Hal Jordan Rules and I Suck

February 1st, 2007 by | Tags: , , ,

You may have noticed that I haven’t posted jack shit in the past week or so. Yes, that’s my bad. Truth is, while I’m a big comic fan, I’m also a rather big wrestling mark. The Royal Rumble was this past Sunday and no matter how bad the overall WWE product gets (and believe me, right now it’s possibly the worst it’s ever been since I started watching 16 years ago), the event is like a second Christmas to me. In other words, I’ve been a bit pre-occupied with other interests.

So what do I have in store? I do have one little article that I’ll probably toss in tomorrow or so. Nothing special.

The next installment of Deadshot’s Tophat should be coming in sometime this weekend. It’s a bit more exhaustive this time, since most of the characters are full-fledged stars of the issues rather than cameos and silhouettes.

There’s a chance you might still be wondering about that finale I promised for the Top 100 What If Countdown. Truth is, I was waiting quite a while to get some art in from a volunteer who shall remain nameless. He flaked out on me hard and all I have to show for it is an early sketch of the Hulk tearing Ultron in half. That being said, I will make that article my priority after that above mentioned Deadshot’s Tophat installment. Ten bucks says I get it posted before the next Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine.

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I have a special gift towards our readers.

Which reminds me, if anyone out there has an itch to type up their long-winded opinion on why they think Slapstick is better than the Creeper or how Lou Ferrigno changed your way of life, feel free to contact hermanos or yours truly. We’re always open to guest articles.

Now onto the Hal crap.

Word on the street is that it is/was Hal Jordan Appreciation Week. Sure, I’m a Guy guy myself, but in terms of marquee, I’ve always been about Hal. Actually, before I go into explanation, let me share a little anecdote. At work, I wear a Green Lantern pin over my nametag. A couple times I met this girl who pointed it out and would start talking about how much she loves Kyle Rayner. During a discussion with her, she said something about Luke Skywalker.

I told her, “Well, you do like Kyle. And Kyle is the Luke Skywalker of DC.”

She got offended quickly. “What?! No! Kyle is NOT Luke Skywalker!”

I just shrugged back. “Of course he is. Look. You got this great hero. He’s part of this magic space police force thing and he’s the best. Then one day, his personal feelings and some dark influence drive him insane and he kills everybody. Like, he kills all the other guys in his club and starts wearing cool armor. So then you have this new, young guy who doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing. He’s the last of his kind now. Not only does he make a good replacement and do things his own way, but he helps redeem that first hero.”

“Yes, but Luke’s so whiny! Kyle isn’t whiny!”

“…You’re kidding, right?”

While I will make fun of him every now and then, I have nothing against Kyle Rayner. He really is one of the best replacement characters in comic history. I haven’t read Ion, but I hear great things about it. I’ll probably hit the trade.

Back to Hal, people will bring up how bland or generic he is. To me, that’s part of the charm. Hal Jordan is the secondary Superman. It’s a dynamic nobody really talks about, though it’s usually there. Every major team of good guys usually has both a main hero and a secondary main hero. It has to be someone who’s kind of generic in his own right, but is still very much different from the main hero. Superman and Hal, despite being two of the biggest prototypes for the basic superhero design, are very different. Hal is a human being. He wears a mask. He has no cape or outer-underwear. His powers aren’t the same and aren’t biological.

So he’s the secondary Superman. In a world without Superman, Hal would be the top guy. In fact, I think that’s how it was in The Nail. He’s the Roddy Piper to Superman’s Hulk Hogan. The Storm to his Cyclops. The Brooklyn to his Goliath. The Guile to his Ryu. The Ultra Magnus to his Optimus Prime. You get the idea. It’s no surprise that at one point, the two Justice League factions were headed by Supes and Hal.

Then Emerald Twilight happens. Hal goes crazy. That’s the second step to why I love Hal. People will always get pissed at Emerald Twilight and even the writer admits that it was last minute. Doesn’t matter. Heroes die to prove that heroes can die. Civilians die to prove that established loved ones can die. Every once in a while, a hero needs to fall from grace in order to prove how it can happen to anyone. Alternate universes, while awesome at times, just aren’t enough. We don’t need the Justice Lords. We need the secondary Superman to be a fall guy and show the rest that the villains aren’t the only ones they need to keep in check.

I openly admit that I’m not a Hal Jordan expert. I can be a Booster Gold or Venom encyclopedia, but my experience reading Green Lantern books is limited. Something I hear a lot is how Emerald Twilight spat on over 30 years of characterization. Of course, if you want to be a dick about it, it’s more like 8 years. Crisis. Even then, I just don’t understand that statement. He’s a human being. His hometown had just been blown up and he couldn’t do anything about it because he was too busy dicking around in space. Yes, he wasn’t a raving lunatic during Death and Return of Superman, but he did show signs that he wasn’t exactly acting the picture of mental health. He admitted to us that he would have indeed torn Mongul limb-from-limb but couldn’t do it just because of his damned yellow skin.

After Cyborg Superman was driven away, Hal was only a little crazy. The way he coped, by arguing with a construct of his father and then rebuilding the entire city and its people with his ring did an awful lot of damage to his hold on reality. The real breaking point was when he was about to make his father construct say how proud he was of Hal. Right then, his ring lost its power and his father’s words were cut off. One of the Guardians chastises Hal for doing this and he’s shoved even further towards the point of no return. After all, these guys he’s been working for for years have near-infinite power and claim they’re a force of good. What bigger injustice is there other than a city full of people being blown apart? Yes, Superman or Martian Manhunter wouldn’t make this argument to the Guardians, but this isn’t like what happened to Krypton or Mars. Damn it all, this just happened!

Failure, loss, rejection and betrayal leading to insanity. No, Emerald Twilight sounded about right to me.

Of his pre-Parallax days, I don’t really know any Hal Jordan stories that stick out at me. New Frontier, on the other hand, fits well enough. It’s an Elseworlds, but in reality, it’s a retelling of Hal’s origin smothered with a dozen subplots that don’t involve him. The whole secondary Superman dynamic I brought up earlier factors into this. Against the big hate-spreading threat at the end, Superman is taken out of the game early on. While Flash and the others do their jobs to help out, this new Green Lantern guy shows himself to be the biggest help in slaying the villain.

From the Parallax days, one of my favorite stories was Green Lantern #63-64. Kyle has both Ganthet and Hal telling him he has to give up the ring. This leads to a fight between Green Lantern and Parallax that is pretty one-sided. One of my favorite parts of the fight has Parallax attack Kyle with a giant construct of Hal as Green Lantern. Soon the Justice League step in. Parallax beats them all, including Mullet Superman. Standing over the defeated team with Kyle’s ring in hand, Hal hears a voice behind him.

“Not what you wanted…”

Hal still doesn’t see the logic and prepares to steal Ganthet’s power. Instead, Kyle attacks him with a lead pipe. Kyle makes a big speech about how even if he doesn’t have powers, he’s the only one left standing and has to challenge Parallax. Hal comes to realize that the kid is right and that he is no longer Green Lantern material. Hal gives Kyle his ring back and decides to move on. Ganthet allows himself to be absorbed into Hal and promises to give him some kind of peace. Hal leaves Earth, the League wakes up and Kyle’s ego gets the boost it’s needed.

At the end of the issue, we see a bustling city where a little boy is crying about his lost dog. The dog returns to him, carried in a green hand. The boy gets excited.

“Green Lantern! You’re my hero. You make Coast City the best place to live in the whole world.”

Flying above him is a smiling Hal. “Well… that’s what I’m here for.”

The scene pans out and is shown in the eye of a stoic and sad Parallax, who sits on an alien planet’s surface, in fetal position. Poor guy.

All that Parallax stuff came to a head in Emerald Night, a one-shot that took place during the Final Night event. Final Night, for those who haven’t heard of it, involved a being called the Sun-Eater doing what it’s named suggests. The issue begins with Parallax hunting down Cyborg Superman at the end of the universe. Parallax wins by attacking Cyborg Superman with constructs of every single person who died in Coast City. With Cyborg Superman done with, Hal wonders what’s next for him.

Kyle shows up and explains the Sun-Eater deal. They really need Hal’s help on this. Hal wills Kyle away and decides he needs to do some thinking. Over the course of the issue, he visits various people who are important to him. John Stewart, Carol Ferris, the grave of Oliver Queen, etc. But one of his visits was to Guy Gardner, who at the time was in his Warrior guise. For some reason, this has always been one of my all-time favorite comic book scenes.

After extracting Ganthet from himself, Hal then made the decision to help out. He used his powers to reignite the sun and died from exertion.

I never read too much of Hal’s Spectre stuff. At least, I never read the main series. I read his crossovers with the Justice League, though. JLA/Spectre: Soul War was mostly crap, but I still love the end, where Batman and Hal finally make their peace with each other. Geoff Johns didn’t seem to love it, since he swept it back under the rug so he could get some more mileage out of Batman’s distrust.

Rebirth happened and now Hal’s back to the way he was… only not so much. No, now Hal has a most interesting dynamic. His breakdown and madness was explained as being the influence of Parallax, who is in fact a cosmic space bug of fear that used Hal as a host. Lots of people are angry at this revelation and claim it cleans the slate with Hal Jordan. No, not by a longshot.

What this does is makes it acceptable for him to be a hero again. You see, Hal was influenced. He wasn’t mind-controlled. There’s a major difference. His friends may think that Hal didn’t do any of that Emerald Twilight stuff, but Hal and those who know better think different. We may never truly know how much of Emerald Twilight was Hal Jordan and how much was a giant space bug, and that’s going to be haunting the Green Lantern cast for quite a while.

So here’s to you, secondary Superman! You, who punches people when they disagree with you! You, who used to rock some pretty awesome gray hair tufts until Geoff Johns retconned them away! You, who got 30 seconds of screen time on Justice League Unlimited! You, who once cosmically merged with Tony Stark in a ridiculous crossover! You, the superhero archetype who will forever be defined by one really bad day! Whether it’s brightest day or blackest night, rock the fuck on.

…Man. Could you imagine the shitstorm that would happen if George Lucas approved Skywalker: Rebirth?

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2 comments to “Hal Jordan Rules and I Suck”

  1. I’ve got to say that I love the idea of Hal Jordan as a secondary Superman.

  2. Looks like my break from comics overall has left me out of the loop for lots of Hal stuff. I’m definately going to have to take a look, and I agree with the dubman on the idea of back up Superman is awesome.