I decided to move these posts over from "What Comics Have You Read Today?" and make a discussion out of it.

GREEN LANTERN: I started re-reading Archive volume one today (August 23), which comprises Showcase #22-24 and Green Lantern #1-5.

GREEN LANTERN ARCHIVES, v2 (#6-13): I have already mentioned elsewhere that Tracy finds that Hal Jordan's parents did not give him an alliterative name as they did their other two boys to be completely unbelievable. Political correctness aside, "Pieface" is a stupid nickname. (I rank it right up there with "King Faraday" and "Tom, Dick & Harriet.) Personally, I find the term "little Eskimo grease monkey" (which Broome uses at least once each issue) to be even more offensive. The covers of each of these issues stands out in my memory, but the splash pages are quite distinctive and memorable as well. I have learned to skip all of the footnotes (as well as the oath) in order to avoid repetition.

GREEN LANTERN ARCHIVES v3 (#14-21): Up until this point, all stories had been by John Broome and Gil Kane, but in this volume, Gardner Fox writes one story (of two in each issue) in #16, 17 and #21. Also, in #18, Mike Sekowsky pencils six pages (over Gil Kane layouts). The Gardner Fox story in #16, "Earth's First Green Lantern," is remarkable in that it answers the question, given that a Green Lantern can fly through space via his or her power ring alone, why was Abin Sur travelling in a spaceship in Showcase #22? Fox provides a convoluted explanation regarding energy creatures called Larifars and the theft of "I-factors" from victim races.

What makes this story remarkable is that Alan Moore provided a completely different explanation in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #2 (1986). As I recalled these two contradictory stories, I preferred the one by Alan Moore... until I re-read them both in the course of this project. Whereas both stories use the explanation that Abin Sur is using a spaceship because he's worried about his ring losing its charge, in the Fox story, he does so as a ruse so (for convoluted reasons, as I mentioned) Larifars do not see him recharge his ring' "Earth's First Green Lantern" knows his ring will remain charged until the time limit is up. Alan Moore's story, as entertaining as it is otherwise, does not account for this fact, so I must change my favorite to the earlier Gardner Fox story.

GREEN LANTERN ARCHIVES v4 (#22-29): Within these eight issues, John Broome wrote five stories, Gardner Fox wrote ten. The comics themselves were published without credits, but that information is provided in the table of contents. It's fun to guess which stories were written by witch writer. [HINT: The distinctive way Fox uses nouns as verbs is a dead giveaway, as is his use of the term "star-sun." He also tends to throw in more theoretical physics.) Also this volume includes: the third appearance of Hector Hammond (#22), the first appearance of the Tattooed Man (#23), the first two appearances of the Shark (#24 & #28), [arguably] the first appearance of Mogo (#24), the return of Sonar (#25), the return of Star Sapphire (#26), the first appearance of Black Hand (#29), a cameo appearance by the Justice League of America, and more. The first solo Green Lantern story I ever read ("The House that Fought Green Lantern" reprinted in a 100-Pager in 1974) originally appeared in #28. Tracy finds it even more implausible that Hal wasn't given an alliterative name after the introduction of Judge Jeremiah Jordan. No "weenie-ization" of Hal Jordan yet. 

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ACTION COMICS WEEKLY / EMERALD DAWN:

After the demise of GL/GLC, Green Lantern next appeared in a serial in Action Comics, at that time a weekly anthology title. 

ACW had some good Green Lantern covers, even some great ones, but the stories left something to be desired. The original grand finale, by Neil Gaiman, which was to have united all the features in a single story, was scrapped at the last minute (for reasons that made sense to DC at the time) in favor of a weaker story which attempted to achieve the same goal. The original ending was published, years later, as a standalone one-shot. The Green Lantern stories in ACW, I felt, were too closely tied to the revisionist origin story Emerald Dawn (the less said about that, the better), a sequel, a couple of Specials and a Secret Origins or two. 

After the noble but failed (IMO) weekly anthology experiment, Green Lantern was again granted his own title...

...or their own title, I should say, as storylines rotated among Earth's three GLs, Hal Jordan, John Stewart and Guy Gardner (even G'Nort a time or two)... at least until John and Guy were spun off into their own solo series. At that point, this title reverted to Hal Jordan through issue #50, then Kyle Rayner took over. By that time, as Commander Benson remarked about the Green Lantern of the '80s, by the '90s I was buying the Green Lantern out of inertia. The '90s series is also the one which gave us "Emerald Twilight." there are really only three individual comic books featuring Parallax which need concern us at this far remove, and I will be covering them all in the days to come.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

The '90s series is also the one which gave us "Emerald Twilight." there are really only three individual comic books featuring Parallax which need concern us at this far remove, and I will be covering them all in the days to come.

I hope you'll include the Final Night miniseries, which (to me) was a satisfying way to wrap up the Parallax storyline (and to punish the main bad guys for the destruction of Coast City).

Of course, that third series was the one that made Hal old and said that Guy used his ring to keep him young so both were in their late 40s/early 50s while John was twenty years younger!

There came a time when Green Lantern rebelled against his blue-skinned masters. the details need not concern us at this juncture, but he flew to Oa to confront them face-to-face. On the way, he defeated and took the rings of several of this fellow Green Lanterns. It is important to note, in light of widely held misbelief, that he did not kill them. In fact, he went out of his way to assure that they came to no harm. It also bears mentioning that the Green Lantern Corps at the time was not composed of 3600 members, as it was at its height. Their ranks were more than decimated... nearly obliterated... by the events of GLC #224. A new Corps was rising in its place and had, by my count, only 36 members total (not 3600 but 36) at the time of "Emerald Twilight." 

That's not to say Hal Jordan (it is no longer appropriate to call him "Green Lantern") was completely innocent of causing death. By my count, he either killed or was directly responsible for the deaths of ten beings in the course of "Emerald Twilight" and "Emerald Fallout," including Kilowog and Arisia. I',m not excusing that, but the death count was ten, not in the thousands. 

ZERO HOUR

This brings us to Zero Hour. Zero Hour is, in my estimation, the best of DC's "Crisis" crossovers. It is often not even considered to be a crisis, but its pedigree is in the subtitle: Crisis in Time. Zero Hour is a five-issue series which "counted down" from issue #4 to issue #0. With no "red skies" crossovers, it was integral to virtually every series in the DCU (every one I was reading, anyway), and affected characters from the Justice Society of America to the Legion of Super-Heroes. the mastermind of the Crisis was presumed to be Extant, but the true orchestrator of events was revealed at the end of #1 to be Hal Jordan, now calling himself Parallax. 

In his words: "I used to be the errand boy for the Guardians of the Universe. It was a thankless job, I knew that. I had never asked for anything. the one time that I did, I was denied. It dawned on me then just how ufair the universe really was, how much in need of a makeover. but now it's gone. As are the Guardians. I say we need a new start. A fresh beginning. Done right. I tried this before, you know. But I was limiting myself when I tried to remake Coast City. Fixing one city doesn't help when the whole world... the whole universe... is messed up. This is my blank page for creation. My chance to remake everything--the way it should be."

The thing is, after stories such as "Emerald Twilight" and "Knightfall" and "The Death of Superman", at least a part of me agreed with him. I'll tell you something else: those of you who pointed out the subtext of the Guardians' rationale for Millenium are going to have a field day with this. 

"First of all... don't call me Green Lantern. It's Parallax. and I'm not crazy at all. I'm the same man I always was... which is why I have the courage to make things right. See, as super-heroes, we were usually so focused on solving the day-to-day problems--that we almost missed the bigger ones--like the destruction of Coast City--and even the crisis! That will all change for the better on my Earth... Coast city was only one small indicator of a much greater problem! the solutions are new worlds, new Galaxies!" There's more, but you get the gist. It doesn't help that he's sporting a new "Adolf Hitler" haircut. 

The heroes mostly all turn against him, all except those who will fade from existence if the heroes have their way. But eventually, even they fight against him. The thing is, Parallax had already destroyed all existence. Now it was just a matter of letting Parallax recreate it in his image, or somehow recreating it another way. As it turned out, the post-Zero Hour universe was shepherded into existence primarily by the spectre, Waverider and Damage. (Don't ask.) It was Green Arrow who distracted his oldest and dearest friend by shooting an arrow deep into his chest. 

As it turned out (according to Waverider), "Time naturally fell into the pattern we remember... with subtle differences." Parallax was motivated by a desire to do good, to set things right. and, as it turned out, he was ultimately responsible for bringing a new reality into existence. Who is to say the post-Zero Hour reality was any better (or worse) than the one Parallax would have created?

PARALLAX: EMERALD NIGHT:

This 1996 one-shot special is the calm before the storm, philosophical and introspective. As the story opens, Parallax has tracked the Cyborg down to the Source Wall. After a brief fight, Parallax executes him for his role in the destruction of Coast City and the loss of its seven million inhabitants. Green Lantern (i.e, Kyle Rayner) arrives on the scene and tells Parallax about Earth's imminent demise by the Sun Eater and asks his help. Parallax sends Green Lantern back to Earth, then travels to the Sun to assess the situation firsthand. After that, he visits several friends and allies face-to-face.

First, he visits Guy Gardner at his bar, Warriors. Then he goes to visit John Stewart, now crippled, in the hospital and cures him. After that he visits Oliver Queen's grave. From there he sees Tom Kulmaku, then Carol Ferris. Finally, he calls the Guardian Ganthet from inside himself. Ganthet offers him a ring, but he refuses. He then summons Green Lantern and informs him he's ready to help. this brings us up to...

THE FINAL NIGHT #4:

Parallax appears just as Ferro Lad has stolen aboard Lex Luthor's experimental shuttle for a suicide mission. He speaks in simple terms: "I'm here to help"; "I could fix everything"; "I'm not coming back... I'm just setting things right. that's all I ever wanted to do." The first thing he does is save ferro Lad, then he sets about re-igniting the Sun. His internal; monologue reveals his motives.

"I can do anything I want. I know that's what they fear, at least. Batman... even Superman on some level. And everyone in between. and that oath taught me something none of them will ever understand. there are two ways to dispel the Darkness: to shine a Light, or to draw the Darkness in! Razor-edged blackness tears its way up my arm. I knoew it'd be hell absorbing the Sun-Eater, but it's all I can do to keep it from absorbing me! There's no going back. there never was. Not since the first day I said those words. I've always done what I truly believed was right. At first, people called me a hero for it... and then a villain. As the memory of what I've done--and been--fades, I hope I will be seen... in a different light."

Superman and Batman get the final words as they look out upon a rising Sun. "They are the World's Finest heroes, and all the rest follow the lead of one of the other."

SUPERMAN: Beautiful, isn't it Bruce? Seems like forever since I watched the Sun rise.

BATMAN: Yes, I know what you mean.

SUPERMAN: Too bad Hal can't see it.I wish it could have been me instead--but at least he did the right thing. At least he redeemed himself in the end.

BATMAN: Don't make a martyr out of a murderer, Superman. One shining moment doesn't redeem Parallax for what he did and tried to do. He admitted he hadn't changed, remember?

SUPERMAN: People don't always notice when they've changed, Batman. I'll always think Hal died a hero.

BATMAN: Too bad that isn't how he always lived.

Nah, I'm not going to give Bat-freak the final word.

I posted the three key "Parallax" comics I intended, but another Hal Jordan-centric comic has occurred to me, namely...

GREEN LANTERN #81:

This is the post-Final Night issue in which the heroes of the DCU gather to pay tribute to the man who saved the planet at a memorial service held where Coast City used to be. The special edition has a cardstock cover, textured to resemble a tombstone; the green bits sparkle. At the service, superman, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Black Canary, Flash, Carol Ferris abd Green Lantern all speak in turn. Then Green Lantern lights the memorial, Sentinal gives the flame a green glow, and Swamp Thing causes green growth to blanket the area. I'm going to give John Stewart the final word.

"He lost his way toward the end, so much so that many of you here had to oppose him. I've had failures of my own. Which of us hasn't? If you want to believe Hal redeemed himself by reigniting the Sun, that's fine. But I believe Hal simply remained true to himself. He proved he never stopped being the hero we knew he was. And that's how he should be remembered."

Didn't some of his old villains show up for that, too?  I seem to remember that some of his third-string heels were there.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Nah, I'm not going to give Bat-freak the final word.

I posted the three key "Parallax" comics I intended, but another Hal Jordan-centric comic has occurred to me, namely...

GREEN LANTERN #81:

This is the post-Final Night issue in which the heroes of the DCU gather to pay tribute to the man who saved the planet at a memorial service held where Coast City used to be. The special edition has a cardstock cover, textured to resemble a tombstone; the green bits sparkle. At the service, superman, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Black Canary, Flash, Carol Ferris abd Green Lantern all speak in turn. Then Green Lantern lights the memorial, Sentinal gives the flame a green glow, and Swamp Thing causes green growth to blanket the area. I'm going to give John Stewart the final word.

"He lost his way toward the end, so much so that many of you here had to oppose him. I've had failures of my own. Which of us hasn't? If you want to believe Hal redeemed himself by reigniting the Sun, that's fine. But I believe Hal simply remained true to himself. He proved he never stopped being the hero we knew he was. And that's how he should be remembered."

This is what I was thinking of...

Yep, they were there, too, and some other Green Lanterns, but no civillians other than Tom Kalmaku and his family. A double-page spread is a virtual Who's Who of 1996 DC super-herodom. The characters I mentioned above were all in costume (as appropriate), except for John Stewart and Guy Gardner. I don't know how big of a deal secret identities were. John referred to himself as a former Green Lantern, but he never kept his identity a secret, anyway. Black Canary was in costume, but was introduced by John as "Dinah." Donna Troy arrived in civvies, and socialized with Nightwing and Green Lantern before the ceremony. Batman hung out in the balcony with Robin, Nightwing and Deadman. Both Donna and Batman weighed in, but neither spoke publicly. The original Green Lantern was referred to only as "Alan Scott," but he was in costume so I went with "Sentinal." 

My favorite cover of Final Night is this one, from the TPB



Jeff of Earth-J said:

#58: In this issue he fought off a grizzly bear without his power ring, for Christ's sake!



Richard Willis said:

If they had Hal, bare handed, fight off a grizzly bear....well, that's impossible.

Is it?

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