Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 at 3:51 pm
Green Lantern hits theaters this weekend, but there’s still time to catch up on Hal Jordan’s adventures and all the numerous characters that inhabit his corner of the DC Universe before you see the film, which stars Ryan Reynolds in the title role.
Since the creation of the second Green Lantern in 1959, he’s gone on numerous adventures, died, been reborn, been replaced by three other characters, and fought Sinestro more than a few times. However, many of you may have never read any stories with him before, as I had until a few years ago. Where’s the best place to catch up, you may be asking. Well, here are four collections of Green Lantern stories that I recommend reading before you see the movie.
I haven’t seen one frame of the film yet, but judging by the cast of the film, and the inclusion of Hector Hammond as a major villain in the piece, I’m going to bet that this 6 issue storyline from Green Lantern #29-35 will be the major basis for the films plot. The is Geoff John’s take on the characters origin, giving us new versions of his first interaction with Carol Ferris, Hammond, Sinestro, and the rest of the Corp. Featuring the clean line work of Ivan Reis, this story set up a lot of things that would pay off in Blackest Night, as well as giving an updated version of the characters background for a new generation. If there is one book to read before the film comes out, this is the one to read. Available now in trade paperback as well as a hardcover edition.
For a long period, starting with Kyle Raynor’s (the fourth human Green Lantern) introduction, Hal Jordan was relegated to an odd place in the DC Universe. He was either running around killing folks as Parallax, or he was running around killing folks (as God’s vengeance) as The Spectre. But Geoff John’s had big plans for him, and the first thing he needed to do was get Hal back in the world of the living, and he did that in 6 issues with Green Lantern: Rebirth. John’s found a way to elegantly bring back Hal, he reset Sinestro as a villain worth fearing, and set up plot points that we are still seeing fulfilled. Fans lamented at the time how long it took to get the issues out, but nobody cares about it now that they can dive into Ethan Van Sciver’s pencils, which launched him into a string of high profile books. Available in trade paperback as well as a recently released Absolute edition, this is the best place to start if you want to start reading the current GL stories.
As GL: Rebirth was used to bring Hal Jordan back into the DC Universe, Recharge was used to bring back the concept of the Green Lantern Corps. After having been destroyed by Jordan when he went all Parallax crazy, the Corps has now expanded to have 2 members in each of its 3600 sectors. This book sets up the place to read about fellow human Lanterns Kyle Raynor, Guy Gardner, and John Stewart, as well as the more alien members of the Corp like Kilowog, Salaak, and the Guardians of the Universe. This will be your who’s who for when Hal Jordan begins his training during the movie. You can’t tell one alien space cop from another with out reading this book.
If you’re looking to start from the characters earliest adventures in the 60’s this is the place to read those stories. Starting with Showcase #22, this cheap black and white reproduction collects the first twenty or so issues featuring Hal and introducing many of his classic villains. Some of the stories may not hold up well, and a lot of the stories have been ret-conned away, but there are some classic stories with art by Gil Kane. Available now at the low, low price of $20 (or less). If you want to see some of these stories in color, check out the Green Lantern Chronicles, which have less issues, and are a bit more expensive, but are in color. Or you can check out the Green Lantern Omnibus, which will be out in November and will feature all the stuff in Showcase Volume 1, in color and in a nice hardcover, but will set you back $75, which may be a bit too expensive for casual fans.
Reign of the Supermen: See the destruction of Coast City that would end with Hal Jordan becoming Parallax and his eventual death. Certainly not required reading, but is a big part of the characters history.
Emerald Twilight/New Dawn: I’m hoping the movie is a big success and if it is a huge success and actor Ryan Reynolds becomes too expensive to be in later films in the series, we might see this story which see Hal Jordan become the villain Parallax and the GL ring eventually handed over to young artist Kyle Raynor. I’m not saying we’ll ever see this story translated to film, but it would be kid of a cool way to change lead actors in the series.
The Sinestro Corps Wars Vol. 1 and 2: I have to believe that anyone currently reading the series wants to see this as the plot for the next movie. Imagine a space battle on the scale of the big battle in The Return of The King and you get close. The only problem is that all those effects come at a cost which I’m thinking may be prohibitively expensive to see this brought to life on the screen. But, you figure it’s one year till the first movie comes out, and another few years till any possible sequel comes out, and computers may be advanced enough that we could see this. I can always hold out hope.
Â It’s Kyle Rayner, not Raynor. Hand in your geek badge and gun immediately.
Comment by Craig Hamilton — June 15, 2011 @ 5:02 pm
Why not include “Emerald Dawn” I and II? Director Martin Campbell cited the ED series as one of the film’s main inspirations (http://www.reelzchannel.com/movie-news/5578/martin-campbell-says-emerald-dawn-series-is-the-origin-of-green-lantern-movie/), and for my money, they’re much better takes on Hal than Johns’ own version. ED Hal is flawed and human, while Johns’ is a humorless Captain Perfect.
I understand wanting to keep things simple for newbies just getting into GL, and in such a case, Johns’ work is the way to go, but I was at least hoping to see that mentioned in the “Further Reading” section, alongside “The Road Back,” the excellent story of the Mad Guardian, Appa Ali Aspa.
Comment by about_faces — June 15, 2011 @ 12:31 pm
You can’t see it but I’m wearing the cone of shame as we speak.
Comment by Chris McDavid — June 15, 2011 @ 6:01 pm
“Secret Origin” on Amazon also has a blurb by Ryan Reynolds basically saying that the movie was “helped greatly” by that particular comic book, so I’d say including it was a good plan, no frames necessary.
Comment by Kethry Chlurain — June 16, 2011 @ 1:52 am