Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight/New Dawn
Writer: Ron Marz
Artist: Bill Willingham, Fred Haynes, Darryl Banks, Steve Carr, Jamal Igle, Derec Aucoin, Craig Hamilton
I never read Green lantern while growing up in the ’90s. My first exposure to the character was probably seeing John Stewart in the Justice League animated show. His relationship with Hawkgirl on the show was a highlight, although he could be a bit dry on his own. It wasn’t really till the Rebirth miniseries that I first read a Green Lantern comic. Due to this I couldn’t experience Hal Jordan becoming the evil Parallax as it happened. I got this trade recently though so I’m finally getting a chance to read it. The book covers this along with the New Dawn story featuring the early appearances of Kyle Rayner as Green lantern. Here are my thoughts.
Emerald Twilight can go first. At this point in Green lantern continuity, Coast city, the home of Hal Jordan has been destroyed. Naturally, he’s devastated. Hal feels cheated and angry. After all he’s given as a Green lantern and a hero he’s had everything taken from him. Of course, this sense of loss leads him to do what anyone with his power to create things would do. He tries to reconstruct the city and its people with his Green Lantern ring. It doesn’t work though and he gets a telling-off from his bosses, the guardians of the universe. Anger takes over and after recharging Hal flies towards the planet Oa to steal power from its central power battery. In the process of leaving Earth he’s spotted by a lovely couple who’ll come into play later.
Now that the premise is out of the way I’ll mention that a lot of people disliked this story. Evil Hal Jordan is one of those major 90’s character changes that fans tend to find off-putting. It’s understandable. A classic hero that fans are attached to suddenly becomes evil at a time when comics are getting increasingly dark. Plus, there’s a notable level of violence in this comic that likely shocked people at the time. It’s no wonder fans reacted negatively. I think it’s done well though. Hal cuts a bloody swath through the Green lantern corps on the way to Oa but it’s not immediate. He doesn’t just start killing and maiming people. It’s a gradual process. He wants more power to revive his city and needs their rings. He’ll kill if he has to but we see how it affects him emotionally. By the end of it all he realises that after what he’s done he can’t go back. He’s lost everything that mattered and all that’s left for him is his plan to bring back Coast city. It’s heartbreaking but Marz does a good job at writing this and the heel turn never feels forced or fake.
Emerald Twilight leads directly into New Dawn. Ganthet, one of the aforementioned guardians is charged with finding someone to wear the last of the Green Lantern rings. He can’t afford to be picky and the first person he finds is one half of the couple from earlier. Kyle Rayner is an artist who’s very recently split from his girlfriend Alexandra Dewitt. This story focuses on them getting back together as he learns to be the new Green lantern.
Much like Emerald Twilight, this story gets a lot of vitriol. There’s an unnecessarily brutal death in it that led to the “Women in refrigerators” concept being created. The character dying on its own isn’t too much of an issue. They play an important role throughout the story and become a major influence on subsequent Rayner stories. Sort of like Uncle Ben from Spider-man in that sense. The way they die is too much though. It’s an example of the worst extravagances of 90’s comics. It’s a shame because the rest of the story is very good. Marz tells another good tale. We see Rayner and Dewitt develop as characters, they’re both very likable and you quickly build an attachment to them. There’s a couple of good villains and fight scenes in the story so it’s not lacking in action either. It’s just that one damned death that ruins it.
I’d say to give this trade paperback a read if you can get a copy of it. It’s violent, by the standards of the time anyway. Comics have shown worse since then so a lot of people may not even notice. It’s still good though. It’s well-written and the only other issue I could find with it was the artwork. Every issue here looks good but there’s a number of pencilers working on it so it can look inconsistent. It’s not a problem in New Dawn but Emerald Twilight looks slightly different issue to issue thanks to this. It may be off-putting to some due to this. Despite all that these stories are enjoyable reads if you can get past the violence. I’d recommend giving the book a read if you’re a fan or just curious because of the impact they had.
Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight/New Dawn
The two stories collected in this trade are pretty damn good. Emerald Twilight definitely has the edge in terms of story, at least in my opinion. It's quite an emotional tale of the breakdown of this superhero. New Dawn is no slouch though, even if it feels a bit more generic at times. The characters in both are extremely well-written. The amount of depth given to Hal Jordan is incredible and the way the more prominent members of his supporting cast act and speak really makes them stand out. Marz does a great job establishing his new characters in New Dawn but I have to admit the villains in the story are just generic "I want to kill everything" bad guys which sucks after the depth of the previous story. As I said in the main article, the art is great having so many artists working on the same stories can lead to some visual inconsistency that may annoy some.