A new start for the Green Lantern Corps…..

30 Apr

I have spent the last few years trying to rebuild a large comic book collection I sold for a pittance when I had my child.  Recently, I discovered an online comic shop and I recently received my second order from them.  In it, there was a gem of a series I had all but forgotten in DC’s reboot and retconned laden history.  So for those who care, I recommend you read the first ten or so issues of the third Green Lantern series.

The series debuted in an odd time in DC’s and Green Lantern’s history.  In DC, like most other companies, the focus was on maturing with the readership.  Most companies unwisely bought into the grim and gritty mindset for mature concepts.  DC launched Vertigo.  In spite of this concept though one of DC’s most popular titles at the time was my all time favorite series, Justice League International (America and Europe), which eschewed this dark era.

For Green Lantern, it was a time of rebuilding (which should sound familiar to fans of the characters).  The previous series had come to a conclusion with the destruction of the main power battery.  The Corps had disbanded.  The Guardians had left the universe, due in part to a need to grow, after the revelation of several mistakes had shaken the Corps’ faith in them.  Earth, specifically, was home to the remaining Lanterns, John, Guy, and the greatest Lantern, Hal.

The three characters all were developing a lot also.  John’s wife had been murdered a few years (real time) before and a moment of weakness led to his inadvertently dooming a planet.  Guy was the current big name Lantern.  This was Guy at his most arrogant, whom I personally love, but I realize it is an acquired taste.  My favorite comic character of all time, Hal, was changing the most though, in a way.

For years, Hal had been the typical DC Silver Age hero.  Always did and said the right thing.  By the 70s, though, DC had begun the maturing process.  Hal was made to question all he stood for.  The series became a critical, if not financial, success.  The concept of Hal questioning his motivations and the Guardians though was an almost fatal problem.  Over time, different authors came in and would have Hal give up the ring for one reason or other.  By the time Gerard Jones took over, Hal was a perennial whiner.

Gerard took that idea and ran with it.  Hal became almost a symbol of America.  Through the 40s, 50s, and 60s, America was the good guy.  Towards the end of the 60s though and into the 70s, we were forced to question leadership.  Who had killed Kennedy and why?  Why were in a war in an Asian country that most couldn’t locate?  How could a president resign, in disgrace?  Finally, by the time I was a child, the 80s and 90s, America was busy trying to regain a lost sense of heroism and nobility.  Hal, during my childhood, was doing the same thing.  His goal was to fix the problems of his past and move on with life.

Maybe the series was a little mundane at times.  Hal spent half of an issue gathering fruit and the issue before, it was crabs.  But Gerard found ways to intersperse Green Lantern troubles with Hal’s spiraling life.  By the end of the first storyline, Hal realized he needed to be Hal AND Green Lantern, not one or the other (a lesson Geoff Johns may need to remember).  Throughout the rest of the series, he continued to struggle with trusting his leaders, the Guardians.  He continued fighting with Guy.  And he continued trying to live both lives to the fullest.

The concept worked.  Today’s Green Lantern fans often think of the current titles as Green Lantern’s high water mark in popularity.  Three Green Lantern titles and an auxiliary title.  But, during the early 90s, there were the same number of titles actually.  By issue 20 of the main series, Hal was the star of the Green Lantern book.  Guy and John quickly gained titles devoted to their exploits and there was a quarterly title devoted to the Corps.  I believe it was a veritable golden age of Green Lantern concepts.

Unfortunately, it all came crashing down in one of the most controversial comic book stories ever.  During the height of the grim and gritty era, the editor of the series decided a totally new direction was needed.  With stories plotted and begun, Gerard was canned and replaced by a popular Marvel author, who rebranded the upcoming “Emerald Twilight” storyline.  The Corps were destroyed, the Guardians killed, Guy and John were depowered, and Hal was driven insane.  It took several years for DC to realize the error of their ways.

I truly regret this also.  Over the years, bits and pieces of the original E.T. storyline have leaked out.  What has been revealed sounded like an amazing, and ambitious story.  Hal would discover the Guardians killed his father, because they knew he would grow to become the ultimate Green Lantern.  Meanwhile, a new group of Guardians would appear and claim those that Hal was following were fakes.  The new Guardians would make Sinestro the centerpiece of the Green Lantern Corps and a new harsher brand of justice would sweep the galaxy.  Hal would have to lead a collection of Green Lanterns and human heroes in a “Green Lantern War,” to restore the real Guardians, who were responsible for his father’s murder.  In the end, he would leave the Corps, gaining immense powers from merging with the power battery, like he frequently did during this time period, and became a universal hero.  A new human Lantern would be chosen.

Much of this has appeared, in bits and pieces.  Ron Marz kept the uber powerful Hal, even if he did make him a psycho.  And we “gained” a new Lantern of Earth, my least favorite Kyle.  When Hal returned to Green Lantern status in the 2000s, it was revealed that the Guardians had manipulated events, over the years, though not quite as grisly as Gerard had planned.  A harsher version of the Corps has come about.  Now, Green Lanterns can kill their enemies.  A Green Lantern War happened a few years ago.  And now, Sinestro is a Green Lantern again.

I say this all to say, Gerard’s run on the title was different.  It was about growing up.  It was about admitting your failures and mistakes and learning from them.  It was about a restoration to greatness that would have to be redone a decade later due to the arrogance of certain creators.  If you are a fan of the Green Lantern mythos and specifically Hal, Guy, or John, there is something for you in it.  Give it a try and I think you will like it.

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