From 1940 until 1959, there was only one Green Lantern, Alan Scott. A caped, mask wearing man whose power ring was magic based. After the successful revitalization of the Golden Age Flash, editor Julius Schwartz tapped writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane to give Green Lantern the same treatment. With Showcase #22 (1959), Hal “Highball” Jordan was born. The new Green Lantern was a space cop for sector 2814. In what is now considered the official origin story for Jordan, Abin Sur crashed his ship on planet Earth. Dying, he sent the ring to find it’s successor, selecting Jordan. Jordan was brought to Sur just as he died. Jordan is now a member of the Green Lantern Corps., numbering at 7200 members, lead by the Guardians of the Universe from their planet Oa at the center.
Jordan was a little different from characters at the time, as he had a family (two brothers) and a head strong female love intrest. Carol Ferris is the owner of Ferris aircrafts and Jordan’s boss. This, along with Jordan’s superheroics, make their relationship tumultuous.
Green Lantern’s powers come from their ring, driven by willpower. Each Lantern is selected by proximity, and the ability to overcome fear. Their power rings must be powered once a day via their own lanterns, kept in a pocket dimension. This is an interesting plot device, but one that’s more often than not forgotten. The ring can create any construct the user can think of, only limited by the imagination of the artist and writer really. Also, the ring had no effect on the color yellow (had, past tense, it’s a thing).
After Broome and Kane’s 11 year run the reigns were passed to comic book legends Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams. The two paired Jordan with Green Arrow, another character being revitalized. The Green Lantern/Green Arrow series only lasted until 1972, where it was cancelled due to lagging sales. I have no idea how low the numbers were to warrant cancellation but I can guarantee any publisher would kill for those numbers now.
Green Lantern got his own series in 1972 that continued until the ’90’s when stuff really got crazy. During that time two additional earth Lanterns were added, John Stewart and later Guy Gardner. Alright, deep breath, ready? Cyborg Superman (one of the 4 Superman created in the Return of story), destroyed Jordan’s home town of Coast City while he was away in space. Mongul (crazed outer-space despot and controller of Warworld) moved in to create a new Warworld. Jordan defeats them both and cleans out the mess. Now a little crazed and with gray side burns Mr. Fantastic style, he recreates Coast City. Using his powers for personal gain, he’s summoned to Oa to answer for this transgression. Jordan kills the guardians, most of the corps, and absorbs all the power from the Central Battery, effectively killing the planet and changes his name to Parallax. A lot of hinky weird comic book stuff happened that’s not worth repeating. Then, in ’94, Jordan comes to his senses slightly and sacrifices himself to reignite earth’s dying sun. Ya, they screwed Jordan up really good for years.
In 2004 Geoff Johns took control of the character, bringing him back in the Rebirth story line. From there, Johns went on an amazing 9 year run that ended in May of ’13. Taking inspiration from Green Lanterns past, and most notably Alan Moore’s Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2, Johns was able to streamline most of the Green Lantern continuity, including explaining away the Parallax thing. Johns did a lot for the Green Lantern mythos. Now, Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar) is helming the character.
Jordan has seen some different incarnation, mostly in animation. The Justice League Green Lantern was John Stewart, with Jordan making a brief appearance in an episode. Thanks to the DC animated movies, Jordan can be seen in Justice League: The New Frontier, Green Lantern: First Flight, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. Justice League: Doom, and Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. Nathan Fillion voiced him in the last three, as he should because he’s Hal Jordan. Ryan Reynolds played him in the live action movie. The movie was meh. The best animated version was hands down on Green Lantern: The Animated Series.
What’s your favorite Green Lantern story (Sinestro Corps.)? Like a different Lantern better than Jordan (Ch’p!)? Comment below!
“In Brightest Day, in Blackest Night”