Looking back and reflecting on the Green Lantern: Rebirth six issue mini-series from 2004 makes you realise that it can now be viewed as a turning point in the history of the Green Lantern. Written by Geoff Johns and art by Ethan Van Sciver it tells the tale of the redemption of Hal Jordan.
The story begins with the Green Lantern of Earth, Kyle Rayner, crashing at Highway Hill on Earth in a spacecraft, mumbling to the two hikers who find him, “It has a name”. His power ring begins speaking, “Parallax is coming…”
A series of strange and disturbing incidents then begins to occur. Jordan, pronouncing judgment on the villain Black Hand, becomes unable to focus clearly, and senses that something is wrong, telling his friend Oliver Queen (aka Green Arrow), “None of this should have happened. This isn’t me. This isn’t who I am.” The shape-shifting Vuldarian physiology of former Green Lantern Guy Gardner begins going haywire. Coast City, long destroyed, suddenly reappears to two pilots flying over it, though the only building that is restored is Hal Jordan’s old home.
When confronted, Jordan tells the Justice League that he is not responsible for the restored Coast City. Stewart, however, suddenly goes berserk, attacking the other heroes, his ring now intoning, “Parallax is coming”. Meanwhile, at the Justice League Watchtower on the Moon, the emergency power ring that Jordan once gave Green Arrow duplicates itself, and places itself on Guy Gardner’s finger, restoring him as a Green Lantern.
Back at Highway Hill, the extraterrestrial Green Lantern Kilowog appears, and inexplicably attacks Kyle Rayner. However, Ganthet, one of the Guardians of the Universe, appears to stop Kilowog, attempting to protect the coffin, which it is revealed holds the corpse of Hal Jordan. He and Kilowog engage in a fierce battle, and Rayner himself feels something within his ring attempting to take over his will, much as with Stewart and Kilowog. Ganthet teleports Rayner and Jordan’s corpse to the Watchtower. Meanwhile, Jordan investigates the appearance of his old apartment building, where he is confronted by the Parallax version of himself, who engages in a battle of wills with the Spirit of Vengeance bonded to Jordan’s soul.
It is then that The Spectre explains to Jordan the truth about Parallax, while simultaneously on the Moon, Rayner does so to Queen. Rayner explains that he journeyed to the edge of the universe within Sector 3599, and on the tenth planet from the star Pagallus, the inhabitants told him that Parallax was actually a yellow demonic parasitic entity that was born at the beginning of sentience, feeding on fear, creating terror in anything it came into contact with, and causing entire civilizations to destroy themselves out of paranoia. It was this creature that the Guardians of the Universe imprisoned within the Central Power Battery on Oa, using fear’s opposite energy, willpower. Rayner explains that there is an emotional electromagnetic spectrum into which the collective willpower of the universe is collected by the Central Power Battery, and that green willpower is the most pure. Parallax had lain dormant for billions of years, his true nature covered up by the Guardians to prevent anyone from trying to free it, and thus, it had eventually come to be referred to as simply “the yellow impurity”. This was the reason why the rings were useless against the color yellow: Parallax weakened its power over the corresponding spectrum, and hence only someone capable of overcoming great fear could master the power ring. The Guardians, therefore, selected only such persons to become Green Lanterns…