Monday, November 21, 2011

Green Lantern: Rebirth Is A Chaotic Mystery That Restores The Green Lantern Corps!

The Good: Consistently good artwork, Interesting character struggle
The Bad: A few unclear panels, Very plot-centered story.
The Basics: Green Lantern: Rebirth is an engaging story that is fragmented in its narrative enough to be a much weaker recommendation than usual.

As I continued to find myself reading a surprising amount of Green Lantern (surprising only in that this is my Daredevil Year), I have finally made it back to the beginning of the current long arc of the Green Lantern Corps with Green Lantern: Rebirth. This was a key story for the Green Lantern saga and not only sees the return of Hal Jordan, but the return of the Green Lantern Corps as well.

If you’re confused, picking up Green Lantern: Rebirth makes it all clear. Having not read any stories this far back, I only knew from allusions in later books some of the key elements needed going into Green Lantern: Rebirth. There is a handy guide at the beginning of the book that informs new readers of the essential conflicts and characters. There, readers learn that Hal Jordan died after being merged with the evil Entity Parallax and murdering the Green Lantern Corps. He then merged with the Spectre to become a new Spirit Of Vengeance. For that reason, readers like me were confused when Hal Jordan is walking around almost from page 1. He has, apparently, returned well before now and he is being reborn in a different sense in this book. Fortunately, the truth of the rebirth of Hal Jordan is made explicit midway through the book, so readers do get caught up.

At the outset of Green Lantern: Rebirth, there are three Green Lanterns living on or from Earth, plus the retired Hal Jordan who seems to have something of a multiple personality disorder with the Spectre. Kyle Rayner is out in the galaxy when he has a vision of Parallax returning and heads to Earth. Gravely wounded, he is afraid he may not be able to save the Earth. John Stewart is the soldier Green Lantern who is derided by Guy Gardner as a lackey for the Justice League Of America. Guy Gardner is on Earth and has retired from being a Green Lantern. Going by the name Warrior, he is a metahuman fighter who enjoys thumbing his nose at authority. Also on Earth is the magically-powered Green Lantern from the Justice Society Of America, Alan Scott.

Green Lantern: Rebirth starts on Earth, where Guy and John are taking in a baseball game when Hal Jordan joins them. Hal seems remarkably unstable, as do people around him, who begin confessing to the Spectre aspect of him. The peace is lost rather quickly, when Kyle crashes to Earth and the previously-razed Coast City returns to existence. As Guy explodes and the Justice League of America comes to believe that Hal Jordan may have reverted to a more dangerous form of himself.

Soon, though, the Earth is overrun with problems. The Justice League Watchtower is attacked by Guy Gardner, who has become deeply unstable. As riots hit the planet, the Spectre suffers an attack from Parallax and Hal Jordan’s spirit, Parallax and the Spectre are duking it out for dominance. When Sinestro returns to lay waste to Earth, Parallax is freed once more and threatens to destroy the last vestiges of the Green Lantern Corps.

More than being about Hal Jordan and the resurrection of the Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: Rebirth seems to be retroactively explaining the nature of Parallax and the conditions which brought Hal Jordan to his death. As a result, the interactions with Sinestro and even Parallax are full of exposition. It is interesting exposition, but the narrative has a choppy quality to it that reads poorly in some places. As well, the inclusion of the Justice League seems gratuitous for the most part, as the story focuses very closely on the Corps members.

As well, the nature of Parallax becomes somewhat confused, as is the artwork pertaining to the “possession” of several characters, including the Guardian Ganthet. Green Lantern: Rebirth seems to actually minimize the impact of Parallax by infecting a number of people and beings, which makes it seem like it could corrupt a great many people instead of just Hal Jordan. In other words, in the arcs that led to Green Lantern: Rebirth the horrific, insidious nature of Parallax is played up. Hal Jordan’s degeneration was a long process and one that culminated in his death. But here, Parallax seems to be a very wide-ranging puppeteer and that works less well.

Throughout Green Lantern: Rebirth, the artwork is pretty phenomenal. While there are a few panels that have unclear movement or an odd rendering of events, most of the images are clear and crisp with a great attention to detail. The various Green Lanterns are easily distinguished from one another, which has been a problem in some other books I have read and the colors are homogenously vibrant and deep. As one who has read so much of what follows in the Green Lantern Saga, it is odd for me to see Sinestro in his classic outfit, as opposed to his Sinestro Corps duds!

Green Lantern: Rebirth is a great starting point for those looking to get into the Green Lantern Saga. Because it includes all of the key Green Lantern characters and major villains like Sinestro, Hector Hammond and Parallax, readers will learn all of the essentials. In fact, this would have been the single story I would have recommended readers read before checking out the film Green Lantern last summer (I wish I had!).

Writer Geoff Johns has crafted much of the modern Green Lantern story, so Green Lantern: Rebirth is largely about him taking the reins in the universe and it works wonderfully to establish his new sense of order, relationships and concepts. As such, there are allusions to Blackest Night and the snarky comment Oliver Queen makes to John Stewart about the Green Lanterns’ vulnerability to yellow is easy to be amused by.

For other Green Lantern-related books, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Sinestro Corps War - Volume One
The Sinestro Corps War - Volume Two
Sins Of The Star Sapphire
Rage Of The Red Lanterns
Agent Orange
Emerald Eclipse
Blackest Night
Blackest Night: Green Lantern
Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps
Brightest Day: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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