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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Reactions to Green Lantern 9:

Normally I don't blog about comics the day I get them. This time I intend to. I'm even gonna learn this truncated post thing. Don't get used to it.

I'll be the first to admit, I didn't really get what Johns was doing in the new Green Lantern series. It felt like there was something missing. Hal was going through the motions. Something was off, hovering in the background.

I get it now. With 9, with the ending of the story, I completely get it. And I think it may be one of the most powerful things I've ever read. Because to me, Green Lantern 1-9 is a story about becoming human.

Spoilers Abound, Go Away

I can't really talk about Green Lantern without talking about Rebirth. I know a lot of people don't like Rebirth because they think it offers an out to Hal about all the Parallax craziness. And I've said before that I saw it differently. I saw it as Hal actually being established as the weakest of the Lanterns.

Parallax has now been in the battery since its creation. Which means that regardless of power, it has to have been trying to get out for eons...the idea that it wanted Hal because he was the most powerful is ridiculous because at that point, out would have been the only concern. It could find a more suitable host later.

No, it took Hal because Hal succumbed. Because of Coast City and Sinestro's manipulations, admittedly, but Hal did what Guy, John and Kilowog hadn't. He gave in.

Rebirth goes further though. Gradually all of the Lanterns begin to succumb...except Kyle Rayner, who combats it because he "knows fear".

A fine parallel to Hal. Hal Jordan, the Greatest Green Lantern, the man who has been without fear since his father's death. (Flight, in the Secret Files and Origins, fills in the blanks in that respect. Hal feared losing his happens, Hal has nothing else to lose...)

Johns though portrays a different ideal in Rebirth which extends into Green Lantern. Hal wasn't the Green Lantern ideal. He was a *perversion* of it as much as Sinestro (also considered the Greatest during his time) before him.

A Green Lantern's supposed to overcome fear. Hal didn't fear anything...which meant nothing to overcome.

Fear is a powerful evocative emotion. Fear is what makes us brave. Fear is what makes us strong. We fear harm, we go on regardless. We fear losing what we love, we love regardless. Fear makes us *human*.

Hal wasn't human. So he fell... Fear prepares you for the worst sometimes, when Coast City was destroyed, Hal lost everything again, and opened himself up.

Rebirth isn't the story about Hal's triumph. It's about Kyle.

Kyle's often called the most human of the Lanterns. And that's true. He's silly, self-centered, shallow, vain, melodramatic, insecure. He's also probably one of the purest and kindest characters in the DCU. His faith doesn't waver and he always forgives. He wasn't chosen for his role. He was a guy picked randomly because he stumbled out of a club for some air at just the right time. He fears a lot, often. But he keeps going.

And Kyle, symbolic embodiment of humanity, is the true hero of Rebirth.

*Kyle* discovers the evidence of Parallax.
*Kyle* pulls Hal's corpse from the sun.
*Kyle* protects it with his life, even without recourse to the ring.
*Kyle* is the only one to be able to resist Parallax.
*Kyle* appears to help Hal finally beat Sinestro.

Kyle's fear kept him resisting Parallax. His humanity brought Hal back to the light.

Hal's story though is in Green Lantern. Because Hal may be back, but he's not fixed. He's still got that same flaw that had him open to corruption via Parallax to begin with.

As of Green Lantern, Hal's still not human. He had cut himself off from his family, didn't make incredibly strong emotional bonds with anyone, and was largely going through the motions (which I complained about often).

And he ends up mind-controlled or at the mercy of telepaths how often?! Considering he's a Lantern, and thus obviously has a strong will...and Johns called attention to it very obviously in this last run of GL.

Now the 7th and 8th issue are fascinating for what they say about how Hal sees himself. Hal on some level knows that he's flawed/broken, and has been since long before Parallax.

In the fantasy, there is a Parallax, but he's being soundly defeated. Hal's father is alive, and he's close to his family. But the really fascinating part is Sinestro.

Sinestro is good, strong, wise...he's still the Greatest of the Lanterns.

Sinestro is the parallel of Hal through all this. He was considered the greatest but was inherently flawed. He's not human of course, but he's also *inhuman* as Hal is, because of a lack deep within.

Hal doesn't only dream of his own redemption, but he dreams of Sinestro's too. He understands that inherently they're the same. At the end, he goes to his family, reclaiming some of his human connections again.

And then there's Green Lantern 9.

I'd waited for 9 issues to have some real acknowledgement of Parallax and its aftermath. And it didn't disappoint.

And I don't think it was a coincidence that this was in an issue that starred Batman.

Batman in Johns's Green Lantern is the symbol of fear. In Rebirth he was shadowy and suspicious, though not without good reason. But in Green Lantern, Batman was the one reaching out to his own way.

Hal has to go along with Batman, ride in the too-small seat, (heh, poor Tim, height jokes even when he's not there), and take part in the plan to catch the guy.

But in the fight with all those tattoos...Hal's actually getting freaked a little. And when it's over, "I don't usually bleed this much on a team-up." Bleeding is another symbol of humanity.

And in the end, Hal's reaching back to Bruce as well. A Lantern and the man who embodies fear...Hal's finally becoming human.

It's the perfect ending really, before OYL. Hal's got so many possibilities ahead of him now...I can't wait to see where they take him


  • At February 23, 2006 1:41 AM, Blogger Ragnell said…

    Wow, excellent analysis.

    I'm gad I'm not the only one who saw Hal coming out of Rebirth as the weakest Lantern -- at least in terms of keeping off mind cotnrol, which, conversely, Kyle's been really strong at. Even early on, he was usually able to shake a mental attack through his own will.

    I don't think I've seen a Hal story that involves him shaking the mind control on his own. He usually gets helped out of it instead.

  • At February 23, 2006 2:12 AM, Blogger James Meeley said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At February 23, 2006 3:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Excellent! Sometimes it takes him awhile, but never underestimate Johns having something really cool in mind for nearly everything.

  • At February 23, 2006 7:27 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    ragnell: Thanks! Maybe now he won't be so weak to it...which would be a nice bit of symbolism if they chose to go that way. :-)

    james: heh, Guy ended up healed of the brain damage anyway. :-P

    carla: yep! though sometimes I do have issues with his pacing. For example this, I think could have been wrapped up in 6 issues and not really lost anything. But the ending made it worth it. :-)

  • At February 23, 2006 7:41 AM, Blogger Centurion said…

    Figures it would take the crazy one without any real powers to teach a superhero how to be human...

  • At February 24, 2006 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Actually, you make a very strong case for the proposition that Kyle should remain a Green Lantern. I haven't kept up with the rather baroque convolutions of this title but it appears to me that Kyle still gets the shaft.

  • At July 22, 2010 10:03 AM, Anonymous viagra online said…

    John shouldn't be in this series, because don't exist real emotions. Definitely Green Lantern was too much better without him.


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