The Best Movie Critic + TIME

Green Lantern: A Guide for the Uninitiated

Justin here with a helpful overview of Green Lantern in anticipation of next week's movie.

Q: So Green Lantern, huh?
A: Fuck yeah, Green Lantern!

Q: What’s his deal?
A: Hal Jordan is the Green Lantern of Earth. Essentially he’s a space cop. His powers come from his ring which enables him to make power constructs out of whatever he can imagine. Every day he has to charge his ring and recite the Green Lantern oath at his power battery. The source of a Green Lantern’s ability is their will power and their ability to overcome fear.

Q: So who is Hal Jordan?
A: Hal Jordan is an arrogant, daredevil, womanizing test pilot.

Q: Sounds like he’s a dick.
A: True… his character arc is about how he becomes a hero. Kind of like Iron Man, you liked Iron Man, right?

Q: Well yeah, but why should I care about this guy?
A: Good question…

Green Lantern is one of my favorite comics. I love the scale of it all. Many of the comics take place in space where Hal Jordan has to interact with all different kinds of alien species. There’s a tremendous diversity of the aliens from humanoids to rock people to plants to chipmunks, to a living planet. When he’s not in space, Hal is on Earth fighting as part of the Justice League.

Q: Tell me about the little blue guys.
A: The blue guys are the Oans. They are the immortal guardians of the universe and in charge of the Green Lantern corps.

Q: Who are Green Lantern’s bad guys?
A: The main one is Sinestro, he’s the guy with the red skin and the skeezy moustache. Sinestro trains Hal Jordan and then ultimately turns evil to get more power. He has a yellow power ring and uses the power of fear. There’s also Hector Hammond who is kind of a psychic parasite guy.

Q: Who is Green Lantern’s “Lois Lane?”
A: That would be Carol Ferris, the president of Ferris Aircraft, where Hal works. GL is kind of a chauvinist, so there’s an interesting dynamic between him and Carol, who is a badass in her own right. Carol will ultimately become a Star Sapphire, a violet lantern. She wields the power of love (like in the Huey Lewis song).

Q: So what would a Green Lantern movie look like?
A: Presumably it would look kind of like Training Day with superheroes and aliens.

Q: If I was going to read a Green Lantern comic, what should I check out?
A: The best place to start would be with Geoff Johns’ run on the title. Start with Secret Origin, which is where the movie is taking a lot of inspiration. This is essentially the “current” origin story for GL and it also sets up a few stories down the road. After that, you should check out the beginning of the Johns run with Green Lantern: Rebirth. It may be a little confusing because GL was in a really weird place before this started – hit Wikipedia if necessary and proceed. The whole run is pretty fantastic. It’s been going strong for almost 70 issues.

If you want to take it back to the beginning, check out Showcase Presents: Green Lantern, a huge black and white book reprinting the earliest adventures of GL from the 60’s. The art is surprisingly beautiful and the stories are fun, if a little hokey. These are also available in color in the Green Lantern Chronicles series for cheap or in the Green Lantern Omnibus if you’re feeling spendy.

Aside from that, I highly recommend the Green Lantern / Green Arrow story arc from the early 70’s. The premise is that GL (who is very conservative) and Green Arrow (who is very liberal) take a cross-county road trip with one of the little blue aliens to find the “real America” and fight social injustice. Along the way, they right wrongs at an Indian Reservation, fight intolerance, and help Green Arrow’s ward, Speedy kick a heroin addiction. It’s ridiculous, fun, and very entertaining. This is collected in two volumes.

I would also recommend steering clear of the current monthly Green Lantern comics because the series is about to re-boot/re-launch in September with a new #1 issue. It is still going to be written by Geoff Johns though and will probably be pretty damn good.

Q: Wait a minute, I thought Green Lantern was old/black/a red head/a twenty-something artist?
A: There are several Earth Green Lanterns… this is where things get a little complicated. Rest assured, the movie won’t be this ridiculous. But since you asked…

There’s John Stewart, who started as a radical, angry, young black man. Over the years, his character has become really bland in the comics. Now he is portrayed as a veteran of the first gulf war. This is the Green Lantern from the Justice League Unlimited cartoon from a few years back. He’s also the most underused one. I don’t think DC really knows what to do with him, which is unfortunate because there’s a lot of potential.

Guy Gardner is the angry, arrogant, red headed one. Guy is a character that comics fans love to hate. His best moments are from the pages of the tongue-in-cheek series, Justice League International where he was continually put into his place by Batman. Guy’s been pretty solid lately though, I’ve actually grown to like him a lot as a character. Next to Hal, he is more headstrong and salt-of-the-Earth.

Kyle Rayner is the artist Green Lantern. During the 90’s Hal Jordan was out of the picture and there was no Green Lantern Corps. Kyle was chosen and was the only GL for a long time. He’s the most creative of the Green Lanterns and able to use his imagination to make all kinds of cool constructs with his ring. He has also had terrible luck with his girlfriends…

Alan Scott was the original Green Lantern back in the golden age of comics. Hal Jordan was a re-boot of Scott. However, the original Green Lantern is still around as part of the Justice Society of America – a team of older heroes who fought in WWII. Alan Scott’s ring is a little different; he has a hard time manipulating wood. He found his lantern in a cave and isn’t technically part of the Green Lantern Corps, but is an honorary member.

Q: Wow, that was way more than I wanted to know…
A: You asked…

adventure, best, Blog, book, cartoon, fantastic, favorite, Movie, and more:

Green Lantern: A Guide for the Uninitiated + TIME