I still don’t know if this is a fully realized thought, but I decided to throw it out here anyways. Now this isn’t a comment on the actual Green Lantern storyline(s) which I actually enjoy when they eventually get printed in soft cover. The thing that has been bothering me though is: Has the Green Lantern Corps lost some of their magic?

For me they kind of have. When I was a kid (I grew up in Texas so I neither walked to school uphill or in snow, but it was hot) the ring sought you out because you had no fear and could more or less handle the job. You got a sector of space, and you were charged with protecting it. You had quite a bit of autonomy, and didn’t have the Guardians looking over your shoulder all of the time. Unless you patrolled Sector 2814. One person, one sector, good luck!

Now there is all of this...bureaucracy. You gotta go through training. You don’t “earn”  your badge until the higher-ups deem you have. Now there are two lanterns a sector. They’ve just lost some of their coolness factor.

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I don't know why, but somewhere along the way, DC decided to present the Green Lantern Corps as though it's a police force from at TV cop show. I never thought of it that way when I started reading Green Lantern stories, but now when I read one, I half expect to see a Dunkin' Donuts franchise on Oa.
Has the Green Lantern Corps lost some of its magic? I think so, yes. It used to be an outer space hero was a Green Lantern or he wasn't a "lantern" at all. The "League of Rainbow Lanterns" makes the Green ones that much less special. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan, specifically) is one of my favorite DC characters, but I haven't been reading his title for years.
I'm of two minds about the playing up the "cop" attributes of the GLC. In one sense, it's the Corps that distiguishes GL from other superheroes, and it makes sense to play that up. On the other hand, One Green Lantern is special. Two is redundant, and anything more than four are cannon fodder.
While I am enjoying the GL titles, I will admit something was lost when the Corps changed from being solidly in the science fiction wheelhouse to the police procedural drama it has become. At times there is a palpable Dragnet-esque feeling to it.
Even in the Silver Age, there were rules and regulations to being a Green Lantern. While it was true that GLs from other sectors didn't often cross into Hal's, it wasn't unheard of, either. It seemed to me that some of them, at least, hung around together or was always on Oa at the same time.

Originally they were more sentries than policemen. They stopped disasters, invasions and various menaces. The Guardians didn't deem it worthy of Hal going after Sonar or the Tattooed Man. (Though cleaning up their messes like Sinestro or Krona was OK!)

Still, it's the interchangeability of being part of the Corps that bothers me. There would be massacres, the rings fly off, get new suckers recruits, bring them to Oa, they get a little training, then it's off to an early grave new adventures until the cycle repeats itself.
I think it's lost a little luster, but not because of the cop angle. I actually like the cop thing. To me, it's suffering from the same problem that drove me from the X-Men almost two decades ago; the book has become so tied up in its own story that they've neglected why the Corps was created.

I'd love to see the Corps in a battle with an enemy whose origins aren't derived from a Guardian screw up, or another color coded ring.
Hmm.

I'm wondering if you're tapping into the reason that Hal Jordan never really resonated with me. Part of the issue I have with the Corps is that there's really nobody special. Sure, we're told that Jordan is one of the best, but it's really hard to say one way or the other. Otherwise, really, what is the difference between Ch'p and Kilowog and G'nort? All of them should be able to do the same things depending on their will power.

Part of the issue as well is that it really is a magic ring. It can do pretty much anything it's wearer decides is appropriate. That makes credible threats pretty hard to come by.

If they are going to do the "space cop" thing, that's fine, but why not take it to it's logical conclusion? Instead of constantly fighting armies of goons, perhaps if there was more about their interactions with the various races in the sectors they cover, or maybe an old-fashioned murder mystery, or a story where a sector rebels because they think the Guardians are a bunch of morons, or things along those lines. I think there's story potential there that's not being tapped into, probably because of the need to have the big "event" all the time.

I'm of two minds about the playing up the "cop" attributes of the GLC. In one sense, it's the Corps that distiguishes GL from other superheroes, and it makes sense to play that up. On the other hand, One Green Lantern is special. Two is redundant, and anything more than four are cannon fodder.

That was basically the Darkstars from the '90s.

 

I'd love to see the Corps in a battle with an enemy whose origins aren't derived from a Guardian screw up, or another color coded ring.

Great point.

or a story where a sector rebels because they think the Guardians are a bunch of morons, or things along those lines.

They are kind of doing the now in R.E.B.E.L.S.

I'd love to see the Corps in a battle with an enemy whose origins aren't derived from a Guardian screw up, or another color coded ring.

Amen to this. I think some of this comes from the influence of movies. Movies want to tie origins together to make the storytelling sleeker -- a necessity in a 2-hour movie. It's not so important in a 75-year sprawling comic book epic.

There are other valid storytelling reasons for doing it -- it can be what makes it a Green Lantern story, rather than a Superman one, for instance -- but this approach pretty much eliminates random supervillains from the equation -- even villains like Sonar, whom GL has a history with.
I'm speaking with half the knowledge I really need---since I haven't read a Green Lantern story in almost thirty years. But, from various comments, including the above, on this and other boards, I have a rough idea of the current direction of the concept, especially with regard to the Green Lantern Corps.

With that caveat, I suspect that Mr. Herrick has pretty much nailed what would probably be one of my biggest complaints about the way the concept is currently handled.

In the earliest years of the Silver-Age Green Lantern, the notion that he was one of a band of interstellar troubleshooters was a fascinating one. And the fact that Hal Jordan wasn't even a selectee of the Guardians, but inherited the responsibility from Abin Sur, meant that we, the readers, learnt about the Guardians and the Corps right along with him. Those of you with long memories will recall that for the first few stories, the very existence of the Guardians was kept secret---first, from Jordan himself---and then later, after he was permitted to retain his knowledge, it was privileged information concealed from anyone outside the Corps. (There was at least one occasion when GL reflected that he couldn't even tell his confidant, Pieface, about the Guardians.)

Moreover, the Guardians were not a constant presence in those early years. They weren't even a frequent presence. They might pop up every fifth or sixth issue. And other Green Lanterns were seen even less often. All of this contributed to the sense of autonomy that Travis mentioned. Add to that the fact that the universe (as in "the Guardians of . . . ") is a biggggggg place, and there were only who-knows-how-many GL's to cover it. (The specified number of 3,600 didn't come along until the late's '70's or early '80's.)

I have some familiarity with that. During the time that I was a cop, for a few years I patrolled the unincorporated areas of the county. These were remote areas---in many spots, even my handheld radio was too far from the relay towers to transceive---with rustic people, with different attitudes, different value sets, and whom required different ways of handling from the standard urban techniques. My back-up was often fifteen or twenty minutes away (that is, if my radio was able to get out to request it). Many times I had to deviate from standard operating procedures to be effective.

And that wasn't nearly as isolated as the United States deputy marshals of the nineteenth century, each of which was assigned a separate geographic jurisdiction. And every jurisdiction was composed of different types of terrain, population centres, indiginous residents, hazards, and problems. There was no way that one structured training curriculum and a rigid set of protocols, no matter how broad, could adequately cover such a sweeping range of situations. The best that could be hoped for was to hire tough, honest men and give them some basic training before turning them loose to enforce the law.

They had to be tough and they had to be honest because, quite literally, they were often the only law for hundreds of miles. Oh, there were local sheriffs, of course. But given the politics of the day, there was no guarantee that the sheriff was capable or honest or not worried more about reëlection than upholding the law. That, and the primitive means of remote communication---the telegraph was pretty much it in most areas---meant that a deputy marshal was the law unto himself. He enforced justice based upon his own interpretations of it and his own determinations of what was most effective in his own district. Input from above was limited. Now that's autonomy.

And that's pretty much the way I envisioned the Green Lantern Corps operating. A newly appointed GL was brought to Oa and given some basic indoctrination---how the ring worked, what its limitations were, that sort of thing, and then sent off to his space sector. Other than that other GL's existed, he wasn't even told anything more about them. (Remember in Tomar Re's first appearance, in Green Lantern # 6 [May-Jun., 1961]) he remarked that because his space sector, # 9, was so large, he was given special permission by the Guardians to contact other GL's.)

Once cut loose, the Guardians would periodically monitor the new GL to check on his progress, capability, and behaviour. But again, the universe is a bigggggg place, with a lot going on, and the Little Blue Guys couldn't watch every one of their GL's that often. Case in point: Sinestro, who got away with considerable abuses of his responsibility as a Green Lantern before the Guardians tumbled to it and stripped him of his position.

Now, in the case of Hal Jordan, to whom the responsibility was passed, rather than being selected by the Little Blue Guys themselves, they undoubtedly checked on him more often, to see just what kind of stumblebum had gotten the ring. And they took additional precautions. They did not reveal their existence to Hal, at first. They sent him any specific orders through his power battery (and Abin Sur had directed Hal to always follow any directions received in such a manner). Later, they communicated with Jordan more directly, through his "energy duplicate", but Hal did not retain any memory of the Guardians or Oa afterward. (It wasn't until nearly two years [real time] after his debut that Jordan was permitted to consciously learn of the Guardians.)

Nor did they teach him anything about the ring, but relied upon what Abin Sur had told him and Jordan's own trial-and-error. (Which accounts for why Jordan was surprised to discover that the power ring could communicate with him directly, in GL # 10 [Jan., 1962]---something which, no doubt, the Little Blue Guys told those they enlisted directly.)

All of this secrecy was designed to keep Jordan in the dark as much as possible about the Guardians and the Corps, in case he proved to be unworthy of the job Abin Sur had passed on to him. Fortunately, Hal was worthy.

That's about as autonomous as it gets. And for me, the series worked just fine that way. That made the rare occasions when we saw another space sector's GL or a bunch of them something special, something exciting. It reminded the reader that, last month, when our GL was battling Sonar or the Shark or the Tattooed Man, in other parts of space, other GL's were also having their own adventures, completely irrespective of what was going on here in Coast City. That we only happened to be reading about Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Earth, and not Davo Yull, the Green Lantern of Pharma. But if we had been, no doubt, Davo Yull's adventures would have been just as thrilling.

Once, back in the mid-'60's, in a letter column (I think it was "JLA Mail Room"), a fan wrote that the Justice Society of America should get its own series. Julius Schwartz replied that, yes, seeing the JSA in action was a special event for the readers, but that feeling of specialness was best preserved by only presenting it in occasional doses. Just like a meal of steak and lobster is a special treat, but if you have steak and lobster every day, eventually it becomes mundane.

I think Mr. Schwartz was correct about the risk of over-exposure. It applies to the Green Lantern Corps, as well. I don't want to see the nuts-and-bolts of the organisation, its hierarchies, and its secret handshakes. And as I described about the nineteenth-century deputy marshals above, an intricate structure and extensive protocols aren't practical, anyway.

That also goes to villains that are, somehow, tied in with the Guardians. An occasional one is fine. In fact, they could have stopped with Sinestro. But to throw a Guardian-related threat at GL every other issue also invites that over-exposure. Certainly, Hal Jordan should have a fair number of adventures off-Earth, but certainly there are enough home-grown menaces in space sector 2814 that it doesn't require another yet screw-up by the Little Blue Guys to get Hal into space.
For those complaining about the different colored corps, I would like to point out that only the GLC are "space police." Every corps has its own agenda. The only corps I know of that has approached the GLC in numbers was the Sinestro Corps and I believe their ranks are currently depleted. (And before some smarty pants says something, I do know that the Black Lanterns outnumbered all other corps combined but they are also now non-existent.) So, yes, there are a lot of beings going around that charge from a central power battery of some sort but they are more dissimilar than similar.

That's not to say that I don't see problems. The biggest one is the Sinestro Corps. My understanding is that Sinestro wants to use fear to force people to "behave." In his own way, Sinestro is serving the cause of order. The problem is that every other wearer of a yellow ring seems to cause fear just for the sake of fear. More often than not, chaos seems to be the result. Granted, the Sinestro Corps spent time not being led by Sinestro. I hope that this is addressed at some point.

For the record, I'm enjoying all three GL-related monthlies.
As the Commander, in his usual amazing fashion, stated, the Corps were not supposed to play a major role in Hal Jordan's adventures. The Guardians, however, became more and more prominent. Remember in those classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow issues, the Guardians punished Hal by cutting his ring's power and probably would have taken it away. In the 70s, Hal went from a Green Lantern to The Green Lantern, the best of them all. Several times, the Corps were facing defeat until Hal saved the day. It was like they could not succeed without him!

Of course, Post-Crisis, when they had EIGHT GLs on Earth ruined the uniqueness of the character!

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