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The Green Lantern Lights the Way

By Eitan Gavish


“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight. Let those who worship evil’s might, beware my power! Green Lantern’s light.”  On June 17th, 2011, the legendary oath of the Green Lantern Corps finally gets the silver screen treatment.

Under the helm of director Martin Campbell, best known for revitalizing the James Bond franchise with his no-nonsense remake of Casino Royale, comic fanboy Ryan Reynolds will don the power ring as Green Lantern champion Hal Jordan.  In anticipation for the release, emerald knight aficionados everywhere are getting caught up on their GL back issues - and Metropolis is here to help - but first, a little history.

The story of the Green Lantern starts during the Golden Age of comics with a very different ring-bearing hero. Before all the intergalactic policing, there was railroad engineer Alan Scott and his magic lantern.

Debuting in All American Comics #16 (1940), a Golden Age book more scarce than the coveted Action #1, Scott’s power came from a lantern and ring set forged from an ancient Chinese lamp. The materials crafted from a fallen meteor later coined as the Starheart. Scott’s ring contained an almost infinite power, but required a 24-hour lantern charging and found a weakness in non-metal materials.  

The early Green Lantern scored his own series in 1941, with a retelling of his origin in Green Lantern #1. As Scott’s popularity grew he branched out into other books, co-founding the Justice Society of America in All Star Comics #3, as well as teaming up with Wonder Woman and the Flash starting in Comic Cavalcade #1. Alan Scott’s solo run ended with Green Lantern #38, and he made his Golden Age exit with All Star Comics #57 (1951).

Moving into the Silver Age of the late 1950’s, DC comics sought to reinvent their Green Lantern character. Where Scott’s Green Lantern embraced a sense of mysticism and spells of Word War II patriotism, the new Green Lantern looked towards a future filled with science fiction and a new obsession with the cosmos.

Enter test pilot Hal Jordan, and the Guardians of the Universe. Jordan made his first appearance as the Green Lantern in Showcase #22, and eventually re-launched the GL series beginning with an all-new Green Lantern #1 (1960).  After crashing to earth, dying alien Abin Sur summons Jordan during a test flight simulation. As the alien’s final act, he enlists Jordan into the ranks of an intergalactic police force known as the Green Lantern Corps.

Jordan inherits Abin Sur’s green power ring, an instrument capable of channeling pure will and manifesting its bearer’s thoughts into physical reality. However, the ring’s power is limited when confronted by the color yellow (the color associated with fear on the emotional spectrum).  Much like the previous Green Lantern, Hal’s ring requires charging, but this time the lantern is called a power battery. It draws energy from a central power source located on the planet Oa (headquarters of the Green Lantern Corps and home to their chieftains the Guardians of the Universe).

Hal Jordan became an even bigger hit than his predecessor, and beginning in Brave and the Bold #28 soon found himself side-by-side with DC’s best as key member of the Justice League of America.

During the Bronze Age of comics Green Arrow was briefly introduced as Jordan’s crime-fighting partner. The team-up initiates with Green Lantern #76, a landmark issue that sold through Metropolis for $30,500 at CGC 9.6 condition. With Neal Adams and Dennis O’Neil at the reins, the book took on a more socially conscious approach that reflected real issues facing society.  One such episode involves a Manson Family-like cult in Green Lantern #78 and #79. Another story arc tackles drug addiction in Green Lantern #85 and 86, revealing Green Arrow’s ward Speedy as a heroin user.

The Green Lantern mythology has continued to grow and mature into a rich narrative throughout this Modern Era. Big GL events like Rebirth and Blackest Night have helped spawn multiple Green Lantern titles, and placed Hal Jordan as one of the top selling heroes at the comic shop.  The soon-to-be released movie has the chance of furthering Green Lantern popularity, and may have the power to make Hal Jordan a household name to the likes of Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent.

In the end this is all a boon for comic collectors everywhere, as the mighty Green Lantern’s rise in fame could translate into high demand for those classic funny books recounting his courageous past.


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