A Hal of a Guy

December 4th, 2008 by | Tags: , , , ,

First of all, I apologize for the title of this entry.

I’m not particularly well-versed in Green Lantern lore, but I’ve noticed a few trends in how people respond to Hal versus how they respond to Guy.

Even discounting the Kyle fans, Hal seems to be the less popular of the two. Among fans, an appearance by Guy gets cheers, while Hal is viewed as business as usual. There are a lot of reasons for that. Hal is business as usual for Green Lantern fans. When a character has been appearing pretty regularly since 1959, it’s a lot harder to keep up his appeal compared to the guy who, despite a shortlived series of his own, gets added in for spice every now and again. Guy is the more extreme character, and extreme characters tend to be interesting.

But Guy has his own deficiencies. Deficiency. Okay. He’s a jerk. A biggun. However, that deficiency is also his strength, as a character. Why? Because every character and every writer makes it clear that they know he’s a jerk. Once that happens, once the text makes it clear that the story is about a jerk who also happens to do good things, it’s possible to relish the outrageousness of the character the same way we can relish the violence and the spandex costumes.

Hal, on the other hand, is a Hero. He is shown as not only the first Green Lantern, but the best Green Lantern. The sense I’m getting from diehard Green Lantern fans is that the outrage is not just about the mistakes Hal makes, but the fact that he is being sold as the One True Lantern. Because of that, all of his flaws, from his odd courtship with Carol Ferris to that little tantrum during which he almost ended the Universe, are being excused or ignored. And so Guy, with his rudeness, sexism, arrogance, and sometimes outright meanness is popular, and Hal is reviled.

Maybe a little accountability goes a long way?

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5 comments to “A Hal of a Guy”

  1. Actually we get excited when Guy shows up because we hope that Batman will show up and punch him in the face again.

  2. If Marvel comics have taught us one thing it’s that the flaws define the character. And if Giffen and Demattis have taught us anything, it’s that jerks get the best lines.

    Guy at his worst written is a bad parody of the ex-jock. He comes across as an arrogant and insensitive meathead, all too quick to solve problems with his fists. On the surface, he’s precisely the last person on earth who should be given a power ring.

    But he’s as brave and loyal as Hal ever was and above all, grounded in a way Jordan isn’t. Hal’s never met something he couldn’t beat with enough willpower and ingenuity. But any time Guy needs to be reminded of his limitations, he just has to look at Hal, who has smacked him down several times throughout comics history.

    And Johns be damned, it was Jordan’s arrogant beleif he could fix everything that led to him wrecking the Corps, becoming Parallax and almost remaking the universe in his own image.

  3. I totally agree with you Mr. Wilson.

    Regardless of Guy’s ‘problems’ he still is a hero, he never gives up or stops, no matter what he’s facing.

    I think he was designed to be a direct counter to Hal Jordan and John Stewart. Both are somewhat liberal in political views, Stewart a bit more than Jordan. Both pretty much put their needs behind those of others. Both follow the adage about ‘with great power..’

    Guy is so the opposite, but still remains a dedicated hero. So he’s a bit of a jerk. He still does the right thing, just in a different way.

  4. Matt Murdock and Hal Jordan are similiar in that they’re both willful, borderline-reckless (acrobatic and aeronautical stuntment) ladies men in positions of authority that they play loose and fast with; Hal with his tendency to ignore the orders and regulations set by the Guardians, and Matt by dressing up like a devil and punching people in a very illegal (and thus unbecoming for a lawyer) fashion

    The difference is that Hal Jordan gets to fly around in space wtih his buddies who all look up to him while wielding “the most powerful weapon in the universe” while Daredevil’s life is a gruesome circus of misery and mayhem

  5. Guy is awesome, he is exactly who I would want by my side because he never quits, he’s funny, and he moons Batman. I mostly make fun of Hal. He’s kind of more pretty than smart, and Kyle’s already got that covered for me.