Green Lantern (vol.3) #81 (1996)
“Funeral For a Hero”
Writers – Ron Marz & John Broome
Pencillers – Darryl Banks & Gil Kane
Inkers – Romeo Tanghal & Joe Giella
Colorists – Pamela Rambo & Rick Taylor
Letterers – Chris Eliopoulos & Albert De Guzman
Associate Editor – Eddie Berganza
Editor – Kevin Dooley
Cover Prices: $3.95/$1.75
How do you celebrate the life of a man like Hal Jordan? Especially in following the events of Emerald Twilight… and Zero Hour? Well, your mileage may vary but it can be (and will be) argued that while Hal lived out his last days as a villain… he died a hero. During The Final Night event, Hal Jordan… as Parallax, sacrificed himself to reignite the Sun… and save the universe.
Today we are going to discuss the memorial service for our man Hal… which, despite the way he described it during Blackest Night, was quite the touching and heartfelt affair. Let’s get right to it.
We open with Donna Troy and John Stewart arriving at the ruins of Coast City. In the distance they see an emerald energy construct in the form of a lantern-themed cathedral as a veritable who’s who of the DC Universe arrives for the big event to come.
Guy Gardner pops into the scene and and pulls John away for some catching up, which leaves Donna the opportunity to reconnect with her old friend Dick Grayson. They embrace, and Donna expresses a bit of discomfort being around the super-set now that she is a civilian.
After a bit of consoling, Dick and Donna approach Donna’s current beau… and our current Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. He’s chatting with Jack Knight, Starman about some old books when Dick and Donna run into him. This is the first meeting between Dick and Kyle… which surprises me. By this point, Kyle’s been around for about three years. Just goes to show that the books weren’t nearly as intertwined in the 90’s… despite thoughts to the contrary.
Dick gives Kyle the “big brother” talk… ya know “you’d best take good care of her” and the like before breaking away. Donna and Kyle survey the landscape and check out all the folks who came into to pay their respects. We see former members of the Green Lantern Corps, Hal’s friends from Ferris Aircraft, John Constantine and Swamp Thing, and even a smattering of old GL foes.
After a deep breath, Donna and Kyle enter the cathedral.
Up in the rafters, the Bat family (and Deadman) show their respects their own way. Batman refuses to excuse Hal’s transgressions, regardless of whether or not he “went out a hero”. This appears to vex Time Drake some.
The first person to deliver a eulogy is the man himself… Superman. He makes it clear that while he knew Hal better than many… he didn’t know him as well as some, referring to the Green Lantern Corps and the folks from Ferris. He laments the fact that this is the second such event in short order, as Oliver Queen had passed not too long before this. You really get the feeling that the heroes get the gravity of what they do during a situation like this. It’s really interesting to consider…
Guy Gardner and John Stewart take turns at the podium next. Guy states that while they never saw eye to eye, that he considers Hal Jordan to be the “best of us”… the best Green Lantern, and the best hero. John shares a story of how Hal trained him to be something more than himself when he inherited the ring.
Next up is Black Canary. In two panels… just two panels she makes me miss Hal (and Ollie) more than anything else that happens during this issue. She just comments on their friendship, and her involvement with them… it makes you think about times long passed… those moments that you’d give anything to revisit… but you can’t.
Wally West is next, and shares a few words about Hal’s friendship with his Uncle Barry. His message is “it gets better”, which, like… I know where his heart is, but it’s one of the last things people mourning a passing want to hear.
Carol Ferris takes the podium, and talks through her tears. This, I feel, was the only misstep here. I would have preferred her to be a bit more upset. Hal’s been gumming up her life for years now… and now he’s just gone. What we get are some tears and a soliloquy… I don’t think I needed her to collapse and bawl her eyes out… but I was expecting a bit more.
Finally… the replacement steps up to the mic. Kyle Rayner, who at this point, is such an awesome point of view character, tries to share his feelings… but seems to be confused by them himself. He has an immense feeling of loss… for a fella he didn’t really know. He makes it clear that he’s not here to replace Hal… that’s something he’d never try to do.
He expresses regret that he never knew the Hal the others did. His only encounters with him were contentious… and nearly fatal. He lifts his ring toward the sky, and opens the roof of the emerald cathedral. The inhabitants are suddenly bathed in golden sunlight… sunlight that is only possible because of Hal Jordan. While it’s not quite an Emerald Dawn… it is still a new dawn that, without Hal’s final act, would never come.
Outside, the first Green Lantern Alan Scott has some words to say about his sorta-kinda successor. A monument has been erected in memorial for Coast City. It is a giant spire with a ring of fire at its base. Alan gives it a blast, and turns the flame green… signifying that Hal Jordan and Coast City are forever joined.
Superman gives Swamp Thing the “okay”, and he proceeds to fill Coast City with lush green vegetation… including a lantern-shaped topiary.
Finally, Kyle Rayner uses his ring to forge an emerald Hal Jordan statue to stand in his honor. Of course, Kyle can’t get the last word here… no, that honor goes to Batman. Batman does the whole “I’ll forgive, but never forget” thing, and gives Hal the a-okay to R.I.P. Gee thanks, bats…
Following the main story, we get a backup which is kind of like The Final Chapter from Amazing Spider-Man #33 (1966). Hal is trapped under wreckage and questions why the ring ever chose him… we then go to a six-page reprint of S.O.S. Green Lantern from Showcase #22 (1959), which proves to be enough to get Hal to free himself. Not a whole lot more than that… but pretty neat for what it was.
This was a beautiful issue… in more ways than one. On one hand, it’s gorgeous to look at. From both versions of the cover, to every panel inside… just wonderful. Keeping with the cover for a bit, just look at that “deluxe” version. It’s mottled just like marble… and it’s textured to feel like it as well. Just lovely… I know the gimmick covers get a lot of guff from we discerning comics enthusiasts… but, c’mon… that’s how ya do it.
Now… on the other hand, this issue perfectly illustrates something DC does better than anybody else… depicts their pantheon of heroes as a family. When you look at the Marvel heroes, you get the impression that they’re a group of coworkers… and hell, these days most of ’em are on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s payroll, but with DC… they’re a family. There’s legacy… there’s lineage… it’s apparent just from looking at them that they care for one another. The loss of Hal Jordan, regardless of what his constitution was at the time… was still a loss to the superhero community.
Just like when we discussed the issue of Guy Gardner: Warrior where he opened up his Planet Hollywood-alike, we get a veritable who’s who of the DC Universe (circa late 1996) here. Just like then, we also get some rare mainstream DC appearances (for the time)… Swamp Thing and John Constantine. The turn out truly depicts Hal Jordan’s passing as the huge deal that it is.
In my various rereads of DC’s late nineties… it’s hard not to notice that there was change in the air. Having both Ollie and Hal off the table… even for just a bit, really changes the entire dynamic of the Universe… at least to me. You got the feeling that none of the… for lack of a better term, second stringers… were safe back then.
The eulogies, to me, were the clear high point here. I really liked how Marz made it so one kind of ran into the next. They didn’t go on too long, and didn’t get too “purple”. They tugged at the heartstrings the perfect amount, and all the right folks had their chance at the podium.
Superman belonged there, as kind of the statesmen for the caped-set. It just wouldn’t have been right without some words from him. On the other side of the coin… we’ve got Batman. He showed his respects by attending… but couldn’t bring himself to sit among his contemporaries. At first I thought it was due to his “urban legend” distinction post-Zero Hour… but he does join in at the end, so he was just being a grudge-y jerk.
Dinah’s bit was pretty tough. In such short order she finds herself losing two folks close to her in Ollie and Hal. I’m so happy she was able to speak during the service… it really drove home that the Hal that went out wasn’t always a bad dude. In fact, when compared to Ollie, Hal was a straight arrow… no pun intended…. well, maybe.
Kyle wraps up the eulogies… and, at this point… he’s just the perfect point of view character for the reader. He’s just some kid swept up in something so much bigger than he is. He’s been given this power, and this designation as Hal Jordan’s successor… imagine the pressure. The eyes of the superhero world are squarely on him as he tries to muster the words to discuss his predecessor. I gotta say, it took me a little while to warm to Kyle… not that I was that hot on Hal when I was a kid, but in all of my rereads, I can’t imagine not digging ol’ Kyle.
Ron Marz used to get a lot of H.E.A.T. (hurr hurr) for “hating” Hal Jordan. Not sure how anyone can read this issue and come away with that. This is truly a celebration of the character… and a fitting way to shuffle him off to his brief stay on “the other side”.
Overall… if you’re askin’ me, this is definitely a must-read. Luckily this bugger’s available digitally if you are so inclined. Great writing, great art… a proper send off for a true hero. Some of the best DC Comics of the late 1990’s.
Variant (Newsstand) Cover: