With the Green Lantern movie coming out soon, it sort of shocked me to realize that the initiative to revive Hal Jordan, and thus the Green Lantern franchise, began only 5 or 6 years ago. Looking back, it's been a tremendously successful and entertaining endeavor.
It all began with Green Lantern: Rebirth - a 6 issue mini-series that I consider one of the most methodical and brilliant continuity-based stories to be written in comics. Geoff Johns took so many diverse and un-related elements of Green Lantern's troubled history, and somehow walked away not only with a complete redemption of the once driven-mad Hal Jordan, but also a complete revival of the Green Lantern franchise as a whole. The idea of making Hal Jordan's fall the result of a fear-based parasite was just genius - and worked so well with the already established history. Essentially nothing was actually retconed away - the fear-entity parallax explanation worked complete inside the already established frame-work. They made it look effortless - and even tied Hal Jordan's fall in with Sinestro's revenge against Hal Jordan -- that Sinestro had wanted to make Hal experinece the same fall from grace he had once experienced.
What was also great about the Rebirth series was, while Hal Jordan was again stepping in as the lead hero of the series - Kyle Rayner was not simply being given the boot, or disrespected in any way. I, and many other people, grew up with Kyle Rayner as Green Lantern - so the return of Hal Jordan did leave some of us with a bit of skepticism. What exactly was so special about Hal Jordan?
That's really the corner-stone of why I think the Green Lantern revival has worked so well. Geoff Johns came in with a very clear interpretation of Hal Jordan's personality - and what set him apart from other heroes. He's a cocky sure of himself flyboy - always ready to leap into danger -- and most importantly able to overcome great fear. The concept of fear has been a major theme in the series - and Hal Jordan's revised history, of seeing his father crashing his plane and dying right in front of him was used as a foundation for his reckless and danger-seeking personality.
Hal's history was further developed on a 7 issue origin storyline. I really loved the story, as for half of the book it wasn't simply about Green Lantern or space adventures -- it was about the history of Hal Jordan, and how he grew up into the hero he is today.
At the same time Sinestro's history is also expounded upon - showing that he wasn't always a bad guy; he and Hal Jordan actually got along at first. Sinestro's history was also inter-weaved with Abin Sur's history, as his friend and colleague had died trying to shed light on an untold Prophecy called "The Blackest Night" - a prophecy the Guardians of the Universe ignored.
Before the Blackest Night, though, some groundwork had to be done. The biggest addition to the Green Lantern mythos, of course, is the concept of the emotional spectrum. ROYGBIV. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Each color represented an emotional power, and soon we had a Corps for each color of the rainbow.
The Green Lantern Corps
The Green Lantern Corps, of course, represent the middle of the emotional spectrum: Will Power. The Green Light of Will Power, being in the middle ground, has no effect on the user - the wielder is always in control, and always as powerful as their will can permit. The Green Lantern Corps revived in a big way, launching a mini-series, and later regular series. Creators like Dave Gibbons, Tomasi, and Patrick Gleason breathed new life into the secondary characters of the Green Lantern Corps.
The Green Lantern Corps series really captured the concept of inter-galactic police officers. Charactes like Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, Kilowog and others where developed in this series over the years, to excellent results. New characters, like Sonanik Natu, have proved very popular - and concepts like the internal affairs-like element of the Corps, the Alpha Lanterns, brought dynamic new stories into the mix.
And, quite simply, the artwork of Patrick Gleason was probably one of the most powerful examples of comic artwork ever put to page; he was really allowed to run wild with his incredibly dynamic drawings.
The Star Sapphires
The Star Sapphires where reintroduced and lead to the Zaromons forging the Violet Light of Love into similarly colored rings as the Green Lanterns. The Violet Light, being on the edge of the color spectrum, means that the emotion has more power over the user, than the user over the power.
The Sinestro Corps
The Sinestro Corps, based around the yellow element of fear, lead to the the highly successful "Sinestro Corps War" storyline, which put Sinestro in a commanding new position - creating his own corps. The yellow lanterns where more akin to terrorists, striking fear into the hearts of victims - and nearly brought the recently revived Green Lantern Corps to it's knees.
The Red Lantern Corps
The Red Lanterns, lead by the villain Atrocitus, where based on the Red Light of Rage. Like the Violet Light, the Red Light of Rage is on the outermost edge of ROYGBIV - and the loss of control is quite apparent. When a person is overcome with great rage -- not just anger, but being hurt by a signifigant loss like the murder of a loved one, something that cries out for justice -- that kind of rage attracts a Red Lantern Ring, and without a lot of choice the Red Ring will consume you. You're heart will stop, as the Red Ring becomes your heart - with the rage inside you boiling over in a constant stream of boiling blood red vomit. It's a very startling and dynamic difference from either the Green Lanterns or the Sinestro Corps - and the loss of free will is so apparent, very few people can retain their sense of self. Atrocitus, for example, is fully in command of his faculties - and his hatred for the Green Lantern Corps is well justified, which makes his creation of the Red Lantern Corps all the more compelling and exciting.
The Blue Lantern Corps
The Blue Lantern Corps, based on the Blue Light of Hope, was formed by former Guardians Ganthet and Sayd - and are deisnged to inspire hope in the galaxy. Their rings work in conjunction with Green Rings - raising Ring power levels to 200% just by being in proximity to a Green Lantern. The Blue Lantern Corps are sort of like priests - representing faith and hope - and making it into something tangible. Their mantra is "All will be well". Just like faith in real life, results of "hope" are not always immediate - but the Blue Lanterns stick to their guns that "All will be well".
Saint Walker, the lead Blue Lantern, has proved very popular - and has even joined the Justice League of America.
The Orange Lantern Corps
One of the best and funniest of the Lantern Corps is Agent Orange, aka Larfleeze. The Orange Light of Avarice (or Greed) acts like a disease - compelling the user to simply always want things. In keeping with the theme of Greed, Larfleeze is the only weilder of the Orange Light - wanting it all to himself. He creates his "Corps" by creating Orange Constructs of various victims who where unlucky enough to stray into his territory.
Geoff Johns has said he writes Larfleeze like Daffy Duck. He can be cartoonish and funny, and endlessly entertaining - becoming a great hit with fans and one of the best new characters to be added to the DCU. The simple concept of Avarice is probably the most understood and sympathized emotion - since any comic fan and collector can attest to it's sway in some form or another. The Orange Lantern Christmas Special, where Larfleeze expected to get presents from Santa Claus, was one of the funniest and sweetest stories -- as Larfleeze had to come to the harsh realization that Santa Claus wasn't real. Among his monstrously long wish list - the one at the top, "My Family", sadly couldn't be delivered on Christmas morning.
The Indigo Tribe
The final group to appear was the Indigo Tribe. The Indigo Lanterns are able to channel and use the color energy of all the other Corps. They talk in a strange language which Green Lantern rings cannot translate. Their origins are still unexplained, but they proved invaluable during the Blackest Night.
The Blackest Night
The entire Green Lantern revival really came to a head when the Blackest Night mini-series began. The Prophecy of the War of Light, a war between all the colored corps, was slowly being full-filled in the main GL series. The antithesis of the emotional spectrum is death - and the entire universe would feel the darkness, as the dead where forced to rise and become Black Lanterns.
All sorts of dead heroes where revived, from the Martian Manhunter to Earth-2 Superman - it was a nightmare for all the characters of the DCU. There had been so many death and revivals in DC Comics in recent years - and that proved very useful in the various stories and confrontations that arose from these revivals. The corpses of the dead where given life - and their mission was to devour the hearts and emotions of the living. The series climxed with even the recently revived heroes, like Superman, Superboy, Green Arrow, Ice, ect -- they where also transformed into Black Lanterns.
During the series, to help fight back against the over-wheming forces they where facing, all the colored rings created emergency dupties - allowing certain DCU Heroes to take on the different lantern colors. This proved very exciting - as there where many characters that so perfectly fit the different colors for that moment.
The series all lead to a big revelation - what the Black Lanterns, lead by the villain Nekron, where after all along -- the White Entity of Life. The goal of the Black Lanterns was to kill the White Entity - and thus end all life in the universe.
In a shocking twist, it wasn't Hal Jordan who first connected with the White Light - it was Sinestro! He had seemingly achieved ultimate power - becoming the greatest lantern of them all. Yet his ego wouldn't allow him to retain the position. The Black Lanterns where defeated, though, when all the returned dead heroes where made into White Lanterns. At the end there was a surprise - various characters who should have returned to being dead, like all the other Black Lanterns, where kept alive. It lead into a series called Brightest Day.
The Green Lantern series continued on with Hal Jordan confronting a new threat in the wake of the Blackest Night. Someone was capturing all of the emotional entities (each group has one, similar to Parallax - a creature that is the embodiment of that particular emotion). Jordan was forced to join forces with all the lead Lanterns of each group - essentially becoming the "New Guardians".
The villain who was collecting the entities is actually an older Green Lantern foe - a former Guardian of the Universe named Krona. He wants to take revenge against his fellow Guardians, and is able to use Parallax to infect the entire Green Lantern Corps with fear - essentially mind controlling them. This leads Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, and Kyle Rayner to abandon their Green Rings and take up different colored rings. This storyline, War of the Green Lanterns, is where the series is right now.
I'm very excited to see the Green Lantern franchise become as powerful and successful as it has been. Hopefully, with the upcoming movie, more people will be able to see what comic fans have been enjoying all these years. This feels like it's only the beginning.