Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 (December, 2004)
Writer – Geoff Johns
Artist – Ethan Van Sciver
Colorist – Moose Baumann
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Associate Editor – Steve Wacker
Editor – Peter Tomasi
Cover Price: $2.95
Been on a bit of a Hal Jordan kick of late… I was gonna push this one off, but figured why fight it, maaaaan? I wanna read and talk Hal… why not just embrace it?
Plus, this’ll make it so any time I mention Green Lantern: Rebirth, I can stop adding (the first one), and just throw a link in instead! Win/Win!
We open with a glowing green craft plummeting to the Earth… landing at Highway Mill, New Mexico… right at the feet of two would-be UFO hunters. The craft opens, revealing… Kyle Rayner! He’s in a real bad way… he tries to remove his ring, perhaps to hand it off to one of these geeks, but it won’t leave his finger. He tries to explain something to them… it has a name… before he can finish his thought, however, he slumps down next to a ring construct casket (?).
We shift scenes to Northern California… 25 miles outside of the former Coast City. Carol Ferris is on the phone, presumably with whoever she’s dating right now (his name is Gil). She arrives at Ferris Aircraft, and feels compelled to enter… in one of the hangars, she finds Hal Jordan’s old ride.
Next stop, Yankee’s Stadium. John Stewart and Guy Gardner have arrived to take in a game with their old friend… Hal Jordan?! They have vastly different thoughts on Hal… with John still thinking him one of the best, and Guy being… well, Guy.
Their contentious discussion shifts to being about Hal to their definitions of Green Lantern-ing. Guy accuses John of being Batman’s “little soldier”, and thankfully John doesn’t come back with a “just one punch” reference! Guy shows off his Vuldarian ugliness and musters a “Screw the Corps”.
Guy sucks his super-deformity back in and they take their seats. He doubts their special guest will even show… buuuut, he does! Well, hot damn, it’s Hal Jordan. He takes his seat, and starts catching up with his pals. Suddenly, people begin leaving their seats and approaching Hal to… confess! Y’all remember that Hal Jordan was the Spectre at this point… and it would appear he has quite an effect on those around him. Even Guy Gardner, who scoffs at the whole thing can’t help but to confess to being a tax cheat! Amid a torrent of sinners, Hal stands up… and blinks out.
Star City… Ollie Queen and his new-ish Speedy, Mia Deardon prepare for a night on the town. Suddenly, there’s an explosion down below… it’s Black Hand… and he’s looking for Ollie’s spare Green Lantern ring! He uses some sort of sci-fi divining rod to find it in a basement wall safe. He doesn’t get to celebrate all that long, as his right hand gets impaled by an arrow! Ollie explains to Mia that this fella is “one of Lantern’s old losers”… and speak’a the devil, Hal Jordan appears in the corner of the basement.
As he steps into the light, the spectoral spirit of vengeance overtakes him. He’d like to exchange pleasantries with his Hard-Travelin’ Homeboy, but that’s not what he’s here for. Instead, he walks over to Black Hand to pass judgment and dish out some punishment. With that, Black Hand’s… hand goes black! Turning into coal and sprinkling to the ground.
Ollie turns his bow to Hal’s direction, and asks him to stand down. Hal appears frustrated… he cannot stop… the Spectre is making him do things. He vanishes in a puff of green mist. Ollie looks at the damage to Black Hand’s… hand, and notes that dishing out this type of punishment ain’t Hal’s style. He picks up the ring, and suggests some heavy stuff’s about to go down.
Back in New York City… we pop in on Warrior’s Bar, where Guy and John are having a late night drink… well, Guy’s drinking anyway. Their chat turns to Hal Jordan… again. Gotta wonder if these folks ever talk about anything but! They mention that since he’s been gone, it feels like the world’s gotten darker… like there’s something missing. Well, yeah… if Hal’s not there anymore, it stands to reason that something might be missing. Anyhoo, suddenly Guy drops his beer… and his skin begins to bubble. His Vuldarian grossness starts to take over… and he explodes!
Back in California, a plane prepares to enter the radioactive skies above the Coast City crater. After discussing Mongul’s attack on Coast City… which I suppose ya gotta do every time Coast City comes up, the navigator gazes out the window and finds… Coast City? Well, sorta…
We take a brief detour at Belle Reve Prison, where Hector Hammond is being a world-class jerk. When he’s not messing with his fellow inmates, he listens in on Kyle Rayner’s story of space fear.
At the Justice League Watchtower, DC’s greatest minds are giving Guy Gardner the once-over. Dr. Mid-Nite suggests that his body is rejecting itself. It probably took one look in the mirror and wanted that ugliness as far away as possible! The depiction here is… way gross. Organs are twisted, bones are showing… really nasty stuff here.
Wonder Woman and Power Girl radio in from the ruins of Warrior’s Bar. The only thing left standing is… the statue of Hal Jordan!
Flash and Aquaman radio in from the west coast… more specifically, in front of 22 Sea View, the only building standing in this strange new Coast City. Hal Jordan’s old apartment building!
Well, now ya done it… Batman’s put two and two together, and he ain’t about to shut up about it. His conspiratorial mind starts spinning, and he brings up how Hal’s ascension to the Spectre might’ve been his plan all along. Sure, as Parallax he was crazy powerful… but as the Spectre, he’s akin to a God! By this point John Stewart’s heard enough, and tells Batman to shut his Bat-mouth. It gets personal pretty quick… he suggests that Batman’s always had it in for Hal because he was the only dude walkin’ who didn’t fear him… and what is Batman without the fear element?
Enter: Ollie. He shares the story of Black Hand… which gives Hal his third-strike for the evening (he’s been busy!). Batman deduces that the real Hal Jordan is back… and he’s bringing the past back with him. We close out back at Ferris Aircraft, where Carol is visited by an old friend…
That’s a pretty great way to start an event!
We’ve got a bit to unpack here, so let’s start… at the start.
There’s Kyle Rayner crash-landing in the desert… sorta like Abin Sur did all them years before. I first read this as it was coming out, and really thought they were starting this thing by killing Kyle off! Hindsight really changes the way I receive this scene. At this point, Green Lantern (vol.3) had come to a close… and we all knew (vol.4) was going to be a Hal book… so, killing Kyle was definitely “on the table” as far as we silly readers knew.
Moving on to John and Guy. I really hate it when people make Simpsons references. Like, reeeeeally hate it. Can’t explain why, but it really annoys me. That said, I’m about to do it myself… and I can already feel my body starting to convulse as though I’ve got the dry heaves. Hal Jordan is Poochie. When Hal’s not on panel, all the other characters need to be asking “Where’s Hal?” It makes me question why John and Guy would ever hang out if all they’re gonna do is talk about Hal.
That said, the scene at Yankee’s Stadium was really cool. We know Hal’s the Spectre… but haven’t really seen how that effects the common folk. Seeing them all head over to confess their sins was pretty eye-opening to me, as it represents Hal’s constant struggle as the Spectre. This is never-ending… and man, it must really grate on him.
Sticking with John and Guy… I can’t remember what prompted Guy’s Vuldarian nastiness to go wonky… outside of editorial fiat to make things be the way they used to be. To be honest, I prefer Guy as a Green Lantern, so I don’t have much of a problem with this. It does stink that Warrior’s gets destroyed though!
Coast City’s sorta-kinda return is intriguing. I haven’t read through this since 2004-2005, so I can’t remember many of the finer points. I am looking forward to reeducating myself on all this.
We’ll wrap up with the League. Ollie experiences a very sadistic Spectre unleashing his cruel wrath on Black Hand, and knows something’s up. That same night, Hal’s apartment reappears in Coast City… and his statue at Warrior’s still stands… yup, something’s definitely up!
Batman’s constant distrust of Hal is a highlight here. Now, I’ve made it pretty clear throughout our discussions of “bad-Hal” that I never really saw him as a straight-up supervillain. I saw him as more “broken” than anything… but, not nearly as selfish as I think we were supposed to see him. He reminds me of a dude with “guilt issues”, perhaps due to a religious upbringing… where he feels weird doing anything purely to benefit himself. He always twists his motives to appear altruistic… his methods would benefit many people… not just himself. Orrrrrr, maybe I’m just projecting. A-hem.
That said, I still like that Batman’s the one guy who Hal’s going to have to “work at” to win over. It makes sense that he’d be the one second-guessing all of Hal’s motives, and questioning whether or not he’s “good-Hal” or “bad-Hal”. Sure, we’re going to get some reasoning for “bad-Hal” throughout Rebirth… and they’re not my favorite… either way, Batman won’t even be convinced by that.
We’re not going to talk about giant yellow fear bugs from outer space here… because, that’s a kvetch for another day.
Overall, despite being a “Kyle guy”, I really enjoyed this. Probably more today than I did in 2004! Back then I had less of a working knowledge of Hal, and always viewed him as that other… boring Green Lantern. That has since changed, and I’ve grown to really enjoy and appreciate Hal’s place in the DC pantheon. If you’re a Green Lantern fan… you’ve very likely already read this. If you haven’t… you should! The hardcover and trade paperback are among DC’s (no pun intended) evergreen books, and should be easy to procure… and is, of course, available digitally.