Comics Media Celebrates the Very Worst Green Lantern Tales

 

Two pretentious news sites continue to demonstrate their worst research efforts in Green Lantern history. First, we have Screen Rant, listing what they believe could make the best “inspirations” for an upcoming movie reboot. One of their selections is none other than Kyle Rayner:

 

There are a lot of human Green Lanterns that roam around in Sector 2814, but for a time, there was only one. After the controversial story “Emerald Twilight” turned Hal Jordan into one of DC’s biggest villains, all the Green Lanterns of the universe were put on ice, and the only Green Lantern was Kyle Rayner.

Designed by writer Ron Marz as a character who’d serve as a fresh start for GL fans, one of the biggest feathers in Kyle Rayner’s cap is that he was the Green Lantern in Grant Morrison’s beloved JLA series. Though going with Kyle could be seen as a drastic swerve, his story could easily make for a great movie series, and the world is in need of better Hispanic representation.

 

Say, is that so? They’re telling us Kyle is of Latino background? Well that was certainly what Judd Winick may have tried to establish when he wrote GL for at least 2 years (specifically, that Kyle was half-Mexican), but wasn’t really established when Marz was in charge. It sounds like their “opinion” is based more along PC lines than story merit, and there wasn’t really any when Marz was doing the writing. Despite alleged interest in character development and personality, which Hal Jordan supposedly didn’t have, Rayner never had much to speak of either in the decade he’d been the series’ star, and not much even afterwards. Who are they trying to fool here?

 

The problem is that not only has Rayner’s role become awfully dated (and that crab-shaped mask is unintentionally funny), but his premise is going to be haunted for years to come by a setup that didn’t have to be: his girlfriend, Alexandra deWitt, was nastily murdered by Major Force, throttled before being stuffed into the refrigerator. I think cartoons produced by Warner Brothers years later based on GL avoided using this setup, because it doesn’t have commercial appeal. And if they think more Hispanic cast members are needed, how come nobody came to Vibe’s defense before he was needlessly killed at the end of the 1960-87 Justice League of America run?

 

Let’s be clear. As a fictional character, of course Kyle’s not at fault for how he was characterized. But the way he was written and introduced does make it difficult to consider him ideal moviemaking material, and definitely so long as it’s not changed to anything more palatable. Another choice made by SR is – can you believe it – Emerald Dawn:

 

The post-Crisis landscape was an interesting time for DC as its heavy hitters such as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman were getting their origins overhauled. When it was Green Lantern’s turn, the result was Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn.

Written by various authors including Christopher Priest and Keith Giffen with art by M.D Bright, Emerald Dawn takes the story of how Hal Jordan became Green Lantern and updates it. Turning the previously stiff character into a far more fallible human being, Emerald Dawn could serve as a far more satisfying origin movie than the one fans got.

 

Actually, I think only 3 writers were credited, and one of them, Priest himself, apparently quit the 1st miniseries after the first issue was completed, and was replaced by the one inexplicably not mentioned: the insufferable Gerard Jones, who’s still rotting in prison for illegally storing and distributing child porn on his computer. But no matter what the reputation of anybody involved, the 2 Emerald Dawn miniseries are some of the most overblown, insulting tales ever produced, and I’m glad I don’t own them.

 

How peculiar they don’t mention the premise of this “update” is Hal getting charged and jailed for drunk driving? The subject itself may be a valid one, but the way these miniseries were scripted overall was hugely disappointing, with weak action scenes, and actually made Hal look absurdly naive in the 2nd book when he was dealing with Sinestro’s imposition of an autocracy over his fellow Korugarians, via abuse of the power ring he was given. I’d written all about stuff like this nearly a year ago, and must shake my head at how cheap and dishonest SR’s being, recommending such a shoddy pair of miniseries that served to begin the 3rd ongoing volume, without even showing the courage to acknowledge Jones, as co-writer or solo writer, has a sordid criminal record, let alone how poor his own writing was, and again, it contained early examples of social justice propaganda, as it’s been called for a number of years now. Also notice how they perpetuate the tiresome propaganda of Hal being “stiff” or lacking personality, the very petty complaints that brought down GL as a concept rather than improve it. Yet nobody ever makes the same complaints about Mr. Fantastic and other such characters in the Marvel universe when they lack personality.

And on that note, look at another example they cite ill-advisedly, the GL: Mosaic spinoff Jones wrote during 1992-93:

 

A lot of the best Green Lantern stories seem to be very Hal Jordan centric, but that isn’t to say that the former National Comics hasn’t thrown John Stewart a bone here and there. Though famous stories featuring John Stewart are few and far between, Mosaic is the one that most are familiar with.

A story that tasks John Stewart with being the Green Lantern of a patchwork community called the Mosaic World, Mosaic is a story with tons of big-screen potential. Whether it serves as a bombastic action flick or a smaller scale space western, as long as Mosaic brings a solid version of John Stewart with it, fans will rejoice.

 

Yeah, some potential alright! Because it’s mainly tasteless political metaphors, some pretty insulting to the intellect. I’m sorry, but based on the author’s sordid criminal record, to say nothing of the political motivations behind this rather dull series, that’s why it is not movie material, and does a terrible disfavor to John Stewart. Given how briefly it ran, the whole notion most are “familiar” with Mosaic is also disputable. The only good thing I can say in its favor is that it saw the ostensible return of Katma Tui, though recalling an old interview Jones once gave, where he implied that if he’d kept on with this, he would’ve made it look as though it wasn’t really the real deal, that’s why even that part may not be worth congratulating. Besides, Marz ruined everything soon after by causing the alleged Katma to disintegrate during Emerald Twilight, and John was later shoehorned into The Darkstars, an unofficial spinoff of GL from 1992-96 that wound up becoming a vehicle for former GLs, and even Donna Troy joined, IIRC. All that did was ruin whatever stand-alone merit the book had upon its debut.

Oh, and look what else they chose to recommend for moviemaking: Geoff Johns’ Secret Origin tale:

 

Now for the more modern GL stories. Whatever direction the film goes in, it’s a given that it will eventually adapt a Geoff Johns story. Although stories Rebirth, The Sinestro Corps War, and Blackest Night are better suited as sequels, the first film could draw from Secret Origin.

Essentially serving as Johns and Ivan Reis’s retelling of Hal Jordan’s origin (which retconned Emerald Dawn out of continuity,) this story could easily blow the 2011 bomb out of the water. Some fans do view Jordan as a bit old hat given the popularity of John Stewart, but Secret Origin proves that he still is important.

 

See, that’s the problem. Only Johns’ writing seems to truly matter, regardless of how poor his influence on the 2011 disaster was, so despite that, they might adapt his work again. Also notice they’re resorting to a bizarre propaganda angle claiming John Stewart’s far more popular, even though hardly any DC characters are that popular in an era where superhero comics have been so abused, it’s difficult for any to retain much popularity. How much do the GL titles sell at this point, when DC is on the verge of extinction? That never occurred to them, did it? Their citation of Blackest Night, the crossover spotlighting corpses of notable characters, is another problem sinking this faux-opinion article. And even a story called Agent Orange comes up:

 

Another Geoff Johns tale, “Agent Orange” was one of many preludes to Blackest Night that introduced the different Lantern Corps of the universe. “Agent Orange” introduces the Orange Lantern Corps which represents greed, but it also serves as the debut of Larfleeze.

One of the most dynamic villains in DC Comics history, Larfleeze is one of the more humorous villains for The Green Lantern Corps but also one of their most deadly ones. A big flaw with the 2011 film was that it really lacked a decent villain, but Larfleeze could be the character everyone talks about and could set up a larger story to come.

 

Forget it, after the experience I had in the past with Johns’ writing, I’m not taking anything said about his work at face value. It’s just like these awful websites to gloss over his work as they have. Sure, getting rid of Emerald Dawn is a good move in itself, but the way Johns crammed his work with sensationalized violence ruined everything. It’s actually funny they mention that here, seeing how the same site’s writer is recommending such a dismally written older story as movie material, despite its hopelessly clumsy structure. And this emphasis on villains is what undoes the SR narrative. If he’s deadly, how can he truly be humorous, any more than the Joker? They’re right that the 2011 movie lacked a well written villain. But then, how come they don’t mention Johns was a leading influence there, and saw to it that Parallax, as a separate entity from Hal, would serve as the villain, despite how underwhelmingly he was portrayed? I recall Hector Hammond made his way into the story as well, doing little more than serve to attack the hero with projectiles thrown with telekinesis, and shrieking while he was at it. Which was only a good way to take people out of the movie, rather than in. And last on the list comes a title featuring one of the worst examples of a politically motivated creation:

 

When DC Rebirth launched in 2016, fans rejoiced after years of being fed up with The New 52. Of the 32 comic books that relaunched with DC Rebirth, there were two Green Lantern books, with Green Lanterns being the more interesting of the two.

With both Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz confirmed for the new Green Lantern series on HBO Max, which is possibly set in The DCEU, both members of this odd couple pairing could be featured in the film. Whether it be them or Jordan and Stewart, the formula of Green Lanterns would make for a great movie.

 

Boy, they must’ve really loved making Johns’ creation for the sake of injecting Islamic propaganda into the DCU a choice for citation. It’s bad enough if HBO’s going to follow through with this, and using Baz’s Islamic component in a movie will only make things worse. But, that’s par for the course in Hollywood these days, though admittedly, I can’t say I’ve heard much of tinseltown catering to such ideologies for 6 years now, probably because Non-Stop, the movie vilifying 9-11 Families for a Safe America, got them so much deserved flak, they scaled back their evil for now. But it would be ill-advised to think they gave up their propaganda angle for good, and the entertainment industry, for the most part, has almost entirely banned stories focused on combatting Islamic terrorism. If the HBO TV show’s going along with what Baz was built on, that’ll prove something’s still wrong.

 

Next, we have Newsarama listing what they think are the greatest of GL, and while there are some stories prior to mid-1988 worth reading, they begin their list with one of the most disgusting crossovers of the late 2000s:

 

Zombified DC heroes are a monthly occurrence thanks to Tom Taylor’s hit DCeased, but Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis got there first with the epic event Blackest Night. When Black Hand strikes the graves of the DC Universe and imbues the dead with the power of the Black Lantern rings, it’s up for the living to unite the seven Corps to form white light and vanquish Nekron, the entity of the Black.

Throughout his long run on Green Lantern, Johns slowly but steadily introduced the different powers of the emotional spectrum. With Blackest Night, he properly introduces Black Lanterns and White Lanterns to complete the color-coded power spectrum and solidify the mythos.

Often relegated to bit parts in DC’s line-wide summer events, the Green Lantern Corps were at the core of Blackest Night, a universe-spanning catastrophe that saw loved ones rise from their graves to torture the living. When White Light was revealed as the reason for existence itself, Blackest Night became an incredibly important block in not just Green Lantern history, but in the history of the DC Universe itself.

Illustrated beautifully by Ivan Reis, Blackest Night is a horror-infused blockbuster worthy of a place on your shelf.

 

I wouldn’t want this on my shelf even to gather dust! At worst, it demonstrates the same problem as the the overemphasis on Batman does these days – relentless obsession with darkness, crude violence, horror and worse. I’m also wondering how turning characters we care about into demonic caricatures of themselves is supposed to be impressive? I don’t find it even the least bit so. To say Reis’ art is “beautiful” is additionally shameless. And then, lo and behold, Newsarama’s writer goes along and praises the story better avoided, Emerald Twilight:

 

Wracked with loss and rage following the catastrophic loss of his home of Coast City, Green Lantern Hal Jordan attempts to recreate it through sheer force of will.

Power hungry and in betrayal of his oath to not use the ring for personal gain, Hal wages a one-man war on Oa to revive his lost home. He dispatches the entire Corps and the Guardians fall after transferring their energy into one sole survivor. Finally, Hal Jordan absorbs the power of the central battery and emerges as a newly established villain – Parallax.

Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight is the ultimate fall from grace story. Reinventing the once calm and responsible Hal for the chaotic ’90s, ‘Emerald Twilight’ is a classic case of ‘this time, the bad guy wins!’

Writer Ron Marz challenges us to wonder how far we would go to save our loved ones while forcing us to watch the once-rational Hal Jordan’s descent into madness. Darryl Banks’ Green Lantern #49 cover art, bearing that infamous image of a wild-eyed Hal flaunting the rings of his fallen fellow Lanterns, is an all-time classic.

Incredibly controversial at the time and a raw and emotional read to this day, ‘Emerald Twilight’ is an intensely memorable Green Lantern tale.

 

At this point, it’s not hard to guess the writer’s citing this out of spite for GL fans who found the transformation of Hal into a crazed murderer offensive. If it happened to Spider-Man, they’d defend such a direction as well; they certainly did when Captain America underwent a direction that came close, and spluttered out “hail hydra”. How interesting they describe the 90s as “chaotic” in a nigh-positive sense. Any mistakes made during the 1990s were just why the business declined. I guess that means it was okay, because they never cared for the medium anyway. Newsarama even made sure to include a Johns story that’s got a pretty ugly premise, the Sinestro Corps War:

 

The pièce de résistance of Geoff Johns’ ground-breaking run that began with Green Lantern: Rebirth and concluded with Blackest Night, the massive crossover The Sinestro Corps War zig-zagged between Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps in 11 meaty parts.

Green Lantern’s arch enemy Sinestro amasses a yellow army of fear to wage war with the corps. In the ensuing epic battle, the fundamental laws of the Green Lantern Corps are rewritten, the emotional spectrum of light is introduced and an entire legion of Lanterns are slaughtered.

The Sinestro Corps War marks the expansion point of modern Green Lantern lore. Geoff Johns introduces new concepts that have defined the Green Lanterns Corps in the ’10s, hooking in villains from the wider DC Universe as members of the malevolent Sinestro Corps.

The sheer scope of The Sinestro Corps War was unparalleled, as Johns brought large scale cosmic warfare to rival the best of Star Wars. The arc’s final image, that of a black power battery, sets the stage for Blackest Night and marks The Sinestro Corps War as a violently important story. Everything changed here.

 

So violence is what makes this such a paramount pinnacle of innovation, I see. We’re certainly getting the picture now. Desensitization to violence – and fetishizing/sensationalizing the same – is just so crucial to building entertainment, tsk tsk. It’s just so atrocious by this point.

 

 

 

I’m very disappointed how these MSM sites are demonstrating such poor judgement, and failure to make distinctions, in what’s the best or worst stories. Somebody may have even asked in the comments section of these sites what the worst stories are, and why they didn’t think to offer up a list of those as well. Indeed, much as I realize making a big deal out of what the worst stories are can be just as harmful, it would do a lot of good to demonstrate the ability to make a distinction between great and poor storytelling efforts. Yet these mainstream sites epically fail to prove they can accomplish that. All because they don’t want to alienate the publishers whose works they’re promoting through a fluff-coated lens (so much, in fact, that it could explain why they didn’t think to cite a single Golden Age tale with Alan Scott).

 

As a GL fan who appreciates much of what came prior to mid-1988, and finds nearly all of what came after horrendous, I think it’s a shame they won’t acknowledge the sad truth, that Green Lantern was sent downhill in the 90’s by political correctness, which continues till this day in some form or other.

 

 

 

Originally published here.

Avi Green

Avi Green was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. He enjoyed reading comics when he was young, the first being Fantastic Four. He maintains a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy of facts. He considers himself a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. Follow him on his blog at Four Color Media Monitor or on Twitter at @avigreen1

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