Today, Michael and Patrick are discussing Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax 1, originally released April 15th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.
Michael: With the leak of the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice this past week, I’ve been thinking about Man of Steel a lot lately. And while I could write a book on why I didn’t like that movie, it really boils down to the fact that I found most of the things that Superman did in Man of Steel to be very out of character for the hero that I know. In the realm of comic books, characters go through many changes — I mean, you’ve gotta keep things interesting. But the changes that work are typically those that essentially feel true to those characters. Tony Bedard has been handing in some very solid Convergence tie-ins so far; they’re not perfect but he really has the core of these characters down, no matter what point in time they’re in.
Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax 1 takes place in the small window between Emerald Twilight and Zero Hour. For the uninitiated, we get a nice little bit of exposition on how Hal Jordan lost his mind after Coast City’s destruction and became Parallax while Kyle Rayner rose to the occasion as the new Green Lantern. Due to Telos’ dome falling over Metropolis, however, the action of that cosmic struggle was brought to a halt. The depowered Hal Jordan was wracked with guilt and turned himself into the police, where Kyle Rayner has been visiting him every day since. Then the inevitable Convergence “lifting of the dome” occurs and both Kyle and Hal are granted their powers back. Kyle rushes to stop Parallax from causing any trouble but their encounter is cut short by an attack from Lady Fern of Electropolis. In a moment of what seems like retribution for attacking Kyle, Parallax vows to destroy Electropolis.
Bedard has a lot of experience writing for Kyle Rayner in both Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: New Guardians, and brings that same strong voice to him here. From his creation in 1994, Kyle has always been a beacon of hope for the Green Lantern Corps and for the greater DCU: from torchbearer to Ion to White Lantern and everything in between. Kyle’s just a damn good guy, and that’s exactly how Bedard portrays him. It’s been a while since I read Kyle’s early encounters with “Hallax,” I gotta believe that he most certainly would not give up on Hal Jordan.
Hal is awesomely depicted with a considerable weight of sadness. At this point in DC Comics history, there was no Geoff Johns “Parallax retcon,” there was just a broken hero who lost everything and went bonkers. In fact, Bedard wisely plays the story in that mindset: it’s still entirely possible that Telos’ dome severed the Parallax entity’s hold on Hal, but as far as Hal and everyone in-story is concerned, his GL power rings only pushed his madness further. From what I understand, Hallax was pretty much on a non-stop power trip until he died. So it’s very cool to see him being forced to stop dead in his tracks and really come face to face with what he has done.
All of the Convergence tie-ins have to rely on some exposition to (re)orient their readers, and I think that Bedard and artist Ron Wagner executed theirs in the most economical way possible. Wagner gives us two separate panels that recap Hal’s downfall from both Hal and Kyle’s perspective, taking up the majority of their respective pages. The foreground shows Hal’s dirty deeds in action while we get a close-up of each Green Lantern as the recount the events. Kyle’s brow is furrowed; his blue eyes splashed with a touch of green are full of concern for the man who was once “the greatest Green Lantern.” Hal’s face is gaunt, sleepless and ghostly; a man who looks ten years older than he is because of his personal anguish. These panels are brief and effective in their functionality. There’s a similar panel a few pages later where Kyle recounts the death of his girlfriend Alex, who is shown in profile. I was relieved that Bedard and Wagner didn’t go all the way and recap Alex’s violent death at the hands of Major Force and recreate the controversial moment that helped launch the Women in Refrigerators movement.
I very much enjoyed Ron Wagner’s work on this issue. The title page has Hal sitting in his jail cell just completely wrecked. There’s a classic look to Hal and so much emotion pouring off of the page that really hearkens to the Neal Adams’ Hal Jordan of Green Lantern/Green Arrow. Hal is in his own little purgatory in that jail cell and the shadows are creeping in; he’s truly alone. Once the “Convergence” of it all sets in, the issue becomes a little less engaging, however. I’m definitely more interested in the Kyle/Hal bromance than I am Princess Fern. That being said, I did enjoy Hallax’s little quip back to the Princess: “Seriously?”
Patrick did you enjoy seeing the Hal/Parallax guilt trip as much as I did? (Now that I think of it, it’s very much like an Angel/Angelus guilt trip; for you Buffy fans out there.) Are you at all invested in the goings-on of Electropolis? And do you buy that Batman doesn’t blame Hal? He kinda holds onto those grudges after all…
Patrick: That’s the beauty of Convergence, isn’t it? We’ve already seen a world where Batman has struggled with Hal’s action and at least superficially forgiven him. That’s one of the more interested qualities of these “Zero Hour” tie-ins — most of these characters weren’t rebooted at this stage in their evolution, but further down the line. Sure, Johns may have taught us that Parallax was the living embodiment of fear and the yellow light so there was a whole separate sentience dictating Hal’s actions at this time, but what really allows us to let Hal off the hook is that he suffered for what he did. He died. And when he was resurrected seven years later, he continued to suffer, as his sins revisited him over and over again.
This is a quality that Green Lantern and Flash share: both characters are more products of the stories that feature them than their initial pitch. Superman’s a pitch: he’s a nearly invincible alien from another world, raised with small town midwestern values. Batman’s a pitch: orphaned heir to the Wayne fortune fights crime to avenge his parents’ murders. But Hal Jordan is the sum total of his experiences, so who the character is depends entirely on what point in his life we’re witnessing. I love spending time in Hal’s rock bottom, and it’s great to see that bottom depicted in the most mundane way possible: Hal holding himself in jail.
This is my favorite panel in the whole issue. All that blackness on the left is part of the image, simply conveying Hal’s state of mind. It’s such a clever juxtaposition of light and dark — especially considering that “light” is such a prominent part of Hal’s power-set. Also, check out how the copy sells the story in similarly simplistic terms. There may be galactic hell to pay for Hal’s actions, but right now it’s just a dude in a cell feeling bad about what he did. The second the dome comes down, Halallax (which is my preferred portmanteau for Hal and Parallax — we can fight it out in the comments) bursts through the ceiling of the prison and immediately gets down to the dirty business of fucking stuff up. He’s almost like the Hulk set loose on the shitty heroes of Electropolis. And there’s really no finer feeling than letting Hulk Smash.
Bedard almost invents a new heroic role for Hal Jordan — unstable wrecking ball. Comic books seem to demand the status quo be returned to every so often, but this hyper-violent-but-ultimately-protective-of-his-friends version of Green Lantern could have been an awesome character. It’s even better when you consider — as Bedard does here — that Kyle is essentially the opposite of that: sensitive, but less potent. They could have been like a Green Lantern Hawk and Dove, but, you know, in space. We only get a little bit of a hint of Kyle checking Hal’s power in this issue, and like I hinted at, it wasn’t very effective. I’m looking forward to seeing Kyle metaphorically overcoming his own demons by literally overcoming Hal’s.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?