So Sayeth the Odinson: The Legend of Hal Jordan

Greetings from the Odinson,

The Legend of Hal Jordan

Making his very first appearance in 1959 in the pages of Showcase #22, Hal Jordan has been a corner stone in the DC Universe and in the annals of comic book history for over 60 years now.  In those six decades, Jordan has appeared in one form or another in thousands of comic book issues, hundreds of stories, dozens of graphics novels and books, cartoons, TV shows, and movies.  60 years is a lot of history.   

Where should a reader begin?  Which storylines are most important?  What is the Parallax?  How did Hal Jordan die?  How did he come back?  There is an Orange Lantern? 

For fans, neophyte and veteran alike, a history this big and rich can be quite intimidating.  The Odinson put together a road map that highlights the ups and downs of one of the most legendary super heroes of all time.  This list does not include every single appearance Hal Jordan has made, but it should provide a nice springboard that can lead the reader through his history and lead to many other branching avenues.           

The Silver Age

Green Lantern: The Silver Age Vol. 1-4 – This covers Hal Jordan’s origins and earliest adventures.  Readers will be introduced to staples of the Green Lantern mythos like the Guardians of the Universe, the Green Lantern Corps, and the planet located at the center of the DC Universe, Oa.  The Emerald Knight’s core rogues gallery – Sinestro, Doctor Polaris, Hector Hammond, and Star Sapphire – make their first appearances.  And, Jordan establishes lifelong friendships with Barry Allen the Silver Age Flash and Alan Scott the Golden Age Green Lantern.  

Justice League: The Silver Age – This covers Jordan’s co-founding and early adventures with the Justice League of America.  Here, along with DC icons Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter, Jordan will establish what will become the seven core legends of the DCU, as well as establish strong friendships and working relationships with Hawkman, Atom, and Green Arrow.    

Speaking of Green Arrow…

Hard-Traveling Heroes

Green Lantern/Green Arrow – This covers Jordan’s partnership with Oliver Queen.  Queen challenged his intergalactic friend to come down and walk among the people and really learn just what it is that beleaguers the lives of the everyman beyond alien invasions and giant robots.  This era’s comics reflected the societal changes of the 1970s as Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen tackled real world problems like racism, economic divide, over population, and drug addiction.  Plus, readers are introduced to John Stewart, a man that will go on to become a legendary Green Lantern himself.    

Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold – This tale takes a retro look at the friendship between these classic heroes.  How did Hal Jordan, a brash, devil may care test pilot, and Barry Allen, a down to earth, analytical police scientist, two men with nothing in common, become lifelong friends.  Kyle Rayner and Wally West formed a similar bond in the Post-Crisis era as they filled the shoes of their legendary predecessors in the ranks of JLA

A Crisis and Bumps in the Road Lead to a New Era

Green Lantern: Sector 2814 – These tales cover Jordan’s adventures in the 1980s.  This is the era when the adventures of Green Lantern captured the imagination of the Odinson.  This is a tumultuous time for Hal Jordan.  His intergalactic duties as Green Lantern start to interfere with his personal life as he is forced to choose between his relationship with Carol Ferris or his duty as Green Lantern.  Jordan turns in his ring. 

This is the time when John Stewart takes over as the Green Lantern of Sector 2814.  It is also during this time that Crisis on Infinite Earths happens and rewrites history.  Guy Gardner becomes a Green Lantern, thus after Hal Jordan returns to duty, readers and the DCU are introduced to something unprecedented – THREE Green Lanterns assigned to Sector 2814!

Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1-3 – These stories cover Jordan’s adventures with the Corps through the rest of the 1980s.  As a ring veteran at this point, it falls on Jordan’s shoulders to lead the Green Lantern Corps into a new era (an era we as fans come to know as the Post-Crisis DCU). 

The Road Back – Signs of stress begin to show as Jordan’s hair begins to turn grey, and more aggressive actions begin to creep into Jordan’s modus operandi.  This leads Jordan down a dark path and sets up a mystery that will not be answered for years to come.

Fall from Grace

Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight/New Dawn – This covers Jordan’s fall from grace.  It all starts during the Death of Superman event.  In the pages of Green Lantern #46, the supervillains Mongul and Cyborg-Superman destroy Coast City, the city under the protection of Hal Jordan.  Jordan does not take this well and descends into madness.  In order to gain ultimate power to try and resurrect all he has lost, Jordan murders his fellow Green Lanterns, his arch foe Sinestro, and the Guardians.  He absorbs the full power of the Battery on Oa and is transformed into the being called Parallax!     

This is when the bearer of the flame – Kyle Rayner – is introduced.

Parallax

This era covers Jordan’s time as the villainous Parallax.

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time – The heroes of the DCU stop Parallax (can’t even call him Hal Jordan because he is so far off the reservation at this point) from rewriting history.  Although, his tampering does have various side effects. 

Green Lantern/Silver Surfer: Unholy Alliance – At a time when the walls between worlds were at their weakest, Parallax seeks an alliance with the Mad Titan, Thanos, to obtain the power he needs to rewrite the universe.  Only the combined efforts of Kyle Rayner and the Silver Surfer are able to stop this Unholy Alliance.  This tale leads directly into the staggering events of Marvel vs. DC

Final Night – Hal Jordan finds redemption as he sacrifices his life in order to save the world from certain destruction. 

The Spectre

Day of Judgment – A war in hell that spills over into the mortal realm results in Hal Jordan getting a new status quo in the DCU as his soul is bonded to the Spectre, the Vengeance of God!

Green Arrow by Kevin Smith – Green Arrow had met his end in the pages of Green Arrow #101.  The new Spectre plays a role in the resurrection of Oliver Queen, the longtime friend of Hal Jordan when he was still a mortal. 

Rebirth

Green Lantern By Geoff Johns – This covers Hal Jordan’s triumphant return to the land of the living.  No longer bonded with the Spectre, Jordan returns to active duty as a Green Lantern.  It is explained that his erratic behavior during The Road Back, his decent into madness during Emerald Twilight, and his villainous actions during Zero Hour were the result of a Machiavellian plan by his arch foe Sinestro who infected Jordan with the parasite entity of fear, the yellow imperfection from the Power Battery of Oa, the very creature that made the Green Lanterns weak against the color yellow, a creature known as Parallax.

The Sinestro Corps War – Sinestro uses the Parallax entity to create his own Corps of Yellow Lanterns.  Together with a super villain cabal, the Yellow Lanterns declare war on the DCU.  Hal Jordan rallies the Green Lantern Corps and the heroes of Earth to meet this menace head on.

This tale sets up the next five years of Green Lantern stories.

The Emotional Spectrum

Rage of the Red Lanterns – In the wake of the emergence of the Sinestro Corps, the DCU was introduced to a whole spectrum of power rings.  The Green Lanterns are fueled by willpower.  The Yellow Lanterns are fueled by fear.  But, the Red Lanterns are fueled by unbridled rage!

Agent Orange – Then, we were introduced to Larfleeze, the infamous Agent Orange, a Corps unto himself fueled by the all-consuming power of greed!  

Along with the Blue Lanterns powered by hope, the Indigo Tribe powered by compassion, and the Star Sapphires powered by love, this revelation that an entire spectrum of emotion existed led to the moment comic books fans have been waiting for since the very first time they ever heard the Green Lantern Oath!

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night…

Blackest Night – The dark god Nekron returned and brought with him Armageddon!  The Black Lanterns are powered by death and an army of the dead swarmed across the cosmos like locust and eclipsed all light, casting the DCU under the shadow of the Blackest Night!

Brightest Day – In the aftermath of the Blackest Night came the Brightest Day and the introduction of the White Lantern whose power stems from life itself!  This tale saw the return of many prominent DC heroes and villains who had met their ends prior to these events.

The New 52

Green Lantern: The New 52 – Hal Jordan, all the Lantern Corps, and even Sinestro struggle to find their place in this new DC Universe reshaped by the events of Flashpoint.

Rebirth

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps – Only a few short years later, Hal Jordan and all the Lantern Corps find themselves caught in the wake of yet another universal reboot.

And, finally…

Stretching the Boundaries Further to Infinity and Beyond

Green Lantern by Grant Morrison – This brings us to Hal Jordan’s current adventures.  Grant Morrison and his superb artist, Liam Sharp, are pushing the envelope of what it means to truly be a cosmic hero.  The Odinson has not seen Grant Morrison hitting on all cylinders like this since the glory days of his JLA run.  If thou art a Green Lantern fan, a fan of science fiction, a fan of comics, or even just a fan of great storytelling, Morrison and Sharp are delivering on all fronts!

Though this list by no means covers every single appearance Hal Jordan has made over the last 60+ years, I do believe it gives any fan, new and old, a perfect foundation for jumping down the rabbit hole and exploring the legend of the greatest Green Lantern of them all – Hal Jordan.

NOTE: This column is dedicated to Karen whose enquiry inspired it.

This is Odinson bidding thee farewell     

NOTE: Be sure to check out my book – The Survivors: A Glen Haven Tale.  Available in Paperback, Kindle, and Audiobook.

About Odinson

I am a lifelong comics fan and pop culture enthusiast. Comic books, novels, games, television, movies, I love it all. From fantasy to science fiction, drama to comedy, as long as the writing and execution are interesting, I love it, and I want to talk about it.

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