Friday, October 26, 2012

Green Lantern's Light: Birth of the Corps (Part 2 of 5)

“They say I’m fearless, but actually I’m very afraid. Of getting beat. Of backing down. Of chickening out. That fear just blows all the others away.”

- Hal Jordan, New Earth

           One of DC’s cancelled Golden Age heroes is revived through the eyes of editor Julius Schwartz. Having successfully reestablished the Flash in the form of Barry Allen, Schwartz was assigned the daunting task of recreating the Green Lantern for the Silver Age of comics.

         Hal Jordan, a young test pilot is the first earthling to be selected into the Green Lantern Corps (an army of “space cops”, each with an assigned sector of the universe to protect). The Corps was created by a race of immortal aliens called the Guardians of the Universe. The entire premise of the Green Lantern was redesigned by Schwartz and his creative crew, giving writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane a chance to expand, not only on the character of Hal Jordan, but on nearly 3000 other Lanterns. Story plots and villains took our hero above the stars and to new worlds with new alien races. Green Lantern now featured elements of fiction that you just couldn’t get from any other hero. Even Superman, an alien himself, was still, for the most part, earth-bound in his stories. Hal Jordan boldly went where no other hero in the Silver Age dared to go: the 3600 known sectors of the Universe and even a few unknown sectors as well.

        Hal’s popularity soon rivaled his superhero comrades, giving him his own comic-title, which soon resulted in making him a founding member of the original Justice League of America (again, created by Julius Schwartz). Jordan became very popular and arguably as recognizable a hero as Superman or Batman. In Green Lantern #59 of 1968, Guy Gardner was chosen as Jordan’s “backup” to protect sector 2814. Gardner was originally one of Abin Sur’s original choices for the ring, but since Jordan’s air force base was closer to Abin Sur’s crashed spaceship, Hal was chosen instead. Although Gardner is cocky and arrogant, and has an overconfidence that has gotten him into trouble on numerous occasions, the Guardians have found him to be one of the greatest and most trustworthy Lanterns.

         In the early 1970’s, Hal Jordan was given an earth-bound “partner” in the form of Green Arrow. After fighting evil in the far reaches of space, alongside his fellow Lanterns, Hal Jordan returns to Earth to find that his perspectives of justice, of right and wrong, are sorely outdated. He requires assistance from Green Arrow, a rebellious, renegade, street-heavy hero, to show Hal that society has changed. The two eventually became good friends, leading to a shared comics-title, which featured a lot of socially relevant stories dealing with drugs, racism and the many hardships of average people in those times. Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams are greatly responsible for the continued success of Green Lantern and for proving that comic book stories can be more about beating up criminals, they can be meaningful.

        When Jordan was busy on other assignments and when Gardner was severely injured, John Stewart, the first black Green Lantern, was selected as the third earthling to represent sector 2814, and he did it proudly. Stewart was an architect, making his green hard light constructs very complicated and detailed. He was good at following orders, which boosted his reputation and relationship with the Guardians, something that Jordan and Gardner were never very good at. Stewart eventually became the title character of Green Lantern Comics as the series approached its end. Volume 3 of GL Comics was just around the corner, and with it comes the fall of the “greatest” Green Lantern, and the rise of the “last”.

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