The world has been reborn.
Last month’s release of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 kicked off a new era of storytelling for the publisher. The house that gave us Batman and Superman is looking to make up for the mistakes of the New 52 canonical reboot, reinstating old plot points that were erased from their timeline and even bringing back old versions of classic characters that had been discarded in favor of newer, “edgier” ones.
Rebirth #1 promised us character driven stories filled with more heart than fist. Can they deliver? Each week, Kyle Pinion and Alex Lu will dig into the Rebirth titles kicking off DC Comics’ line overhaul to find out. This is week three of DC Reborn.
Note: the reviews below contain **spoilers**. You’ll find our buy/pass recommendation for this book near the bottom of the article, so if you’re looking for a quick guide before heading out to the store, you’ll find it there!
(Editor’s Note: We’ve switched up the formatting on the DC Reborn series a bit. We’ll still be reviewing all the series that come out each week, but we’ll be posting one review per hour instead of all of them at once. We’ll also have a round up post and final thoughts at the end of the day. Happy reading!)
Green Lanterns #1
Writer: Sam Humphries Penciller: Robson Rocha
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Blond Letters: Dave Sharpe
Kyle Pinion: And in the latest chapter of THE NEW UNDISCOVERED SECRET ABOUT THE RINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW, here’s the miss of the week for me. There’s an extent to which I really enjoy Humphries’ sort of Quantum and Woody riff. I think the interaction and the possibility for humorous and dramatic potential is very good given the dual rookie set-up. But then the actual plot got in the way and I was instantly repelled. THE HELL TOWER!! RED DAWN!!! I’m so tired of another heretofore unknown emotional spectrum thing being unearthed and suddenly causing havoc. You’d think after The Blackest Night, this would all have ended, and we’d get back to Green Lantern making big boxing gloves and such…but no, Johns mined these secrets to death with The Third Army and The First Lantern etc, and here comes Humphries basically doing the same. Sorry, I’m venting, but I really want to get back into Green Lantern in some capacity, but it’s just not coming together for me. I could not care less about Atrocitus at this point.
Maybe you have a different, less visceral reaction to all of this, Alex?
Alex Lu: Honestly, I’ve never been able to seriously buy into the concept of the Lanterns in the DCU. Don’t get me wrong, Kyle, I think they’re a cool and interesting set of heroes, but they’ve always struck me as the wacky end of the DCU that’s perfect for ham and cheese, so to speak. I mean, you don’t get much more literal of a metaphor than a device that allows you to externalize your creativity and push it into physical existence as long as you will hard enough. Plus, the Green Lantern Corps’ initial weakness was just the color yellow. Wacky, I say!
This mindset might be the reason that I had a good time with this first issue of Green Lanterns. I know you mentioned wanting Green Lantern to fit on some glowing gloves and step into the ring, and yeah, that’s wacky. However, do you think that the Hell Tower and Red Dawn are less so? My problem with Green Lanterns: Rebirth is that the book takes itself entirely too seriously from the get-go, spending way too little time with its leads Jessica and Simon and far too much with the universal origin mythos. I’d say the reverse is true here, for the most part. Jessica and Simon are characters with interesting personal challenges that make their training as Green Lanterns much harder than it was for any of the more privileged guardians that came before them. Worse yet, they’re forced to stick together (to some extent) in order to fight and train! It’s a great idea for a meet cute and thanks to the time we spend with them both in and out of costume, I’m much warmer on the two characters than I was two weeks ago.
My connection with the leads of this story makes the Red Lantern thing much easier to swallow. Yeah, I guess having a pit full of corpses and a defiled alien isn’t exactly happy-go-lucky, so fun may not be the perfect word for this storyline, but I think the generic setup creates an interesting conflict between the Green and the Red. The key thing about the fight between the spectrum this time that I think makes the absurdity more human is the fact that the Red Lanterns are dying. They’re losing their connection to the red, so they’re not just fighting because they want more power– they’re fighting because they want to survive.
I don’t think this story is any less interesting than other, older lantern tales. As the more experienced DC reader though, Kyle, perhaps you could explain why you feel so differently?
Kyle: My big issue is that it runs on the same formula that Geoff Johns established with the mythos, but not in a way that does anything particularly additive. I realize the Johns run casts such a big shadow that it’s incredibly tough to follow it up (heck, Johns himself couldn’t really pull it off with his later stories) but insofar as the overall conflict as currently set, this just carries the sense of being a really pale version of that (despite all the red, wakka wakka wakka!). And I think what I really enjoyed about the Rebirth issue by contrast, is that it promoted the beginnings of a sort of good cop/bad cop angle right at the forefront and laid out some real promise for something fresh and exciting, which this line so desperately needs.
Green Lanterns #1 plays to some of that for a short while, but once it defaults to the galactic troubles, the issue begins to work against itself. What Humphries excels at are smaller character moments, Jessica and her sister at the grocery store, or, easily my favorite touch of the issue, the internal dueling monologues between Jessica and Simon, where their thoughts sometimes completely belie what they’re actually saying. These are solid beats, and I just wanted more of it, but once Atrocitus reared his head and they discovered that pile of corpses, the self serious/prophecy focused Green Lantern that I grew so fatigued with returned. And I think I may have laughed out loud at the Emerald Sight reveal. Maybe it’ll go somewhere cool, but the set-up was pretty rough and sudden. Not a great transition and not necessarily helped by some pretty dull work from Robson Rocha. I think perhaps if this issue was a tad more dynamic visually, I’d give some of the story hiccups more wiggle room. But frankly, I couldn’t shake the tedium. But hey, Alex, I’m glad it won you over!
Alex: Haha, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. Indeed, I share the same issues with Rocha’s art in this book that you do. I don’t have any problems with the art on a technical level, but just as you think the story is something we’ve seen before, I’d say that the art in this book typifies the sort of house style that DC has trended towards for the last decade or two. Looking at the second to last page of this issue where Jessica is surrounded by a bunch of enraged shoppers, I had an intense feeling of deja vu. I’ve already seen the shot of a hero reaching out for help as a swarm of faceless enemies surround them time and time again. I’ve seen the dramatic Atrocitus posing and green-ring wielding fists pumping into the starlight before.
I fully understand that I’m biased towards artists who are more interested in emotional impression than they are by accurate representation. I’m not out to criticize anyone who enjoys this style of art. It’s just something I wish DC wouldn’t put out so much of. They’re clearly striving to change that by diversifying their Rebirth lineup, as we can see through Otto Schmidt’s work on Green Arrow, but things aren’t as dynamic as they could be!
And yeah, I wasn’t sold on the Emerald Sight reveal either. Why on earth would having a ring make you a prophet? That said, I think that this Green Lanterns arc still has potential because I adore Sam Humphries characterization as much as you do. Plus, as a newer DC reader who only started heavily reading serialized books through the New 52 (yes, converts like me do exist), most of what’s explored by the creative team here is at least a little novel to me, albeit not actively inspiring.
I’d give this series a buy on the condition that you pick up Green Arrow first. I think that book is a better example of what I’d like to see come out of DC. Green Lanterns speaks more to the publisher’s bland past, but it does have enough forward thinking in it that I think it’s worth a look. What say you, Kyle?
Kyle: After a couple of years of a Robert Venditti-led set of comics that did very little for me, I was excited for what fresh-blood like Humphries could bring, especially on two blank slates like Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. But between jarring sequences, where in some cases I could barely tell what the resolution was (I assume the Hell Tower mist just dissipated? But it’s so unclear on the page, and Rocha barely renders any kind of background imagery, that your guess is as good as mine) and the sacrificing of character development to get the plot mechanics moving, I have to give this a pass.
Stay tuned throughout the day as we post reviews for Superman #1 & Titans #1!