How Old Would Comics Characters Be If They Aged Normally? (And What Would They Be Doing Now?)

We begin with Green Lantern Hal Jordan, who first appeared in 1959, which is 58 years ago.  

Well, the first question we have to answer is, how old was he in 1959?

(Bear in mind, that all of this is based on my admittedly incomplete knowledge of the character. I am open to correction.)


I don't know that an exact age was ever given, if it was, I never heard about it.  I always took him for about 30.  The way he was drawn, he didn't look to me like he could be much younger than that.  Plus, while I don't know much about becoming a test pilot, minutes of internet research has led me to believe that one doesn't simply roll out of flight school and become the sort of test pilot that Hal Jordan was shown to be. I had the impression that he'd been in the USAF, so presumably he did at least a minimal tour of duty, and spent sometime establishing himself as a civilian test pilot, so I figure that 30 is a reasonable estimate.

In that case, Hal Jordan would be 88 now.

So, what would he be doing? I like to think he would have had a long, noteworthy career in the Green Lantern Corps and the Justice League of America.  Undoubtedly, he would eventually have been offered a spot in the Guardians; Honor Guard, but it wouldn't surprise me if he turned them down for more active duty.  

I expect he would be retired by now, although I can imagine an older Hal taking a hand in training younger or less experienced Lanterns.  I expect these would be like the children he never had - I just can't see him as the "settling down" type, somehow. Now, he's living somewhere in comfortable solitude, occasionally getting together with Barry and Ollie and maybe some of the others for a beer, and listening as they tell him what their grandkids did.  It's become a custom that when whoever is the current Green Lantern for Sector 2814 is out Earth way, they make it a point to stop by if they can, and fill him in on the latest Corps gossip and scuttlebutt.

Views: 383

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Green Lantern #144, from the Marv Wolfman/Joe Staton run, introduced Richard Davis, Hal's mentor/friend from his USAF days. He continued as a cast member, and was again one during the Len Wein/Dave Gibbons run. I don't happen to know if Hal's USAF background was referred to prior to that.

The Headmen story from Green Lantern #36 referred to his college days. So either Hal went to college and then entered the air force or he was in the USAF and later went to college.

In the movie The Right Stuff (no, I didn't read the book) it was presented that all of the test pilots were either current or former Air Force pilots. If he was out of the Air Force and was 30 years old, minimum, when he debuted in 1959 he was probably a veteran of the Korean War.

There's an old joke about Beethoven's tomb. For some reason they open his tomb. They find him working on stacks of paper. He is frantically using an eraser on the papers. One guy asks the other, "What's he doing?" The answer: "Decomposing"

If Bruce Wayne was 25 to 30 in 1939 he'd be 103 to 108 today, or he'd be doing what Beethoven was doing.

In a number of instances beyond the obvious ones like Wolverine, I could see a character's powers slowing the aging process to some extent. As I recall, the Green Lantern ring does have some healing powers, likely enough to deal with many of the aches, pains and other health issues one runs into as they get older. Peter Parker's Spider-Powers were shown to accelarate healing, as do the Flash's. So i could see them being quite spry for a much longer time than your average human, potentially being able to fight crime for decades. As they're physical abilities began to falter, their experience would likely kick in, potentially extending their careers.

Non-Powered heroes like Batman are pretty much screwed, however--unless they can afford fabulous suits of armor.

Randy Jackson said:

In a number of instances beyond the obvious ones like Wolverine, I could see a character's powers slowing the aging process to some extent. As I recall, the Green Lantern ring does have some healing powers, likely enough to deal with many of the aches, pains and other health issues one runs into as they get older.

I think healing, if perfect, would eliminate the deterioration of cells that we call aging. Perfect healing would be immortality.

So this is the post you alluded to yesterday, eh? Interesting idea. (So, he never becomes Parallax?) Mad magazine did a feature similar to this back in the ‘60s along the lines of “What if Comic Strip Characters Were as Old as Their Strips?” I look forward to reading future installments.

I was focused on the "aging  normally" part, so I didn't think about the whole issue of "using the ring to maintain his own health" issue.   I expect the Guardians would have rules about that sort of thing.  Using the ring to keep yourself fit for duty (No sick days!) would be acceptable, using it to artificially lengthen one's lifespan for selfish purposes would not.



Jeff of Earth-J said:

So this is the post you alluded to yesterday, eh? Interesting idea. (So, he never becomes Parallax?) 

Yeah, in "my" comics universe, there are a lot more happy endings.

So...many...childish...thoughts.

The Baron said:


Yeah, in "my" comics universe, there are a lot more happy endings.



Randy Jackson said:

So...many...childish...thoughts.


HAW! HAW! HAW!

AND he never would have gone gray at the temples.

The Baron said:



Jeff of Earth-J said:

So this is the post you alluded to yesterday, eh? Interesting idea. (So, he never becomes Parallax?) 

Yeah, in "my" comics universe, there are a lot more happy endings.

Aging is partly genetic, in that all cells have coded into the DNA a limit to how many times they can replace themselves. Once a cell hits the "off" switch, it doesn't reproduce, and no matter how well you take care of yourself, you just kinda lose a little of yourself every day as all kinds of cells die and aren't replaced. So "perfect healing" would have to take this into account somehow -- like the cells reverting to a previous state all the time, or the limit being lifted.

As to Hal's age, I did a CBG column about how old the Silver Age characters were about a million years ago. I don't remember everything exactly, but I did research how long it takes to become an Air Force officer and pilot, and I seem to recall the average age was 31. And then he became a successful test pilot. So I pegged his age at around 35. I think.

But I was working off the current GL at the time, who still had Air Force experience (per Emerald Dawn) but obviously didn't fight in the Korean War. I don't think the Silver Age Green Lantern ever referred to the Air Force. But if he was thirtyish in 1959, he could have fought in the Korean War because he'd have been the right age and there was still a draft. We'd have to speculate, but it would make sense that he was drafted into the Air Force (or joined after high school in the late '40s), fought as a pilot, and then went through college on the G.I. Bill, graduating in the late 1950s and taking a job at Ferris Air. He would be young for a test pilot, but his USAF experience would make it possible.

So, off sheer guesswork, I'll go with early 30s for Hal Jordan in Showcase #22. But I could be talked out of it.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2017   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service