The Final Night #4 (November, 1996)
“The Final Knight”
Writer – Karl Kesel
Penciller – Stuart Immonen
Inker – Jose Marzan, Jr.
Colorist – Trish Mulvihill
Letterer – Gaspar
Assistant Editor – Ali Morales
Editor – Dan Thorsland
Cover Price: $1.95
Alrighty, let’s put this one to bed!
We open around the middle of Parallax: Emerald Night #1, with Kyle Rayner returning from his visit with Hal. Since he couldn’t get a solid answer one way or another, he feels like a failure, who just wasted a whole lot of time. He arrives in the snow-covered Metropolis to find Wonder Woman helping some civilians unload a supply helicopter. Kyle takes this as a good sign… since there’s no rush to evacuate, and a contingency plan (of sorts) in the works, he figures that even if they don’t beat the Sun-Eater they can ride this out. Not so fast, kemo sabe… Wonder Woman pulls him aside, and gives him the straight dope.
Inside S.T.A.R. Labs, Lex Luthor and Brainiac 5 are pitching their latest survival plan. In light of the fact that the Sun is not actually going to fizzle out, and instead will “heal” itself… and in so doing, go hyper-nova and atomize the entire galaxy, they figure the best offense is a good defense. And so, Wally West was tasked with assembling a half-million force-field devices… which, I didn’t know was his specialty… but I guess he can read plans as good as anybody. Luthor hopes to deploy these units around the Sun… use the power of the nova to energize them… trap 97% of the energy within the area around the Sun… kill the Sun-Eater… then everything will be hunky dory. Ya got all that? Here, I’ll just have Lex explain it.
Now, with the limited time they have… this plan cannot be enacted remotely… or made automated. Luthor blames much of this of their “probe” being aborted… which was Kyle. Dusk’s ship will be sent to orbit the Sun and monitor the situation to deal with any unexpected issues that may arise. Luthor is pretty sure the ship will not survive the blast. So, we’re talking suicide mission here… unless, they send someone who already survived an encounter. Luthor looks to Kyle… and as he’s about to accept the responsibility… he vanishes!
A confused Luthor doesn’t quite know what to make of Green Lantern’s beam-out. Batman suggests they just send Luthor instead. Lex goes all “homina, homina” until Superman says he’ll do it. He says he would be the one to do it, even if Kyle (or anyone else) were up for the task. He’s lost one home planet… he’s not about to lose another. Besides, the Sun going nova should jump-start his superpowers… hopefully.
The Legionnaires present watch in awe as Superman leaves the room. They’ve, of course, heard the legends of Superman being the measuring stick for superheroes, but now they get to see it live. Superman excuses himself… to pen a letter. Before we know it, Dusk’s ship takes off.
Saturn Girl scans the ship and realizes, that ain’t Superman! I reckon, Superman bursting in the room a second and a half later would’ve given her the same conclusion. It’s revealed that the man on board is… young Ferro! Oh, Ferro… Perhaps he read those old Jim Shooter comics, and wanted to go out like his namesake?
The heroes begin to panic… trying to figure out ways to abort the mission. The chickens-with-their-heads-cut-off are interrupted by the arrival… of Parallax!
He says he’s there to help… and the heroes are happy to have him… well, not Batman. Batman believes Hal hasn’t changed… and Hal tells him… well, that he’s right. Superman gives him the skinny… and Hal thinks it a bit quaint. He suggests he can do more… he can fix everything.
Batman again jumps in to argue… but it seems like Hal’s past all that at this point. He gives the heroes his Oath that he will fix everything. Superman goes to shake his hand… welcome him back to the fold. Parallax doesn’t extend his hand in return, and informs Superman that’s he’s not coming back.
We join Ferro on his approach to the Sun just as it’s about to go nova. It’s a pretty awesome scene… his cute little Ferro mask begins to melt… and he apologizes for not being able to return Spark’s Legion Flight Ring. Heyyy, did somebody say “ring”? A giant Parallax arrives on the scene for the rescue.
He sends Ferro back to Earth before facing the threat before him. He knows his best bet for deal with this is to draw all of the Sun-Eater’s darkness within himself… and so, with (a paraphrased) Green Lantern Oath, he… does just that!
We pick up with Ferro again on Earth, and it’s… Sunny?
Well, I’ll be damned… Hal did it. Kyle Rayner is overjoyed… not only is the Earth saved, but Hal Jordan might just be one of the good guys again! Well, not so fast kemo sabe… Saturn Girl chimes in to inform the group that she had tapped into Parallax’s mind for the duration… and he didn’t survive the confrontation.
We wrap up the issue, and story atop the Daily Planet building. Superman and Batman are having one of their semi-contentious post-Crisis pow-wows… this time discussing their old friend, Hal Jordan. Batman holds firm that he is still a villain… and will not allow his legacy to be rewritten by one final altruistic act. Superman, as you may imagine, feels differently. He says he will always believe that Hal died… a hero.
Well, that was a doozy of an ending! We got some stuff to break down… let’s start light.
Lex Luthor’s depiction here was fitting… but it still kinda bugged me. I’d gotten used to him being a complete gung-ho bad-ass… to have him freak out at the possibility of going on the suicide mission felt a bit off. Being just a brilliant fella, you’d figure that he’d know Superman would step up and put himself on the line. He could’ve at least played along… then begrudgingly “step aside” for Superman’s act of heroism. Either way though, I was happy to see Lex have a role in all of this… here he was a man who could command the attention of a room full of gods. Not too shabby!
Ferro’s attempted sacrifice… ay yai yai. Listen pal, you seem like a good kid… got a cute little mask and everything… but, boy are you annoying. The heroes have a plan, but he takes it upon himself to insert his own inexperienced be-hind. Sure, his intentions were good… but, he could’ve (and apparently would’ve) FUBARed the entire plan… and cost the lives of everybody on Earth. I get it, you’re the new guy… ya feel like you have to prove yourself… but this ain’t the way to do it. Hopefully he got an off-panel punch to the shoulder and noogie after this.
Well, with that out of the way… let’s talk Hal.
Hal Jordan comes through in the end… saving (at the very least) the entire Solar System. Let’s chat up Batman’s reaction. Batman, cynic that he is, thinks Hal has an ulterior motive… and he might be right, just not in the way he believes. Hal might be offering up his services more as an act of contrition or redemption than anything… with saving the galaxy being little more than a juicy dollop of gravy. I’d like to think that while Batman is reading him the riot act, Hal’s thinking back to the conversation he had with Guy during the one-shot. Heroes do what they gotta… even when they’re despised by those around them.
Superman is more open to the possibility that Hal’s “come back”… which, totally makes sense. Being a more optimistic character, Superman always wants to see the best in everyone. I appreciate that Hal doesn’t quite receive the invitation the way it’s intended. He makes it clear that he’s not “back” in any way, shape, or form. He’s there to help. During the one-shot he turned down a Green Lantern ring… here, he’s it’s as though he’s turning down a JLA membership card.
Hal’s ultimate sacrifice… fitting… I suppose. Though, I wish the Green Lantern Oath he spoke had “blackest night” instead of “darkest night”, it really worked for me. At the end of the day… Hal Jordan is still the greatest Green Lantern there ever was. It makes sense for him to face the great hereafter reciting the oath he held to for so many years. A real gut-punch to longtime fans too, I’d imagine. Full circle.
Now, there’s that question posed by the World’s Finest at the end of the story… did Hal die a hero… or villain?
Personally, and if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time you already know this, I’m not completely convinced he ever went full-villain. Sure, he’s done some bad stuff… can’t deny that. During Emerald Twilight he acted savagely… barbecuing Kilowog, snapping Sinestro’s neck, leaving dozens of Green Lanterns in the vacuum of space without their rings, killing the Guardians (well, I can’t say I minded that part all that much)… what I’m trying to say is… yeah, he messed up, big time. He acted villainous… but, this being comic books, he wasn’t beyond redemption. If the Guardians would have allowed him to recreate Coast City (and he was able to actually do it)… one would imagine, he could’ve just as easily brought Kilowog and the gang back. Still scummy… sure, but in trying to play the cards that are dealt… one way to go about it.
During Zero Hour: A Crisis in Time, I struggled with the idea that Hal was the villain at all. He offered the heroes their perfect universe(s). The heroes turned him down, accused him of playing God… then (along with the Spectre) restarted the universe themselves… making themselves no better than him! Only he had plans to give everyone what they wanted. I dunno… I’ll post links to past relevant Hal discussions (including the funeral) below. I guess my point is… I side more with Superman than Batman in this argument.
Now, The Final Night… as a story… really dug it! A great, understated crossover event. Positively quiet compared to what we see nowadays. A simple one-month diversion from the everyday comic book adventures… I’d believe that events of this size would be more than welcome in this day and age. Well worth checking out (even though I just spoiled the entire thing)… and is collected in (an out-of-print) trade, and the entire magilla is available digitally.
(Not the) Letters Page:
|Yeah… “We” did it.|
Relevant Hal blibbuh-blabbuh (click dem covers):