I’m going to spend a little time this week discussing the worst comic book I’ve ever read. Actually, worst is probably the wrong word; ugliest is more like it. On the other hand, most disturbing is probably even closer to home. However, I suddenly get the feeling I’m trying to rationalize some justification for this . . . this Green Lantern #50 (third series, March 1994) . . . this final chapter of “Emerald Twilight,” written by Ron Marz, illustrated by Darryl Banks and Romeo Tanghal, and edited by Kevin Dooley . . . this particular comic book story that I hate above all other comic book stories.
That’s it! I’ve always hated this story.
Green Lantern #50 is where an insanely distraught Hal “Green Lantern” Jordan snaps Sinestro’s neck; executes his fellow Green Lantern Corps member, Kilowog; steals and absorbs all the emerald energy from the central power battery on Oa; incites the Guardians of the Universe to sacrifice themselves, save one; and flies off into space to plot on how to make everything right–which in Happy Hal’s then-twisted mind was to rename himself Parallax and reboot time itself in Zero Hour in such a way that Coast City and its populace would never have been decimated by Mongul and the Cyborg Superman.
DC Comics, essentially and purposefully, made Hal Jordan a villain, and also introduced Kyle Rayner to take his place as the hero.
For long-time Green Lantern fans (such as me), what happened to Hal sucked. Following their success in replacing Barry Allen with Wally West as the new Flash after Crisis on Infinite Earths about eight years earlier, DC was shaking up the lives of its super-heroes–and achieving solid sales success doing so:
- Doomsday killed Superman and was replaced by four fill-in Supermen,
- Batman had his back broken by Bane and was replaced by Jean-Paul Valley (aka, Azrael),
- Artemis replaced wonder Woman,
- And so Hal was next in line for a major shake-up–to be replaced by Kyle.
However, in the case of the other heroes (except Flash, of course), the originals returned to their roles:
- Superman was brought back to life,
- Batman’s spine was healed,
- Wonder Woman became Wonder Woman again,
- But Hal just kept sinking lower and lower.
Finally, Hal sacrificed himself (some would say redeemed himself) to save Earth by reigniting its extinguished sun in Final Night. Hal wound up in Purgatory and eventually returned as the new Spectre for a spell. Then writer Geoff Johns performed creative miracles, making Parallax an evil possession rather than a misguided alteration, and Hal is once again on top of his game as a Green Lantern.
Saleswise, he’s one of the best-selling super-heroes in the country.
Of course, over fifteen years ago, with the publication of Green Lantern #50 in early 1994, matters had ended badly for Hal as a Green Lantern. For a while, I honestly didn’t think things would get better for him. So going back there is no funny book picnic in the park along a shiny, happy memory lane.
The other day I re-read, tolerated, and basically exorcised the bad taste of Green Lantern #50 because I’d just finished reading Green Lantern #51 (fourth series, April 2010) wherein Hal, now willingly possessed by Parallax, battles the Black Lantern Spectre. With a little help from his friends, he then reverts to being Hal again, and the “Blackest Night” war rages on.
Great stuff. It feels good to be a Hal Jordan fan right now, and I’m certain I’ll be feeling good in this respect for quite some time to come.
Actually, for all the harsh light I cast on the content of Green Lantern #50, I must admit I’m still impressed by its cover. Glow-in-the-dark processing enhances an enraged Hal Jordan, soaring toward the reader in his new uniform. To this day the image still glows in the dark. Well, at least something from that dark time retains a little glow to it.