Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1
Written by Geoff Johns and Sam Humphries
Art by Ethan Van Sciver, Ed Benes and Jason Wright
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Published by DC Comics
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
"You both were chosen because you have the ability to overcome great fear. Better start acting like it."
Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz are the newest Green Lanterns of Earth, the former with a gun in his hands and a chip on his shoulder, the latter in way over her head in a universe of good and evil. While these two characters have only just scratched the surface of their potential, Geoff Johns and Sam Humphries’ Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 is a great outlet for these rookie ringslingers to finally get some of that sweet emerald spotlight.
Baz and Cruz come from the opposite side of the tracks, but both represent a collective point of view we have yet to really explore in the Green Lantern mythos — they’re both newcomers, both come from tumultuous personal lives, and offer a distinctly different perspective than the primarily white male base of the rest of the earthbound Green Lanterns. But while neither Baz nor Cruz have the longevity of their predecessors, Humphries and Johns play this to their advantage, as these two freshmen superheroes give audiences a smooth entree to everything fans love about this crazy space police world — we have Guardians on the run, secret villains in space, the cold robotic Manhunters, not to mention a veteran Lantern tasked with showing these youngins the ropes.
Yet instead of Kilowog whipping these trainees into shape, Johns and Humphries effectively pass that baton to Hal Jordan, who sets the rules of this series. (One particularly fun wrinkle being that Cruz and Baz have to share a lantern and can only use it when they use it at the same time — is anyone else excited for tag-team Green Lanterns?) While Hal's speech about teamwork gets a bit preachy, its gets the job done, effectively setting up Jessica and Simon for their adventures as begrudging partners. While this duo’s first mission together ends with a minor fake-out, there's some definite chemistry between these greenest of Green Lanterns.
Meanwhile, Ethan Van Sciver and Ed Benes trade off on art duties here, and both have had their time working on the Corps in the past. They're both in a similar wheelhouse in terms of design and looks, so when they go back and forth, it's hardly jarring. Meanwhile, colorist Jason Wright ties everything together, treating both artists with a slick and sleek palette that looks new-school cool. Van Sciver has a more traditional superhero look to his characters with defined musculature and Benes has a softer touch with his linework that’s still refined, but slightly more grainy by comparison. Sequences like a fight against a Manhunter robot look superb, while an image of Hal melding two Lantern batteries together is a well-composed page that might have been boring in lesser hands.
It's hard to figure out where Johns ends and Humphries begins in terms of the scripting here. The humor is scaled back to make room for the more cosmic elements of what Green Lantern is all about. The book’s space operatic prologue, Hal’s inspirational speech and the last few pages for the big baddie reveal all come across as so theatrical, you have to wonder what's in store for the other Green Lantern title by Robert Vendetti, focusing on Hal’s adventures with the rest of the Corps. There’s also some seeds of characterization here, like Baz’s meeting with his surprisingly compassionate, almost Phil Coulson-esque F.B.I. contact and Jessica’s relationship with her peppy and bubbly sister. Once Johns steps away for this book, it'll be interesting to see what Humphries delivers all his own — only time will tell if it'll be as humorous as his work on Star-Lord, or become something a bit less lighthearted.
Green Lanterns: Rebirth #1 is a solid, if somewhat wordy start that has unlimited potential to break through. While Simon Baz hasn’t quite found his footing since his introduction, Jessica Cruz is the swift kick in the pants that this franchise needed, coming across as cool and contemporary without it feeling forced. Here's hoping the brightest days are yet to come.