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Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

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The Green Lantern S2 #2 Annotations: A Good Man?

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

‘Be good. Be your best selves and never follow charismatic leaders.’ – Hal Jordan

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Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

Beware The Intergalactic Lawman!

The Green Lantern: Season One was a lot about examining the fundamental premise of Green Lantern and Hal Jordan’s role within it. You’d often heard he was ‘The Greatest Green Lantern Of All’, but that first season was the first time the actual work, especially in the modern era, engaged with that premise. Is he, really? If so, how? What makes him such a great Lantern? And what is a Green Lantern?

And so that first season would almost build a thesis of the lawman, laying out all that Green Lantern has been, is and could be, but ultimately underlining all that isn’t, or at least should never be. And in so doing, illustrating what Green Lantern actually is, amidst all that contrast, via separation and filtering out of the problems.

Within all that, we got to see what made Hal Jordan uniquely suited to be Green Lantern and what made him deserving of the title he’s granted so often without question. In a lot of ways, Season One was about displaying that Hal Jordan is a great man.

That’s been established.

It’s why even the big finale in Blackstars concludes with this:

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

‘Dangerous’ and ‘Ruthless’ is how his enemies define him. ‘Strong-willed’ and ‘Loyal’ is how his friends define him. But in the end, regardless of your allegiance and relationship to the man, he is defined to be someone who does the impossible.

And so now, in Season Two, a new question arises, building off Season One.

Hal Jordan is a great man, yes. But is he a good man?

That becomes the new central idea of Season Two. Exploring Hal Jordan as a man and if he is and can be good and what that goodness looks like and where that journey of ‘goodness’ ultimately leads him.

The Lawman Of Earth

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

Doctor Who is, of course, the big primary influence on the book, as Morrison himself has repeatedly stated. If Johns’ era was Star Wars, Morrison’s is very much Doctor Who. But more than anything, this season seems to be pulling strongly from one particular era of Doctor Who, namely that of Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor.

If you’ve never seen or know nothing beyond osmosis details of Doctor Who, that will be meaningless for you, so let’s dig into that and really lay it out in an accessible way. The Doctor is, of course, an alien Time Lord who keeps regenerating into various incarnations. His very first incarnation, from 1963, played by William Hartnell, was the sort of cranky old man, not the sci-fi hero we know today. The second incarnation, played by Patrick Troughton, was a younger man and a more comedic, goofy heroic figure, shaking things up. But the third incarnation, played by Pertwee, sort of bridged those two things together to create the sort of older authority figure, who is also absolutely the hero. Not heroic in a silly and comedic way, although he did have silly moments, but in absolutely the most serious manner. The direction was inspired by the popular film Quatermass and The Pit by Hammer, evoking the inspiration of the early Quatermass works on the original Doctor Who to start.

Now the key here is, The Third Doctor is a bit of a curious entity in the canon of Who. He’s the first full, true hero and his era would very much define and establish iconic fixtures of the series, that are still around now or matter greatly. But Pertwee was also the most authority-esque of The Doctors. He worked with UNIT (United Nations Intelligence Taskforce), his best friend was a military man, as The Doctor himself had a job at this military institution. So he was sort of the establishment Doctor, rather than some lone wanderer or explorer. He couldn’t explore much, since the powers that be (The Time Lords) decreed that he was to be on Earth. He’d eventually get his Tardis back, but Earth was very much the focus and center of this period.

All of this is worth discussing, since Jordan is now decreed, by the powers that be, to stay on Earth:

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

I mentioned that the book was pulling from Pertwee’s era and this is a big one here. The new ‘status quo’ being The Lantern is to hang about Earth is straight out the most blatant riff on that Pertwee status quo. But even that aside, the Third makes a lot of sense as a comparison point for a hero like Jordan. He’s that sort of old school traditional authority figure, the old man. And more importantly, both are military men, as well as Action Heroes. This all becomes relevant given Grant Morrison grew up with Pertwee’s Doctor being ‘his’ Doctor. ‘Kungfu Doctor’ as he put it. This was the serious action hero and it was a hero with a journey. And that journey? By way of Space Zen Buddhism.

Pertwee, the old man, the action hero, the militaristic man, was shaped greatly by producer and writer Barry Letts, who was a practicing Buddhist. And the big culmination of that character and his period, in The Planet Of The Spiders saw those Buddhist ideas come to the forefront. This old man, this man without fear, who’d seen it all, done it all and couldn’t be shaken, was finally shaken. His journey was finally complete when he, the great man, finally revealed himself to be a truly good man in his last hour, pleading with even his greatest foe, a literal monster, to not do what she is about to do, to save her life. In the end, Pertwee’s Doctor was not only a great man, but a good one, a noble one and ultimately, a kind one. When stripped away of all that he is or was, all that remained was that, that goodness, that simple, selfless kindness and heroism, this ball of love for all life, this undying compassion that expanded outwards. He was almost a new character in those final moments. And he died, this man without fear, having faced his one greatest fear.

And all this is worth keeping in mind, the space buddhist journey, the stripping away of one self, the idea of greatness and goodness, as we move forward through this, as The Green Lantern seems to be channeling a lot of that. Morrison applying his love of The Doctor, his Doctor, onto Jordan to create something intimately personal and honest is what you’re seeing here.

Authoritarian Suicide Sphere

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

Now, Earth. Earth is interesting. We’re in a curious period of DC Comics now. On one hand, you have Brian Bendis with Superman comics putting Earth on a council of united worlds across the cosmos, which happens so very easily, as just kids say it should and everyone just goes along with it. It’s escapist and doesn’t really want you to think much about it. Meanwhile, Morrison and Sharp’s cosmic book seems to argue something different entirely. It, through Jordan, keeps saying Earth is screwed and it deserves absolutely nothing, no position nowhere, until it gets its s--t together. How in god’s name can it be united on a galactic scale when it’s not even united on the basest of levels, as we live in the trying times we now do.

There is such rage, such anger, born not of hatred, but deep pain and frustration, regarding the state of Earth and what’s happening to it. Imagine being able to sail the stars, see worlds where capitalism doesn’t exist, money is a foreign concept, where societal structures are different, where many of the problems we faced have been overcome and are archaic things and then coming back to the planet to see Donald Trump is president and Mike Pence is Vice President. Oh and the planet is absolutely going to s--t, as we’re killing the environment and Climate Change is a reality, which absolutely isn’t being dealt with in any meaningful fashion by those in power.

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

Imagine the sheer frustration of coming back to your home, only to see it still be a regressive shithole run by right-wing lunatics hellbent on killing the world, accumulating even more power, to the detriment of all. Imagine the pain of seeing it not be able to grow, evolve, change and be better for everyone, as conservatives wield power. That’s at the heart of this. After all, the above imagery does feature Mike Pence literally selling away the future of the planet, killing the climate, to a literal monster. The climate change doomed to kill us all its ‘marination’ process and people are A-Okay with this, these old people.

Now one might say ‘But Hal Jordan is a conservative!’. Maybe another version or interpretation, perhaps. But certainly not this one. This is a man who has embraced change, evolution, diversity, nature, opened himself up to new modes of thinking, new ideologies and beliefs, as you imagine one would have to when you can travel the stars. Hal keeps an open heart, but at the same time, given how long he’s been at this, he can see individuals for who they are and what they are. He understands and quickly grasps their nature, no matter how alien or familiar. This is a man who’ll yell at the planet for being drunk, because you goddamned fools, you cannot kill the planet and take the future from the young. They need their future, they deserve their future, this planet needs its future.

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

Throughout the book, there’s allusions, like the above, which express a deep, profound rage at things as they are. We thought the apocalypse would be an explosion. But it’s this. It’s fake news. It’s slow, decaying death, watching the future slip away, as the promise of progression, evolution, true change, the empowerment of the marginalized and diversification seem to all be at stake here. And a lot of this book is built on that. It is a very explicit post-2016 Green Lantern, with Morrison talking about capturing the feeling of living in a world where it feels like illusion and reality have come together and it feels nonsensical, it feels like Monty Python, but madder and ultimately, far more horrific. This isn’t a book about escape or ‘escapism’, it’s about the batshit insanity of living in a world that seems to make no sense, as codified by comics-specific notions like no one knowing what happened in DC Continuity, what didn’t, which Superman we’re dealing with, which Batman this is, what is and what isn’t. It mines the DCU and its specificity and insanity and makes it a mirror for the madness that we all seem to be experiencing.

Across Morrison work, you see this idea of evolution, of progression, of change, perhaps best summed up by the JLA and Final Crisis notion that humanity is The Fifth World (#3 of S1 references this, ‘The Opti-Humans Of The Fifth World), where in we’re on the stage to change and grow big time. It’s even there in his Marvel work like New X-men or Marvel Boy. It’s what The Invisibles has, too. The need for change, evolution, revolution, diversity, the destruction of conformity, fascism, all that is deeply fundamental to Morrison work. For all his wacky ideas, for all his high-concept brilliance and clever craft, what makes his work so deeply appealing and resonant is all of that. The need to fight, to rise and transcend the worst parts of us, to shed them, to become all that we have ever dreamed of being. Not power fantasies where we’re mightier than the next man, but ones where we’re as kind as we possibly can be, where we’re as loving as we possibly can be, where we’re as selfless as we hope to be. The vision of the Morrisonian superhero isn’t great just because the heroes do the impossible, it’s great because they do the impossible by being good in the face of all that makes you feel like you can’t be. It’s the dream that power is wielded not for the sake of war or violence, but for love, for kindness, for saving people. Not just punching the bad guy, but liberating those he’s oppressed. That’s the fundamental goal.

Thus, if all those works, with Final Crisis and The Multiversity built to and hoped, with a great plea, for change and betterment, which never truly was fulfilled, The Green Lantern is about what you do then. It’s about the burden of living with a world that’s failed to live up to its genuine promise and is only now regressing back into barbaric bullshit. It’s about what you do then. You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Similarly, Hal can’t force the Earth to be better, it has to actively want to be and make that choice itself.

And again, it’s worth remembering, Green Lantern is a fictional idea, that only exists on paper, so it can’t solve the problems that we have. It knows that and it isn’t trying to say ‘here’s how you solve systemic oppression’. But it also understands that to just ignore those issues, or cover them up under a rug and pretend they’re not there, for ‘escapism’ or to present simplistic ideas of fantasy, which disregard the reality of many who are currently affected by the nature of the world we live in, would be irresponsible. So the work becomes about shining a light on the issues and commenting on them, capturing the frustration, the feeling of all this mess and offering advice. Not a command, but advice, because again, it is a book about, ultimately, free will. Much like The Blackstars, who Hal gave a speech about Free Will to, it’s up to us, to take it or leave it. The future is ours to make, ours to forge, as we like, we just need to decide what kind of future it is we want and act upon it.

Ultimately, the value of a fictional idea, a heroic idea, is inspiration, is about asking questions, expanding awareness, making you think, making you feel and making you want to do something and be better. Inspiration is the best poor GL can do and you know what? That’s not too bad.

Cosmidor City (EPCOT) and The ’60s

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

We talked about being mad and here comes another one. Cosmidor is an old, old deep cut, going back Green Lantern #58. Back in The Silver Age, it was just a town. But now, it gets a big Liam Sharp revamp here, as Steve Oliff’s colors bring it to life. Now, what the team do here is rather curious. The revamp, pioneered by Morrison, turns Cosmidor into a giant city that is riffing on EPCOT.

Beginning in the ’60s as a Walt Disney dream, EPCOT was the hope for a whole community that would live in what is now Disney World. Walt Disney wanted it to be cutting edge and be a City Of Tomorrow, a place that never stopped innovating or dreaming, that was always changing and was in the state of ‘becoming’, as he put it. ‘Disneyland meets Suburbia’ is honestly as good a summary as any for the ambition. After his death, of course, the plans would change and the EPCOT of today isn’t what Walt Disney imagined then, as Disney, the company, went in a different direction.

In any case, what you have here is the idea of a haunting past, literally. This haunting old idea, this remnant of the ’60s. And that idea is cemented hard above. But also, curiously, it’s an idea Morrison’s played with prior, in the likes of Seaguy.

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

Positing a corporate-controlled future where Totally-Not-Disney own the world, its history and nothing is certain, everything is controlled, every narrative shaped, fake news and false facts are spread, Seaguy was a book both a) terrifying, if hilarious and deeply touching b) too ahead of its time when it first came out. And there in, The Mickey Eye Park (It is utterly wild how Morrison got away with this. So blatant.) is just Totally-Not-EPCOT, with the EPCOT ball boasting a gigantic eye. It’s very, very ‘Big Brother is watching’, as the piercing eye and stare, the idea of freedom itself, feel threatened. It’s the idea of a dystopia that is obsessed with pretending it’s a utopia, that everything is great, nice, perfect, lovely and if you point out a problem or get out of line, you’re the problem.

And so that notion, of this place of terrors, this symbol of capitalist power, all used to make money off the discomfort and horror of people, is very much present here. Mark Doremus, Eve Doremus’ father and founder of Cosmidor City, might as well be called ‘Mark Disney’ here, because it’s not particularly subtle. But to continue on about the idea of old haunting ideas, remnants of the ’60s, notice how the mask-alien actually looks:

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

A squid-like alien that attaches itself to human faces and mind-controls them? Sound familiar? It’s a play on Starro The Conqueror, another classical ’60s idea. Although, the very specific visual is, of course, not that of a starfish or a squid, but an octopus, which tracks. This is playing the old remnant ’60s ideas as haunting things, as horror and alien horror, the most primordial and terrifying is, obviously, Lovecraftian horror. Even Cthulhu, the most well-known of Lovecraft’s creations (becoming the title of his mythology, The Cthulhu Mythos) is a mixture of an octopus and a dragon. Octopuses, in the horror tradition, very much represent the primordial alien beings, beings of chaos and terrifying power. So visually this decision, which mixes Octopus imagery, with that of skull imagery, a signifier of death, is a potent, powerful way to create striking iconography. It’s a terrifying little new Green Lantern monster (ala Who).

And such thinking is classical to comics, given Alan Moore’s big idea with The Squid in Watchmen was also ‘What if…Starro, but by way of my more Lovecraftian tendencies?’. It’s a solid conceit, with firm grounding to back it up as a thing that works.

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

But of course, the other big ol’ haunting thing of the ’60s in this issue, the first thing you really notice and pay attention to? The dialogue. It’s straight out of the old Beat-style, which tracks, given the influence of Jack Kerouac and his The Dharma Bums on the series. The Dharma Bums book that is not only a key part of one of the vital writers of the Beat Generation, but it’s also one, as the title implies, where Zen Buddhism is vital and at the forefront, which, again, keep this in mind.

Morrison has long said that John Broome (who we discussed here in the last essay) is essentially the DC Comics equivalent of The Beat Generation. Broome was a bit of a strange man, traveling about, doing interesting things and in so doing, making Hal Jordan do the same, where in he hit the road, with little besides the bare minimum of stuff he needed. And his characters were oddballs as well, speaking oddly and with tons of personality, too. So what this issue becomes is, beyond just being a riff on Classic Doctor Who, a riff on John Broome and The Beat style, that’s the essential idea. And so you have everyone absolutely spouting the most outrageously wild lines and you have no idea why they’re speaking like this and it’s a very deliberate choice, if frustrating to experience the first time around for some, to the point that it’s a literal plot point.

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

The idea of ‘The weird mind-control aliens are making us all speak like strange ’60s style characters’ is very Doom Patrol and thus incidentally, very Grant Morrison. But again, it’s that haunting idea of the old, which asserts itself and makes us act like bizarre parodies of the past, which looks and feels about as nonsensical as you would think. And it’s about breaking past that, it’s about shattering that, it’s about pulling that alien mask off your face with the sheer force of your will. It’s about shattering control at any and every which turn you find it, to be free. We discussed the octopus earlier and it is all the above things, but you know what else it is? It’s symbolic of the ancient, the old. And when you mix ‘the old’ and a skull, the symbol of ‘death’, what do you get? An old figure, one who is close to death, who is possessing others, feeding off them, controlling them, in his nonsensical parodic approximation of an era gone by, of the past.

For all that it is steeped in the history of things, from comics, sci-fi television and a plethora more, it’s a book that is also about breaking past that history, tearing it off to be ourselves, to go beyond. To not just paint ourselves in the likeness of the past, but to use the past to actually make a point.

The Silurian Story

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

All of which brings us to….these Doctor Who monsters, The Silurians. An ancient race who held power in the olden days, when man was but an infant. They’ve now receded to the underground, hiding, operating in the shadows. And some of them, in particular, are hoping for a return to their glory days, where in man’s era and time ends and they soar the skies as the one true masters of the world once more. The Silurians are also a race introduced during the Pertwee era. Most Silurian stories, also, aren’t terribly good. Their endings, especially, tend to be rather poor, even in the modern era.

What Morrison does here, effectively, is make The Silurians of Green Lantern. And he does so by…pulling in more John Broome content. The Ornitho-Men, the big monsters of this issue, are from The Flash #125 by Broome and Carmine Infantino.

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

There, they’re much more harmless beings, who heal a young Wally West and help him out. And also, far more silly, obviously, with just a regular face painted onto a bird. Sharp, of course, again, keeping with the horror theme, makes them much more scary, he defines their anatomy a bit more, makes them more alien-looking and weird and thinks through the design choice with more care.

And here, The Ornitho-Men, much like The Silurians, are looking for dominance and hope to wage war on the humans. There’s, obviously, a massive difference and dissonance between the two interpretations of Ornithos and that’s the point. We discussed how one of the key, core ideas was that old things very easily morph into monstrous things with time. And that’s why you have the once peace-ful, lovely species turned into a shell of itself, warmongering about, clamoring for a supposed heyday that never really was.

Screw The Privileged, so says Uncle Hal

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

And that brings us to, of course, the big resolution of this whole enterprise. Morrison, Sharp, Oliff and letterer Tom Orzechowski establish a classical, tried-and-true popular narrative here: The Fallen Royal. You have the noble, the heir, the chosen one, the good one, the once and future king, the one true leader and he’s locked up in a cell. We’ve all seen the story before and we’ve all loved it before. The young prince, the monarch-in-the-making, has his birthright stolen from him by an evil figure, who usurps the power. And then folks help said fallen nobility take back the crown, grant him power, re-establish the ‘good’ status quo of the ‘great old days’. The story’s echoes are everywhere, from Hamlet to The Lion King.

So that’s all setup here, that familiar, classical, beloved narrative. Except, it’s only set up to be utterly mocked, derided and criticized harshly. We’ve discussed Narrative Substitution previously, where in you’re seemingly telling one story, until you’re not, pivoting deliberately, subverting on purpose to make an ideological point about the older, familiar story that is being rejected. That’s what’s in play here, once again.

Help the ‘nice’ royal take back power and re-establish the ‘good’ old status quo? To absolute hell with that. No. Never. Hal Jordan instead calls out the absolute privilege of people like the prince, powerful individuals with birthrights and entitlements, the idea that they are somehow ‘more’ or ‘deserve’ something and that the world just needs to give it to them. He calls out those of his ilk and expresses pure contempt for those with privilege who do not understand or acknowledge it, who aren’t critical of it, who believe people should listen to them and fall in line because of it.

And so what you get is Morrison/Sharp giving the absolute finger to this whole narrative. Hal Jordan doesn’t help the ‘nice good noble’ and re-establish the status quo. He doesn’t beat the hell out of the bad guy, either. He does something else entirely. He does the impossible.

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

The fundamental law, the natural law of The Ornitho-Kids, the hatchlings (which the ‘good noble’ and the villain plan to exploit and use as soldiers in an army) is that they are to OBEY the first creature they see. And so Hal tricks both individuals to make himself be that person and says the above. Now, obviously, that’s great. The message is lovely. But the actual brilliance of that bit and of Hal Jordan, the character, in that moment, is understated.

This is and always has been a run deeply concerned with Free Will in the face of Control and that’s evident, even through The Octo-Masks. It’s all over the book. And here, if Hal were to just give them a command, which the hatchlings are forced to obey, it becomes control. And on the surface, to some readers, it may seem like control. But there’s something else going on there. Notice what he does and how he phrases things.

The natural law compels them to obey the charismatic leader they lay eyes on. And as they do, he tells them to NEVER follow charismatic leaders.

What?! The charismatic leader, who I must obey, is saying NEVER obey?! What the hell is this leader saying?! This is contradictory. This makes no sense. This is nonsense. What do I do? What am I supposed to do? How can I obey and also never obey?!

And so what this does is, this fundamental contradiction, Hal the charismatic leader saying NEVER follow charismatic leaders, it destroys their programming. It utterly confuses their system. It utterly breaks any and all impulse towards control they had. In essence, Hal ‘wastes’ the chance these opportunists thought they could mine and grants free will to beings who never had any concept of free will prior to this. And so his words, which may at first seem like a ‘command’ are specifically designed to screw with the Ornitho natural law, in effect becoming ‘advice’ by the end.

The hatchlings are the young, the next generation and Hal Jordan has just liberated them from the past, the control of the older generation, utterly destroyed the power of actual natural law upon them, which was (and would’ve been) abused. He offered the older generation an alternative, telling them to let go of war, let go of all your petty, racist garbage and obsession with war, killing not only those you hate, but your own, using them as pawns for conquest and never ending greed. They didn’t listen. So he shattered the very ‘law’ by which they held power and in so doing, unveiled the spineless cowardice and ineptitude of those in power.

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

That’s who Hal Jordan is to this creative team. He who will and does break all laws to help and liberate people. He’s The Intergalactic Lawman and he follows his Dharma. His law may be cosmic law, but that doesn’t mean it’s the darker laws of nature, like Predator-Prey, it’s the good, natural laws. All others, he is happy to beat down and absolutely destroy, if it means people are freed. Hal Jordan will fight for your freedom, especially if he believes it is within your nature to be able to do so as well.

Polyamorous Spaceman

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

Beyond all that, we get more talk of Hal being poly, which is good. It makes a lot of sense for the character. Also ‘Space-Age Wiccan Polyamory’ is maybe the most Grant Morrison line in a whole issue of Grant Morrison-isms.

The key thing with Hal is, back in The Silver Age, Carol Ferris loved Green Lantern, not Hal Jordan. Eve Doremus, the character we’ve been seeing here, was the precise opposite. She loved Hal Jordan, not Green Lantern. Ultimately, Eve would be forgotten, the secret identity shenanigans would go and Carol would know the two men she was caught up with was but one. But it’s vital to remember what Eve represented and in her return, still represents: Hal Jordan, the man. That’s the side Eve plays to, where as Carol, as Star Sapphire, plays more to ‘Green Lantern’.

In any case, Hal and his needs have shifted and changed so much over time and he’s slowly learnt who he is in that period and gotten more comfortable with that fact. The big problem with Carol and Hal always was, Hal couldn’t commit, he didn’t know how to be in a proper ‘traditional’ relationship with Carol and live his life on Earth as Hal, while also being Hal Jordan in space. It gets rather dire, as even Geoff Johns put laid out Hal’s character clearly in Green Lantern #1:

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

After that, with no GL in his life, Hal would spend the night with Carol and swear commitment. Then when Sinestro would come in and offer him GL work, he’d refuse, solely because it’s Sinestro (the dude threatens Carol with a gun to get Hal to co-operate). And then he died. And then he came back. Johns then cued his ending and left the book, not having to actually deal with the issue of having Hal learn and change from where he was. All Hal really did was be with Carol for a night and reject Sinestro’s offer. Would he have been able to reject being GL if it were a proper case and not a supervillain doing it? Would he have said ‘I’m done, I promised I’d just be with Carol’? Absolutely not.

Following this, Carol would break up with him in the very first Robert Venditti issue (the issue after #20, where in Johns finally put them together and did flash forwards) and having broken them up, with Carol saying she didn’t love Hal anymore, we got some bafflingly terrible Carol/Kyle stuff. Then Venditti, after doing a whole run where Carol never really shows up again, has her appear just for a kiss on a last page. It is not mending the broken relationship. It is not them getting together. It is not any damage being fixed or undone. It is not them committing. It is them kissing, like they do and have done plenty of times, as let’s be honest, they’re pretty horny folks. But they’re not really together.

They’ve changed and their needs aren’t the same as what they used to be and that’s okay. Now Hal is GL again and has leaned into it fully, inhabiting ‘personas’ and living lives on planets, going by The Man With No Name, Sir Hal Of The Green Lamp and being different people to different people. That means his relationships won’t be the conventional standard. He’s not going to be guy who does a clear shift and then comes home to bed. He’s not the guy who’s going to get married.

And thus, we have the expansion on the character, which sees him have these ties to various people, who like each other very much and know one another intimately, are all well aware what they’re getting into and consent and are cool with it. They have a good time. Morrison/Sharp’s Hal seems to very much be pan (all your Ollie and Barry theories and slash fiction are valid, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise), much like Namor.

Space Zen Buddhist

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

We discussed the Space Zen Buddhist angle (which we’ll be discussing in-depth over the entire season, we’ll be returning to it a bunch) and no issue makes it more blatant this one, as the idea of possessions, attachments and commitments being put aside by a man are put forth. All of which is necessary and part of transcendence, the breaking of cycles, of living a certain kind of life, one which fulfills your own personal Dharma and is true to your soul.

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

Jordan is also very much framed as a man of nature, who cares deeply about its place and the need for connection, the spiritual, over the absence that that creates. To be content, to be truly happy, is to know yourself, it is to know your soul and the natural world is a part of that, which needs to be taken care of an preserved.

And, of course, Hal is distrustful of authority and his need to question and check the people in power comes through amidst all this.

The Old Man Must Die

Hal Jordan returns to Earth!

So much of this run is about the end of the old and the beginning of the new and the absolute need for that. From The Young Guardians to the liberated Ornitho-Children, it’s all about new, younger generations being able to change things and do better, fixing the errors of the past. Free of the influence of their progenitors, allowed to do that which was considered as ruinous and destructive to tradition and just be free. The future is young and the old things, if let to fester too long, morph into monstrous things. It is the old, the haunting figures of the past, that become the consistent threat in The Green Lantern, from The Shepherd, Controller Mu, Zundernell, so on and so forth. In the end, the delusions of the old, their desperate attempts to control things, must be stood up to and confronted.

And, of course, the obvious thing is also that Hal Jordan himself is an old man. And an old white man, which is very much the point. The obvious question underneath being, ‘Is he like all these people he’s facing? These old men who just will not let go?’

It’s very much a question you could only pose with Hal Jordan and the whole run is engineered and geared to the specificity of his character. And the book’s perspective is that he’s obviously not. Hal Jordan is all for and about change and is happy to step aside. He just wants to help and free people, let their wills and thoughts be expressed, letting them be their best selves. He’s for a better future.

In the end, a lot of the run does feel like it echoes the sentiment at the heart of this quote:

The old man must die, and the new man will discover to his inexpressible joy that he has never existed – Doctor Who

Hal Jordan is on a journey, going through his past and it’s hard to shake the feeling that this may be his last. Not in the sense that there won’t be Hal Jordan stories after this, there will be, but this very specific interpretation, who he is, what he is and what he’s doing and the history he’s dealing with, it all feels like a final look at the landscape. Hal Jordan is destined to face his fear, it’s why he’s a Green Lantern. A great rebirth awaits him, but this man, this old man? He is destined to fall.

Note:

We’ve discussed Space= Meaning here a bunch and this issue, despite being a #2, has a Double-Page Spread, which is unusual. Whether that was always deliberately the plan for this OG 12-issue run or a change reflecting its cut down to 8 issues (which means each issue becomes significantly more ‘important’ and vital, much more momentous and bigger) is uncertain, but in any case, it is worth noting.

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