and torturing Commissioner Gordon. He tells Batman a joke, and the two of them burst out laughing like a couple of bar buddies. Batmanís a loony tune himself as far as Iím concerned. The Caped Crusader should give his woes with Jordan a permanent rest and go tear off the Jokerís head or something. Besides, I thought Batman buried the hatchet with Hal in the JLA/The Spectre: Soul War prestige format miniseries from a couple of years back (at least enough to give Jordan the benefit of the doubt until the mysteries presented in this issue are solved).

Nice to see Black Hand and Hector Hammond make an appearance (although Iím certain Black Hand is none too pleased by it). GL never had as colorful a Rogues Gallery as The Flash, but he still had a decent assortment of intriguing villains, all of whom I hope to see in the future: Sonar, The Shark, Myrwhydden (the villain Iím still convinced is behind Jordanís going bonkers), the aforementioned Sinestro, and The Mocker (okay, maybe we can do without The Mocker).

A nit-picky moment: I couldíve sworn Coast City was in Southern California, not Northern California.

Iíve been a huge Green Lantern fan since 1972. For almost four years in the back of The Flash (late 1972 through early 1976), writer Denny OíNeil made GL pretty much a loner. Halís supporting cast, including Carol Ferris and Tom ďPiefaceĒ Kalmaku, never made an appearance in those solo tales. I kind of hope writer Geoff Johns goes in that direction after this miniseries, with Hal striving to reestablish his place in the DC Universe, but also keeping to himself, sorting out his own personal demons and not getting too involved with everyone in sight. I realize the Green Lantern Corps has a rich, centuries-old history, but I think the time has come to just focus on Hal.

Finally, as a longtime Hal Jordan fan who did not like the way the character was abused and misused over the last ten years (although looking back as I did in the first paragraph, itís a heck of a story; did I mention he also brought Green Arrow back to life?), I could have easily given this issue five silver bullets. Green Lantern: Rebirth is a solid first step in the right direction for getting the Silver Age Green Lantern back on track. However, in initially touching on so much GL history it will probably leave new readers out in the cold. Past issue references, explanatory footnotes or an additional text page of GL history would have enhanced this first chapter greatly (and probably this review, come to think of it).




James Redington

Here we go. The return of Hal Jordan has begun...

The team of Geoff (I wish he would write Superman) Johns and Ethan Van Sciver brings us the tale of Hal Jordan returning to the mantle of The Green Lantern. ďBlackest NightĒ begins with Kyle Rayner crashing to Earth and being full of FEAR... (On a side note, I really like Kyle. I think he had a lot of potential that hasn't fully been realized, and I hope he won't be killed off.)

The story in this issue is simply set up, set up, set up, set up--establish everyone who is important to Jordan as well as their relationship to him. There are some good character moments here between John Stewart and Guy Gardner, and some good, emotional moments between Bats and John Stewart. Geoff knows his stuff when it comes to Hal, and plays on all the past relationships to evoke emotions and push the story for the readers, old and new.

I am not familiar with the work of Ethan Van Sciver, but here he shines. His work is very detailed and realistic. Each character he draws, from Superman to Power Girl, is damn near perfect. There are only two splash pages, and they are lovely to look at. His Batman was the highlight for me. The scene between Bats and John Stewart was excellent. Batman was scary at first, in the shadows and then as John Stewart confronted him, he became more human and out of the shadows. He inked his own art as well, which I think really makes a difference. The colours by Moose Baumann were also great, never distracting from the story and setting the tone of the art and story very well. The cover is a nice image: Hal as the Spectre with a Lantern. The interior art is better, but the cover is an effective eye grabber.

Overall, this is a good solid issue where things are put in place and set in motion. I bought the issue to see whatís going on with some old friends I havenít really looked in on for a while, and I found myself caught up in the story. I will be buying the rest of the series, if the quality and story remain at this level.



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