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“What would you do?”

One of the biggest fan criticisms of the New 52 relaunch was the lack of background details about the characters; not knowing what parts of their past, if any, remained in-continuity in this new continuity.  As Green Lantern fans we had a bit of an advantage with the knowledge that at least the history laid out in Geoff Johns’ run remained mostly intact with the understanding that some of the details were no longer valid due to the changes to other characters in the DCU.  Recently DC relaunched their Secret Origins title to fill in  background information on characters that haven’t organically been revealed thus far on the pages of DC’s ongoing titles.  Issue three recently saw release and the lead in story reinforces Hal Jordan’s back story as Johns detailed it in his own Secret Origin story line on the pages of Green Lantern #29-35.

Hal’s origin tale calls back to a little bit of the movie’s visuals while keeping Johns’ Secret Origin intact.
Written by Robert Venditti, the Hal Jordan origin titled Freedom From Fear does a great job of re-telling one of the more classic comic book origin stories without falling into the easy trap of sticking to the familiar.  Instead of putting so much emphasis on Abin Sur’s crash Venditti spend most of his allotted twelve pages going behind Hal’s eyes to show what makes him tick and why he’s a great character beyond the familiar jewelry.  Venditti’s story serves as a very trimmed down version of what Johns did, boiling down the essence of the man behind the ring and not adding too much extra material to detract from that point of focus.  Venditti and artist Martin Coccolo manage to throw in a bit of an homage to the Green Lantern motion picture in the opening sequence, calling to mind the scene where Hal witnesses the death of Martin Jordan.
Hal’s short fuse is still there, but the story, which relies heavily on Hal’s narration, goes the extra step of showing why Hal often reacts the way he does rather than simply let his actions stand alone.  I’m glad Venditti used this opportunity to do more with the story and get into Hal’s head just for the sake of providing that bit of added detail.  Often people who don’t really get the character write Hal off as being one dimensional or un-relatable and this story helps to bridge fill in the gaps a bit more.  I particularly liked how Hal posed the question of “what would you do?” to the reader, challenging ourselves to walk a mile in Hal’s ring or to think about what we would do if we had similar life experiences to his.
Venditti uses the origin we already know by heart to explore more about the guy behind the ring.
Venditti also takes the time to quickly revisit some of the events that make up Hal’s time as a Green Lantern including boot camp and both the fall and rise of Sinestro.  Venditti takes the events of Hal’s life and shows how each have helped to shape him into the person he is, aptly putting the words in Jordan’s mouth that his “life is a tale of two crashes.  The first took everything from me.  The second gave me more than I could imagine.”  In the closing moments Venditti uses the tale to remind us that we all have to make the same kinds of choices in our own lives, deciding for ourselves whether to surrender to what we fear or to face it head on.  That’s something about Hal that I’ve always connected to on a personal level so I felt very rewarded by seeing it put so aptly here.
Secret Origin #3 also features the back stories for Batwoman and Red Robin that are both very satisfying reads.  While the issue has the hefty price tag of $4.99 I didn’t feel it was money poorly spent.  While it would be easy to argue that another retelling of one of the most classic origins in comics was not needed, Robert Venditti takes the familiar and provides us with a little something more to make it worthwhile.  Five out of five lanterns.

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