Welcome to the 2021 A to Z Challenge! My theme this year is DC Comics. And that’s mostly because of my undying affection for the comic book characters and stories that I grew up reading in the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. So stay tuned all month to (maybe) learn a little something about 26 corners of the DC Multiverse.
There’s a decent selection of G related characters in the DC Universe but I thought I’d go with one of the green ones. And since I’m a little Green Arrow’d out, I thought we’d go with the Green Lantern.
But just like the Flash, one must ask, which Green Lantern?
If I’ve done my math correctly, there are seven Green Lanterns from Earth alone. That doesn’t even take into account the thousands of Lanterns patrolling the 3,600 sectors of the universe. Each sector is supposed to have two Green Lanterns… yet Earth has seven. I guess it’s because we’re the only ones reading the Green Lantern comics and we clearly only care about the human characters.
I’m mostly going to focus on Hal Jordan, who is likely the most well-known Green Lantern, even though he wasn’t the first.
In the Golden Age, Alan Scott was the Green Lantern. However, his story is extremely different from the Lanterns that would come along in the Silver and Modern ages. Alan Scott’s origin is more closely tied to the mystical rather than the sci-fi flavor that Hal Jordan’s story has. But that’s as far as my knowledge goes with the old school Lantern.
Hal Jordan was a daredevil test pilot who came across or was called to a crashed alien spacecraft. The dying pilot inside was a Green Lantern named Abin Sur, who was the Lantern of sector 2814. Abin Sur’s final act before he died was to pass on his power ring to Hal, making him the new Green Lantern of sector 2814, where Earth is apparently located in the universe.
If I’m remembering correctly, Hal was mostly trained by fellow Green Lantern, Sinestro, who was considered the greatest of the Green Lanterns. Unfortunately, Sinestro fell from grace when he decided to use his ring to rule his own people with an iron fist. I don’t remember how he was drummed out of the Green Lantern Corps, but I’m almost certain it came down to a fight between him and Jordan. But don’t worry about Sinestro… we’ll see him again.
Hal Jordan became the best of the Lanterns and was soon joined by other human Green Lanterns: Guy Gardner and John Stewart. Guy was sort of a hothead who went back and forth with the Corps. For a while, Guy got his hands on Sinestro’s yellow power ring and was no longer a Green Lantern. Then they changed his entire history by making him an alien/human hybrid with really different super powers. But he’s a Lantern again. And John Stewart was not the host of The Daily Show. This John Stewart is the African-American Green Lantern that is likely most recognizable from his place on the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoon series from the early 2000s. John is a gifted architect and former Marine sniper, so he’s real good with that power ring.
Following the destruction of Coast City at the hands of the Cyborg Superman, Hal Jordan kinda lost it. Because that was his home town. It happened while he was in space, so he felt a great deal of guilt for not being there to prevent the devastation. In his grief, he used his ring to recreate Coast City and even attempted to resurrect its citizens. But this was a big no-no with the Guardians of the Universe, the creators of the Green Lantern power rings and overseers of the Green Lantern Corps.
But Hal didn’t care. He took the fight to Oa, the Green Lantern home world, and took down anyone who got in his way. Friends became enemies. By the time Hal was finished, he had absorbed most, if not all, of the power available in the central power battery and killed a number of Lanterns and all but one of the Guardians. Hal emerged a different character, calling himself Parallax.
The last remaining Guardian took the last remaining power ring and transported himself to Earth to find a new Green Lantern who would act as the lighthouse keeper. Kyle Rayner, an illustrator, was presented with the ring and managed to become a pretty decent Lantern in his own right. And for a number of years, Kyle was the Green Lantern. There was no Green Lantern Corps. I can’t tell you where all the survivors were at the time, but they were out there not being Green Lanterns.
Hal, as Parallax, became the central bad guy during a story called Zero Hour: Crisis in Time, during which Parallax decided it was up to him to remake the DC Universe the way he thought it should be. Behind the scenes, the purpose this Crisis was to fix any lingering continuity errors left behind after Crisis on Infinite Earths 10 years earlier. I don’t think it actually worked… But good attempt.
All the heroes banded together and managed to stop Parallax from whatever he was trying to do. Parallax would show up to fight Kyle in the pages of Green Lantern from time to time. And then he sacrificed himself a few years later during The Final Night when the sun had gone out and he used up all his power to reignite our local star. But death wouldn’t stop Hal Jordan.
During that time when I wasn’t reading comics, Hal Jordan somehow became the Spectre, who is God’s spirit of vengeance. The Spectre needs to be anchored to a human soul so he doesn’t go overboard with the holy vengeance thing. The human side apparently keeps him grounded. I don’t know.
I tell you all that because it’s important to know that Hal never really went away. Because what got me back into comics in adulthood was the Geoff Johns written Green Lantern: Rebirth which returned Hal Jordan to life as a Green Lantern and brought back the entire Green Lantern Corps as it is today. The Rebirth story also explained to the audience that Parallax was actually the physical manifestation of fear and it had possessed Hal, taking over when Hal absorbed the central battery. That’s because Parallax had secretly been imprisoned inside the battery by the Guardians, which also explained why for many years, Green Lantern power rings were weak against the color yellow. Because Parallax is yellow.
Oh, and yellow is the color of fear.
That’s something that Rebirth led to. The introduction of the emotional spectrum. Being in the center of the spectrum, green represents willpower and is the most stable of the emotions, which is why the Guardians chose to harness its power in the first place. The rest of the rainbow goes like this: red is rage; orange is avarice; yellow is fear; blue is hope; indigo is compassion; and violet is love. The farther you get from the center (green) the more unstable the power can be.
Rebirth also brought back Sinestro who eventually built his own army of Yellow Lanterns that he called the Sinestro Corps. They had a little war with the Green Lantern Corps. Then we got introduced to all the other colors of the emotional spectrum. Then we got the Blackest Night, during which Black Lantern rings went out all over the universe resurrecting the dead, basically building a zombie army.
I know, it’s really complicated. But, I promise, they were really good stories when they were released. It was so fascinating to learn more and more about each color in the emotional spectrum and what they represented and whether they were good or evil or just neutral.
Oh… I said there are seven Green Lanterns from Earth and I’ve only mentioned five. The final two have been introduced in more recent years. They are Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. But I’m not too familiar with their stories.
I’m sure most of you are aware that Green Lantern was a movie starring Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan. Can we just leave it at that? No? Okay… The movie had so much potential because it was set to come out at the very height of the comic title’s popularity. But they spent so much time developing the stupid special effects without focusing on telling a coherent story. Ryan Reynolds did a fine job as Hal Jordan. But he was not given a lot to work with, in my opinion.
As mentioned above, John Stewart is the Green Lantern featured in animation. However, I have heard rumors over the years that there is a desire to make another movie focusing on the Green Lantern Corps that would be a sort of buddy cop movie featuring John Stewart and Hal Jordan. But considering the state of the DC movies at Warner Bros., I don’t think any of us should hold our breath.
The latest I’ve heard is that a Green Lantern TV series is in development for HBO Max. Not sure when or if that’ll actually happen. Time will tell.
What do you think of Green Lantern? Is this a character you’ve heard of? I mean… are these any characters you’ve heard of? Let me know what I left out down in the comments!