Ladies and gentlemen, guardians and ringbearers, the Silver Age Green Lantern is coming back to the modern DC Universe. Hal Jordan will be reinstated as Green Lantern this October in a five-part miniseries, Green Lantern: The Return, written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Ethan Van Sciver. For us long-time Hal Jordan fans who watched in horror the complete degradation of his character 10 years ago in Green Lantern #s 48-50, Hal’s return to heroic glory is exciting. So exciting that I look forward to spending the summer catching up on my favorite superhero’s history, and that means reading and enjoying hundreds of Green Lantern comic books. For starters, I’ve pulled out my favorite comic book of all time, Green Lantern/Green Arrow #89 (April-May, 1972).
When I started collecting comic books in the Spring of 1972, GL’s title was canceled with issue #89. This effectively brought to an end the ‘relevant’ era in comics that Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76 had kicked into gear two years before. But what a way to bow out! In “?And Through Him Save A World!”, by writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams, a radical environmentalist named Isaac sabotages Ferris Aircraft (run by GL’s sweetheart, Carol Ferris) to prevent the outdoor testing of a new jet fuel. It’s interesting to see how GL and GA handle Isaac’s illegal actions. Green Arrow feels a kind of ‘professional kinship’ with Isaac. Green Lantern takes his more customary law and order stance. For most of the story the two friends stand opposed to one another, then they begin to cross each other’s ethical boundaries, and by story’s end GL has more in common with Isaac than he would first admit. The story both compels and preaches, with no apologies. The Biblical allegories, right down to the riveting crucifixion scene, will not escape the reader, and the topical issues of pollution and preserving the environment are not handled with sensitivity, they’re thrown right in our faces. This story has one of the most explosive endings in comics (shortly after Isaac dies, GL uses his power ring to destroy one of the multi-million dollar jets), with a great exit line by Green Lantern.
GL would go on to some memorable and a couple of ridiculous solo adventures in the back of The Flash before returning to his own magazine, alongside Green Arrow, in 1976. GL would go solo again in 1979, and his book would enjoy a lengthy run (becoming The Green Lantern Corps in 1986) until it was canceled in 1988. Hal then moved over to Action Comics Weekly, received his own miniseries in 1989, and graduated once again to his own title in 1990. Then the unthinkable transpired: shattered by the destruction of Coast City in 1993, Hal became insane and murdered his arch-foe Sinestro and destroyed the Guardians of the Universe, the little blue men that gave him his job as a protector of Earth and its galaxy. He absorbed the main power battery’s energy and transformed himself into Parallax. He later attempted to reshape the universe “to make everything right” in Zero Hour.
Failing in this, Hal wandered the cosmos in a self-indulgent daze before sacrificing himself to save Earth in The Final Night. He then entered comic book purgatory where he would brood until released during Day of Judgment. He has been the new Spectre, God’s wrath of redemption (and redeeming himself in the process), ever since. Now it appears in the pages of JSA that he’s lost those powers of redemption.
The stage is being set for his triumphant (well, I’m assuming it’s triumphant) return as Green Lantern! Yahoo! (As enthusiastic a closing as my column may ever receive!)