[WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for "Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth" #1]
We may be weeks into the company-wide DC Comics Rebirth, but fans have yet to see what the new version of Hal Jordan, Earth's greatest ring-bearing champion, will have to offer. That's all about to change, with "Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth" hitting comic shop shelves to reveal where Hal Jordan has been hiding all this time - and add a few new wrinkles to the larger Green Lantern mythology.
"Rebirth" #1 does a solid job of setting the stage for what's to come, while catching readers up on the necessary backstory (the same is true for most of the "Rebirth" issues in DC's catalogue). But there are few comic book universes as complicated, layered, and intertwined as that of the Green Lantern Corps, seemingly trapped in an endless gauntlet of events, crossovers, and universe-ending crises.
So with that in mind, we're breaking down the new status quo set in "Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps," from villains to rings and everything in between. Because even if Hal Jordan is back... that doesn't mean he's the same one we knew.
The War is Over - and Sinestro Won
Again, it's not going to be easy to catch readers up on every recent event leading to the "Rebirth" issue. Since writer Robert Venditti is continuing from his pre-Rebirth run on the "Green Lantern" series, the comic isn't a back-to-basics reboot in any sense. So for the sake of simplicity, we'll say this: it is a very, very bad time for the Green Lantern Corps. The planet of Oa (literal center of the universe and homeworld of the Corps) has been reduced to rubble, the Corps itself has been wiped clean from the universe, and the Guardians who once commanded them are gone - and not coming back.
Much of that, thought not all, is due to the efforts of Thaal Sinestro, the famous Green Lantern villain who revolted against the Guardians and their Corps, believing fear, not willpower, to be the most dominant emotion in the universe (and therefore the best way of policing evil). So having taken his own Corps to it greatest heights, and claimed Warworld - a massive, weaponized planetoid built by an ancient race - as his base of operations, Sinestro now finds himself without an enemy to fight. He has achieved victory, and is left with nothing to do but move Warworld to the center of the universe where Oa once sat, and leave his Corps to police the universe through the power of fear.
To explain the thing that made his rise to power possible, we would first need to explain the core idea behind the Green, Indigo, Black, White Lanterns and their other counterparts. To keep it simple: it isn't just "emotional energy" in the universe that fuels the various corps, but living embodiments of emotion born in the beginning of the universe. And not long after 'The Entity' (the physical embodiment of life, that spawned all other life in the universe) came into being, 'Parallax' (the physical embodiment of fear) was born.
It's this entity that is revealed to be completely subdued and controlled by Sinestro in the issue, being used to fuel not only his Sinestro Corps' rings, but Warworld itself. And with Sinestro stooped and grey from the fight to achieve domination of the emotional spectrum, he turns to Parallax for one last request: everything. Fans are free to wonder what that means - with a request for Parallax to embody his physical form a frontrunner - but the real message here is that Sinestro stands at the top of the heap. So if a champion of willpower doesn't stand up to him soon, the entire universe may be lost.
Hal Jordan Has a New (& Dangerous) Toy
The universe of the "Green Lantern" series may be filled with alien civilizations, but they're just as susceptible to bad press as people here on Earth. Which means the rise of the Sinestro Corps - built on the idea that a police force based on hope could never be effective - was partly due to the fact that... well, the amount of universal crises and disasters that occur kind of support that very opinion. So to preserve the reputation and legacy of the Green Lantern Corps, and give them a fighting chance against their enemies, Hal Jordan took it upon himself to play the martyr. He would take credit for the problems, and brand himself a traitor (but be a scapegoat in reality).
But to do that, he'd need a weapon other than his ring. A weapon outside of the Guardians' authority. The answer was Krona's Gauntlet, named for its creator, the mad Guardian who desired too much power, and was cast out as a result. Krona's experiments into harnessing the power of the green were deemed too dangerous, and the other Guardians eventually modified it into the Lantern rings given to their Corps. But the gauntlet crafted first by Krona was willpower in its rawest, most direct form. And it's exactly what Hal Jordan took from the Guardians.
In the "Green Lantern" series since Hal Jordan... stopped being an actual Green Lantern, the hero traveled the galaxy with flowing hair, a trenchcoat, and give 'em hell attitude right out of the 1990s. The gauntlet made Hal more powerful than ever, but as this "Rebirth" issue shows, it came at a price. It turns out having a direct line to the willpower of the universe has started to transform Hal into a being of the same energy (like the constructs his ring used to create from the bearer's imagination). It's likely that this is exactly what Krona intended, and the Guardians feared: over time, the gauntlet would erase the line between wearer and willpower, with unknowable consequences.
In the actual comic, Hal realizes that distinction (not unlike the line between The Flash and the Speed Force that powers him) and sets out to stop it, once and for all. Apparently his time with this new weapon has come to an end, so he (along with Venditti and the publisher as a whole) sets out to return things to the way they were. When he was simply Hal Jordan, Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814. And his power flowed from a ring, not the source itself.
The Return of The Ring
That realization is actually cashing in on a few different storylines explored over recent years, as threat after threat arose and questioned the role of power and authority in preventing such turmoil. For Sinestro, it's an intelligent wielder of fear protecting life from itself (like cattle to be cared for). Hal Jordan has rarely agreed, but here, is making the decision that there is such a thing as too much power, even if it's him wielding it. So he does what any good Lantern would do: fashions a metal ingot from the fabric of willpower, and forges it into a brand new ring. A ring that was not only forged with will, through will, and by will, but from Hal Jordan's will directly.
It's a poetic moment in every aspect, since Hal Jordan's role in the Corps, the Universe, and even his family has regularly been in a state of flux. Even his decision to cast off the Green Lantern Corps was a sacrifice in secret, forced to become what the Corps, and the galaxy needed him to be. So with the power to do anything he could imagine, he doesn't absorb/get absorbed by the energy. Instead, he recites his name, his family members, and his life. Then decides to leave that power behind, and not just choose to become a Green Lantern, but literally construct the identity with his own two hands.
It should be a moment of pure victory and self-actualization, but with the act sending tremors through the emotional spectrum - and giving Sinestro himself a warning siren - the work ahead of Hal in assembling the Corps once again may be the least of his problems...
We hope that our summary and analysis has helped lapsed fans get caught up to speed, and hopefully aid newcomers in grasping the message that Venditti is trying to send as he takes the lead on Hal Jordan's new comic series. What did you think of the issue? Are you excited to see the Hal Jordan you remember back on the job, or is it the two new stars of "Green Lanterns" that has your attention?
Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps: Rebirth #1 is available now.
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