“Rebirth” also had another goal besides re-establishing Hal Jordan in the DCU: To see if enough people would buy a series with him in it to make re-launching “Green Lantern” feasible. Now I’m fairly certain they were going to do it regardless of how the series sold... but imagine for a moment if it had tanked. DC would’ve been scrambling to find a way to re-establish Kyle Rayner as the one, true Green Lantern and I wonder how writer Geoff Johns would’ve reconciled that with his mancrush on Jordan. Thinking about it some more, we probably would’ve got something like the trainwreck that the “Flash” comics became after Wally West was replaced by Bart Allen and the guys who wrote the “Flash” TV series proved that they had no idea how to write good comics. Then Johns and artist Ethan Van Sciver were brought on to do a “Flash: Rebirth” series to re-establish original “Flash” Barry Allen and get the comics back on track. Funny how that works.
But the series sold gangbusters and the subsequent ongoing series sold pretty well out of the gate and then went into the same decline that all ongoing series enter these days. Then Johns took things to the next level with “The Sinestro Corps War,” the “Rainbow Lantern” corps, “Blackest Night,” and now the “Brightest Day” initiative. Regardless of what you think of the comics, it’s hard not to be impressed by how Johns has revitalized the franchise and spread the wealth through the DCU thanks to the various event-related tie-ins these things have spawned. Along with the upcoming movie, of course.
All this makes the first collection of the ongoing series, “No Fear,” seem kind of quaint in comparison. While Johns lays the groundwork for future storylines with a stellar team of artists (including the aforementioned Van Sciver, Carlos Pacheco, Simone Bianchi and Darwyn Cook are also featured in this volume) the stories here are well-executed generic superhero fare. We get to see Jordan tangle with old and new versions of the android Manhunters in the first arc and Hector Hammond and the Shark in the second. Johns is clearly having a ball writing these characters, but enthusiasm and great art only carry you so far. Though there are some truly impressive action scenes, such as the one where a powerless Jordan leaps out of his crashing plane to take on an attacking Manhunter, the stories come across as mere excuses for the characters to fight each other.
This volume is definitely not on the same level as “Rebirth,” but it’ll fit the bill if you’re looking for some well-executed superhero action. Still, knowing how good the later volumes are, I was expecting more than what I got with this one.