Friday, October 19, 2007

Blackest Night (DC comics)
Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 When: December 2004 Why: Geoff Johns How: Ethan Van Sciver

The story so far...
When the space-villain Mongul would attempt to capitalize on the apparent death of Earth's Superman by joining forces with the villainous Cyborg-Superman; the ever-courageous Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, would be there to confront them.

Though Jordan would win the battle and save Earth from a fate of decimation, his home of Coast City and all it's citizens would be obliterated. Thus would begin the legendary fall from grace of one of the greatest Green Lantern's in the Corps history. It would begin with an attempt to resurrect the city with his ring, and end with the destruction of Oa and the entire Corps as he becomes -- Parallax!

Jordan would eventually die in a final act of nobility, using the power he amassed as Parallax to reignite the Earth's depleted sun. This act of redemption would be recognised in the after-life, seeing Jordan become the new human-host of the spirit of vengeance, the Spectre. As the Spectre Jordan would attempt to use his powers for redemption, but he deals with forces beyond his control...

Previous Form:
Green Arrow (#17): Multiple victories over crime boss; Danny Brickwell, & Red Hood.
Speedy (#335): A defeat at the hands of Red Hood, the resurrected Robin!
Black Hand: Making his debut in the Infinite Wars.

Tale of the tape...
Strength: Green Arrow 2 (Average)
Intelligence: Black Hand 5 (Professor)
Speed: Speedy 3 (Athlete)
Stamina: Green Arrow 4 (Athlete)
Agility: Speedy 3 (Acrobat)
Fighting Ability: Green Arrow 4 (Trained Fighter)
Energy Powers: Black Hand 5 (Lasers)

BLACK HAND rummages around in GREEN ARROW's weapons storage.- William Hand was a naturally gifted inventor from birth, but despite these gifts of intelligence, he would eventually turn to a life of crime in a ploy for attention. Inventing a wand that could absorb residual energies left by interactions with the power of a Green Lantern ring.

Channeling the power through this wand, he turns the Green Lantern's power against them as Black Hand. His many defeats in this guise would eventually leave him emotionally unhinged, but not completely deter him from a life of crime.

- Having survived a cruiseship wreckage, and been washed ashore on a deserted island; wealthy playboy, Oliver Queen, is forced to hone his skills of archery as a means of survival.
When the island is beset by drug-runners, Queen turns his archery against them, and captures the lot, using their boats to return to civilization.

Upon his return a new sense of perspective remained with the billionaire, who would use his fortune to fund a life of crime-fighting as the costumed vigilante: Green Arrow!

Along with skills in archery, Green Arrow has also trained extensively in martial arts and hand-to-hand combat, including expanding his arsenal to include skills as a swordsman. His repetoire as an archer often features trick arrows to avoid killing his opponents, instead using concussive objects, nets, and other.

- Green Arrow would adopt and trained a ward in Roy Harper, who would grow-up to become a crime fighting archer in his own right. Following in this tradition, Queen would rescue an underage prostitute who, upon following his advice to meet with his alter-ego, would see through the duplicity and earn her place as his new sidekick; Speedy.

Like GA, Mia Dearden has had extensive martial arts and archery training, enjoying the mentorship of other heroes such as Black Canary and Connor Hawke; another Green Arrow sidekick, and replacement.

The Math: Green Arrow/Speedy The Pick: Green Arrow/Speedy

What went down...
Preparing for a night on patrol, Green Arrow and Mia Dearden are rocked by an explosion from the lower levels of Queen's Star City mansion! Responsible for the destruction, the Black Hand, who uses his energy manipulating wand to follow mass traces of the Green Lantern energies it runs on.

Blasting his way into the Queen sub-basement, Black Hand discovers a spare Green Lantern ring created long ago by Hal Jordan as an emergency contingency for his friend and ally, the Green Arrow.

His rummaging is brought to a halt as an arrow tears through the air to impale his hand against the brick wall. The shot knocks the ring and box from his hand.

Green Arrow quickly identifies the villain, familiar with him as one of Hal Jordan's old foes, which prompts a surprise appearance by the deceased hero. Jordan reveals he had hoped to speak with his friend, but actually has alterior motives for appearing in the mansion basement, as the energies of The Spectre swirl.

As his trademark cloak and washed out skin envelop Jordan, The Spectre's flaming energy glows in the emblem of the Green Lantern, evidence of the man beneath the spirit that so keenly seeks vengeance against evil.

For Black Hand's continued crimes against the Green Lanterns and those close to them, The Spectre condemns him to an ironic but relatively small taste of his justice: A non-lethal transliteration of his name into reality, seeing his hand turned to coal, which crumbles around the arrow that pinned it.

The wound cauterizes itself as Hal Jordan struggles from within the Spectre.
He disappears into a cloud of green smoke, leaving Black Hand in the care of his concerned friend, while the villain goes into shock.

The hammer...
It's difficult to be certain in any assessment of how incapacitated Black Hand was after being shot by GA/Mia, but for the sake of our overarcing exercise, I'll downscale them to assist: Making The Spectre/Hal Jordan the victor(s) on this occassion!

If you've taken any interest in the Green Lantern over the past couple of years, it's almost inevitable that you've either been recommended Rebirth, or the currently running Sinestro Corps War crossover event occurring in the GL books right now.

It's probably fair to say that the Green Lantern has struggled to find relevance since the controversial decision to twist Hal Jordan into a murdering villain.
Some might say that's due to an antiquated take on the superhero/science fiction genre, but others would say it's just been a matter of finding the right stories and creative teams.

The right writer certainly came along in the form of fan-favourite and revamp master of the 2000s; Geoff Johns. With the editorial decision to resurrect Hal Jordan, Johns was let loose with a formula that was simple, but effective enough that it resonated with not only fans old and new, but also the uninitiated.

Johns entered the arena with a very clear intent to exonerate Hal Jordan of his crimes, to restore him to his classic, vintage glory as an All-American superhero. The way he did this wasn't particularly brilliant - deferring blame to secret third-party influences in a classic 'the devil made me do it' twist - but what made Johns' efforts so endearing was the minutia between the less than stellar high-concept. It was the caring attention to surrounding detail, and an awareness of the broader spectrum of the events, that saw a winning formula.

The central plot-device of this series can be distilled to simple brilliance. Taking Hal Jordan's devolution into the self-proclaimed Parallax; Johns redefines the name, grafting it onto 'the devil' that made him do it, with the additional foresight to explain not only the classic 'yellow impurity' of the Silver Age stories, but also why it disappeared around the time of Jordan's moral demise.

Parallax: No longer the regrettable identifier for a hero's fall from grace, instead the malicious personification of fear as a primal force in reality. A creature that dogged the Guardians who created the Lantern Corps from the beginning of time, and is now the powersource for those who would join Sinestro's yellow perversion of the Green Lantern tradition.

Commitment to the story helps build it's resonance as it becomes the modern reference point for all Green Lantern stories to follow. In much the same wayJohn Broome and Gil Kane reinvented the Lantern concept, Johns polishes it off once more, making much less radical changes than the leap from Alan Scott to Hal Jordan, but with the same mythology expanding template.

I'm not sure if this is the Green Lantern story I'd recommend to the interested, but it's certainly a valued touchstone for those looking to be initiated beyond the rings and black and green costumes. It serves as an introduction not only to the mythology of Hal Jordan and the Green Lanterns, but is also, in some ways, a crash-course for the major players of the DC Universe, featuring members of the Justice League and Justice Society, as well.

Johns also throws in an array of villains, setting himself apart from many of his contemporaries even with the use of Black Hand, opting to mortally wound, but not kill him. Motivation for the decision or not, Johns exibits an all too rare value for consistent characterization and enhancement, that has seen even the silliest of villains grow to prominent icons. An approach that's helped put characters like Black Adam, and many others, back on the map.

And that's about all the recap time we have!
If you own a personal planner, cell phone, or calendar - you're probably aware that today is a Friday! That means, along with your guaranteed dose of action beamed direct from the Secret Earth, you'll find an entire cosmos of fisticuffs as Bahlactus puts out the call for yet more fighting, still!

More and more bloggers are taking the opportunity to go a little deeper into the comics, to discuss and feature various fights, characters, and concepts, which has us jazzed! Be sure to cruise the Infinite Wars archives, and then check out some of the action around the blogosphere!

The Fight: 3.5 The Issue: 5
[Like many other legacy characters from the DC Universe, many fans can identify with one particular Green Lantern over others. While my mispent youth involved combing over Hal Jordan stories, a retroactive love for Alan Scott could not be denied! And now that we've finally got Jordan on the books, you know who's next!]

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