Cover Date: March 1994
Story: Ron Marz
Pencils: Darryl Banks
Inks: Romeo Tanghal
Cover: M. D. Bright and Romeo Tanghal
Sinestro is the last thing standing between Hal Jordan and the Guardians. The two enemies thrash each other to within an inch of their lives, and in a fit of rage, Hal snaps Sinestro’s neck. Before the Central Power Battery, Hal’s stopped once more by Kilowog, who beats the living shit out of him. In the end, Hal’s left with no choice but to kill his former friend. As Hal weeps and grieves over his deeds, he removes his power ring, and enters the Battery as the anal-retentive Guardians refuse to stop him. He absorbs all of its power as the Oans pour their remaining energies into one of their own, Ganthet. The Battery bursts, and an armor-clad Hal emerges. He crushes his old power ring, then flies off into space, while Ganthet climbs out from under the bodies of his brethren. The lone Guardian reforms the broken ring into a new one, refusing the let the Green Lantern legacy die. He takes off towards Earth, and on a lonely alley in New York City, Ganthet touches down and gives the last remaining power ring to a young artist named Kyle Rayner.
And with that, “Emerald Twilight” came to a close, bringing with it a new Green Lantern in the form of Kyle Rayner, and a tragic villain in the form of Hal Jordan. Writer Ron Marz had been given the reins, told to ditch Hal somehow, and surprisingly…”Emerald Twilight” worked! The controversial storyline naturally brought attention to the book, but Marz was able to keep Green Lantern in the spotlight by writing an eminently likeable and interesting “everyman” character in Kyle Rayner. For many years, Marz’ Green Lantern was DC Comics’ highest-selling solo superhero book. Sales of Green Lantern didn’t drop into the danger zone until well after Marz left the book seven years later. A few years after that, DC greenlit a fanboyish retconning of “Emerald Twilight,” which we know as Green Lantern: Rebirth. That’s a testament to how important and longstanding “Emerald Twilight” was! (If you’re wondering just how Rebirth retconned “Emerald Twilight,” removed Hal’s humanity, and retconned the entirety of Green Lantern history, I’ve already written about it here.)
Of course, many fans flipped the fuck out when Hal turned rogue. Even myself, as a lowly high school student back in 1994, wondered the what the hell was going on! However, I was willing to give Kyle Rayner a chance, and I’m glad I did. Marz created a fantastic new character who resonated with new and old readers. Don’t believe for a second that every hardcore Hal Jordan fan threw the book away in disgust; Green Lantern‘s sales would not have spiked and remained high for years if they had.
It’s important to note here that while Green Lantern (Vol. 3) #50 is the first appearance of Hal Jordan as Parallax, he actually did not use that name until Zero Hour: Crisis in Time #1 months later. Parallax would later go on to face Kyle again in “Parallax View” (Green Lantern [Vol. 3] #63-64), and eventually sacrifice his life to save the universe from the Sun-Eater during The Final Night in 1996. A Zero Hour incarnation of Parallax would even show up from the future during the excellent “Emerald Knights” (Green Lantern [Vol. 3] #100-106), where he faced Kyle and a young Hal from the past! But those are tales for another set of reviews…
Anyway, back to issue #50. Some fans just couldn’t get over the fact that Hal became a villain, even though he certainly wasn’t your typical superbaddie and redeemed himself in the end. For years and years, fanboys furiously lobbied DC to bring back Hal and get rid of Kyle, preferably by killing him off. Groups like H.E.A.T. (Hal’s Emerald Attack Team, later changed to “Advancement” Team due to negative publicity) wasted chunks of their lives on this shit, and in some cases, people even sent threats to Marz and his editors! Seriously, people, grow the fuck up; it’s just a comic book character. Hal Jordan was my hero growing up, but you didn’t see me threatening creators over “Emerald Twilight”!
“Emerald Twilight” stands well enough on its own as a great story, though it did seem a bit rushed. Of course, this is not Marz’s fault; he was given three issues to do what should’ve been a six-issue storyarc. Considering the odds arrayed against him, he did a fantastic job. And who could forget Darryl Banks’ brilliant splash page depicting Hal’s new costume?
Sure, Hal as Parallax technically first appeared on the cover (which glows in the dark!), but the above image is the one seared into many a fan’s mind. Banks would go on to illustrate the book for quite some time, and he’s definitely at the top of the Green Lantern artist pile. Unfortunately, even this classic Parallax pose was the subject of a retcon; in Green Lantern: Rebirth #3, it was shown that Hal’s left hand was unknowingly holding the Parallax creature’s claw, with his right hand caressing the bug’s face. Dumb. (And kinda creepy.)
Green Lantern: Rebirth and later tales may have destroyed everything that made “Emerald Twilight” special, but if you go back and read these old issues, you’ll see for yourself just how great the story really was. Instead of rewriting the past, “Emerald Twilight” charted new territory for the future, and that’s an example that all comic books should follow.