Friday, October 29, 2004


UPDATE: This week's remix, featuring Green Lantern: Rebirth, is up here!

So, how come now that everyone and their mother is doing this blogroll thing, going down the line and spouting off a pithy comment or two on their favorite bloggers, no-one has mentioned me? I mean, I try to remember I'm not the center of the universe, people, but come on... am I that forgettable? No one loves me enough to even mock me?

Waaaah! Pay attention, dammit!

Don't forget about our wonderful contest, running from now until November 10th!

Come on down to Chilis for our special fajita bar!

Green Lantern: Rebirth #1

So, I read a copy of Green Lantern: Rebirth #1. I realize that this is what the fans supposedly want, but that doesn't mean I don't feel slightly queasy while reading it. As much as I may be indifferent to most of his writing, I at least have to commend Geoff Johns for taking on such an impossible task. It's one thing to bring a character back from the dead, as Kevin Smith did tolerably well during his run on Green Arrow. It's another thing entirely to rehabilitate a character who had become a genocidal mass-murderer. I mean, are events supposed to have any weight in super-hero comics or what?

I remember a while back I was reading a particularly cogent post by someone or another on the blogosphere about how they got turned off to Morrison's X-Men by the fact that, very early in the run, after Genosha's destruction, the X-Men are basically sitting around the ruins of the sentinels' attack and cracking jokes in the immediate aftermath of a terrible genocide. Admittedly, that didn't jump out at me when I first read it, but since that was pointed out (Update: thanks to Rose's observent comment, the mystery blogger can be revealed as Adam Stephanides - you can read the bit here, but you have to scroll down to the September 2nd entry ), it has been sitting in the back of my mind for a bit here as an example of the knd of jarringly false notes that superhero comics can easily ring when you try to insert "real world" issues and emotions. I mean, if a few million people on a small island in the Indian ocean were suddenly killed without any warning, it would be a big fucking deal. I can guarantee you that the people who stumbled onto Cambodia's killing fields in the 1970s weren't popping quips.

In a similar fashion, its hard to get my mind around the fact that they are actually going ahead with the supposed rehabilitation of a character who killed more people than we really even know. Didn't he try to destroy the entire universe a couple times? That's a bit more severe than even killing a few dozen Green Lanterns and a bunch of blue midgets. If you accept that Hal Jordan actually became a megalomanical mass murderer, then you have to accept the logical fact that he could never be rehabilitated, regardless of whatever weird plot devices came up. Imagine Jeffrey Dahmer "getting better" and joining the Avengers. Imagine Pol Pot suddenly declaring that he defeated the evil sentient force in his head that made him kill all those people and was going to run for Secretary General of the UN. Not gonna happen.

Now, this is the problem when you make the superhero comics texturally inconsistant. You want actions to have consequences, and you want consequences to have some basis in objective reality... but then you have to write yoruself out of these kind of corners. I know that all the H.E.A.T. members are jumping for joy, but seriously, if Hal Jordan is actually "rehabilitated" and made into a cool superhero again, it's going to look very lame. In this one instance, storywise, Batman is 100% right. Even if he was best buddies with everyone in the Justice League, he killed a lot of people. John Wayne Gacy had a lot of friends, too, and if you follow the Rebirth's logic, he could have joined the Justice League if he had acted sufficiently contrite.

The frustrating thing is that there was a way to bring Hal Jordan back without incurring all of these massively convoluted moral conundrums. I hate to say it, but this is one instance where the example of the John Byrne Doom Patrol would definitely come in handy. If you absolutely, positively insist on having Hal Jordan back in the comics as a true-blue, noble super-hero, then you just have to do a Dallas. Have Carol Ferris stumble into the bathroom and find Hal taking a relaxing shower. None of the last ten years happened for his character. It sounds lame, but honestly, at this point its the only band-aid that would allow the parties involved to retain their dignity. Otherwise, you're stuck with a very unsatisfactory and, frankly, lame resolution to an extremely prickly problem.

You have to maintain narrative consistency. If you want to have mass murderers and genocide, fine. But you can't just have all that for a while and then go back to having hokey comic-book morality again without any sort of textural shift. Otherwise, it just looks bad.

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