On the "Other Blog", I wrote two rather scathing reviews of GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH. I don’t want to re-post it or repeat myself, but let’s just say that phrases such as "horrible dogshit" and "botched abortion" and "totally fucking unreadable" got tossed around quite a bit. I did not like series. Green Lantern is my favorite superhero, and like a Huge Nerd, I have a ridiculous collection of GL merchandise, sketches, original art, and silver age comics. I am the target audience for this series, and I hated it.
(Later on, after being accused of simply hatin’ on Geoff Johns, I wrote this: "Johns is not a bad writer, he just needs more faith in the stories he can tell, and stop relying on stories already told. I’ve seen him write good books before, and I know he has it in him." So you see, I don’t hate the playa, I hate the game. Especially if the game in question is shitty, shitty comics.)
When REBIRTH #5 hit the shelves, I just ignored it. I didn’t think I had enough room in my brain for all the negative energy it would generate. A friend flipped through it, laughing and mocking, but I said, "No. I will not look. I’ve said my piece, and counted to ten. I will say no more." And that was that.
Today, another friend called to talk comics. He had been defending this book from my virulent attacks since issue one, saying that it was playing to an audience and I shouldn’t expect more, and for what it was, it wasn’t That Bad. "It is what it is", he would tell me.
With this issue, he gave up. He started listing all his complaints, which lined up exactly with mine. I realized that what I hated about the first two issues was still going strong, and was in fact much, much worse. I realized that my work on this Earth is not done. I realized I had to return, once again, to explain the Full On Suckosity that is GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH.
Let us begin.
(I will be doing this review in the now famous, page by page "Abhay Method", to differentiate from my other REBIRTH reviews, so many thanks and shouts out to the Man Himself.)
The Cover: "Sins of the Past" is the name of the story. Very original that. No major stories have had a similar title recently or anything. But I nitpick. There are worse crimes than trite, over-used titles going on inside.
Page One: Apparently, we are going to be treated to CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION in the first person narration. Lucky for us, Hal can ruminate on how well his costume fits while we sit, bored already, on the second panel. Also surprising, new Green Lanterns are told "Do Not Challenge Those More Powerful Than You." Awesome rule for a Space Policeman with a Magic Ring. Is this rule to keep them safe, or is it just around for Hal to break and seem like a rule-breakin’ bad-ass? (Rule #1 of how to make your character seem like a free-wheelin’ bad-ass: Make up some arbitrary bullshit rule, and have them break it right away. "You want my badge, Captain? Take it! I’m takin’ it to the limit… and playin’ by MY RULES!" I’m in a cold sweat already, the tension is so high!)
Pages Two and Three: Hal is knocked on his ass, and then smiles at us. I know this is supposed to be the hey-I’m-a-tough-guy-and-I’m-back-in-action moment, but he has a bloody nose and a creepy grin and he looks like he’s into rough sex.
Page Four: Within the CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION, Hal’s ring explains that it’s at Power Level 99.4%. Because we, the reader, need magic rings broken down into decimal percentages. Are DC nerds really this obsessed with minutiae and detail? Is simply having a MAGIC RING not cool enough? Also included in Hal’s ongoing monologue is a dig at the Denny O’ Neal/Neal Adams road trip stories. Because it’s important to reference every single fucking event that ever happened to this character. (Seriously. DC Nerds live for this shit.)
Page Five: Again, in the CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION, Hal starts to call his ring a girl, and for he next few pages talks about it like an airplane. BECAUSE HE’S A TEST PILOT, GET IT? Again, simply having MAGIC RING is not enough, not when you can endlessly reference WHO’S WHO style character information.
Page Seven: Just in case you don’t know the history of Sinestro, he lets loose with some CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION to fill you in. Glad to help, no doubt.
Page Eight: Did I mention the CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION? If not, here’s another page full. Then we have a lame, completely unnecessary flashback. You see, Hal was trained by Sinestro, in a stupid bit of Post-Crisis revisionist history. So now we have to reference that. Because that’s what the fans want; non-stop references stories they read ten years ago. (That’s what the fans want, and boy do they get it. If ever a book pandered to fans, THI IS IT. Shit, the whole fucking premise is built on appeasing fans. Not that trying to please an audience is a bad thing. But here it’s the ONLY point, at the cost of a real story.)
Page Twelve: I will say this, for the colorist. Those are some nice planet rings. That is my positive comment about this book.
Page Thirteen: Today’s lesson is Fan Pandering 101. A student raises his hand. "Mr. Johns, what about the Kyle fans? Won’t they want a little sumpin’ sumpin?" "Well, yes. So we’ll have Hal angrily defend him, and demand that Sinestro "respect" Kyle. That will make the make Kyle fans pump their fists in the air and go ‘yes!’ out loud. But only after some CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION, and forced, stilted dialogue." The class takes notes.
Page Fourteen: Just in case you haven’t been paying attention, at this point Hal and Sinestro shout each other’s names, the twelfth in a long series of Action Movies Cliches on full display in this book.
Page Fifteen: The climax of our little conflict, wherein the protagonist and his villain RUB THER RINGS TOGETHER. Actual sexy dialogue: " Reality BENDS. I push HARDER." (I kid you not.)
Page Sixteen: Hey, what’s that? Oh nothin’. Just a little CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION.
Page Seventeen: Let’s make sure we please everyone with this book. Kyle fans, Hal fans; we’re all one big happy family! See! They’re even shaking hands, and consoling one another! They’re both Earth’s Greatest Hero, and they bond…. With some CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION.
Page Eighteen: Not enough pandering to they Kyle fans on the previous page? No sweat! Here’s some more!
Page Nineteen: Okay. Seriously. Enough with the Yellow Fucking Fear Monster. It’s a Stupid, Stupid concept, and we all just want to wish it into the cornfield. But no, It has to be referenced again and again, ad nauseam, in the jet stream of CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION.
Page Twenty-One: Alright. The boys are all together and ready to kick some ass. But first, wouldn’t it be AWESOME if they stopped, lifted their fists in the air, and made a lantern of green flame to pose in? Totally! Spawn Rulzzzz!
And then we’re at the end, with shadowy Batman, once again, being written as a one-dimensional lame-ass. There’s a giant monster in the sky, but Batman’s gonna stop everyone for five to talk about feelings and be angry and stuff. Because when you’re a Hack Writer, Batman is all bitchy gloom and doom. It’s easier that way.
This book sucks. It’s gone from really lousy to unbelievably shitty in five short issues. Aside from the CONSTANT, RELENTLESS EXPOSITION, the totally obvious pandering to specific fans, and the lame dialogue and characterizations, this book has a much more serious problem…
Where is the fun?
Having a magic ring and being a space ranger should be a fucking blast. According to this book, it’s grim and filled with gritting teeth and anger. Who wants to read about that? Who enjoys this shit?
Sometimes, I ride my bike over the Brooklyn Bridge at night. After a few beers, it’s late at night and there are no other cyclists. Racing down the asphalt into Brooklyn, with that cool Atlantic air in my face and the Statue of Liberty behind me; there’s just nothing better. That kind of exhileration is what I feel when I read Darwyn Cooke write about Green Lantern. Or John Broome. Moving fast and enjoying life and breathing deep the salty air. A dude with a magic ring should make you feel like that. It shouldn’t be about what decimal percentage his ring is at, or how many fans can we please, or how to sink referential tendrils into every little nook of history. Aside from all the empirical problems with this book, what kills me is the lack of fun, and excitement, and exhileration. I don’t LIKE these characters, and I don’t give a shit what happens to them. That’s what really sucks.
Luckily, I have a year’s worth of SEVEN SOLDIERS.
(Be still my heart!)