We here at Retcon Punch are a naturally curious bunch, and there are few things more curious than DC’s Rebirth publishing initiative. In this Round-Up, we’re discussing Green Arrow Rebirth 1 and Green Lanterns Rebirth 1. For our thoughts on Batman Rebirth 1, check out our in-depth discussion here. And come back on Wednesday, June 8, for our thoughts on Superman Rebirth 1.
Green Arrow Rebirth 1
Spencer: Some of our commenters have (validly) criticized the “Rebirth” initiative for looking backwards instead of forwards, but sometimes the answers you seek can only be found by looking to the past. Oliver Queen is a character who’s struggled ever since the New 52’s genesis; no creator has seemed to know what to do with him, putting him through new direction after new direction, none of which stuck. Even Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s acclaimed run treated Ollie more as a bystander than a leading man — instead of driving the action, things just seemed to happen to Ollie throughout that entire run.
With that in mind, I can’t at all blame DC for looking to the past and taking inspiration from more successful incarnations of Green Arrow. Benjamin Percy’s Green Arrow is a self-proclaimed “social justice warrior,” tapping into perhaps the most iconic take on the character. There’s an immediate spark to this concept — and thus to Green Arrow Rebirth 1 — that’s been missing from this title for quite some time, and that spark doesn’t just come from familiarity. In our current political climate, Ollie as a social crusader feels more relevant than ever; thus, for the first time in years, Green Arrow finally feels vital again.
Of course, a strong concept is moot without equally skilled execution, and thankfully, Percy and artist Otto Schmidt come through in spades here. Percy skillfully raises questions of privilege and hypocrisy amongst supposed allies without providing any easy answers, but he also pinpoints exactly why these kinds of grassroots crusaders can be so powerful and so effective.
Ollie and other “social justice warriors” may be young, inexperienced, and lacking power and influence, but they care, they’re idealistic, and they never give up in their quest for justice, and that’s a potent combination.
Schmidt, meanwhile, immediately establishes a unique, visually dazzling style for this title, combining lush, occasionally practically-photorealistic backgrounds with expressive, energetic, vaguely cartoony figures to great effect. Then there’s the action and effects — you can count on a stand-out moment coming every single time Black Canary looses a sonic scream, for sure.
Add to all that the relationship between Ollie and Dinah, crackling with conflict and chemistry — they challenge each other, aggravate each other, and intrigue each other in equal measure — and you’ve got a surprisingly engaging issue. I didn’t have the highest hopes for Green Arrow Rebirth going into it, but I think it may just have ended up as my favorite “Rebirth” issue of the week. This could finally be Green Arrow’s moment in the spotlight, and it’s about time.
That said, this should’ve totally been Green Arrow and Black Canary Rebirth 1. C’mon, now.
Green Lanterns Rebirth 1
Michael: Though Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps is a book with a stacked deck of Lantern favorites, Green Lanterns is the book I’ve been more interested in. Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are the most diverse GLs yet and it’s exciting to see them fleshed out in their own series. Geoff Johns and Sam Humphries set the stage in Green Lanterns Rebirth 1 in no uncertain terms: individual exposition for both Lanterns, their inevitable confrontation and the antagonist reveal. Atrocious being the Big Bad isn’t a surprise, but by using an established villain, Humphries will have more time to focus on our heroes themselves.
Green Lanterns seem like a buddy cop story from the get-go – a point which is more evident when Hal Jordan forces them to stick together by fusing their power batteries. Having their powers be dependent on one another reminds me of when Hal was using a ring made by Sinestro – another great buddy-cop genre in Green Lantern history. Jessica Cruz has gotten a lot of exposure lately in Darkseid War, whereas Simon Baz has been MIA since Geoff Johns left Green Lantern (he’s is sorta in Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion.) Baz is played as more of a brash hothead than I remember, but I think that’s a way to distinguish him from Jessica. Jessica is afraid, anxious and constantly second guesses herself in her internal monologue. That was… oddly refreshing. I like that a GL ring doesn’t instantly change her, or rid her struggle with anxiety. It’s fun watching her try to pretend that she’s got a handle on being a GL:
Green Lantern Rebirth star-artist Ethan Van Sciver covers the more Green Lanterny scenes of the book while Ed Benes covers everything in between. You can tell that Van Sciver spends the most time on perfecting his Hal Jordan scenes – giving Hal the stupendous full page introduction that he does. Ed Benes has been criticized in the past for his unrealistic depictions of women, but I think that he does Jessica justice. I’m not exactly sure how a woman who apparently never left her apartment for three years looks so fit, but I guess that’s more of an indictment on the industry as a whole. The inclusion of the Manhunter drone, clean-cut classic Hal Jordan and a replica of Abin Sur’s ship show that the creators of Green Lanterns Rebirth 1 are trying to evoke the feel of the glory days of Green Lantern. Here’s to the new glory days?