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Tuesday, October 20, 2020 

Sequart sugarcoats the ACW and Gerard Jones eras of Green Lantern

I've sometimes thought over the years that the comics site called Sequart Organization was one of the most pretentious, knee-jerk news sources around, dedicated to apologia. And after finding the following history pages on their site about Green Lantern, my opinion is further solidified. Here's something they once put up about the run in Action Comics Weekly, which is pretty devoid of objectivity, ignoring all the horrific mistakes that set the Silver Age GL on a path of collapse, and most bizarre of all, there seems to be some confused errors in history research here:
Green Lantern’s appearances there are among Action Comics Weekly‘s most fondly-remembered serials. Although each episode simply carried its own title, Green Lantern’s may be broken down into six separate storylines. In addition to these, Green Lantern received two specials tying into these storylines, and two different versions of a crossover ending Action Comics Weekly‘s run as a weekly anthology were produced, both focused on Green Lantern.

The first ran six episodes, written by James Owsley with art by classic Green Lantern artist Gil Kane (with inker Don Simpson on some episodes and with Tod Smith stepping in to illustrate the final chapter). It begins with Hal Jordan and his alien girlfriend Arisia living with former Green Lantern John Stewart and his wife, Katma Tui. In the wake of the final issue of Green Lantern Corps, Jordan is the last Green Lantern, the Corps having been disbanded. As Jordan tangles with Star Sapphire, Katma Tui is murdered. Stewart suspects Star Sapphire, but Hal suspects that the villainess hypnotized Stewart to do the killing, explaining his shock-like state when Hal encountered him, standing over his wife’s body. At an inquiry into Katma Tui’s murder, Hal’s ring comes to Stewart. When he puts it on, he lashes out angrily at Carol Ferris, who’s in the audience and whom Stewart knows to be Star Sapphire, his wife’s apparent killer. She’s said to be dead, although she later revives because of her powers, which aren’t known to the public. Later, Stewart is arrested. Hal, meanwhile, has been left by Star Sapphire in an alien prison, and he sent his ring to Stewart, in hopes he’d be freed. Ominously, it returns to him on its own. He escapes and confronts Star Sapphire, only to find Stewart’s apartment building demolished and people scared of Green Lantern, due to Stewart’s arrest for Carol’s murder. With Star Sapphire gone, Hal has no way to clear his friend, but he also has no possessions, since they were destroyed in Stewart’s apartment. Hal visits Batman, Superman, and Green Arrow, looking for help, but all refuse him. It’s a fascinating story that takes Hal to one of his lowest points, although it’s somewhat awkward in its pacing and conflicting artistic styles.
Let's see if I have this right. Katma was slashed dead by a brainwashed Carol Ferris, in a story that was stunningly forced and contrived, serving, just as terribly, as a lead-in to a GL special where John was wrongfully accused of stealing a diamond from an African mine that was actually taken from there by Hal in ACW #601, and this is considered "fondly remembered"? What kind of madness is this? To make matters worse, the Sequart writer even confuses how things turns out, since it was indeed Carol in the Sapphire guise who eviscerated Katma right in the apartment, while John wasn't nearby. No mention that Katma didn't even put up any kind of fight when she went down, and I'm not accepting any defenses the 1st female member of the GL Corps no longer had a power ring to back her up. That's not an excuse for such an awful story, which the "historian" has the gall to call "fascinating". Only as an example of poor storytelling and editorial mandates, I'm afraid. The claim nobody knew what powers Carol had under the Star Sapphire guise isn't accurate either, because, while only a handful of people like Hal knew she'd been influenced into becoming Star Sapphire by the Zamarons, the role itself was known to the public when the story elements first came up in the mid-60s. And "somewhat" awkward? Gee, that's certainly downplaying just how disrespectful it was to what had come before, and how jumbled and inconsistent it was with prior storylines from the 2nd GL volume.

Funny thing about the article is that it does admit Peter David's run was crummy (yet there's still confusion abound in how they discuss it), and indeed, the whole notion an accomplished aviation pilot like Hal was brainwashed by his own ring at Abin Sur's bidding into being fearless was horrendously bad, no matter how much it was being played for laughs, but then, when they turn back to the Owsley tales, they lapse into the sugarcoated mode yet again:
The John Stewart storyline was resolved in Green Lantern Special #1, by writer James Owsley and penciler Tod Smith. The idea of having Stewart a suspect in Carol Ferris’s death was dropped, with a passing comment about how a body couldn’t be produced. Instead, Stewart is extradited to South Africa, based on an earlier action by Hal Jordan. Jordan visits a devastated Oa and retrieves another ring, which he gives to Stewart. John Stewart proceeds to undermine South Africa’s regime, prompting Superman to talk to Hal. Hal then talks (and fights) with Stewart, who stops his campaign.
See, this is what makes no sense. Hal was the one who took the diamond from the south African mine, and even with the mask on, it was apparent this was a white man doing the act, yet John's the fall-guy here? And all this was done for the sake of producing a very badly scripted allusion to the racial strife going on in south Africa at the time. Most aggravating thing about the story is that John winds up spending time with at least two black men who're later revealed to be terrorist assassins themselves, and earlier on, it's shown that they'd murdered a white couple and painted graffiti on their house wall saying "kill whitey". So was the story trying to make a clear statement on the racist atmosphere and apartheid perpetrated by the white community in south Africa at the time, or, was it saying the black community back then was no different? The story was just frustrating to read, and as a story mixing sci-fi with real life metaphors, it was very badly worked out. The following story from ACW certainly was too:
At this point, writer James Owsley returned to Green Lantern’s Action Comics Weekly serial, joined by penciler M. D. Bright, who also co-plotted with Owsley. The team would remain for the remainder of Green Lantern’s Action Comics Weekly run, and it would be particularly strong, especially the sequences occurring in outer space.

The team’s first storyline together, running five episodes, would be particularly strong. It begins, dramatically enough, as Hal Jordan rescues a tiny alien ship about to fall into Earth’s sun. From there, believing his ring cuts him off from the reality of risk, he takes off his ring to pilot a plane, which predictably almost crashes. The sequence manages to be entertaining, but it also focuses on Hal Jordan’s risk-taking behavior in a way that had seldom been depicted as clearly. When he goes to charge his ring, however, his power battery explodes in a burst of yellow energy that heads into space. He soon follows it beyond his sector of space, knowing that, with the central power battery on Oa destroyed, his ring might not be able to help him navigate and he could become lost in space. With his ring running out of charge, Hal encounters an alien known as Priest and becomes embroiled in an interstellar war. With his ring not able to navigate, Priest (a former Green Lantern himself) retrains Hal Jordan, and Hal discovers that he doesn’t need the power battery except as a psychological crutch — another major revision to the Green Lantern mythos. Hal forces the two sides of the interstellar war to sign a truce, and he heads back to Earth, feeling reborn. Clearly, this story was intended to begin a major reconfiguration of Green Lantern, and it’s surprisingly successful. In the final panels, however, we see that the two sides of the interstellar war are indeed collaborating: on an “ultimate weapon” to use against Hal Jordan, who forced the two sides together.

The next storyline, running six episodes, begins nearly a week later (this was serialized weekly, after all), as Hal encounters a strange wooden ship near Earth. He realizes the ship is a shrine and feels no sense of threat, so he deposits it in a Californian forest on his way back to Coast City. To carry out the repairs, the alien ship logically copies the local form of life: creating a duplicate of Hal Jordan. When this duplicate goes into a truck stop and sees an action movie, it logically duplicates the behavior depicted, having itself no sense of good and evil. “When in Rome,” the objective narration declares. The duplicate incinerates a patron and then the truck stop, stealing a flatbed of lumber for the ship’s repairs. “The visitor hopes it is not being rude,” the final caption of the first chapter brilliantly tells us. As Hal Jordan returns to the ship, the military super-hero Captain Atom intervenes, blowing the ship up and ruining Hal’s negotiations with the alien. The two heroes clash over how to deal with the alien, whom Hal believes has survived. Captain Atom abandons Hal to deal with a collapsing building, then confronts the alien again. Hal intervenes, and the two heroes fight. Captain Atom wins, despite this being Green Lantern’s story. Captain Atom finds Hal, but leaves him to find his power battery — which he does. Meanwhile, Captain Atom proves incapable of following the wooden ship (now reconstructed for the third time by the relentless alien) into space. He finds Hal Jordan, apologizes, and leaves the ship for Hal to worry about, since outer space is more properly Green Lantern’s milieu. The story may be read as silly because it resolves around the old cliche of conflict between heroes, but it’s really a story about alien life having different values than our own — a type of story more commonly found on The Twilight Zone than in super-hero comics. Because of this, it’s an excellent Green Lantern story, one that recasts the hero as a serious sci-fi character.

This storyline continues into the final one serialized in Action Comics Weekly, which runs only four episodes. Hours after the previous storyline, Hal has almost caught up with the alien ship — which he’s only concerned about because it learned violent ways while on Earth. The ship seems to teleport him, however, to a place with the blue-skinned aliens that he remembers from the interstellar war he stopped. The aliens seem to worship Green Lanterns, and they point him to their master: a bulky, boastful, half-human Green Lantern who calls himself Malvolio of the Green Flame and who’s dressed like the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott. Malvolio soon informs Hal that Hal can never leave the planet. The two fight, and Malvolio literally knocks Hal through the planet. Hal finds a golden space station, which he assumes was made of gold to protect it from Malvolio. But its inhabitants reveal that Malvolio stole his ring from his human father two hundred years before — making him a human Green Lantern who preceded Hal Jordan, another new addition to the Green Lantern mythos. Since leaving Earth, Malvolio has set up a strange sort of cult on the planet, and he’s has been watching Hal Jordan since Jordan’s adventure in the area, in which he stopped that interstellar war. Malvolio explains that his father was an alien Green Lantern who, in the 1600s, reproduced with a human woman. After killing his father, Malvolio was beaten by Priest (also from the interstellar war story), who trapped him in this “zone” of space. Malvolio and Jordan fight, during which Hal’s ring inexplicably explodes. Jordan uses weapons on the golden space station to fashion an arrow, apparently killing Malvolio. His ring gone, Hal takes Malvolio’s ring and heads off into space to track the wooden ship. On the final page, Malvolio recovers: this has all been a ruse to get Hal to take Malvolio’s ring, in preparation for the day when Hal sees Priest, Malvolio’s old enemy, again.
Ugh, ugh, UGH! As a fluff-coating of a terrible moment in comics history, this was enough to vomit. The whole fight between GL and Capt. Atom was pointless, and the storyline involving the alien was never resolved, nor were a few other parts. Something which, amazingly enough, the writer had the audacity to admit:
Green Lantern’s Action Comics Weekly stories end there, and a note at the end of the final episode announced a new Green Lantern series in time for his 30th anniversary. But of course, the story told in Action Comics Weekly wasn’t finished. Hal was left still seeking the wooden ship. Malvolio’s revenge plan hadn’t been resolved, and his origins remained unclear — including what connection he had to Alan Scott, whose weakness had been wood, not yellow. Also unresolved was had the threat of the “ultimate weapon” being built by the two sides Hal forced into a truce.

DC offered Green Lantern Special #2, also by Owsley and Bright, to wrap up these storylines. But while a brilliant issue, it only concluded the “ultimate weapon” story. Priest returned, but Malvolio apparently didn’t activate his revenge plan, despite Priest and Jordan being in close proximity. The wooden ship was mentioned but never found.
See, like I said, it was one of a handful of matters left unfinished, and that's the problem. It's been said Owsley had fallouts with the editors, one of the reasons why Malvolio was never seen again, yet I don't get where the Sequart writer thinks this cardboard villain could have any serious connections with Alan Scott, save for a character design that looked similar, and in hindsight, was insulting the very Golden Age character the villain bore resemblance to. I wouldn't be shocked if the GL installment alone led to Action Comics' failure as a weekly anthology, and it decidedly should've remained a Superman comic regardless, even though there were other anthological tales there that worked better than GL's, and weren't as atrociously written as GL turned out to be. And what was so "brilliant" about the 2nd of two GL specials? In the end, it only served to break up a friendship between Hal and an aviation designer he'd met in the Secret Origins anthology (the story there was also very weak), and overall, the way things were handled was truly awful. Worst part about the whole mess is that DC probably put GL into the anthology deliberately, because they felt they could get away with what they put Katma through more easily than in an ongoing series. One more thing I want to comment on:
By the time Green Lantern left Action Comics Weekly, it was already slated to turn back into a monthly Superman title. After six anthology issues without Green Lantern, a full-length crossover between the various featured characters was planned for the final issue. Neil Gaiman wrote a draft, and it was approved. But it relied on Hal Jordan knowing Superman’s identity and being on friendly terms with him, and the Superman titles had recently rethought these matters. The script was scrapped, although Gaiman was paid for it, and Elliot S. Maggin authored a new script, which was produced.

Both revolved around Green Lantern, but Maggin’s script revealed yet another part of the Green Lantern mythos: that Abin Sur’s ring had originally summoned Superman before retrieving Hal Jordan. In the story, Hal was apparently killed and had to overcome his recent troubles in order to choose life. In the meantime, his ring summoned the other stars of Action Comics Weekly as potential successors.
Umm, I think those were DC's variation on "What If?" anthology stories at Marvel, so I guess this compounds all the muddles found in this stupid item Sequart brewed up. And it doesn't get any better with the following short item, telling about Emerald Dawn:
With the demise of Action Comics Weekly, DC set about resurrecting Green Lantern. To do so, it wisely sought to precede a new series with Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn, a six-issue mini-series retelling Hal Jordan’s acquisition of his ring. An excellent storyline, it was followed immediately by a third Green Lantern series. Before it was a year old, a second six-issue mini-series entitled Emerald Dawn II was launched.
Another head-shaker alright, and one can only wonder what they think of it now that Jones is imprisoned. Both miniseries were dreadful attempts to give Hal more "depth" as a character, by making him a drunkard while driving, which does not instantly equal quality storytelling, and the 2nd one was even more implausible than the 1st, because Katma Tui had been seen as an active member of the GLC in the 1st, yet in the 2nd, she was depicted as a rebel on Korugar against Sinestro's wrath, before she'd become a GL member! It also made Hal out to look absurdly naive to what Sinestro was doing to the populace on his planet, and the way the bank robbers Hal had captured while sneaking out of the prison van transporting him to serve his jail sentence figured out very quickly who he was also reeked of forced storytelling. Overall, these Emerald Dawn minis were monumentally stupid, and I'm glad I never had interest in buying them even before Jones was arrested by the FBI. Now, here's another page about the Gerard Jones era of GL during 1990-93, along with the subsequent Ron Marz run, and it's just as galling:
The first eight issues of the new series did the hard work of reconstructing the Green Lantern characters in the present, climaxing in a great battle and Hal Jordan set to reconstruct the Corps. The next four issues focused on Guy Gardner. Green Lantern #13 was extra-long and focused on Hal’s new Corps. A four-issue storyline followed, focusing on John Stuart, assigned to manage the patchwork of cities from various worlds left over after the end of the first eight-issue storyline. Issue #19 was another extra-length issue, this one focused on Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott.

A family of characters was being systematically — and quite artistically — reconstructed. With #25, that family took the form of a family of titles with the launching of Green Lantern: Mosaic — a risky but ingenious title focusing on John Stuart and the patchwork world of clashing cultures — and Green Lantern Corps Quarterly — an anthology handling the wide-flung world of Green Lanterns and related characters. A 3-issue prestige-format mini-series, Guy Gardner Reborn, quickly followed; after its conclusion, an ongoing title entitled Guy Gardner was launched. The same month, the ongoing title Darkstars was also launched, focusing on a group competing with the Corps. Green Lantern had in short order become a whole family of titles on par with Superman’s or Batman’s, but with unique titles for Hal Jordan, John Stuart, Guy Gardner, the rest of the Corps, and a Corps competitor.
My my, sugarcoating the sorry excuse for ultra-leftist politics in the Mosaic spinoff, are we? Or how the alien raccoon named Ch'p was killed by a truck in the 2nd issue? Not to mention at least one moment where Jones' offensive views on sexual relations found their way into the proceedings? Well, no one said propagandists weren't obsessed with glossing over all the worst mistakes made in any medium. No mention how Jones turned Appa Ali Apsa into a pathetically scripted villian who achieves near omnipotent power to move entire cityscapes to Oa, nor how underwhelming the "great battle" really was either, I see. I've long concluded the first 18 issues in the flagship title of the 3rd volume should be avoided like the plague, along with all annuals from this cruddy volume, for that matter. The 19th issue, thankfully, wasn't as bad as some others, but that's probably because Jones may not have written it, and there are a few other issues where I assume that's the case too. But "hard work"? Don't make me laugh.

Regarding the 1992-96 Darkstars series, I've thought it could've been an indirect spinoff, and written as it was by a different scripter, Michael Jan Friedman, they were fortunate to evade much of the pretensions GL suffered from under Jones, though Darkstars soon morphed into a title where a few former GLs were shoehorned in post-Emerald Twilight (and so too was Donna Troy, who'd forfeited her powers for a time in the Team Titans spinoff from the New Titans). It's really too bad that series had to be tainted with a tasteless event as a result. Some of the stories published in GLC Quarterly were okay, and if they can ever be reprinted, I'd recommend keeping them separate as possible from the rest that are scripted by Jones.
As Green Lantern approached #50, a big shake-up was in store for the Green Lantern family of titles. But first, a major event would unite DC’s cosmic or outer space titles. Comprised of two bookend specials and taking in two months worth of Green Lantern, Darkstars, and L.E.G.I.O.N. ’93 issues, “Trinity” was a major DC event at the time. In the months immediately following “Trinity,” Green Lantern: Mosaic would conclude with #18, its experimental nature never adequately catching on with fans. The final fate of the Mosaic world, created in the relaunched Green Lantern‘s first storyline, was at last revealed. At the same time, in Green Lantern, Hal Jordan returned to Earth and discovered that Coast City, his home since the Silver Age, had been eradicated during Superman’s blockbuster “Reign of the Supermen” storyline.
And no objective view of that either, right? I read the Trinity crossover, and it was nothing to write home about (Maltus, the planet the Guardians originally came from, got soiled in the tale, IIRC). I remember just before it came out, there was a GL storyline where some enemy aliens destroyed Hal's power battery, in a prelude to the atrocity that was Emerald Twilight, strongly hinting Jones really was going along with the whole shambles to come. That claim Coast City was Hal's living quarters since the Silver Age isn't entirely accurate either, because in the late 60s, he had, for a time, decided to journey round the US taking up different jobs than being a test pilot, because Carol had become engaged to a different man. Hal did eventually return to Coast City on occasion, but it wasn't until the end of the 70s he took up residence there again, and even then, the stars of the show subsequently moved to Los Angeles, where they resided until the end of the 80s.
DC editorial apparently had dictated that issues #48-50, comprising the “Emerald Twilight” storyline, would feature the destruction of the Corps and of the Guardians — as well as Hal Jordan becoming a bad guy. Gerard Jones — who had overseen the Green Lantern titles since Emerald Dawn and who had written the stories that had reconstructed the Corps which DC now so cavalierly wanted demolished — wrote a script for the story but came into conflict with DC over the changes DC wanted. Though already solicited, Jones’s issues were scrapped and a new version ordered — to be written by Ron Marz, who would replace Jones permanently on Green Lantern. Thus #47 saw Jones’s abrupt exit from the title: the end of the era he had guided became visible in the end of the Mosaic world and in the good but rushed “Emerald Twilight” storyline, mirroring the Emerald Dawn mini-series that had launched the new era. As everything Jones had constructed fell apart — in nicely mirrored though rushed fashion – Green Lantern Corps Quarterly, with #8, came to an end as well, its titular group of characters having been destroyed.

An era was indeed over. The Green Lantern family of titles had been scaled back, with Guy Gardner retitled Guy Gardner: Warrior and its hero given new, non-Green Lantern-affiliated powers. Darkstars also survived. After “Emerald Twilight,” the Corps was gone, the Guardians and Sinestro killed, and Hal Jordan made nearly omnipotent. In his place was Kyle Rayner, to whom Ganthet gave a ring at the end of #50. With the end of the Corps, a new and exciting era had begun.
And this is confirmation Sequart has no issue with the horror tale spun in the wake of Twilight either. What's the use of history compilations if you can't be objective? In the final paragraph:
Gerard Jones’s tenure on Green Lantern was a titanic one, which restored the Green Lantern Corps to prominence and saw an explosion of titles. In many ways, it was the template for Geoff Johns’s revival of Green Lantern, years later. Including “Emerald Twilight,” which marked the definitive end of Johns’s continuing story, as well as issues set in the past (e.g. Emerald Dawn), Johns’s tenure comprises an impressive 135 issues, most coming from his final two years on the franchise (when the number of Green Lantern-related titles exploded).
Wow, no wonder I wound up reevaluating some of Johns' early writings during the mid-2000s, concluding they were built on some pretty bad elements whenever they weren't relying on badly written nostalgia trips - they also adhered to one of the most pretentious eras in comicdom. Jones' run was neither titanic (unless maybe you think of it in terms of the British ocean liner that sunk in 1912), nor did it restore the GLC to prominence of any kind, due to how uninspired and phony much of the stories were.

While we're on the topic of the PC destruction of a fine sci-fi creation, I also thought to take issue with the following item from a site called You Don't Read Comics (what a weird name indeed), which wrote about the 90s era in a way that's not much better, even as they do make mention of Jones' atrocities that got him jailed:
The book would focus on Hal, though John Stewart would be given his own spinoff under Green Lantern: Mosaic, and Guy Gardener would hang around in the Justice League before getting his own book. Mosaic would eventually be canceled, and the sales for Green Lantern would slowly slip down as DC's sales, in general, seemed to flag in the early 90s. While the book was solid itself, it's hard to recommend people pick up the run for one solid reason: Writer Gerard Jones is currently serving a six-year sentence for possession of child pornography, beginning in 2018.
On the latter matter, I'm in agreement with the writer. Nobody should have to buy junk that Jones could profit from in residuals. But they think the series was "solid"? That's where we're in firm disagreement, due to the heavy-handed politics and other slapdash elements rampant in the GL run when Jones was writer, along with several other books he wrote. They do tell what appears to be Jones' original direction for Emerald Twilight, however, and it sounds little better than what Marz scripted in the finished product:
Gerard Jones was asked to come up with an idea to update Hal, similar to Superman and Batman, in his book. The Guardians of the Universe, the leaders of the Green Lanterns, would fight against a different force of Guardians, each claiming the other to be frauds. True to the book favoring Hal at the time, and Jones favoring Hal to an insane extent would be the sole person in the Corps who believe the original Guardians are the real deal. The end result would have Hal as the lone rebel fighting against an even more oppressive force of Green Lanterns led by his mortal foe Sinestro.

After his ring gets destroyed on the ruins of his hometown Coast City (more on that in a moment), Hal Jordan realizes that he has somehow internalized the power of the Green Lanterns. He uses this to fight against everyone and somehow restore the original Guardians. However, it would also be revealed that the original Guardians caused his father's death by intentionally killing him, causing trauma in young Hal Jordan's brain that would help him conquer great fear later. As such, Hal would leave the Corps and serve as his own hero, the working-title hero The Protector.

Jones' original plan would give Hal his own book under his new title, while another GL would take the core Green Lantern title. In theory, a new character. However, DC editor Kevin Dooley is attributed to striking this idea down because it wasn't good enough to attract new readers. Dooley would work with other editors to come up with a new plan. Instead, Gerard Jones would leave the book with issue 47, despite having written summaries and even partial art being taken care of for issue 48. The letter column would actually address this sudden swerve, by saying that there would be a 2-month gap between installments, and there wasn't even a cover preview.
Yikes...this was what Jones had in mind? Now that is sick. Filthy. It would've made the Guardians out to be intentional murderers, no better than what Appa Ali Apsa became under Jones in the first 8 issues of the 3d volume, when he murdered a character seen in the Owsley material. (A character who was never mentioned again, IIRC.) I know that, as time went by, the Guardians were portrayed performing questionable acts that troubled Hal, and which they subsequently decided was reason for leaving the universe behind to spend time with the Zamarons (who went curiously unmentioned in Jones' run, IIRC), while leaving the GLC to hold the fort and run things their way, but they were never depicted upholding murder of innocent people, not even to serve as "motivation" for the heroes they'd recruit. At worst, Jones' story proposal reeks of the terrible insular economy writing that's destroyed many a superhero title and franchise.

But as good as it is if Jones' pitch wasn't accepted, that Marz's pitch was is precisely why there's nothing to feel relieved about, though it's long been a moot point. Oh, and look what this site says about what came during Twilight:
Hal Jordan would be unable to "move past" his grief, it bubbling up from under any control he tried to exert on himself. At first, he would summon up his memories of his father, then his mother. They both ask him to move on, his subconscious begging him not to break any of the rules of the Green Lantern Corps, or to do anything stupid. For those who know Hal, he tends to do stupid things without thinking, and he does not listen to his memories of his parents.
This makes me think of Spider-Man's One More Day, where Peter Parker wouldn't move on after aunt May Parker was gravely injured by a hitman's bullet, and he made a deal with Mephisto to remove his marriage to Mary Jane Watson in order to change May's fate. But Hal does stupid things? Ahem. It's the writers who depict him doing them, and up to us as readers and critics to determine whether these steps are in good or bad taste artistically.
These three issues would have a meteoric impact on the entirety of the DC Universe. Hal Jordan would take the (very 90s, but also very cool) name Parallax as his own, and try to convince his friends that the world needed to be fixed at any cost. This would result in the late-1994 DC line-wide event Zero Hour.

In Zero Hour, Hal would reach out with another hero-turned villain Extant (the former Hawk of Hawk and Dove, don't ask) and try to literally rewrite reality to make it favor the things they've lost. Hal would become a minor recurring villain in the pages of the cosmic DC heroes (and Justice League), a rather ignoble fate for a former founding member of the Justice League. Hal would also later sacrifice his life to reignite the sun in 1996's event Final Night.
What was done to Hank Hall was equally reprehensible, and I seem to recall that Extant later turned up in the page of JSA, still a villain, and destined to be destroyed in a time switch gimmick by Al Rothstein to save his mother from the same fate in a plane explosion. But that was still no excuse for keeping the former Hawk from the duo with Dove in a monstrous role he shouldn't have been plunged into in the first place, back in 1991's Armageddon crossover (speaking of which, it's incredible that the miniseries titled "Armageddon: Inferno" was otherwise unrelated, and thus far more palatable than anything else part of that crossover). Oh, and what's so "cool" about a name like Parallax when it was applied to one of the most uncool roles of the 90s? Quite mystifying. There's more:
There is one more aspect to speak about with this event, however. Thanks to the early days of the internet, the more toxic side of comic fandom was about to reveal their ugly heads. Calling themselves HEAT, Hal's Emerald Advancement Team would demand the reversal of editorial decisions revolving around Hal Jordan and the restoration of Hal as the premier Green Lantern. New lantern Kyle Rayner would either be left alone, depowered or "die in a fire." They would basically be obnoxious on early message boards surrounding DC comics, which seem to have been lost to time. The group was somehow passionate enough to take out a double-page ad in Wizard Magazine, the premier comic magazine back in the day. It's estimated this cost $3,500.00 at the time and was summarily mocked to hell by the same magazine. The website still exists, actually. There are a few dead image links, and the guestbook seems to have died or broken. However, you can visit it here so long as Tripod still exists as a hosting service. It's a weird little snapshot into toxic fandom in the mid-90s… and was ultimately made redundant anyhow.
First off, I realize fandom as we know it aren't saints, and I'm sure there were those who undermined the cause of Hal Jordan fans by acting obnoxiously - possibly even profanely - on message boards back in the day. But something bothers me about this description of "toxic fandom". It sounds like that offensive slur leftists were using until recently, "toxic masculinity", and could be used for advancing anti-heterosexual propaganda and such, and was more recently substituted with attacks on fandoms, an alleged criticism that wasn't altruistic. I don't have a problem with complaints about people writing repellent, irrational quarrels online, but I think it could pay to avoid risking something that sounds like a modern allusion to political correctness. Of course, there's also the problem of where the YDRC writer stands in all this:
You see, Geoff Johns would bring Hal back in 2005 with what would be the start of what would be a swath of resurrecting Silver Age heroes and sidelining (or equaling) their legacy characters. Admittedly, Johns would have a fantastic comic run, going from 2005 to 2013, a modern record for most creators. Johns' run on Green Lantern would even survive a complete line-wide reboot in 2011's Flashpoint. Along with Batman, Green Lantern would literally be the only book to survive two massive reboots and still somehow be the same continuity from all the way back in the 1950s.

However, with Hal having returned back to comics only two decades later and having been back for 14, are these comics still worth looking at?

Most certainly, yes
.

While lacking the political and social oomph of comics like O'Neill and Adams' Green Lantern / Green Arrow, these three issues are a fascinating view of a hero's descent into well-meaning madness and the lengths Hal Jordan can go when he believes he's right. While the core start of the event is found under an author with a troubling legacy and begins with another major event's ending, this was the first comic in decades to make Hal Jordan indeed a compelling character beyond "that guy who acts seriously under pressure." The idea that a hero could lose their way after such a tragic loss is rarely examined, with tragedy instead being often used as an origin story or a random way to raise the stakes with another villain.

While the original concept could have provided new story ideas, it's hard not to see how important these three issues wound up being for Green Lantern and DC Comics. Sometimes, comics don't need a massive message about being just.

Sometimes they just need to tell a damned good story and take chances
.
But they weren't telling a good story at all. If they wanted to, they wouldn't have scapegoated Hal, and if they really needed to replace him, they wouldn't do it so cavalierly, as if a fictional character were the sole problem, instead of a writer as pretentious as Jones was. Gee, for somebody complaining about "toxic fandom", he sure doesn't seem concerned about toxic abuse of famous creations by ingrates in the editorial departments, nor does he seem concerned about the way Alexandra deWitt was offed in the fridge by Major Force, all allegedly to give Kyle Rayner "motivation". This is disgusting, and judging by how he alludes to "decades", which hints he means all the way back to 1959, when Hal debuted, it's clear he's somebody who has no interest in the source material, and literally believes only the most modern mishmash matters, not the older stuff, some of which I proudly own, including a Silver Age GL volume 1 paperback.

To think, that somebody believes so hugely that the concept of a fictional hero falling from grace is that vital for escapist fiction, and worse, for an established character who's primarily meant to serve as the star of stories meant for entertainment, to have this belief applied to him, rather than a new creation, is tremendously disappointing. So he believes his tommyrot that much, he's even willing to fully embrace a story where an established hero commits murders? This is shameful, and the worst part being that, while it would be just as abominable if Superman were put through this, ditto Batman, the YDRC writer clearly sees Hal as an easy target because he's not Superman or Batman. This is also what led to Identity Crisis turning Jean Loring into something she was never created as years before, and nobody gave a crap how illogical it turned out, because their ideologies and narrow ideas for what makes "entertainment" are so much more important than logic and cohesion. And what the YDRC writer said is something only somebody with neither interest nor investment in the older creations could say. A valid argument can also be made that, when you claim you're a fan of a particular character or franchise, and then suddenly, one day, out of nowhere, you say it's perfectly acceptable to kill them off in the worst ways possible, or worse, turn them into murderous villains...you were never a fan at all. The way people lacking respect for past creations and their hard-working creators attach themselves to concepts and creations they otherwise don't find appealing is stupefying as it's nonsensical. Marvel's also suffered from these same problems, especially in the past 15 years.

As somebody with a huge appreciation for the past stories with Hal Jordan, it's hugely disappointing whenever I find apologists for failure like these coming about making sugarcoated excuses for atrocious exercises in futility. I'm sure I've said this before, and will again: this is why the worst storylines and status quos remained in place so many years. But hey, don't worry, because I'm sure there were "fans" with very poor notions of how to object to these bad directions, whether on a message board, or with their wallets - from what I've gleaned over the years, it's clear even the H.E.A.T campaigners didn't call for an outright boycott of GL, despite how that could've been the best way to send a message, and anybody who acted abusively on web forums was surely part of the reason why DC stuck to their direction with Hal for nearly a decade, because why would somebody change their minds if, on the one hand, the dissenters were acting abusively, and on the other hand, they actually bought the Rayner stories despite everything? Even today, fandom's stand on anything is very ambiguous, though the difference is that today, fandom as we know it has dwindled, for logical reasons, and no matter where things are going with DC and Marvel, they may never regain it.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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