One of DC’s most important characters has always been Hal Jordan. He’s the only character through which we see events that don’t take place on Earth on a regular basis. Green Lantern’s adventures through space are filled with action, mystery, and the unknown, making for a dynamic series that has been many things through the years. He was mainly Earth based for a good deal of the 60s and 70s, eventually readers got to see more and more of his space duties. the 80s and 90s saw big change ups as Hal went insane at the loss of his home city. During the 00s, there was a massive story building, both in space and on Earth, culminating with the epic Blackest Night in 2009. The last few years have seen a mostly space centric Hal Jordan, and even more major shakeups. Want to know where and how to start? Let’s get started with the first Point of Entry.
We could go with the Golden Age Green Lantern as a legacy character, but the original isn’t the same. Alan Scott, while being Green Lantern, has a completely different power set, being mostly super-natural and mystical. The Green Lantern mythos we all know today started during the Silver Age of comics, in 1959. The Silver Age Green Lantern saw the introduction of the space police force, and it’s Earth member, Hal Jordan. It also introduced the concept of hard light constructs as a power. Most of the Silver Age stories are contained in various collections. There’s two Omnibus volumes collecting the first 45 issues, as well as the smaller Green Lantern Archives, that go to issue 57. The best collection, however, is Showcase Presents: Green Lantern. It’s a five volume series that collects through issue 100. Notable stories from this time include issues 85 and 86, during which it’s revealed that Green Arrow’s sidekick, Speedy, is addicted to heroin. Issue 141 saw the introduction of The Omega Men, and issue 59 introduced Guy Gardner, another Earth lantern. The Silver Age stories spanned 224 issues, ending shortly after crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Everything in the 90s had to be dark and edgy to sell more comics, due to a stagnating industry. DC handled this by killing, or severely injuring major characters. Superman went into a coma, Batman broke his back, Aquaman lost a hand, and most severe, Hal Jordan went insane and died. Starting with the Emerald Twilight storyline, Hal Jordan absorbed the power of the central power battery of the corps., accidentally absorbing an evil entity, driving him mad with power. Hal Jordan remained a villain, known as Parallax, for the whole year of 1994, ending in the crossover event called Zero Hour. During this time, a new Earth based lantern was given a ring called Kyle Rayner. Ever since then, he’s been a fan favorite, as well as being one of the most important characters in the DC Universe. Notable trades to pick up from this time frame include, New Dawn, Baptism of Fire, Emerald Allies, Emerald Knights, Final Night, The Power of Ion, and Passing the Torch.
The best Point of Entry for Green Lantern is the Blackest Way. In 2005, Geoff Johns was given the creative reigns of the Green Lanterns Corps, kicking off eight years of quality storytelling. Starting his run with the return of Hal Jordan, Johns sought to tell the biggest story the Green Lantern title had seen since Emerald Twilight. He took inspiration from two aspects of the Corps to flip the entire mythos on it’s ear. First, there’s the oath, which contains the phrase “In brightest day, in blackest night…” This led to an idea for a long term story in which the dead would rise, aptly named Blackest Night. Stemming off that idea was the introduction of other color lanterns. Since the introduction of Hal Jordan, we’ve known that the ring chose him due to his ability to overcome great fear. This led Johns to create a different corps for every color in the rainbow, with different emotions powering them. Some fans affectionately call them the skittles corps. The multicolor lanterns learning to work together was one of the major plot points in Blackest Night, culminating in the creation of a new lantern: The White Lantern, the first of which was Kyle Rayner. The Blackest Way starts with Green Lantern: Rebirth. From there, it collects the whole 67 issue run, with frequent tie in issues with sister series Green Lantern Corps. Must read volumes include No Fear, Revenge of the Green Lanterns, Sinestro Corps War, Rage of the Red Lanterns, Secret Origin, Agent Orange, and Blackest Night.
During the New 52 re-launch, Geoff Johns continued his Green Lantern stories through the first 20 issues of the series. It ultimately ended with Wrath of the First Lantern, a tale that turned the mythos on it’s ear again. The best way to read the Relic Way is to start with volume one of the New 52, going through volume eight. If you don’t want to read all that, volume four on will do the trick, as that’s the point when a new creative team took over the book. Relic is a left over entity from the universe that came before the current one, having learned his universe’s mistakes, he’s intent on making sure those mistakes aren’t repeated. He siphons power from lanterns, de-powering them and leaving multiple lantern corps in disarray. The New 52 Green Lantern stories end with the Corps in disarray, and Hal Jordan being overcharged with light. That’s where the Rebirth stories will pick up.
DC is trying to breath new life into the Green Lantern series, by introducing yet another Earth based Green Lantern. There are currently six Earth lanterns, making it the most protected sector in the DC Universe. With the coming stories in the Green Lantern books, what will that mean? How much danger in coming? Only time will tell, as Green Lanterns, featuring the two most recent Earth lanterns, just released issue two. That makes now a great time to jump on board the Green Lantern books.