All the recent talk of “Blackest Night” and the Rainbow Corps have gotten me interested in Green Lantern again, something that has not occurred since 1999. If you have not seen the talk, perhaps because you don’t read comics or you rather spend your time in more meaningful and worthwhile endeavors such as memorizing baseball stats or shoe shopping, here’s the short version: they made Green Lantern interesting again by making the concept even more ridiculous. And it was already pretty damn ridiculous.
So if you don’t know about Green Lantern, you can read the long, meandering, complex history of Green Lantern from Wikipedia that’s far too much to get into here, but the gist is that the Green Lanterns are an collection of intergalactic police force that fight spacecrime using a magic scientifically powered ring that can do anything through sheer force of will. And it’s colored green. And it’s recharged through a green lantern battery. And the main guy who’s been the Green Lantern of Earth, Hal Jordan, is totally fearless and…huh, I didn’t want to get too much into the backstory, yet here we are. It’s not my fault, it’s the comic! If you don’t already know the story thus far, you are going to be completely lost amongst this superpowered gibberish. Space cops wielding big green boxing gloves? A purple dude with a huge cranium who has a yellow ring powered by fear instead of will? Oh, and the rings used to have a weakness to the color yellow but don’t anymore but they will again soon and that’s VERY IMPORTANT? What?
If all that sounds pretty stupid to you, don’t worry, it is. But that’s part of the charm, more on that later.
Rebirth is an odd story in that it’s essentially functional. It serves a purpose, and that purpose is to manufacture an excuse, and that excuse is to let Hal Jordan off the hook for killing a bunch of other Green Lanterns back in 1994. It does this by jerry-rigging a new idea into decades of continuity, the concept of the Emotional Spectrum, that the universe is powered by a set of color coordinated feelings. Green is the color of willpower, yellow is the color of fear, and so on, hence the Rainbow Corps. But for the purposes of Rebirth, we just have the two. So basically there’s a yellow fear entity which infected the Green Lanterns, which caused the weakness and made Hal Jordon go nuts and stuff. There you go, you don’t need to read the comic now.
Oh yeah, the comic! I should probably talk about the book itself. It is actually an entertaining read, nicely rendered and dynamic. If there’s one thing Geoff Johns seems to do well, it’s creating dramatic moments and a skillful utilization of continuity. That’s two things. There were some bits, though, were I was utterly confused about what’s going on, and not just from encountering unfamiliar characters or old plotlines. It’s bad enough when Black Hand shows up and I have no idea who Black Hand is, but I’m still not clear on why Guy Gardner exploded and had his DNA rearranged. Did Hal do that, or the Spectre, or Parallax, or some other random word I just made up? And why is Batman such a dick? For a guy who’s tried to rehabilitate the Joker so many times, he seems uncharacteristically reluctant to forgive Hal Jordan. At any rate, it’s a fun book, up until the cheeseball end where the bad guy is defeated by the Green Lanterns shouting their slogan.
So now Hal Jordon is back from the dead (oh yeah, he died by the way), and the stage is set for future stories exploring the Rainbow Corps which I’m looking forward to. There’s just something about armies of color coordinated space warriors thematically powered to their wardrobe that’s appealing to me. The prevalence of color in their superheroes is one of the many goofy facets of DC comics that make them so endearing. It’s also why I enjoyed Red Tornado showing up in “Batman: Brave and the Bold” despite never ever buying anything with him in it. It may be dumb but it’s oh so adorable.