Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Green Lantern

I never really got the character in the 1960s. He created big balloon hands and other objects out of his ring. And the whole yellow thing. His ring was powerless against anything colored yellow. How does that work? Yellow is a primary color. Green includes yellow. Just how yellow does something have to be? What about in the dark? Could he carry some spray paint around to neutralize yellow?

I did get excited about the comic when Denny O'Neil and Niel Adams took over and teamed GL with Green Arrow. Green Arrow was a second-rate hero at best. He was a rich guy who dressed up in green and fought crime with trick arrows. Hawkeye did the same thing but with more flair. Green Arrow was mainly chosen because both characters had "green" in their name.

For the team-up, they reworked Green Arrow. He lost his money, grew a beard and mustache and adopted a darker colored costume. He moved into the ghetto and developed a social conscience.

Green Arrow mainly acted as Jiminy Cricket to Green Lantern.

The team-up began when people in a ghetto started throwing trash at Green Lantern. An old black man explained that GL had been doing a lot for blue-skinned folks, some red skins and some green skins but not enough for the black skins.

Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and one of the Guardians of Oa who created the Green Lantern Corps went on a tour of America. Many of the stories were over the top in their social commentary but they were head and shoulders better than most comics of the times. Plus there was Neil Adams' artwork.

Spider-Man was the first comic to really tackle drugs with a trio of issues revolving around his roommate's drug addiction. The Comics Code was rewritten because of this and drug use was allowed for anti-drug stories. The Green Lantern/Green Arrow version was to show that Green Arrow's teen age sidekick was addicted to heroin. It was a powerful story.

Relevance did not equal sales. The comic was canceled. The last issue featured an early eco-saboteur who was crucified along with GL and GA on the tail sections of some airplanes.

The pair resurfaced a few years later as a backup strip then in their own comic. They split up and the book went back to being Green Lantern.

Then it got complicated.

There was a craze in the 1980s to replace the title character. Green Lantern was one of the first in this trend. Hal Jordan, the original Green Lantern was replaced by two Earthlings and eventually a small cadre of Green Lanterns. During this period the comic was renamed Green Lantern Corps.

Hal Jordan eventually took over the staring role only to run into the end of the replacement hero trend. Superman died and his syborg replacement was actually evil. The evil Superman blew up Green Lantern's home city. This drove Hal Jordan crazy and he decided to turn time back to the original event then roll it forward again so that Central City survived.

Along the way the Green Lanterns were eliminated except for a single new Lantern named Kyle Rayner who eventually killed Hal Jordan. As penance, Hal became the Specter for a while before returning to life as Green Lantern.

The only times I really followed the strip were during the O'Neil/Adams run and during the Green Lantern Corps. I think I bought one or two of the Kyle Rayner issues.

The only Green Lantern appearances that I really liked were the ones in the animated Justice League. That had John Stewart, one of the replacement GLs. Presumably they chose Stewart because his character is black. Regardless, he was one of the more interesting character. The animators did a great job of showing glowing green energy when he used his ring.

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