As with any opening of a new comic book movie, the rush of the character into pop culture is incredibly swift. This weekend, Green Lantern comes to theaters with Ryan Reynolds taking on the iconic mantle of Hal Jordan. This will lead to a lot of people who don’t really care about comics sporting Green Lantern T-shirts, buying coffee mugs, toys, buttons and so on. I’ve watched as those people are torn apart by comic book geeks (like myself) looking to best them. Why get caught in that trap? You can follow my simple 10 Things You Should Know About Hal Jordan list and seem like a damn know-it-all. So, fire up those rings and prepare to learn.
10. Hal Jordan Was Not The First Green Lantern
That honor belongs to Alan Scott from the Golden Age of comic books, who appeared in All-American Comics #16 in 1940. Though they share a name, the original Green Lantern was vastly different than Hal Jordan. Instead of his ring and lantern being powered by the force of will, Alan Scott’s power came from magic in the form of a mystical “green flame” that fell to earth. There is a subsequent story about an older Lantern named Yalan Gur, but officially Alan Scott is the first one.
09. Hal Jordan's First Appearance
Hal Jordan’s first appearance was in Showcase Comics #22 in 1959. Written by John Broome and penciled by Gil Kane (who also helped create the Atom for DC and Iron Fist for Marvel), the new Green Lantern would debut not just the new green and black costume but also the idea of the Green Lantern Corps. It was a radical difference from the original Green Lantern, one produced by DC editor Julius Schwartz in the late '50s to fit with the more science fiction driven pop culture of the time.
08. Hal Jordan’s Original Look
Though it was rumored that Hal Jordan was based on Errol Flynn, artist Gil Kane actually patterned Hal’s rugged good looks after Paul Newman.
07. Sinestro Was Once Hal Jordan’s Mentor
Largely known these days as a villain, Sinestro was once the most gifted and honorable member of the Green Lantern Corps. When Jordan first came to Oa, Sinestro disliked him being human but respected his in-your-face attitude and lack of patience with the Guardians. Sinestro became a mentor to Hal and they had several adventures together. When Sinestro decided that the power of the green was too weak to maintain order, and turned to the power of fear (yellow) he wanted Jordan to join him. When he refused, Sinestro fought Hal but was defeated. Since then he has sworn to always be Hal Jordan’s enemy.
06. Hal Jordan Is The First….
…human being ever to be allowed into the Green Lantern Corps. The Guardians felt that humanity was too young and violent to be effective members of the Corps, so Earth was ignored. When Abin Sur, the greatest Green Lantern, crashed here and his ring chose Hal Jordan, it shocked the Green Lantern Corps. Jordan was deemed unworthy but eventually proved to be one of the greatest Green Lanterns of all time. His ability led to other human Lanterns such as Guy Gardner and John Stewart.
05. Hal Jordan Once Teamed Up With Daffy Duck
In the cartoon Duck Dodgers, in the episode titled “The Green Loontern”, Daffy Duck’s dry cleaner accidentally gives him a Green Lantern suit. Daffy travels to Oa and battles Sinestro before meeting up with Hal Jordan wearing the much too small Duck Dodgers uniform. Hal Jordan was voiced in this episode by writer/director Kevin Smith.
04. The Lensman Controversy
When Hal Jordan debuted, many felt it was a little too close to E.E. "Doc" Smith’s series of pulp sci-fi books titled The Lensman. The Lensmen are a cosmic police force made up of different creatures given equipment that allows them great physical and mental powers. The writers and editors at DC Comics have always denied this claim but there are those who wonder if these books are where the idea for Green Lantern came from.
03. Hal Jordan Killed The Entire Green Lantern Corps
Okay, pay attention because this gets tricky. After The Death Of Superman, the villain Mongul comes to Earth to try and take over. During this, Hal Jordan’s home of Coast City is destroyed and the seven million inhabitants murdered. Distraught, Jordan attempts to reconstruct the city using his ring in an attempt to deal with the grief. The Guardians see this as using the ring for personal gain and Hal Jordan is put on trial. Angered over what he sees as the Guardians ungrateful and insensitive behavior, Hal Jordan snaps and tries to take over the power of the main Lantern battery. During the battle, he wipes out all of the Corps, including Kilowog and most of the Guardians.
During the series Zero Hour: Crisis In Time, Hal Jordan attempt to rewrite history but is eventually stopped by other heroes in the DC Universe, including Green Arrow, who shoots Jordan through the heart. In the 1996 series Final Night, Hal Jordan returns and sacrifices himself to restart the sun.
02. Hal Jordan Was The Spectre For A While
After dying while restarting the sun, Hal Jordan is fused with The Spectre, the spirit of vengeance. Hal uses this more as a spirit of redemption and goes on to help several heroes out of bad situations. Finally, Hal Jordan is reborn and takes his place again within the Green Lantern Corps.
01. Hal Jordan Was One Of The First Political Characters In Comics
In issue #76 of the original Green Lantern run, writer Denny O’Neil and artist Neal Adams took over the series and gave it a political slant. Children of the sixties, O’Neil and Adams wanted to tell stories about the political upheaval and crimes happening in the real world. The two created the Green Lantern/Green Arrow series, which ushered in the Bronze Age of comics. Hal Jordan, being an interstellar cop, was set up as the representation of the establishment, while Green Arrow was the rebel. Green Arrow shows Hal Jordan all of the injustices that are out there and how Jordan’s good guys and bad guys’ view of the world is not realistic. These were not only the first to deal with political issues like racism, sexism, the rich oppressing the poor and political corruption, they were also the first to feature a main DC character as a drug addict when Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy got hooked on heroin. Hal Jordan was part of an enormously important chapter in the world of comics.
Well, there you have it. Ten ideas that will make you seem like an old school Green Lantern fan. No more worries about faking the funk, I have helped you by showing enough of the legacy of Hal Jordan for you to impress folks. No need to thank me, I’m just an awfully nice person.