NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for "Green Lantern" #9
DC Comics heroes are no strangers to death, and there are few who have seen as much of it as Hal Jordan - better known to the world as Green Lantern. In the 1990s, Hal Jordan was turned from hero to villain, slaughtering all of the vast Green Lantern Corps before eventually sacrificing himself for the sake of the galaxy. Even so, the decision to cast Hal as no longer the greatest Lantern in the galaxy's history, but its greatest villain left a bad taste in plenty of DC fans' mouths. Which is why Geoff Johns' "Green Lantern: Rebirth" came to re-balance the scales, and set DC's Green Lantern mythology around Hal Jordan once again.
So when DC launched its version of "Rebirth" for their entire catalogue of comics, it only seemed right to give the hero his very own title: not in his adventures as a Green Lantern, or even the Green Lantern, but simply as "Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps." His time in the spotlight hasn't been easy, having crafted a new ring out of pure willpower, returning to face Sinestro's army all by himself, and in Issue #7 of the series, giving his own life to erase Sinestro and his Warworld from the galaxy.
With a life spent pushing the envelope of what was possible in the air, and in space, Hal Jordan is tackling the final frontier: Green Lantern Heaven.
The Death of Hal Jordan
For those who may have missed the death of Hal Jordan in previous issues, it needs to be said that while definitely not a fake-out or implied death to gain attention, the doors have been left open for Hal Jordan's existence beyond death (his name is in the book's title, after all). But to truly understand Hal's powerful sacrifice, and the energy that allowed him to actually disintegrate Sinestro, yellow ring and all, one things needs to be grasped. This is not the normal Hal Jordan, and his ring is anything but standard issue.
Before the "Rebirth" returned Hal Jordan to the rank of a Green Lantern, he was exiled from the Corps, voluntarily playing the scapegoat to save the group's reputation in the galaxy, but taking along a relic the Guardians of the Universe had hidden away. The first attempt to harness the green power of the galaxy's emotional spectrum was actually attempted by the famous Guardians nemesis Krona... it was only the Guardians who crafted a safe conduit for the energy in the form of the Lantern power rings.
Never one to play it safe, Hal sought out the original Gauntlet of Krona, and headed into the vastness of space possessing a more powerful weapon than ever before. But as his "Rebirth" comic showed, the longer he opened himself up to the full strength of willpower, the harder it pulled. Realizing that he was changing from a human being to one of pure willpower, from a man into... something else, Hal forged a ring of his own (a feat believed to be impossible) and hurried to give Sinestro a rude awakening.
Standing opposite Sinestro, also stronger than ever, and believing himself to be the last Green Lantern left to defend the galaxy, Hal opened up, let go, and allowed the full potency of willpower to flow through him unchecked. It was too much for his enemy... but it was too much for Hal, as well.
Green Lantern Heaven?
As the other Lanterns have returned to make sense of the aftermath, the story returns to Hal in Issue #9, finding himself in an unknown place, but being welcomed by a very familiar face: Abin Sur, the Green Lantern who crash-landed on Earth and passed the ring to Hal before succumbing to his injuries. Asking what events have brought Hal to this place, Abin Sur is confused to find out that Sinestro - the greatest living Lantern at the time that Abin Sur died - was leading an army of fear, poised to enslave the galaxy. But that was the old universe: this is 'the Emerald Space.'
Described as the place where all Green Lanterns killed in the line of duty can look forward to traveling after their death, Hal definitely fits the bill for admission into Green Lantern Heaven. There's just one problem: before Hal can begin to check out his new surroundings, Abin Sur claims that Hal doesn't belong there. Not yet, anyway. The exact reason isn't specified, but Hal's death was inherently greater than he could fathom, essentially becoming as much of a construct to willpower itself as a usual construct is to the Lantern who creates it.
But even as he comes face to face with the first rest he's earned in years, Hal Jordan's power ring flies through the galaxy in search of its master - winding up on the front door of Ganthet, the exiled Guardian who first sided with human beings and entrusted the future of the Lanterns to a new human hero so many years before...
The Only Lantern Who Can Save Him Now
The mythology and forces at work here are still intentionally vague, since writer Robert Venditti is clearly building towards the culmination of Hal Jordan's first "Rebirth" chapter. Since the series was pitched prior to "Rebirth" as a welcome entry point for new readers - especially those who missed out on the massive, universe-altering events surrounding the Green, Yellow, Red, Indigo, Black, and White Lanterns - the larger twists and turns are taking shape one scene at a time. All we do know is that Hal's death isn't as simple as one might think, and that Ganthet is well aware of Hal's sacrifice - and his importance to much larger events on the horizon.
As a result, Ganthet (and his wife, Sayd) have called in their old friend Kyle Rayner, having been promoted from a simple Green Lantern to the one and only White Lantern, having successfully learned to wield the rings and energy of every color of the emotional spectrum. More powerful than ever, and devoted to both Ganthet and Hal, there's really nobody else to call. But no matter how powerful the "Torchbearer" has become, finding Hal Jordan in the Lantern afterlife is going to be a challenge.
And we'd be shocked if it doesn't crack open a few more doors into the larger Lantern universe along the way.
"Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps" #9 is available now.