Fiction: “The Green Lantern Chronicles, Volume I” by John Broome/Gil Kane

So I have a long, torrid history with The Green Lantern. Okay, not very long — maybe about eight years long. And not torrid, either. Actually, everything I just said was a lie. Maybe what I should have said just there was that I’ve always had a fascination with The Green Lantern.

It all started one night at Franklin Pierce College. I had gone down for the weekend to hang out, and we had been drinking (as college kids are wont to do), and Justice League comes on Adult Swim or whatever. And we end up watching it. And it’s the episode where Aquaman gets his hand chopped off, and when he comes back at the end of the episode with A HOOK FOR A HAND, all five of us in the room at the time yell, in unison, “Daaaaaamn, Aquaman!”

That led to a discussion of which member of the Justice League was the lamest. Considering the original members of the Justice League are: Aquaman, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, the Green Lantern, the Martian Manhunter, and the Flash, we had some choice. And we ended up choosing the Green Lantern as the winner. Or, rather (and more appropriately), the loser.

In fact, ever since that fateful night, we have been unable to mention the Green Lantern without proclaiming that he is the bitch of the Justice League. Not that he’s bitchy; just that he’s the Justice League’s bitch. Because while Superman and Batman are out having fun, fighting over Wonder Woman, and generally saving the world, Green Lantern’s stuck doing the housework at headquarters. They send him out to pick up the dry cleaning. He follows Aquaman around with a mop. Y’know, that kind of bitchery.

When I was younger and in even lower low-level management, I proclaimed myself the Green Lantern of the department leadership, because they had made me their bitch. It’s gotten better since then, though I have not yet progressed far enough to determine who my Green Lantern is. My potential Green Lanterns keep getting taken away from me.

So this leads me to the movie about Green Lantern coming out. And I fully intend to see it at some point — though, after the short clip they played on Conan the other night, I’m most likely going to wait until it comes out in Redbox format, because it looks super cheesy. Like, Twilight-level of cheese. Which means that if I go to see it in the theatre, I will be sneaking in a flask of some form of alcohol.

Now, all of this blathering does nothing to describe the collection of comics I just finished reading. See, I had decided at the beginning of the summer that one of my Summer Improvement Projects was to find the archives of Green Lantern comics and read from the beginning. I mean, you can do that with Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four, and I’m still working my way through the Fables series (who the hell in the Portland area has Volume 12 of that!?), why couldn’t I do that with Green Lantern? And here’s where I could digress into a discussion of why I picked the Chronicles to read rather than the Showcase editions (number one reason: they’re in color), but I’m not going to.

There’s not a lot of plot involved in these comics. I see a brief glimpse of the epic storytelling that would soon come to dominate comics, both DC and Marvel, but for the most part, the storeis are all one-shots. The main character is Hal Jordan, an ace test pilot for Ferris Aircraft Company. Mr. Ferris has recently taken a two-year-long tour of the world, leaving his daughter Carol in charge of the company. Prior to her father’s leave, Carol had been encouraging Hal in his affections for her; but now that she’s the boss, there will be no fraternization.

And then Hal becomes the Green Lantern. Some dude in a spaceship crash-lands on our planet and searches for a fearless, honest man to take over the work of a Guardian, as the space-dude is dying. He finds Hal, Hal takes the Power Battery (“it looks like a green lantern!”) and the dead man’s clothes, I mean come on, he couldn’t have made his own Super Suit? (And now I’m imagining Edna Mode getting into an argument with Hal over his HOBO SUIT and that there will be absolutely NO CAPES, and that would have IMMEDIATELY raised the rating on this to 10 stars.)

For Hal, the major complication isn’t that he now leads a secret life as the Green Lantern; it’s not even the fact that he has to recharge his Power Ring every 24 hours (what? 24 hours? You don’t have a better battery backup than that?!); and it’s not even the fact that the Green Lantern’s powers are unable to work on anything yellow (don’t get me started); it’s the fact that Carol Ferris has fallen in love with the Green Lantern and wants to marry him, yet keep Hal on the side as a friend.

At this point, I’ve discussed all the plot points I can. So I turn to what I’ve been looking forward to since I began reading this: pictorial evidence of His Lameness.

Let’s begin with this point: apparently, Coast City (the home of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern) is in British Columbia. Why? Well, based on this evidence, the Green Lantern must be Canadian:

There are more pictures, but I don’t want to tie up all your bandwidth, ‘eh?’ [Oh, speaking of: I have a point to make. How do you write the Canadian ‘eh’? It’s ‘eh,’ correct? Not ‘ay’? I’m right. I have to be right.]

Here’s a screenshot of Hal and Carol in Carol’s office, with Hal trying to ask her on a date and failing miserably on more than one level:

And as if he weren’t enough of a hound-dog, how about this view into his thoughts?:

But enough about his bordering-on-assault tendencies (it was the early Sixties, after all — have you guys seen Mad Men? Kinda par for the course). How about this: he’s so lame, he lives at the hangar:

In all two hundred or so pages I read, nowhere does it show Hal in his ‘apartment’ — it’s always “his private dressing room in the hangar.” It’s so sad!

And let’s talk about the lamest of the lame: the fact that he has no power over anything yellow.

I can’t — I can’t even. YELLOW? Not, like, something made out of adamantium or a meteor. No, just everyday, ordinary yellow. And to make things worse, the Golden Age Green Lantern (Alan Scott, in the 1940s) was defeatable by wood. Which, in the words of Raj Koothrapalli, that means that both Green Lanterns can be taken out by a #2 Pencil.

Here’s a fun sequence about yellow:


Penultimately, I would be remiss if I didn’t show you this last shot:


And finally, a word from one of our sponsors:

“Oh, Waldorf, don’t look so surprised. Your precious Green Lantern is no match for me, Chuck Bass. As you can see, I can pull off a green suit the likes of which Jordan couldn’t begin to imagine. And in addition to my sartorial finesse, I don’t have any weaknesses. And if I were to have failings, they wouldn’t be as horrifyingly dull as ‘yellow.’ I mean, come on; I look amazing in yellow. Now darling, I must send you back to this season’s prince or whatever; I have important feats of daring-do to attend to, without help from a ring or Guardians of Oa. Nay, my most important task is to rescue us from that most devastating of evil villains: mediocrity.”

Grade for The Green Lantern Chronicles, Volume I: 1 star