Not that we need a reason to honor the Green Lantern Corps for their continued service in protecting the myriad civilizations of the cosmos – for the most part – but if you happen to write your dates the way we do in America, then today, 2/8/14, is the perfect day to recognize the many guardians of Earth and Sector 2814.
Hey, if 4:20 and Pi Day are things, then I think we’re allowed some comic book related date manipulation celebrating.
So, here they are, your Green Lanterns!
The Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan was created by artist Martin Nodell who was inspired by a combination of Richard Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung and the sight of a green railway lantern. With some help from Batman co-creator Bill Finger and editor Max Gaines, Alan Scott’s Green Lantern made his debut in All-American Comics #16 (July 1940). There are obviously some noticeable differences between the Golden Age Lantern and his Silver Age successor, Hal Jordan. Prior to the creation of the Guardians of Oa or the Green Lantern Corp, Alan’s ring and battery were created from the “green flame”, a meteor that fell to Earth in ancient China. He also had a very different power set and limitations on his ring. The most consistent features of Alan’s ring were its ability to make him fly, project green light into what would later be termed “constructs”, and his constructs’ weakness to anything made of wood.
When DC eventually merged their Golden and Silver Age characters into one universe during Crisis on Infinite Earths, Alan’s origins were retconned to make his power ring magic-based in order to separate him from the science-oriented Green Lantern Corps, though he was considered an honorary member. He eventually fathered twins, Jade and Obsidian, with former villainess Rose Canton, and continued to operate as a hero well into his twilight years along with friends Jay Garrick (The Flash) and Ted Grant (Wildcat).
In the New 52, Alan Scott is the twenty-something Green Lantern of Earth-2, gaining his powers in the wake of a train crash that killed hundreds, including Alan’s boyfriend, Sam. Swearing vengeance for his lost love and bolstered to protect others, the green flame that protected him creates a ring and costume for Alan, making him the Green Lantern.
When Green Lantern sales plummeted after World War II, the book was cancelled in 1949. Ten years later, editor Julius Schwartz, coming off of reimagining The Flash for a new science-fiction oriented readership, decided to do the same for Green Lantern. Enlisting writer John Broom and artist Gil Kane to bring the project to life, the creative team introduced the new Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, to readers in Showcase #22 (September-October 1959). Hal’s immediate popularity led to a solo title that ran from 1960 to 1972. Hal’s popularity remains to this day with fans who still consider him “their” Green Lantern. This cocky fly boy with a heart of gold is certainly the favorite Lantern of The Nerd himself, so I’ll just let him tell you what makes Hal Jordan so special.
Being an old school comic book fan, my favorite of the 2814 lanterns would have to be Hal Jordan. To me he was the first, the first Green Lantern I was exposed to, the Green Lantern I grew up with. Sure Alan Scott was first, but my loyalty lies with Hal. To me Hal is the most interesting of the Lanterns because he’s been through SO much during his fifty odd years of service. A lot of people say that Hal is uninteresting and boring, and I have a difficult time understanding that. Hal has battled alcoholism, becoming the personification of fear, dying, rebirth, zombies and a host of other threats, how could anyone say that he’s boring? He was the standard by which all other Green Lanterns were measured, both before and after his death. I know that if were recruited by the Corps to wear the ring, I would want to be just like Hal Jordan.
If that doesn’t sell you on Hal, I don’t know what will.
Another creation of John Broom and Gil Kane’s (based on actor Martin Milner), Guy Gardner was introduced in Green Lantern #59 (March 1968) as Hal Jordan’s backup in case of serious injury or death. Word of the Nerd writer, Kyle Rivest had this to say:
Let me tell you about the greatest Green Lantern. I’m talking about Guy Gardner. When Abin Sur’s ship crash landed on Earth, the fatally wounded alien sent his power ring to select his successor in the Green Lantern Corps. The ring searched for candidates who were honest and without fear, and found two candidates. One was Hal Jordan, and the other Guy Gardner; Abin Sur instructed the ring to pick the nearest of the two, and though Guy would eventually take his rightful place among the Corps as well, the Galaxy is poorer for Abin Sur’s haste. Of the Earth-born protectors of Sector 2814, Guy Gardner is the one who most enjoys being a super-hero. Though he takes his duty, and the role of the Corps seriously, he still capable of having fun, which makes him fun to read. He’s the mostly likely to crack a joke, and shoulders the burden of responsibility with the greatest ease. When the galaxy is in peril, Guy’s right on the front line, leading the charge.
And there you have it. Currently, Guy is the leader of the Red Lanterns, which makes a lot of sense when you think about it.
Having appeared in several DC Animated shows, Guy’s character has been mostly consistent, though some traits are played up more than others. In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Guy’s a hot head ready to fight at a moment’s notice. He’s whiny and surly, not at the top of Batman’s list of allies, but definitely someone to rely on in a pinch. In Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Guy was more of an arrogant bro, but likeable nonetheless. Unlike Hal, he embraced his status as a hero and Green Lantern, letting the whole world know his identity. When it was time to get serious, however, Guy was a force to be reckoned with in battle.
Created by the creative team of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, John Stewart was introduced in Green Lantern #87 (December 1971/January 1972) and was one of DC Comics’ first African-American superheroes. An architect and a former Marine, John was no stranger to the workings of a military organization, which made him a good fit for the Green Lantern Corps. Backup to Hal Jordan after Guy was hit by a car and seriously injured, John became a cipher for the tense landscape of American politics and race relations with O’Neil often putting him and Hal Jordan at odds since Hal was the symbolic stand-in for political authority. Hal was also a bit of a racist at the time. Eventually, John became the full-time Green Lantern after Hal left the Corps in the 1980s, but his tenure was hardly a cakewalk.
Personally, John Stewart is probably my favorite Green Lantern largely based on his appearance in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited where he was voiced perfectly by Phil LaMarr. His odd-couple buddy moments with Flash were some of my favorite moments, juxtaposing John’s solid, straight-laced mentality versus Flash’s impulsive and often childish behavior. Episodes like “In Blackest Night” deftly incorporated story elements from his comic book counterpart and his flirtation-turned-complicated-romance with Hawkgirl was as fun as it was frustrating to watch. John Stewart was so well-known by my generation that fans were outraged when the Green Lantern movie featured Hal instead of John. And with rumors constantly circulating about who may or may not appear in the up-coming Man of Steel 2 and Justice League, a lot of fans are pulling for John to be the Green Lantern featured amongst the cast.
Created by writer Ron Marz and artist Darryl Banks, Kyle Rayner first appeared in Green Lantern #48 (1994) as part of the “Emerald Twilight” storyline that saw Hal Jordan destroy the Green Lantern Corps and become Parallax. Ganthet, the last surviving Guardian who’d absorbed the remaining green energy, found Kyle on Earth and passed his power ring on to the young graphic artist, making him the sole Green Lantern through most of the 1990s. A bit lazy with his abilities and duties as Green Lantern, the encouragement of his then girlfriend, Alex DeWitt pushed him to treat the mantle with respect. Unfortunately, Alex met a notorious end because of her relationship with Kyle, forever associating her with the “Women in Refrigerators” trope. After Alex’s death, Kyle took his responsibilities as a hero more seriously, becoming a member of the Justice League and learning from the heroes he’d admired since he was a kid.
His drive to become the best Green Lantern possible ultimately led to Kyle becoming one of the most powerful ring bearers, taking on the identity of Ion when the entity merged with him following the events of “Emerald Twilight”. Rayner was also able to master the abilities of all the rings of the Emotional Spectrum, becoming a White Lantern in the process. When he was a Green Lantern, Kyle was considered a formidable opponent due to his artistic mind and imagination creating constructs that were varied and unpredictable.
The newest Green Lantern of Sector 2814, Simon was created during the New 52 by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke, appearing in The New 52 Free Comic Book Day Special Edition #1 (May 2012). Simon became Hal Jordan’s replacement during the events of the “Rise of the Third Army” arc in Green Lantern and was later added to the roster of Justice League of America. The first Arab-American Green Lantern, Simon is half Lebanese and was persecuted, along with his sister, for his heritage after the attacks on 9/11. During the ultimate case of “wrong place, wrong time” an unemployed Simon steals a van containing a bomb set to go off. Driving the van into his former place of work, Simon is accused of terrorism. At the same time, Hal and Sinestro’s power rings malfunction and fuse together, finding Simon worthy of its power as the events of the Third Army begin. Simon is instrumental in defeating not just the Third Army but also the First Lantern. His story is one of redemption, a criminal turned hero who is prophesied as the “miracle worker” capable of showing the great potential of the power ring wherever he goes.
So those are just some of the Green Lanterns who have taken the responsibility of guarding Sector 2814. I know I’ve left out a lot of other candidates, so please feel free to praise those I left out in the comments. I know a bunch of you are ready to write about Abin Sur!