After my recent piece on keeping track of the Rebirth era, my fellow BCP writer Jules took issue with the fact that I hadn’t talked about the “Green” comics: Green Arrow, Green Lanterns, and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.
Now, to be fair, I had written them off early on because, initially at least, I was fairly ruthless about what Rebirth titles I was sticking with. Although I’ve always been a DC fanboy, I’m a Bat-fan, and the appeal of the wider DCU has been always through that lens for me – but Rebirth has made me re-evaluate that. So, in the spirit of fairness, I went back and re-read the lot. And here’s my thoughts…
I wouldn’t call myself a fan of Green Arrow as a rule. He’s pompous and entitled, a poor (rich?) man’s Bruce Wayne with none of his redeeming features. True, I loved Kevin Smith’s QUIVER, and the character does have his moments, but the New 52 did nothing to further my interest (and took way his relationship with Dinah, foolishly).
But we live in a post-Arrow era now, where the rules and expectations have changed. So with that in mind, does Ben Percy’s take on the Emerald Archer truly suit the Rebirth era?
Well, yes and no.
A lot of my main niggles with the character are there in the first few issues, though Dinah returning and their burgeoning relationship, and banter, are certainly highlights. This isn’t your dark and brooding CW Arrow, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing – where Rebirth Supergirl tends to go wrong is when it tries to match the tone and characterization of the TV interpretation. By tearing Oliver, and Arrow, down it allows him to be rebuilt – Rebirthed – with nods to the TV version without slavishness, even if it feels a little predictable at times with its overt referencing of Bruce Wayne: Fugitive and Snyder’s Court of Owls.
The attempt, in the form of the Ninth Circle, to create YET another shadowy DCU cabal is a bit of a gamble. Yes, to start with it feels like a poor riff on the Court, via the CW, but actually it’s the fact that it continues to permeate the storyline even 30+ issues in that shows its strength. I also just plain like the idea of a criminal super bank.
Where the writing really shines through is in the wider DCU. Metropolis through Oliver’s eyes is done brilliantly, and Gotham is likewise interesting – and his interaction with Damian in the METAL storyline is particularly effective.
Where is GA going? Well, it’s hard to say. As well as Oliver’s Rebirth, it does seem to sticking with the other of the two major thematic skeins of Rebirth, the parent-child relationship – but that’s been very one-sided thus far. It’ll be worth seeing where it goes, and whether it can sustain the 9th Circle as antagonists successfully.
GREEN LANTERNS/HAL JORDAN & THE GREEN LANTERN CORPS
As a kid in the 90s, I had the double-dip of a weak run of GL comics and the uneasy transition to Kyle Rayner. Even within Grant Morrison’s JLA, he was never a comfortable fit for the DC writers (the infamous refrigerator incident, anybody?), and fans struggled with how to respond to him. Whilst the whole Parallax storyline (and subsequent role as The Spectre) took Hal to some interesting places, it was always a property that seemed to have mixed results.
Geoff Johns reset the rules of Green Lantern, revisiting what truly made a great GL story – a space romp, with heart, humour and real tragedy. By exploring (and widening) the emotional spectrum, he gave room for all 4 GLs to breathe, and whilst some make the case that Brightest Day had a bit of an untidy ending, the fact remains that his take on GL and the corps was absolutely seminal.
And then, The End. As New 52 ended, Earth gained not one but 2 Green Lanterns, Simon Baz, a Lebanese-American small-time criminal falsely imprisoned in Guantanamo, and Jessica Cruz, a Latino woman with Anxiety.
Leaving aside that this meant Earth had 6 lanterns, accusations of tokenism and just plain poor writing (not altogether justified) were levelled against the end of New 52 Lanterns, whilst the fallout of the war of light was likewise never tidily dealt with, as there’s only so long an audience can buy into the tension of They’re all dead – again. So did the split help? Does the Lanterns’ light shine on Rebirth?
Green Lanterns still just doesn’t quite work. It’s the eternal problem that GL has a comic – Earth has plenty of heroes, so why aren’t these guys dealing with the other planets in the sector?!
By using Hal to forcibly create them as a team is as contrived as it sounds; and when Earthbound it’s just dull, even starting with Atrocitus. This rests primarily with the two protagonists: Simon just isn’t that interesting a character, and Jessica is simply defined by her anxiety – leaving aside that that just doesn’t seem right for a Green Lantern, Superwoman does it much better as part, rather than the whole, of the character. Equally, having Volthoom (the incorporeal First Lantern) as antagonist should be more exciting – instead, oh, it’s ANOTHER power ring… Sigh.
When they are off Earth, it’s definitely better, both as part of the Corps and even in their own right. Bringing Brainiac in as a GL antagonist is particularly effective, and one of the highlights of the series. Similarly, exploring the back story of the original green rings is done well, and there’s so much potential – but it’s just a series of character misfires, sadly.
And part of the problem is Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, because it does just about everything right. It’s a shamelessly fun romp, with heart, humour, and humanity. There’s some genuinely shocking moments, clever twists and all 4 of the Lanterns get plenty of “screen time”. It’s not a perfect analogy, but this series will clearly appeal to fans of the MCU – there’s a GotG (film, not comic) vibe here
There’s even poop jokes.
In many ways the defeat of Sinestro should have rendered this impotent as a comic , bit instead we get an excellent tension built between the two sides as they try to reconcile their differences. I find I actually don’t want to say too much – because, without doubt, I was wrong. Go read Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. It’s a damn fine comic book, whatever your tastes.