(Metagame Archive) Green Lantern Preview: Hal Jordan, Reborn

By Geordie Tait

I don’t know what it is. Preview time again, that period of sinful delight leading up to the release of a new set, and be it circumstance, fate, or fallout from the flapping cosmic butterfly wings, I always seem to get the good ones. There isn’t hyperbole big enough for today’s peerless example of cardboard power and perfection, but because I’ve never been afraid of a little hard work, I’m going to give it a shot. You’ll have to bear with me for the opening moments. My engine is still revving up, trying to get out of the state of shock into which I was thrown, flailing, just moments ago. When news of today’s card hit my tender ears, it bent back the pinnae like the mudflaps on an old Packard. For several beautiful moments, I could think of nothing else but the same four-word sentence, on permanent repeat, stuck in a loop I was powerless to break.

“That is so cool. That is so cool. That is so cool.”

Stop. Flip the tape. Second verse, same as the first. I’m not sure how long I was mired in a dreamlike stupor, but when I came to my senses, day had turned into night, the guacamole was congealing on my plate, and I knew that I would have to get writing in order to make my deadline. The thought that I might not make it filled me with a sort of sweating desperation that was worse than dread. To catch a glimpse of this card, and then neglect to share it with the world? The worst sort of dereliction, and a sin for which I would have to present my neck.

But I’m here, gentle reader, and you shall know it all, from card name to copyright information. Not a fleck of ink will escape your devouring eyes. I’m convinced now, more than ever, that the designers for this game are artistes of the most noble sort—mold-breaking trendsetters upon whose backs the very survival of the medium is carried. They paint with their minds, and on this occasion, they have graced the canvas with work so exciting that the very colors seem to leap forward to entangle the mind in a lover’s embrace. Everything you could want in a card is here: power, elegance, potential, and a name that carries with it seven times seven heavy volumes of super hero history. 

I don’t blame you if you just scrolled past all of the above and went straight for the card. I wouldn’t dare. That would be like the editor of “Playboy” scolding his readership for not perusing the articles. Compared to the magnitude of what you are about to see, my words are as faded and dull as the tickets to last year’s Fireman’s Ball, and as hollow as an old biscuit barrel.

Here’s your centerfold:

Wow.

Now we’ve got the afterglow. This is the most difficult part for me. After looking at that card, and the ramifications thereof, I feel like I should be lighting a cigarette and putting my pants back on. I know you want to cut and run to tell all your friends about the wondrous thing you’ve just witnessed. Is it going to be awkward? I don’t want it to get awkward, because there is a lot to talk about, and if you leave now, I can’t tell you how I truly feel. So many of the things I’ve been dying to say would be cut short!

Don’t go. It would be a tragedy if you were to waltz out the door now, at our most excellent moment together.

I won’t be able to tell you about how the very name “Hal Jordan” brings with it a rich swirl of Green Lantern lore. The card is brand new, freshly minted, unreleased, and already it seems to carry the weight of years. From hero to madman and back again—now reborn, as the version line so astutely notes. This man has saved millions and killed millions. He’s run the gamut. Now, he’s returned, and he’ll be in your hands, ready to go wherever you want him to go. Others can appreciate it better than I, but even a Lantern neophyte like myself finds it impossible to ignore the magnitude of the most memorable Lantern.

I won’t be able to tell you about how the art is quintessential Green Lantern. If you were to concentrate the entire mythos, put it under pressure, and crush it down into one image, this would be that image. A beacon of power pushing out across the blackness of space. The ring. The costume. The scowl that lets us know that somebody wicked is about to get wrecked.

I won’t be able to tell you about the delicious flight and range icons, the ones that let us know that good ol’ Hal has no limitations on the battlefield. Contrary to what Kermit the Frog has been telling us for years, it’s easy being green. Hal can go any place and trample anyone from anywhere. He can zip across untold eons, pull cosmic U-turns around pulsating planets to land big green fists in the faces of distant villains. No enemy is immune. Even the sniveling support row peon, lodged deep within a formation of behemoths, is fair game for the all-encompassing fist of Hal Jordan, Reborn.

Heck, he didn’t come back just to play nice. People are about to get jacked up in here.

I won’t be able to tell you about the 15 ATK/15 DEF body, and how those numbers make my mind swim with visions of massive, world-shaking combat. I’m simultaneously tickled pink and shuddering with surprise. Despite the mind-bending special ability, he’s not a limp-wristed 12 ATK/12 DEF or something similarly terrible. This is a hero who can come out on turn 7 and throw his weight around, putting big green fists through torsos or perhaps using translucent emerald arms to bend spines, adamantium or not, into new and interesting shapes.

And willpower . . . what is that, in this decidedly superhuman context? I use it to say “no” to that second slice of chocolate caramel cake, or to find the last crumb of gumption needed to pile my lazy behind onto the exercise bike for just one more night, or maybe someday I’ll employ a smidgen or two in order to finish the Boston Marathon without taking a cab. Nothing too exciting. However, when super heroes start using their willpower (and in the Green Lantern universe, it’s a common theme) great things can happen.

I can’t spoil it here. Danny Mandel will give you more on the whole willpower deal next week. For now, let me just say that willpower is the glowing, celestial coat rack from which the warm, fuzzy chinchilla fur of Green Lantern Corps dangles. It’s “the hook”—the hinge on the corner of the door that leads to newfound excitement! There are only so many numbers to go around, you understand, and when you run out of good ways to fire mechanics and effects into orbit, you need to develop a new launcher. That’s what the design team has done. Now instead of printing cards that get their kicks based only on cost, ATK, or DEF, they can turn to willpower and start the wheel of creativity turning again.

I’m glad you decided to stay. That’s great, because now we get to talk about the ability on this fine card. It’s not an unprecedented effect, but check out the smooth aftertaste. In most games, in order to wedge an ability like “You cannot lose the game,” on a card, the powers that be also have to stick a pretty big drawback on there. That’s why, when I read Hal’s ability, I figured the next line would be “At the beginning of your attack step, step on your own elbow,” or “Play this card only if you have rabies.” Imagine my surprise when no such clause arrived to rain on my parade!

Well, I guess there is a requirement. You need to have 20 willpower worth of characters out to make the whole machine go. But come on—you and I both know that the set is going to be replete with such men. If you buy yourself a box, you’ll be stumbling over them in the dark as you grope your way to the can in the wee hours of the evening. The minds in R&D aren’t sinister enough to dangle a tantalizing a morsel in front of our ravenous faces, and then break our hearts by not supporting it correctly with additional cards. I don’t foresee any problem. Unless you consider a little drool on my T-shirt a problem. ‘Cause I have to get me one of these, and the response I’ve got going over here is downright Pavlovian. My composure was gone about ten paragraphs ago, and it won’t be back until I’m cruising the Sneak Preview with a Hal Jordan, Reborn in each quivering, palsied hand.

That is so cool. That is so cool. That is so cool.

See you there.

===

GT

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