I’ll never understand comic book marketing. I know they want to draw in readers, but they basically give away a comic’s entire plot, with overly detailed titles, cover images, or descriptions. I know this is a trade, and they’re perhaps assuming people read the individual issues already, but they do this when the issues are coming out as well. A little teaser of what the comic is about is great, but I’d really like to be surprised every once in a while.
With Green Lantern: Rebirth, it seemed pretty clear what this comic had in store, even without reading the synopsis on the back cover. Basically, Hal Jordan is feeling conflicted, at odds with his role as The Spectre, still looking for a way to redeem himself. We get to see him catching up with fellow Lanterns Guy Gardner and John Stewart, while Kyle Rayner has just returned from space bearing some rather ominous news, along with a rather morbid accessory.
While Kyle floats in and out of consciousness his ring keeps repeating the same message: Parallax is coming.
Oh goody. Another light and fluffy read.
There’s a lot going on to start, with each Green Lantern beginning to face unexplainable changes. The JLA notices Hal’s odd behavior and appears torn on how to handle the situation, with some people remaining loyal to Hal, while others (ie. Batman. Why is it always Batman?) believe Parallax was his true self all the time, and that he’s not to be trusted.
Something big is happening with the Lanterns, as is evident when Guy Gardner, who hasn’t technically been a Lantern for a while, finds himself inexplicably in his old uniform again, with a ring on his finger.
While this is happening, the story is interspersed with numerous flashbacks which essentially outline Hal Jordan’s entire history, from the death of his father during a flight exercise up through his turn for the worse as Parallax. Alongside this summary, we’re given a lot of new information, which pretty much completely alters how everyone will view past storylines.
We’re told that Parallax was not simply Hal, but an ancient being that fed on fear.
Parallax lay dormant within the power battery for millennia, until he was awoken and was able to tap into the Green Lanterns’ rings to seek out a strong host. When he found Hal Jordan, he fed on his weaknesses and fear after Coast City was destroyed and basically possessed him.
Long story short: Hal Jordan was never a bad guy, it was always this separate entity.
Of course, then we’re left wondering who woke up Parallax inside the battery. Who else but his fellow prisoner Sinestro?
All of this is explained while Hal, Spectre, and Parallax are at odds with one another. Parallax tries to convince Hal that they are one in the same, but Hal refuses to accept that he is inherently evil. Struggling with these multiple identities, Hal finally breaks free, and his soul is able to reunite with his body (which Kyle had previously retrieved from inside the sun).
With that, Hal Jordan is back and ready to fight.
Hal battles Sinestro while the JLA attempts to stop Parallax. In a pretty epic battle, both are defeated, although Parallax disappears into the anti-matter universe and so remains at large. Hal’s return upsets some (again, Batman) while others welcome him back with open arms. Mercifully the trade ends on a happy note, with Hal seemingly wanting to begin life again.
Overall the trade was a fun read. There’s a nit-picky part of me that thinks the story was wrapped up a little too neatly, with every possibly contingency and loophole addressed to create this nicely packaged story that completely rewrites Hal’s time as Parallax. That being said, it’s still a very creative way to bring Hal back, and I thoroughly enjoyed the explanations to long-held questions, ie: now we know why the rings are susceptible to the color yellow! I also really loved that Johns addresses how each Green Lantern’s ring operates in a different manner, unique to its wearer. Hal’s ring creates very concrete, set images, while Kyle, ever the designer and perfectionist, creates images that are constantly morphing and changing. Small details such as these can make or break a comic, and this story had more than enough to keep me entertained.
It’s nice to see Hal Jordan back in action, and it’s especially cool to think that the Green Lantern Corps could be returning in full force. The comic is open-ended enough that the story could go many different ways; no doubt whatever happens, Hal’s return will be felt far and wide.