III: No Fear…A Green Lantern’s Secret Originby Bobby Acosta on Jun. 15, 2011, under Comic Books, DC, Opinion, Reviews
“Your terrestrial affairs should be of little concern, Earthman. You are in the presence of a veteran. Never question a superior officer. Never challenge those more powerful than you.”
“Um…Yeah. That’s not gonna work for me.”
As the days pass, Green Lantern mania is spreading, and I for one could not be more happy and pleased with the way that the public is taking so strongly to him. It’s almost as close to the sensation I felt when Iron Man came out and it smashed everyone’s expectation. Iron Man, being my favorite super hero, never had a chance to shine in the media’s eye. But, he did. And now? We have an Avengers movie on the way.
But I’m getting off topic.
This column is about the Green Lantern. Or, more specifically, Hal Jordan.
The Green Lantern, to sum up, is an officer within the Green Lantern Corps. They police the universe, stopping intergalactic threats to peace and wielding amazing looking weaponry at the same time. The rings choose their wearer, on one condition: That whomever wears the ring has the ability to overcome great fear.
Something Hal Jordan does regularly. And it has gotten him into some serious trouble.
The book I’m referring to right now is called “Green Lantern: Secret Origin”. Published through DC Comics as part of their Green Lantern series. As a graphic novel, it collects issues #29 – 35 of the series. It was meant to be able to introduce new readers into the origins of the Green Lantern, while still highlighting newer characters the company was using to get them hooked and waiting to find out more. Even though it was published three years ago, it still works very strongly today as a fantastic introduction into the Green Lantern mythology, and to Hal Jordan.
Hal Jordan, former Air Force pilot turned test pilot for independent air fields. As a man, good looking and incredibly suave with the lady folk (as I’m sure Ryan Reynolds will do a marvelous job of in the movie). But, beneath that smooth exterior, Hal has demons just like everyone. Only, his demons involve watching the fatal crash that took his father away from him. As he remarks:
“When your worst fear happens in front of your eyes…I thought there was nothing left to be afraid of.”
It’s these strong character moments that are brought to us by the author, Geoff Johns. Last week, we talked about the author, Brian Michael Bendis, being the guiding force for many of the books within Marvel Comics. If that’s the case for Marvel, then Johns is most definitely the guiding force for DC. So much so that, in recent months, and because of the large success of his books (there wouldn’t be a Green Lantern movie if it weren’t for his comics) he was promoted to DC Comics Chief Creative Officer. Not bad for someone who started off as an intern for Richard Donner, the original director of the Christopher Reeve Superman movies.
Johns writes his books with a deep romanticism and appreciation for the genre. He writes Green Lantern as an enormous space opera, where characters of different breeds and natures and personalities all clash over the emotional spectrum, creating massive space battles that are reminiscent of a mix between The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. However, his writing style never strays far from the characters. He gets to the core of what makes each and every character tick. It’s the small character moments that stand out, as opposed to large, informative, exposition heavy speeches that made up the comic book of old. From Secret Origin, alone:
- The first time Hal Jordan destroys a test plane to test it’s durability past Mach 1.
- The first time he punched out a superior officer to be discharged from the military for his sick mother, because he couldn’t bring himself to leave willingly.
- The first time he used the ring to punch out Kilowog, his Green Lantern Drill Instructor. (Which is ironic, since in the movie trailer, Kilowog knocks Hal out.)
- The first time he met Sinestro, and disobeyed a direct order from a superior officer. (This is the dialogue that started the article.)
- The first time he asked the Guardians of the Universe “Why?”, in response to an order.
These smaller character moments make up Johns writing and flow through each and everyone of his characters. From Carol Ferris (played by Blake Lively in the upcoming movie), owner of Ferris Air Fields, all the way to Sinestro (played by Mark Strong), considered by many to be the greatest Green Lantern of all and Hal Jordan’s reluctant mentor. Johns understands what truly makes these characters tick and lets it shine through his dialogue and through their actions.
With him on this amazing origin journey is Ivan Reis, a Brazilian artist that many would consider to be one of the best in the business, if not the best. As a comic artist, Reis delves more into the realm of realism within his work, and this is most definitely a good thing. This is not always a good thing, though, as realism in comics can sometimes tend to look more like photo traced, stiff nonsensical nonsense. Not Reis’ work. His character’s emit human emotions and stances, creating a more captivating look to the book. However, since this is Green Lantern, more fantastical things happen than just a conversation on an air field.
Since the characters are so realistic looking, it makes it all the more amazing when you first see Hal Jordan arrive on the Green Lantern planet Oa, or flying through the air, leaving a green trail behind him, or facing off with the immense, alien menace known as Attrocitus. Wide screen comics. That’s what they have been called, and for good reason. Bring the larger than life feeling of cinematic storytelling, all to the smaller art form of comics.
It’s this wonderful combination that brings to life the star of the Green Lantern saga, Hal Jordan. A man without fear. I think there is a misconception in that, one that is corrected for us by Hal Jordan. A Green Lantern is never without fear. Fear is something everyone feels, Jordan will lament. It’s the fact that they overcome it. They never let it stop them from doing what they’re supposed to do.
That’s what makes the Green Lantern universe, and more importantly, Hal Jordan so important. This is a man who, when confronted with any obstacle, never let fear overcome him. He beat it out, every time. Johns crafts for us a character filled with such bravado and character, you cannot help but stay hinged on every word that he speaks.
It’s his character that attracts us to him. Not the heroic things he does. While Jordan does do super-heroey things like catching a falling fighter jet and tackling the telekinetic madman known as Hector Hammond, it’s who Hal Jordan is that will make this story.
Bravery is a hard trait to come by, if you really think about. How many times a day will a person let something slide or not speak out for fear of the repercussions? Or out of sheer laziness? We look to comics to give us characters greater in semblance than ourselves, who exhibit those humanistic traits that sometimes we lack. Geoff Johns gives great weight and depth to the man that is Hal Jordan. To his charisma and his inability to not question authority whom he thinks might be in the wrong. His inability to back down from any challenge, with or without the Green Lantern ring.
How many of us can say we live our lives the way that Hal Jordan does?
So much comes from Hal Jordan that anyone can admire. That’s what makes this book great, and that’s what makes Hal Jordan great. The greatest of the Green Lanterns.
And if the movie can’t convey that, I’m going to be sorely cross.
- In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen website, Rob Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, frequenter of local comic book shop Heroes & Villains, explorer of the importance of comics, and fan of all Tim Burton movies. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org