SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps” #9, on sale now.
After Hal Jordan and Sinestro’s cataclysmic battle in issue #7, in which the famed Green Lantern became pure will and obliterated Warworld, both he and the Yellow Lantern leader vanished from sight. But in “Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps” #9 by Robert Venditti and Rafa Sandoval, while the surviving Greens and Yellows strike an uneasy alliance to save Tomar Re’s home planet of Xudar from a Starro invasion (playing right into Brainiac’s hands), Hal finds himself in a previously unexplored aspect of the Green Lantern mythos, and reunites with an old friend.
Yes, it seems Green Lanterns have their own afterlife — the Emerald Space — and Abin Sur is there to greet Hal at the door, just as he inducted him into the Corps all those years ago.
The concept of the Emerald Space should be familiar to readers of “The Flash,” particularly those who were fans of the series during Mark Waid’s seminal run in the 1990s. Wally West, the Flash of that generation, was constantly struggling against the lure of becoming one with the Speed Force, the mystical realm that was the source of all his powers, but each time came back to Earth thanks to his “anchor” to the real world, girlfriend (and later wife) Linda Park. Barry Allen, the once and future Flash, has also had a number of adventures in the Speed Force.
Similarities aside, for Green Lanterns, this seems to be more akin to Valhalla, where great warriors go after a lifetime of worthy battle.
Although based on what we see in this issue, it looks mostly like a dark, dank cave. Further, its relationship to the living world is as yet unclear — Abin Sur seems surprised when Hal tells him Sinestro “led an army of fear,” suggesting Abin hasn’t been keeping very close tabs on mortals since his own demise.
So is Hal dead? Abin Sur tells him, “You do not belong here, Hal Jordan of Earth.” At first read this sounds like a straightforward “your time has not yet come,” but it’s ambiguous enough that it could also mean “you have not earned your place here.”
More importantly: will we ever see the Super Space, or the Bat Force?
Meanwhile, Hal’s ring, which very much does think its bearer is deceased, seeks out exiled Guardians Ganthet and Sayd. They marvel at the ring itself, crafted purely from Hal’s own will — a feat they believed was only possible from a Guardian. Might this suggest that Hal is due for an evolution? Once upon a time, John Stewart was elevated to Guardian-ship in the final issue of the fantastic “Green Lantern Mosaic,” a change that was quickly undone thanks to the events of “Emerald Twilight.”
First, though, they’ll have to stage a rescue mission before Hal’s life force is lost forever. And for this, the two Guardians have recruited the Torchbearer himself, White Lantern Kyle Rayner. Though after his experiences with the Omega Men, it’s anyone’s guess how Kyle might feel about teaming up with a Corps whose own recent past is, shall we say, checkered.
The next few issues should flesh out what it means to be in the Emerald Space — including, perhaps, whether this is truly Lantern Heaven, a manifestation of a dying Hal’s will, or some villain’s scheme — as well as Hal’s place in the corps after his inevitable return. His name’s in the title, after all; whether or not Hal is dead, he’s not going anywhere.
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