Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern) and Barry Allen (the Flash) are best buddies. It makes sense that they would be, because they’ve got a whole lot in common. For example, they each destroyed the universe.
Archive for Hal Jordan
Hal Jordan has always been one of my favorite comic book superheroes. At first it was simply because he had the coolest costume. Then I read his comics and found out that I like the character as well.
There are a lot of things that set Hal Jordan apart from the rest of the classic Silver Age superheroes, such as the fact that he’s got a female boss or the fact that his early issues dealt with racism against Inuits (yeah). But the biggest thing that sets him aside from others is that he’s an impulsive man-child. This is a guy who tries to do the right thing, but he’s hampered by the fact that he doesn’t think things through and is kind of an idiot. Perhaps because I am also a well-intentioned idiot, this resonates with me.
There seems to be a large amount of dislike for Hal around the Internet, with many people arguing that he’s boring. Like him or not, I can tell you one thing for sure: he’s not boring. Allow me to show you what I mean as we delve into the classic Silver Age Green Lantern story known as…“The Leap Year Menace!”
On several occasions, I’ve lamented the fact that comic book superheroes have stopped being heroes. The darkening of mainstream comics in the 1990s gave way to a modern comicdom where superheroes don’t have the shroud of grimness about them but still do horrific things, often being displayed as being in the right in the text.
Viewed in a metatextual sense, this can just be written off as bad writing and poor editorial decisions on the part of Marvel and DC. If we examine the actions of superheroes as though we were a part of these fictional worlds, though, there are some horrific implications. Power does indeed corrupt, and over a long period of time superheroes almost invariably do terrible, unjustifiable things. Some examples of how these gods among men have gone insane or simply turned subtly toward evil are outlined below. I’m using storylines from the 1990s and onward for all of these, and I’m not really changing the context of any of them.
Not too long ago I picked up The Green Lantern Chronicles Vol. 1, which features the first six Hal Jordan Green Lantern comics of the Silver Age. It’s a bunch of good-natured Silver Age fun, and compared to their peers they are some very good stories. It’s not hard to see why Hal Jordan quickly became the iconic Green Lantern.
With that in mind, here are some things, good and bad, that I learned from these early Silver Age tales.
I just want to be very clear here: I have no problem with boobies.
Who is Roy Harper? Well, he’s been lots of different things. He began as Speedy, the Green Arrow’s sidekick. He’s also been the Red Arrow and Arsenal. He’s been a drug addict, a single father, and an amputee. He’s one of the first comic book characters to really be involved in some heavy topical issues, but bad creative decisions have turned him into a parody of those very same issues. Looking at Roy Harper’s history is like watching a train wreck, then watching the sole survivor emerge from the blazing inferno, take six steps forward, then get hit by a speeding car. So let’s dive in, shall we?
“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!”
Next to the Incredible Hulk, Hal Jordan is my favorite superhero. As a kid, I liked him because he had the coolest costume and the coolest superpower. As an adult, I like him because he’s fearless and heroic but also a believably flawed character. He doesn’t have a huge defining character flaw, but is rather just kind of a hard-head and a tool sometimes. I can sympathize with a character who is kind of a jerk at times but who has a good heart and will do the right thing when the chips are down. I don’t really know of too many other characters in comics who are believably flawed like that. Arguably, there’s Guy Gardner, another Green Lantern, and over in Marvel there’s Hank Pym, who is like that but veers more toward overt mental illness at times. But overall Hal Jordan is a strong enough and believable character that he’s managed to cross over the nostalgia filter and move from my childhood hero to my second favorite superhero ever.
The journey hasn’t been easy for Hal, though. While he might not have changed powers or costumes all that much, he was victim to one of the biggest cases of character derailment in comics, and it took him a full decade to recover from it. So let’s take a look at the history of Hal Jordan, the Silver Age Green Lantern, as he went from hero to psychopath to hero once again. Continue reading