This week’s various “Rebirth” one-shots give readers glimpses of the new status quo for DC Comics’ biggest characters. In the case of “Green Lanterns: Rebirth” #1, the book is clearly here to sell the partnership of relatively new Green Lanterns Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. While the comic defines the new setup for the book, it feels like the comic is over barely after it began.
Humphries and Johns get rid of a lot of the baggage that each of these characters had, giving them a clearer path moving forward. The duo briefly touch upon their leads’ earlier status quos (Simon Baz believed to be a terrorist, Jessica Cruz forcefully bonded with the sentient ring from Earth-3’s evil Crime Syndicate), but the issue quickly moves forward and focuses more on Simon and Jessica as they clash with one another when they’re attacked by a Manhunter robot. Humphries and Johns portray them almost as squabbling siblings, which isn’t a bad path for the duo. There’s certainly story potential with the idea of a pair who aren’t buddy-buddy but also aren’t actively rancorous towards one another. This is a nice point in-between the two extremes, where they aren’t getting along but you can see that easily changing with time. With their novice status being played up here (which feels like a little bit of a stretch for Simon, who got his ring back in 2012), we’re clearly seeing their learning process start to unfold.
That said, “Green Lantern: Rebirth” #1 moves surprisingly slow for a book meant to hook new readers. There’s almost no plot beyond the initial setup, where Hal Jordan forces the two Green Lanterns to work together. The training exercise is clearly designed to show us that the pair needs to work together, but — because of its nature — it makes the sequence feel toothless; there’s no real danger and those pages feel quickly forgettable. In the end, the issue feels really slight; when you consider how much this week’s “Batman: Rebirth” #1 packed into its pages while achieving the same overall goals, it’s just not very meaty.
Van Sciver and Benes are both on “Green Lantern: Rebirth” #1, which makes it the proverbial mixed bag overall. Van Sciver’s pages are exactly what you would expect from the artist: artwork with painstaking attention to detail, as he takes the time to draw every individual scale on Aquaman’s shirt or all of the teeth for each of the dozens of Dominators zooming through space. Van Sciver does a great job portraying the panic on the Guardian’s face on pages 2-3 and ramps up the tension, considering readers don’t even know what’s so important about the box he’s carrying. On the other hand, the splash showing the Justice League near the end of the issue comes off as strangely stiff and cold; Wonder Woman’s face is so obscured that it looks off-putting, and the zippy nature of the Flash off to one side feels at odds with the frozen nature of the other characters on the page.
Benes’ art is always a little unpredictable, with some efforts looking good and others feeling a little too rough. Unfortunately, his art here falls into the latter category, with characters often lacking any sort of defining feature. Look at the first page with Simon and the special agent interacting; aside from skin color and a bit of stubble on Simon’s chin, there’s no difference at all in their faces. Strangely, their eyes are semi-closed for the entire page, and their noses, chins and even hair lines are all the same. Add a lack of expression — despite moments where Simon is supposed to be angry — and the entire page looks flat. It’s also hard to ignore how Benes draws Jessica in poses that are more sexualized than we see for Simon once they are both in costume. All-in-all, it provides a very uneven look for the comic.
Humphries is the only creator on this one-shot who will also work on the upcoming “Green Lanterns” series, so perhaps it’s not the best representation of what we’ll be seeing in a couple of weeks. Still, it’s not a bad comic by any stretch of the imagination; it just doesn’t quite have the excitement level that readers will expect from these various “Rebirth” one-shots. The core concept of Simon and Jessica being forced to work together is a good one, and hopefully that’s enough to bring the audience back to see what happens next. In the end, though, this just isn’t as fun as one would want “Green Lanterns: Rebirth” #1 to be.