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Posts Tagged ‘Hal Jordan

We all know how much the publishing houses love their events. Hell, at last year’s San Diego Comic-Con, there wasn’t a single DC, Marvel, or Image panel that didn’t ramble on and on about how great Blackest Night, Siege, or Image United were gonna be. But in 20 years, will people really give a shit about any of that? Or will they just be really confused when an older comic writer references it in a book? Yeah, it’s the latter. Well, that’s what “WTF Is” is all about: explaining what happened in all the events from the past that didn’t really live up to the glory of, oh, Crisis on Infinite Earths or something.

And, speaking of a DCU crisis, doesn’t it seem like 1994’s Zero Hour: Crisis in Time would be the perfect place to start?

Zero Hour is the story of the DCU vs. Extant. Sort of? Yeah, this is one of those books where they tried to get as much shit to happen in as few pages as possible. Here’s the best way I can explain it. During Armageddon 2001 (which almost deserves a “WTF Is” of its own), a character named Waverider goes back in time to the year 2001 to try and destroy an evil being named the Monarch before he can kill all the superheroes around 2030. During that event, the Monarch captured Hank “Hawk” Hall and Dawn “Dove” Granger, eventually executing Dove and making Hank go crazy. The Monarch then revealed himself to be a future version of Hank, driving Hank to kill the Monarch, steal his armor, and take up the Monarch mantle himself (in other words, he does everything in his stupid power to make sure that he ends up a bad guy). After becoming a Captain Atom villain for a while, it’s discovered that instead of the Monarch killing Dove, he just absorbed her or something. Hank Hall then changes his name to Extant, steals Waverider’s time travel bracelets, and disappears into time to try and change the universe into how he wants it by erasing existence from the end of time backwards to the beginning and restarting from scratch.

So, yeah, what we have here is another DC “crisis” event attempting to once again change the DCU forever by throwing a ton of confusing shit at us all at once and hoping that in the end it all makes sense. To make matters worse, Zero Hour was written by Dan Jurgens, the guy behind Superman vs. Aliens, the “Death of Superman” storyline, and the creator of DC’s Tangent imprint. Also included in the storyline are a bunch of tie-ins that were all released in October 1994 and numbered #0 (also known as “Zero Month”) which each revealed something unknown about the main hero of the title’s origin. Basically, this is everything amiss with 1990s DC Comics. Brace yourselves.

So, here is the quickest summary I can muster. Extant travels to the end of time, killing Time Trapper and causing a Crisis on Infinite Earths-style Ctrl+Z rift to go backwards through time, erasing existence (don’t think about the physics of this, it makes zero sense). Metron, Waverider, Superman, and Batman team up to attempt to stop the universe from rebooting. They get the help of every other hero in the DCU and the results are somewhat catastrophic. Wally West, Jay Garrick, Steel, most of the JSA, Dr. Mist, Vandal Savage, the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Kyle Rayner all “die.” An attempt is made at explaining what Hawkman’s deal is by stuffing all of the Thanagarians into one body (which just ends up raising more questions rather than clarifying anything). Extant is revealed to not really be the villain of the book, but was working for Hal Jordan (under the influence of Parallax) who wants to undo Coast City getting destroyed in “Reign of the Supermen.” The story ends with the universe being completely erased before the Spectre showing up to save the day (as he pretty much does in every Crisis) and the Green Arrow shooting Hal in the chest, “killing” him. The Spectre pumps newcomer Damage full of energy, causing him to act as a new Big Bang. Time goes by naturally and the universe is as it was. Sort of.

But how is this still relevant to the modern DCU? Well, remember when I said all of those characters “died?” The only ones who actually died and stayed dead were the original Atom and Doctor Mid-Nite. Wally West just got thrown through the time stream a bit, where he witnessed all the major points in his life (including his and Linda’s deaths) and gave a younger self a pep talk. Hal Jordan and Kyle Rayner didn’t really die, but got transported back to Oa. There, they had an all out fight that ended with Oa getting blown the fuck up. Aquaman got his totally 90s beard and harpoon hand after piranhas ate it off. Power Girl has a baby which is pretty much never heard from again. The biggest impact, however, was probably to Green Arrow. Thinking that he’d just killed Hal Jordan, Ollie threw his costume into the sea, went back to the monastery he joined in Flash #218, and meets Connor Hawke, his son, for the first time.

Some of the strangest tie-ins, however, had to be in both Neil Gaiman’s Sandman and Geoff Johns’ Booster Gold. In Sandman: Worlds’ End, a group of inter-dimensional travelers sit in a bizarre inn and wait out the “reality storm” caused by Parallax in Zero Hour (without ever directly mentioning it). Even stranger is April 2008’s Booster Gold #0, in which Booster, Dan Gerrett, Ted Kord, Jamie Reyes, and an unnamed fourth Blue Beetle from the 57th century stumble across Extant and Parallax discussing why they didn’t want Alan Scott dead. After a brief fight, Booster and the Beetles (ha) zap themselves away to the time of Booster’s origin, making its premise similar to the #0 books of 14 years prior.

Anyways, congratulations, whoever you are! You are now an expert in all things Zero Hour and never, ever have to read it.

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I’d go fucking crazy if I didn’t have friends to rely on. So, really, why should superheroes be any different? As it turns out, a lot of comic characters have a super-buddy that they can sort of relax with and confide in outside of costume heroics (although that doesn’t necessarily mean they take the costumes off). So, who are the best besties to ever be best besties?

bff1(5) Daredevil and Spider-Man – It should pretty much be a given that two superheroes who fight the same criminals in the same city will hang out at some point. The thing about these two, though, is that they always seem to meet under the shittiest, angstiest of circumstances. They are more of a shoulder for each other than drinking buddies. Case in point, when Karen Page got shanked by Bullseye, Spidey brought Daredevil to the spot on the George Washington Bridge where Gwen Stacy got killed. Maybe there’s a reason the soundtracks to their movies were full of Dashboard Confessional and Evanescence (yet there’s still no excuse for the Nickelback).

bff24. Boy Blue, Flycatcher, and Pinocchio – If there’s one thing I can attest to, it’s this: boys love hanging out on stoops readin’ comics and eatin junk food. And seriously, when they weren’t out fighting in epic battles or reigning over their own kingdoms, Boy Blue, Pinocchio, and Ambrose could pretty much always be found on the steps of the Woodlands, listening to Blue’s trumpet and shooting the shit (until, you know, Fabletown got all imploded and Boy Blue got all dead). They were kind of like the Three Musketeers of Fabletown, except the Three Musketeers might actually live in Fabletown. Great, now I’m all nostalgic for my old stoop days.

bff33. Hal Jordan and Barry Allen – Both are original members of the Justice League of America, so it makes sense that they’d be cool with one another despite their differences in personality. But to the extent of going on camping trips on other planets together? Dang, dudes, you guys are such best friends. And now that Barry’s back from cruising the Speedforce for 23 years, he can go back to hanging out with Hal Jordan and doing the stuff they love together (I mean, I assume they love getting the shit kicked out of them by undead J’onn J’onnz).

bff42. Ted Kord and Michael Carter – Oh man, the bond these two had between them was off the fucking chart. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold met, befriended, and eventually bro-crushed each other hard when they both joined Justice League International. After watching Kord take a punch from Doomsday, it turned into full on mutual respect. Later on they formed the Super Buddies and worked together in a fast food restaurant in Hell (really, don’t ask). This duo took one tragic fucking turn after Maxwell Lord shot Kord in the face during “the OMAC Project,” causing Booster and Wonder Woman to investigate the murder which led to Maxwell Lord’s death which led to “Infinite Crisis” which led to the DCU as we currently know it. Didn’t realize that the Booster/Beetle pairing was so fucking important, did ya?

bff11. Erik Lehnsherr and Charles Xavier – “Foul!” cried the readers. “Boo this man! Boooo!” But, wait! Think about it! After meeting each other at the Holocaust survivor clinic in Israel, they TOTALLY became best buds! Which of you don’t ever have little squabbles with your closest friends over ideology? Honestly, the only real difference is that you don’t grow up to try to defend those opinions to the death (usually, I mean). Also, look at the admiration Erik has for the dead-in-this-reality Charles in “Age of Apocalypse.” It borders on being totally get-a-room-you-two creepy! Plus, these two haven’t really ever killed each other. What’s stopping them? Maybe remembering back to when they sailed the S.S. Friendship together?

coverOK, seriously, somebody tell me if I’m missing something here because I am totally fucking lost. Keith Kenyon was a guy who believed that drinking a mixture of gold and seawater would make him invincible. Since that scheme is the dumbest fucking thing I have ever heard of, Hal Jordan took him out with one punch. Ten issues later, Kenyon’s changed his name to Goldface, suited up in gold-plated armor, and has somehow gotten hold of a “gold gun” that shoots “his golden spray” (haha, ewww) that can turn people and objects into solid gold.

Man, Silver Age comics were fucking weird.

guard

Anyways, the issue starts out with a pissed off Goldface (“the 24-Karat villain”) getting all set to rob a bank vault. Hal Jordan bested him before and Goldface is out for revenge! His plan is to turn some random security guard we’ll never see again into a solid gold statue and give Green Lantern an ultimatum: the security guard’s life for Hal’s!

Meanwhile, Hal (in his Green Lantern get-up) is getting all set to go Carol Ferris’ fancy cocktail party celebrating the release of “the Magnificent Girl in the Flying Machine,” a movie about Grandma Ferris which stars one Zu Zu Lamar (clearly a parody of then 49-years-old and five-marriages-in Zsa Zsa Gabor). Green Lantern shows up and immediately starts rubbing all up on Zu Zu (pissing off Carol) and this brings about some of the most horrible fucking dialogue I have ever seen in anything ever (and I’ve seen Juno). Seriously, check this shit out.

zuzu

Hal’s racist Eskimo stereotype sidekick, Pieface, probably isn’t invited and is busy at the dentist getting a gold filling put in when it (along with every gold filling in Coast City) starts yelling at Hal about the solid gold security guard and Goldface’s challenge. Now, I’m not sure how Goldface pulled this off. It’s never really explained. At all. As a matter of fact, a lot of things happen in this issue with zero explanation as to how they were accomplished. I guess we’re just supposed to assume that Goldface can just use alchemy and turn anything into gold from anywhere. And then project his voice through that gold? Because… GOLD.

Hal meets up with Goldface and two of his henchmen in the Coast City Museum and the most lackluster fight ever begins. Hal takes out the two goons while spouting some ridiculous smack talk. He takes out Goldface by punching a henchman into a chariot (“You’re taking a Roman chariot ride — straight to jail!”) which careens into a wall which falls onto Goldface which flips the little man into the cup which makes the cage fall and then MOUSE TRAP! And then Hal takes the goons away and just leaves Goldface behind because the Silver Age Green Lantern was the Forrest Gump of comics (both retarded and endearing).

GL makes it back to the theater in time to see the movie screening. Or so he thinks! Goldface changes some of the marquee letters and a microphone to gold and yells at Hal again, telling him to meet him at the Coast City Gold Mines for a final showdown. Hal macks on Zu Zu’s hand and takes off, swearing that “Goldface is going to be Fool’s Goldface when I get done with him.” Really, dude? Really?

Hal gets to the mine and find that everything is bathed in a golden light, making his ring useless because this was the Silver Age and Green Lantern was still allergic to yellow. That’s cool though, since Hal really just wants to start throwing regular old punches at this point. He manages to take out all of Goldface’s goons and throws a wad of aqua regia at him (no way, actual science?) that does nothing (oh, nevermind). In response, Goldface sprays Hal with his “golden treatment” and turns him into “solid gold!”

goldhal

Pffft. Solid gold, my ass. Less than one page after that, Hal has punched his way out of his chocolate Easter bunny prison. Less than one page after that, he discovers that the gold spray wasn’t actually gold (which begs the question, do I really want to know what it was?) and that Goldface’s helmet was what really turned everything to gold. Hal tricks Goldface into turning his own legs into gold, rips off his helmet, and turns the rest of him into gold as well.

But wait, Pieface has a good question. How the fuck did Hal get out of getting turned into gold? Easy! he just used his ring to rearrange the molecular composition of the air around him (although not directly around him, giving him an air pocket) and it was that solid air that was turned by Goldface’s alchemic powers! Then, while everybody thought Hal was a statue, he used his ring to turn the air pocket extremely gold, rendering the naturally soft metal shell brittle! See? It’s SO simple!

dancehalIn the finale, Hal misses the movie but is able to hit up the after party. He snubs Carol when she asks for a dance but shares a moment with Zu Zu because Hal Jordan can fuck whoever Hal Jordan wants to fuck.

Damn, dude, that was weird. It’s worth noting that this issue was also written by Gardner Fox, the man who created both the Justice League of America and the Justic Society of America. It’s also worth noting that every single piece of Goldface’s dialogue in this issue could totally be a pee joke. Hmmm…

One of the goals of High Five! is to convert casual fans into obsessive fans. We’re constantly convincing our friends, that no, comics are so TOO for grown-ups! We also find ourselves fighting a constant battle to convince people that while we may have grown up with Marvel (and YES, I have Marvel titles on my pull list), DC is kicking a whole lot of ass these days. Today, we bring you the first (and hopefully not last) High Five! n00b Review! Our friend Hava is a voracious reader of regular books (you know, the ones without the pit-chers), but only in that last year or so has she been into comics. She hadn’t quite gotten into the Capes though, so rather than taking her the familiar Superman or Batman route, we foisted Green Lantern: Rebirth upon her – and I’m proud to say, we’ve got ourselves a convert. *sniffle* They grow up so fast…
I should point something out first. When I first got back into comics, my knowledge of superheroes was pretty much limited to Superman & Batman. I’d heard of the Justice League and I remembered the Flash from old issues at the grocery store (back when they still sold single issues at the supermarket) – but I’d never even heard of the Green Lantern. I (clearly) have a few friends who are hardcore into comics, and they praised the Hal Jordan Green Lantern up & down. Maggie proudly declared that he was one of her favorite superheroes ever. In the top 3, even.

What exactly, was so special about Hal Jordan, and why should I care about him? I wanted to find out.

First, I did a little preliminary research on Wikipedia (a respectable enough source of superhero arcana for a n00b). On the surface, the guy didn’t seem that exceptional. Wears green, works as a pilot by day, and carries a…lantern? Not exactly the Shakespearean torment of Batman, or the alien-disguised-as-a-normal guy persona of Superman. My first read that featured a Green Lantern, JLA: Earth 2 by Grant Morrison, didn’t exactly endear me to the concept either. JLA: Earth 2 featured a different Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, and he came off as a smug Michael J. Fox type – and not in the good Marty McFly way. No, this was Alex P. Keaton, all bravado and show-offiness, no meat, no depth – not my thing. I’m a namby-pamby liberal, and I found I was far more intrigued by that other Green Dude (as in the Green Arrow).

250px-Greenlanternrebirth6I clearly needed a better gateway drug for Hal. My friends, helpful people that they are, handed me a great one – Rebirth and No Fear, the first two arcs of Geoff Johns‘ Green Lantern run. Rebirth is the story of the resurrection of Hal Jordan, the most important Green Lantern. Although there are many Green Lanterns (there’s one for every Sector), Hal Jordan is the greatest of them all. So unlike Superman, Batman, or really any other superhero that started out alone, Hal Jordan came complete with a posse of intergalactic space cops. My greatest fear was that this would render him faceless, a nameless number in the ranks. Why should I care about this guy over another Green Lantern? Or another superhero, for that matter?

But I did care. I’ll spare you the plot summary, because for me, that’s merely the skeleton, I’m interested in the meaty parts;  Hal Jordan’s psychological makeup, aka, What Makes Him Tick? Sure, a good plot is essential, but it’s only the backdrop for a character’s motivations, drives and desires. We got enough of nothing but fancy costumes and tricked out gadgets from comics in the forties and on up through the eighties. The eighties were something of a rebirth for comics in general, as writers tapped into their characters’ heads: as readers we care so much more when our superheroes are shown to be just as human and fragile as the rest of us. As a reader, I cared so much more about Bruce Wayne when I read about his family’s murder. I was much more attached to Clark Kent when he realized he’d lost his birth parents on Krypton. It‘s such a simple concept, but tragedy makes a superhero more interesting. And a tragic backstory is the easiest way to this reader’s heart.

Hal Jordan’s backstory is not particularly dark & twisted, but it is tragic. His pilot father was killed before his eyes when his plane exploded up in the air. The accident has haunted Hal ever since. It colors his relationships with his brother and on again/off again girlfriend, Carol Ferris. Whenever his soul isn’t being possessed by the Spectre (Holy Spirit of vengeance) or Parallax (Fear itself, personified), he is fighting a constant battle with fear. Against fear itself.

All the Green Lanterns go by a credo of “No Fear;” which is one of the coolest things I have ever read in a comic. This makes him the polar opposite of someone like say, Batman, who thrives on fear- which often makes for pretty bleak reading. I don’t know about you, but with so many realistically downbeat (read: depressing) storylines in the DC canon, it’s nice to have a little hope.

green_lantern_rebirth3So Hal is the Man Without Fear. Except when he got possessed by Parallax, and was eaten from the inside out by his own self doubts. Since the green ring he wears is solely powered by his own willpower, in a way, Hal Jordan represents every one of us, who each have our own Parallaxes to fight, overwhelming fears that cripple our willpower and prevent us from taking control of our own lives. Hal’s powers do not come easy, he wasn’t born with them, they aren’t innate. They come with a price. Each time he uses the ring to fight back, he is giving it his life. Each time he uses its powers, he pays with pain. It’s easy to empathize with someone whose superpowers seem as much of a burden to him as they are a gift. Unlike Superman, Hal could easily choose to give up ring-slinging and lay down the burden – but he doesn’t.

But it’s not all heavy lifting, either. Geoff Johns is a fan’s writer, in the best sense of the word. He doesn’t reach the majestic heights of say, Neil Gaiman, but he’s a more than able craftsman. Although the fanboy enthusiasm is apparent, he doesn’t just cater to the diehards. He knows well enough not to do that. His Rebirth is the Green Lantern legend, not just revamped, but revitalized. He honors the origin story without copying or rehashing old themes. He makes Hal Jordan’s comeback not just believable, but damn near watertight. Seriously, there are no plot holes in this thing. And the man is not without a sense of humor. When Rebirth’s resident villain Sinestro threatens Hal, telling him to “never to challenge those more powerful than you”, Jordan responds with typical flippancy. “Um…yeah. That’s not gonna work for me.” Homeboy’s got balls.

After careful consideration, and in keeping with the High Five! tradition of pairing a drink with a book, I declare that Green Lantern: Rebirth should be enjoyed with a couple of Miller High Lifes. (Lives?) Because that’s what Hal would drink. You know I’m right. Working class, but classy.

So now, I suppose it’s official: I’m a Green Lantern convert. But let’s not forget- a writer can either make or break a series- and Geoff Johns is a great writer. So thank you Geoff Johns. You’ve turned me into a fangirl.
Man. Is she gonna freak when she catches up to Blackest Night, or what?


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