1959: The Start of the Silver Age of Comics and the Birth of Hal Jordan
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Today is Hal Jordan's birthday! Celebrate with us by taking advantage of our 15% off Green Lantern Sale.
(You should be singing this part)Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday Hal Jordan Happy Birthday to you!(You're good to stop singing) Yes, I'm not sure if you guys realize it but February 20th is Hal Jordan's birthday – perhaps one of the greatest Green Lanterns to ever sling the ring! Created in 1959 and debuting in the Showcase #22 September – October issue, Hal Jordan's appearance is one of the 'markers' to the end of the Golden Age Comics and the start of the Silver Age. The writers, artists, and editors took their established characters like the Flash(Jay Garrick) and Green Lantern(Alan Scott) and came up with entirely different characters based on some key points of the originals. Of course, this also could be considered the first of the continuity problems that DC has faced over the years, but this article isn't about that...it is about The Green Machine Hal Jordan! Did they call him Green Machine? Well, I am because that's how I roll.
Hal Jordan was created by John Broome and artist Gil Kane at the direction of then DC Editor Julius Schwartz. Schwartz had an affinity towards the science fiction end of things, so the power of the Green Lantern was changed from the mystical green flame to the ever present background radiation of the emerald light of willpower(that's a mouthful). Alan Scott was a single hero, while Hal Jordan was inducted to an intergalactic police force of other Green Lanterns. They shared the same weapons, the same color schemes, and the same weakness; this made them a force for good the universe over-united by this quasi brotherhood of the ring.
Of course, when Green Lantern Hal Jordan's comics started to slump Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams were given free creative reign over Green Lantern, and they decided to pair him up with Green Arrow in one of the first socially conscious comic publications. Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen tackled issues like poverty, crime, sexism, cults, materialism, racism and of course the one the caused the biggest splash; drugs! Hal Jordan and his compatriot Oliver Queen blazed their literary way through the 1970s in a way that most comic book characters didn't even consider... Batman didn't even think about it, people! NOT EVEN BATMAN! You don't get to say that often, do you?
Which leads us up to the 1980s and up where a lot of DC characters were either changed, removed from the time line, or killed(thank you, Crisis!). Hal hooked up with his on again/ off again 'lovah' Carol Ferris while the Guardians recruited more Lanterns to make up the resignation of Hal. Somewhere along the line, he gets his ring back only to be driven slowly crazy by Cyborg Superman's actions and we get the much loved Emerald Twilight arc. Hey, Hal as a bad guy? Yeah! Sign me up! I think the image of Hal loaded up with rings and looking crazy than Gary Busey on a week long bender will always warm my soul. I was tempted to do that look for my driver's license to be completely honest with you.
To sum up his current history, one just needs to know that Hal spent some time as the Spirit of Vengeance/ Redemption. Infused with divine powers, Hal worked to unmake the terrible things that he had done while under a certain yellow entity's power – eventually being returned to his original status of 'Greatest Green Lantern'. Which was lucky, because then that whole Blackest Night thing happened! I'll assume most of you know this part of the story, but essentially all of the dead superheros were brought back as zombies fueled by Black Lantern rings and the varying emotional Corps had to work together to stop the unrelenting tide of death that was quickly sweeping through the galaxy. I believe the rest is history, right?
Hopefully by this point you've realized that I'm a huge Green Lantern fan. Not that I think the stories are the best ever written, or that the comics themselves are works of arts but for the very idea of the Green Lanterns. Think of that scene in Kill Bill 2 where Bill is explaining to Beatrix why he loves Superman so much. I like to think that I sound like him while I say this, but I'm not nearly as cool as Kane from Kung Fu. Green Lantern is one of the greatest heroes because of his power – that is what makes him unique. Sure, Superman can tear people in half like a phone book(if he wanted to) and Batman is the very pinnacle of humanity but Hal Jordan(and Green Lanterns in general) are almost a mix between these two. Hal Jordan, at the end of the day, is just a man. No more, no less. His mind, however, is the weapon. Not in the cunning sort of way like Batman, but a literal weapon. Imagine, if you will, if anything you could possibly imagine suddenly was there at your beck and call. What would you do? How would you use your power? Would you conjure up dragons, or cloak yourself in armor? Do you project beams of energy and missile weapons, or do you manipulate your surroundings? I think that is where the true 'awesome-sauce' of the Green Lanterns come from, and their personalities shine through. Jon Stewart and his military pathos, Kyle Rayner and his 'comic book artist' style, and Hal Jordan with his enduring love of giant boxing gloves. Hey, nothing beats when Hal Jordan manifests a giant violin to play for somebody who is whining. Hal Jordan is a constant kidder who doesn't take things all that seriously most of the time. The gloves, the trains, and the jets...he picks things that he likes and uses them as a weapon! Green Lantern is one great idea, and I hope that you guys will join me in wishing Hal Jordan a Happy Birthday!
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