When I started collecting comics, I never really paid much attention to who wrote a story, who drew a comic, who inked something. In fact, I only really knew who the editor of a book was because that was usually who responded to letters in the letters pages. (Remember those? I miss ’em.) Then, as I was reading the Fantastic Four, there was a lot of hoopla being made about Walt Simonson coming to the title to write and draw. When he came onto the title I recognized two things. One, I enjoyed his writing. Two, I didn’t so much like his art. (Sacrilege I know…but it was never my favorite for the FF.) (I’ve learned to love it now, but that’s a different post.)
It was at that time I began to recognize writers and artists in comics. My taste began to develop beyond, “I buy this book because (insert character’s name here) makes an appearance. I genuinely became interested in this group of people who are individually responsible for bringing the stories and images together to give us comic books.
Having said all that, I don’t know that I’ve read anything written by Geoff Johns outside of Infinite Crisis. I enjoyed Infinite Crisis, but it was as all crossover event books are, bound to the whims of more than justthe primary writer of the series. I have also read a few of the Action Comics books by Geoff Johns and I really ended up enjoying his run with Richard Donner. The two told a story that they obviously had sat around and talked about the arc for a while. (Insert obligatory delay joke here.) However, I had been reading people rave about him online for a while, especially with the advent of The Sinestro Corps wars over in DC. Couple that with a curiosity as to how in the world Hal Jordan and the corps came back, and I had to go on eBay and pick up the Rebirth series. That’s right…I eBayed it. The individual issues. Not the trade. I’m one of those guys.
If I can sum up in one word what Geoff Johns did in Green Lantern: Rebirth, it would be “WOW!”
This was honestly a story like no other I’ve read in a while. Johns has a way of taking what has gone before (both pre- and post- crisis) and making all fit into what is now. I don’t know that Hal Jordan ever needed to come back from the grave. I don’t know that he ever needed to be a Green Lantern again. I think his fall from grace and his ultimate sacrifice were an interesting journey and end for a heroic character. I liked Kyle Rayner as The Green Lantern. I appreciated what his insecurities and fears of being the only one in the universe brought to his character. I would never have thought that Geoff Johns would be able to convince me that we needed Hal Jordan, and if he did that, I thought for sure that he would do it at the expense of Kyle Rayner. Well, I was wrong on both counts.
What Johns does in Rebirth is set up a world and a universe that needs Hal Jordan as a Green Lantern, and he takes all of the apparent flaws of Kyle Rayner and turns them into his greatest strengths. So much so, that he is a key player in what takes place.
Then there’s the old silly stuff from back when Hal Jordan was GL. The yellow imperfection. The fact that Green Lantern’s primary color (was not a primary color…heh) is green probably caused very few eyebrows to raise back in the days of the Silver Age when one read that his weakness was anything yellow. Heck, I was a child of eighties and totally bought that concept while watching Superfriends. Geoff Johns takes a fairly silly premise and turns it into something epic. Parallax IS the yellow impurity. He was a creature that fed off of fear and lived because of fear, he worked through the color yellow. The Guardians imprisoned him in the power battery on Oa and he “infected” the Corps’ rings causing the imperfection. Because the Corps knew no fear, he was able to creep in unnoticed. Then, he found Hal Jordan, and because Hal refused to know fear at all, he was able to “possess” him.
WHO IN THE WORLD WOULD HAVE EVER THOUGHT OF THAT?!?! Not only did Johns explain Hal’s actions in the aftermath of the destruction of Coast City, but he gave an awesome explanations to 4 or 5 decades worth of continuity that by and large we all thought was pretty silly.
The first half of Johns’ story sets up all of the turmoil and despair it can. We are introduced to a Spectre that is losing his grip because of Hal Jordan, we are introduced to a broken and battered Kyle who is scared to use his ring. Guy Gardner almost dies as his body rejects the Warrior power he possesses. Then, when it seems things can’t get any worse, Sinestro shows up. Hal can’t help because he’s fighting a battle within himself against The Spectre and Parallax. His spirit is finally released and launched into his remarkably well-preserved body. As hal Jordan officially returns, I found myself wishing that there had been a Green Lantern movie made with a kick butt theme because my mind was screaming for it as I watched Hal Jordan return and light up the blackest night.
Later, as the Lanterns are facing down Parallax, Johns writes each Lantern individually. We see how each Lanter uses his powers differently, and it is amazing reading.
In the end, Geoff Johns pulled of a Green Lantern story and managed to bring back a long lost character in a really good way without trampling on what has come before and what is in the here and now.
Rebirth only made me more excited to get my hands on The Sinestro Corps Wars and for Johns run throughout the next year on Action Comics in which he promises big things for the Man of Steel.
Green Lantern: Rebirth is highly recommended if you’re a GL fan or a DC fan, or just a comic book fan.