It’s a pretty big deal when you bring a superhero back from the dead.
Sure, Hal Jordan wasn’t really gone as long as some characters, since he took the form of Parallax as well as The Spectre, but he hasn’t been a Green Lantern for a decade.
That’s an awful long time for people to forget who he really is, and what he’s capable of. Kyle Rayner stepped up as a Green Lanter in his absense, and while Hal was a part of the comics mythos for so long, for many young readers, Kyle was the only Green Lantern they really knew. He was the hero they grew up with, and it’s entirely possible for them to identify more with Kyle than with Hal, a mythical figure whom they may only know as The Spectre.
This was no small feat then for Geoff Johns to undertake. I already wrote about his deft handling of Hal’s return in Green Lantern: Rebirth. This comic, though, would determine whether he could truly bring the character back from the dead.
To that, I’d say he’s done a more than fair job.
This comic is chock full of history and information, providing a great primer for readers who are unfamiliar with Hal Jordan as a Green Lantern, as well as giving older fans a refresher course on one of their beloved heroes.
Hal Jordan attempts to find his place in this world: trying to get a job as a pilot again, reconnecting with his brother, all while questioning what type of world he has returned to.
It’s a rather valid philosophical question, and speaks to the tone of the post-9/11 world we were living in at the time (and maybe still are). Not only is this reference indicative of fear we felt in our daily lives, it also impresses upon the reader the fact that Hal Jordan (and all of the Green Lanterns) have noted a marked shift in how they must face fear.
For millennia, Green Lanterns were taught to have no fear. After battling Parallax, they have learned that they must acknowledge it, confront it, and overcome it. Only then can they defeat fear (both metaphorically and in the very physical formof Parallax). Johns managed to convey these messages without allowing the comic to devolve into a philosophical dissertation on the subject; the story is still there, it’s just peppered with deeper, more meaningful asides.
As the reader gets to know Hal Jordan again, they also get to know some of his foes. Just as some readers may be unfamiliar with Hal, so too much they be unfamiliar with the Green Lantern Corps and what they represent.
The comic provides a brief and succinct summary of the Manhunters, the race of robots created by the Oans prior to the establishment of the GL Corps. As Hal faces off against a pair of these androids, one of them notes that he feels fear, right before his artificial life is terminated. Again, it’s a small inclusion, but it speaks to Johns’s skill as a writer, forcing us to consider the story below the surface while still providing a fun and entertaining romp.
Case in point: the inclusion of the genetically modified shark who attacks a pair of unsuspecting swimmers, giving us an image that feels reminiscent of any number of 1970’s B-movie horror films.
This particular scene had no deeper meaning. Instead, we’re allowed to revel in the excitement of the action, while being granted a reprieve from the thoughtful introspection of our main character.
Johns clearly has a lot in store for Hal, as this trade only begins to set up a larger story.Hal converses with Hector Hammond, (mostly) safely locked away in Belle Reve. Hammond informs him that there is an incredibly well-developed race of aliens on earth, who have taken it upon themselves to use humans as guinea pigs for developing their own technology.
These aliens are shown within the comic, albeit briefly, but clearly there’s a bigger story to be seen here. Hal has only cracked the surface there, and there’s no doubt in my mind that future issues will delve deeper into who these beings are and what all they have planned for humans.
This comic serves as a great continuation of the Hal Jordan saga, introducing the character to new readers while reminding older fans why Hal is still considered the greatest Green Lantern to ever live. Johns’s emphasis on the character’s history, while also creating a compelling and interesting new story for fans, creates the perfect balance for the comic. It’s still the same Hal Jordan, just placed in a modern context. He’s cocky and fearless, yet incredibly well-respected. The unification of old and new creates a thoroughly enjoyable comic experience, and quite frankly we couldn’t ask for much more out of his latest comic.
With humor, panache, and just a touch of newfound fear, Hal makes a triumphant return as Green Lantern, proving once again why he’s the best.