By Will Barber – Taylor
He was the greatest Green Lantern of them all. Then Hal Jordan went mad and ultimately died in an attempt to redeem himself. But fate was not done with him.
Retribution is one of the great themes that have lasted throughout the history of storytelling. From the days of the Greek myths to modern comic books, the idea of getting revenge or retribution for an act committed by another is something that many of us can emphasis with. Whether that retribution is something rather simple or an intergalactic space battle we can still connect to it; it is the deep emotional drive that keeps us connected. That’s why Green Lantern: Rebirth is a great book. It isn’t dealing with something simple it is dealing with a man who feels that he has done wrong but also that he has been wronged.
The job of Green Lantern: Rebirth is fairly simple; it is to re-establish Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern. Jordan has gone through a rather strange period prior to the events of this comic. After the destruction of his home town during the Death of Superman storyline, Jordan went insane and ended up killing many members of the Green Lantern Corp and essentially leaving only one Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. Jordan began calling himself Parallax and was eventually killed off by sacrificing himself to reignite Earth’s sun. Jordan’s soul then became bound to that of The Spectre, the spirit of vengeance.
The book deals with Jordan’s attempt to reconcile his past actions with himself and how he must look deep within himself to try and find the good and decent person that was once there. Jordan has to attempt to look deep into himself to see why he did what he did and whether his humanity is still intact seeing as he is now the host of The Spirit of Vengeance. The underlying problem with this is that in an attempt to make Jordan reconcile his past actions with himself and those he hurt, the writer Geoff Johns also wants Hal to once again seem heroic.
Therefore, the fact that he was responsible for the deaths of millions of people is altered and in fact, it wasn’t Jordan’s fault at all. He was simply possessed by an evil entity called Parallax who had been trapped in the Green Lantern’s main battery core for centuries and was the reason that they couldn’t fight against anyone dressed in the colour yellow. Aside from the sheer idiocy of the idea that the Guardians would put one of their most dangerous adversaries inside the source of their phenomenal power, it seems a slight cop out to have the deep look at Jordan’s past only to say “Oh it wasn’t him really.” This is the only off note of Green Lantern: Rebirth. Many like the idea of Parallax being responsible for the deaths rather than Jordan but I feel it would have been much more interesting if Jordan had been responsible, thus creating tension between him and the other heroes and would have made his character slightly more edgier; the suggestion being he might flip back to the “dark side” at any moment.
The artwork in the book is brilliantly done with Ethan Van Sciver producing some wonderful artwork. Particular highlights include Van Sciver’s depiction of Jordan wrestling with his Parallax self; his Green Lantern self and The Spectre and also Van Sciver’s depiction of John Stewart shining the Green Lantern ring on Batman’s dark shadow during a scene in which Stewart confronts Batman about his assumption that Jordan has gone rogue again.
Overall, Green Lantern: Rebirth is an excellent story with great pacing, atmospheric artwork and some interesting meditation on retribution. It is centrally let down though by the fact that the source of Jordan’s grief is ret conned to be nothing to do with him thereby invalidating some of his own personal struggle.