Robert Venditti's start on Green Lantern was bumpy to say the least. Taking over after the now-architect of much of modern DC Comics and legendary Green Lantern scribe Geoff Johns would be an intimidating prospect for just about any comic book writer. The fact that Johns finished his run on GL with back-to-back crossovers that would exhaust even the most zealous Green Lantern fan did not help either.
It's worth mentioning that I started reading DC Comic books shortly before Johns' own Flash: Rebirth and Blackest Night. I started DC with Green Lantern and the Flash. They, along with Green Arrow, Hawkman, and (believe it or not) Batman were the first DC heroes I really got into. Even I became exhausted with Green Lantern by the time Rise of the Third Army and Wrath of the First Lantern were through. In fact, that turned me off to Red Lanterns and New Guardians and certainly didn't help the shortly following Sinestro title either.
I wasn't a big fan of the first GL stories by Venditti, and I don't know many people who were. Relic was not a hit with me. His backstory and presentation were strikingly similar to Galactus without the world devouring, and the "Emotional Reservoir" plot angle not only seemed heavily contrived but also took some of the fun out of the idea of the Lantern Corps. I thought this power came from within them and was channeled through the Rings; why add this whole thing about some wellspring of emotional power outside the freaking Source Wall?
Godhead could have been cool but also seemed a tad contrived and only added another big crossover for all the Lantern titles.
I finally tried again when Hal Jordan was going to take the fall for the Corps and leave. I began with the issue where Hal and Kilowog had to have a fight to make the ploy seem believable. I won't lie; I was moved to tears by the end with Kilowog being so beaten up and bloody.
The stories that followed showed that Venditti grew into his role as writer for Green Lantern. The character-centric and tight stories certainly helped a lot by contrasting the overblown crossovers of the later Johns era. Heck, I even dug the long hair, gauntlet, and trench coat look. His little cadre he took on, though oddly reminiscent of Guardians of the Galaxy, was a charming little band of drifters too.
With Rebirth, a return of the Green Lantern Corps as well as a return to the Corps for Hal Jordan were promised. I was a little worried that Venditti's old bad habits may come back with this return-to-form for the title.
Thankfully, not only was I wrong, but Venditti had his best Green Lantern work yet in store.
If there is a flaw, is that those who didn't read Cullen Bunn's Sinestro may have been a little perplexed at the setup, even if it was a bit straightforward. With the absence of Green Lantern Corps, Sinestro reformed his Corps and made them the dominant police force in the universe, using Mongul's Warworld as his replacement for Mogo and Oa. He even managed to convince his former Green Lantern Corps member daughter to join up with him, even if she was reluctant to do so.
This is the situation Hal Jordan intended to remedy when he went to a remote corner of the universe with Krona's Gauntlet to forge his own Green Lantern Ring in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Rebirth #1. With his own ingenuity and will, Hal made his own Ring with which to return to the Green Lantern Corps.
Meanwhile, the Green Lantern Corps, led by John Stewart, made their return from the pocket universe which trapped them. They were beaten, battered, and broken.
Sinestro, however, became stronger than ever by merging once more with the fear entity, Parallax. He and his Corps began abducting people to use in their Fear Engine, which turned their terror into pure yellow energy.
Hal is ambushed by a number of Sinestro Corps members and his badly wounded. However, Soranik Natu covertly rescues him and repairs the damage.
John sends out Guy Gardner as a scout to determine what is going on in the universe and where they are in the vastness of space. He manages to find his way to Warworld and is captured by the Sinestro Corps. John and the others run into a fleeing armada of ships who inform them of the Sinestro Corps' rather literal reign of terror.
Renewed and invigorated, Hal takes the fight to Warworld and picks a fight with Sinestro himself. The two throw every ounce of their power at one another. This destroys Warworld itself and seemingly kills both combatants. Soranik, Guy, and the remaining members of the Sinestro Corps manage to escape the destruction, meeting John and the GLs.
John Stewart and Soranik Natu attempt to forge a peace between the Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps. This is interrupted by a crisis on the planet, Xudar, home planet of Tomar-Tu. A contingency of the GLs and the Sinestro Corps arrive to find the planet attacked by the Starros. They discover during their fight that the planet has become bottled by Braniac since their arrival.
On the remote planet of Nok, homeworld of the Indigo Tribe, Guardians of the Universe Ganthet and Sayd are shown claiming that their exile is over. They summon the White Lantern, Kyle Rayner, to use the former ring of Hal Jordan to bring him back to their realm. Resonant effects of Krona's Gauntlet caused Hal to convert into pure green energy at the climax of his fight with Sinestro and put him in a realm with Green Lanterns who passed on. During this time, he had a heart-to-heart with Abin Sur, the Green Lantern to whom his Ring once belonged.
Kyle manages to pull Green Lantern out of this realm and back to the land of the living. They determine the current location of the Green Lantern Corps, captured by a Brainiac unit, but this unit is under the control of Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern.
John and Soranik come up with the plan on the bottled Xudar. Brainiac bottles worlds to preserve rarities, and, if the Green and Yellow Corps start killing one another, Brainiac would have to intervene. It works, and they are freed, just in time for Hal, Kyle, Ganthet, and Sayd to arrive. Their combined powers easily allow them to overwhelm Brainiac and Larfleeze. The two villains escape as the Corps save the remaining bottled prisoners. Xudar is saved, and John and Soranik come to the decision that the Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps should forge an alliance to protect the universe.
The first step to this union is to track down the Sinestro Corps members who remain at large, not the least of whom is Arkillo himself. The offer is simple, join or go to jail. Each Green Lantern is paired with a Yellow Guy enlists the help of the Space Cabbie and searches for Arkillo by himself, wanting the big brute to be his own partner.. Meanwhile, Ganthet and Sayd send Hal and Kyle on a quest to find the last Blue Lantern, Saint Walker.
Hal and Kyle find Saint Walker on a dying world, locked in battle with the Misery Mound. The three manage to overcome the creature and return to Mogo. Kyle attempts to revive the fallen Blue Lantern Corps members of recent years but cannot. The strain shatters the White Ring, leaving a Green Ring with which Kyle Rayner rejoins the Green Lantern Corps.
Guy challenges Arkillo to a fist fight. The two viciously beat one another before simultaneously passing out. The Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps rescue them to treat them on Mogo. Also, we get a new backstory for Guy Gardner here. Please remember this, I will gripe about it later.
Tensions remain high between the Green and Yellow Lanterns, and a pair, Space Ape and Gorin-Sunngo missing on a remote planet after being attacked by green prism beasts. Ganthet and Sayd leave Mogo with Saint Walker to reform the Blue Lantern Corps. A time traveler comes in from the future with a Green Lantern Ring, and the traveler turns out to be Rip Hunter.
He is there to warn the Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps of what started with the disappearance of Space Ape and Gorin-Sunn. A man from the future by the name of Sarko is there to destroy the two Corps, as he is vehemently against the union. Meanwhile, Sarko himself tells Gorin and Space Ape about the day in the future when the Sinestro Corps will abandon their Yellow Rings and take on Green ones.
Sarko then sends a swarm of his prism beasts to Mogo. Hal attempts to hold them off, but they prove to be impervious to his Ring. The combined power of the Green Lantern Corps also does nothing. Hal learns that these are creations of Krona's Gauntlet, as he buried it on the planet where Gorin-Sunn and Space Ape went missing. The Gauntlet will manifest into its own creature in the future, and Sarko is using it as a weapon against the two Corps. During this crisis, Kyle attempts to reignite his romantic relationship with Soranik Natu.
Hal goes to where Sarko and Krona's Gauntlet are located. Back on Mogo, Kyle is told by Rip Hunter's Green Ring that, for Sarko to be stopped, he and Soranik will die. He then uses the records of the Ring and learns that Sarko is he and Soranik's son from the future.
Hal destroys the Gauntlet, and its entity from the future explodes. The blast kills Sarko as Kyle arrives. Rip Hunter returns to the future after Hal and Kyle returns. Kyle has to grapple with the fact that he just saw his son die.
At the highest security bank in the universe, a space pirate named Bolphunga stages a grand robbery. Naturally, the Greens and the Yellows are called into stop it. They route the pirates with ease but are perplexed that these pirates held stun weapons. Back on Mogo, Hal and John interrogate Bolphunga. He tells them that he has a contact in the Corps, and that a Green Lantern killed a Sinestro Corpsman.
Man, even for 22 issues, that was a lot of plot. However, it's worth mentioning that Venditti has had so much happen in these 22 issues and kept it intelligible. Not only is it easy to follow, it's damn enthralling.
Venditti has put together a fantastic series in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. He's managed to balance a hell of a lot of characters with ease, and each one feels unique and engaging. I love reading about Hal, John, Guy, Kyle, Soranik, Kilowog, Arkillo, and the rest.
Admittedly, the villains in this haven't been as good as Aquaman or Green Lanterns. Sarko was alright; his connection to Kyle and Soranik didn't make him anymore interesting. Larfleeze and Brainiac were fun. Of course, there was Sinestro.
Sinestro is my all-time favorite DC villain. He's ambitious, cunning, and has a grand plan to make the universe a better place. It just so happens to be largely fascist. What can ya do, right?
His part in this story was awesome, and the showdown between he and Hal is still probably my favorite battle from this series so far. I love that they completely let loose on one another, and it destroyed a freaking moon-sized space station.
I'm not the only one who remembers that Guy Gardner's dad was a Boston cop right? That was his story; his family is a cop family. But Guy was the black sheep, not really a cop, and a bit of a troublemaker. Then he joined the Corps and became a cop after all. He didn't have the best relationship with his family, but it wasn't bad. Making his dad, well, just another abusive drunk made his backstory less unique and, consequently, less interesting. Drunk, abusive dads are a dime a dozen in fiction. That sounds a bit crass to say, but it is true. A lot of two-bit thugs in comics have them, and a few heroes have them too. Hell, Steve Rogers has one.
Point being, I wasn't satisfied with that redux of the story of Guy Gardner.
Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps Rebirth has a rotating schedule of artists. Marion is definitely my least favorite, but it's by no means bad. It's a bit rough around the edges and more cartoony than the other pencilers on the book.
Ethan Van Sciver is, as always, awesome. His powerful, muscular style manages to stay epic without veering into the 90's realm of campy and embarrassing. He does this by using a lot of detail and expression.
Rafa Sandoval is my favorite of the regular artists on the book. It's a style worthy of the word cosmic. He is excellent at making figures seem in motion. His characters look awesome and expressive. Tarragona and Morey bolster his art to maintain this cosmically legendary style, and I would love to see this team take on other books like Justice League or, hear me out, The Flash.
There is something to be said about the colorists who work on the other issues, Alex Sollazzo, Jason Wright, Tomeu Morey, and Dinei Ribeiro. Coloring is always important, but it is especially so in Green Lantern comic books. You have to keep those colors bright and striking, and these guys have managed to do just that.
I love Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps Rebirth. Robert Venditti has put together a Green Lantern comic book that rivals even the glory days of Geoff Johns himself. With a power-packed team of artists, this book has kept me entertained with every issue over the past year. Any fan of cosmic action and/or the Green Lantern Corps, take this as a grand endorsement of this book. 22 would be a great place to start, as it is the beginning of a new arc in the book. Check it out.