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Superman's Pal

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Subj: Thoughts on Rebirth #6 and Secret Files [SPOILERS]
Posted: Sun May 22, 2005 at 12:29:08 am EDT
Reply Subj: Quick question on Secret Files [SPOILERS]
Posted: Sun May 22, 2005 at 08:18:10 am EDT

Until now, I’ve largely stayed silent on Rebirth, mostly because I’ve been unimpressed with it as a story and as a retcon, and didn’t feel passionate enough about it to get into a debate over it. That’s still true for the most part, but I thought I’d put out some final thoughts now that it’s over. For whatever it’s worth.

I’ve already been on record saying I don’t like the whole Parallax Entity concept, nor do I like the retconning of the yellow impurity into a sentient being, or an emotional obstacle that can be overcome with enough concentration. I don’t particularly like the idea of Hal getting a get-out-of-jail-free-card either. Maybe 2 years after Emerald Twilight it would have been welcomed; after 11 years, it’s far too simplistic. So I won’t rehash that.

But after reading Rebirth #6 this last week, and reading all the Hal vs Batman discussion, I found another misgiving that I think bothered me more. If Rebirth was just going to wipe the slate clean and start over, then I didn’t really care how good/bad the story was, it wouldn’t affect my enjoyment of the new GL series. It just occurred to me that after the extensive retconning employed in telling this story, and swallowing that tough pill, that we’d still end up with a character I don’t like very much. That came from Hal punching Batman. Now, Batman has done a million things he deserves to be punched for, and I really don’t care about battle-board arguments over whether Hal could actually do it or not. But here you’ve got Hal back from the grave, with the world’s greatest get-out-of-jail-free card, “I’ve been possessed for the last 11 years! Not my fault!” but instead of spending 30 seconds to explain himself and get everyone on his side, he’d rather just deck Batman and push everyone aside. Seemed very childish to me. I really couldn’t get into rooting for Hal in the fight after that. Someone said it very well in an earlier thread, that Hal as currently depicted is a lot like Batman, in that he doesn’t feel the need to answer to anyone. That does make for an interesting dynamic between the two. In a way, that actually may have been exactly the answer Batman was looking for. The Hal of the past 11 years has always felt compelled to justify his past mistakes and seek the approval of his friends. Perhaps that’s because Hal wasn’t sure in his own mind that he was in the right without having it confirmed by others. Whereas this Hal didn’t need to explain himself, he didn’t need anyone’s approval. I think Batman has more trust in a man that doesn’t seek approval. There’s very much the John Wayne character present here. Can’t say I was ever a big John Wayne fan. Seemed he was more about his own ego than concerning himself with other people.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a time and place for everything. A lot of people question Batman on his timing, that seeking an explanation from Hal when there’s the larger problem of Parallax on the loose was bad timing. I think that Batman had to ask the question at that time, though. Batman has seen Hal in concert with the Parallax entity before, and if Hal was allowed to approach it, there’s a chance Hal could be corrupted by it again. Batman felt it was his duty to test Hal’s resolve before allowing that contact. And being in John Wayne mode, Hal sees that he has to act now, and explanations can come later. Although the explanation doesn’t come later. That’s more what I had the problem with. If I was a member of the JLA, I’d still be skeptical of Hal’s motivations and all that’s happened to him since Emerald Twilight. The fact that Hal doesn’t particularly feel the need to explain himself would just make me question him that much more. There’s a time to be confident and let your actions speak for you, but there’s also a time to trust in your friends and open up, and I saw a real lack of that second part there. I guess it’s just that Hal’s been on one side of that spectrum for a long time, and now he’s suddenly way on the other side, where I’d rather see him in the middle ground.

I think it’s part of the larger purpose of Rebirth, not only to wipe out the Hal of the last 11 years but to wipe out the Hal of the last 25+ years and get back to where he was at prior to “Hard Travelling Heroes.” I guess since I’ve only been reading GL comics for like 15 years, this makes the character pretty unrecognizable to me. Maybe if I read some of the older GL Archives I would see the character that is currently being presented. I guess time will tell if I can get into the new GL series. I plan on trying it out, hopefully I’ll enjoy it more than I did Rebirth.

I will say that I did enjoy the “Flight” story in the Secret Files. Maybe because I haven’t read much about young Hal Jordan, and I thought it was nice to see how he turned from a dreamer into a man living out his dream. Plus I didn’t see so much of that John Wayne arrogance in this tale. The “Day Before” story didn’t do much for me, kind of like a deleted scene from a movie restored on the DVD, where you can tell why it was deleted in the first place. Unnecessary.

As for the profiles, I suppose what confused me the most was Sinestro’s entry. So now I take it he was never executed back in Green Lantern Corps #222? It says he was merely imprisoned in the Central Power Battery and used the impurity to infect Hal, and later faked his death, which I guess was a reference to V3 #50. I’m not sure I see the point in retconning his original death, unless Johns wants to bring him back and can’t think of a way to “realistically” explain his resurrection, so he’ll say he never died at all. Though that does call into question all the events of Mosaic and Guy Gardner Reborn. I’m starting to wonder if any GL comic of the last 20 years even “counts” or if it’s all just been a dream.