Comics: Green Lantern Rebirth (2004-2005)

Matt Streeter takes a look at the short run Green Lantern Rebirth series that ran from 2004-2005. 

This image is called
"Having your cake
and eating it too".
With the release of Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool movie upon us, I am reminded of another one of his efforts.  He played Hal Jordan in the poorly executed Green Lantern movie that came out several years ago, but I am reminded of what could have been had they taken the time to make an actual good movie.  With that in mind, let's take a look back at an old Green Lantern comic.  

Green Lantern: Rebirth is one of the few times a return from the dead story was handled with style and flair, one of those few comics that refuses to allow my life to continue until I finish it.  It's a wild, intense story that satisfies on every level.  It had great dialogue furnished by Geoff Johns, a writer I would take every time over Brian Michael Bendis.  Ethan Van Sciver's pencils are amazing, with MacFarlane-level detail without making the characters look like runny cookie dough like everyone in the early issues of Spawn.  The best things, though, were how Johns took half the relevent DC characters, and added more depth to their relationship with Hal, and how Sinestro went from being a lame GL villain to someone who would eventually threaten everyone throughout DC Comics in just a few too-short issues.

It makes me wonder, what if Hollywood had the good sense to stop telling us origin stories and instead focus on telling us actual good stories for a change.  There are times it's handled well (Iron Man, Batman Begins, and the first Avengers movie come to mind) but when you're given 3 separate reboots of Spider-Man in 15 years something is wrong.  How many times do we really need to see Peter Parker get bit by the spider?  Who doesn't know how he became Spider-Man?  Who cares how? Why not focus on Spider-Man vs. Animal-themed-bad-guy, because those stories are WAY more interesting than another retelling of an origin we already know.

How does this relate to Green Lantern?  Tangentially at best, but let's see if I can tap dance us towards a cohesive conclusion.

Green Lantern's best stories are NOT Abin Sur crash landing on Earth and Hal ending up with the ring.  The writers of the movie knew it, and that's why we got Parallax, Hector Hammond, and yellow-power-ringed Sinestro all shoehorned into this disaster.  Hal Jordan's origin story is boring, and no one cares.  Yeah, Geoff Johns did his best to make it compelling in his Secret Origins storyline that ran through Green Lantern Vol. 4 #29-35, but when I read through it I find myself yawning and skimming it to get to the good stuff.  Blah, another origin story.  Oh wow, he had relationships and there's tension there as he gets used to his new power.  Never seen that before.

And then we get to the good stuff, and the movie was in a rush to get us to that point.  They had to have known as we all do that what was coming was way more compelling than Abun Sur crashing on Earth and giving Hal Jordan the ring.  Sure, there could be some potentially entertaining moments in Hal's training with Kilowog, but if you wanted those you could do a flashback or something.  Or even just some verbal sparring among equals when Hal's on Oa.  Origins are boring, and I no longer want to waste my time with them.

Which brings us back to Green Lantern: Rebirth.  That was my introduction to Hal Jordan.  When I first started reading DC comics in the late 90s, Kyle Rayner was GL in the JLA books I was reading.  I knew that Hal Jordan had become Parallax and killed off all the Green Lanterns and that apparently Rayner was the last one anywhere (lucky we Earthlings got him here, I guess).  It was a big deal, and Hal Jordan GL fans were NOT happy.  Bringing him back as the Spectre was unsatisfying to them, too, so there was definitely pressure from the fanbase to do something to rectify the situation.  But how were they going to do it without being Joe Quesada levels of idiotic?  I'm really glad that Johns didn't resort to just having DC's stand-in for Satan wave his magical wand and just return to the old status quo.  Heaven forbid we actually change something!  What we got was a story that led us to something bigger and better than Green Lantern fans had ever known before.  It was one of those amazing endings were everyone got what they wanted with a side of cake to eat along with it.  

Perceive him no longer
as a joke of a villain, for
Sinestro demands (and gets)
With this in mind, we have Batman and Superman- SIGH, I mean Batman VS Superman (I wish my eyes were as big as dinner plates so I could really roll my eyes at everything having to be dark and/or violent for realism) and the DAWN OF JUSTICE and the potential formation of the Justice League. Well, Green Lantern's always been on the Justice League in one way or another (I know of at least 4 Earthling Green Lanterns, and they've all been Leaguers) so we're getting a new Green Lantern movie in 2020 and wanna bet it'll be ANOTHER origin story?

Why not just start out here with Rebirth?  Allude to Jordan going nuts some time ago and then talk about the yellow impurity.  We could watch Jordan redeem himself and witness Sinestro's rise to villain-y prominence at the same time without having to sit through another goddamned origin story.  This is WAY more interesting than “Abin Sur crashes on Earth, Hal gets the ring, shenanigans, roll credits.”  

Alright, Hal Jordan and Parallax is an extremely compelling storyline and it would be kind of a shame to gloss over it in the five minutes of film exposition that a Rebirth movie would probably give us, so I'd welcome that story as a movie of its own, too.  If it could be done well.  Anything but another origin.  On the other hand, Hollywood seems to think we should all be wearing helmets and can't tie our own shoes and thus we need to be shown everything.  Nothing can be left to the imagination, it has to be explained, we need to have all this information spoon fed to us.  Is the average moviegoer that stupid?  They can't be relied upon to fill in some of the blanks on their own?  Well, Inception was a box office success and everyone seemed to like it, and that whole movie was left to the viewer to interpret.  I'm telling you, it would work.  Just let the audience imagine what happened before, and tell us a good story.  It worked for me when I read Rebirth, and it'll work for the rest of humanity, too.

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-Matthew Streeter