With the Green Lantern movie releasing in June I thought it was time to write a bit of an introduction to the Green Lantern universe, and more specifically, the Green Lantern comics. Comics, and especially DC Comics titles, have a tendency to feature a pretty complex timeline as the continuity is often altered to correct mistakes made by the same people who made the different universes in the first place. I think we can all remember the ‘Earth 2’ and ‘crisis on infinite earths’ debacle which ended the DC multiverse for a while.
Now, before I start elaborating on the various series and timelines you first want to know what a Green Lantern is, right? Well, the Green Lanterns are part of the Green lantern Corps. The Corps is basically intergalactic police force. They patrol the farthest reaches of the DC Universe at the behest of the Guardians, a race of immortals residing on the planet Oa. According to DC continuity, the Green Lantern Corps has been in existence for three billion years, surviving multiple conflicts both internal and foreign. Currently operating divided as pairs amongst the 3600 “sectors” of the universe, over 7200 members (known commonly as Green Lanterns) are estimated as serving within the Corps. Each Green Lantern is given a power ring, a weapon granting the use of incredible abilities that are directed by the wearer’s own willpower.
The power ring must be recharged regularly by touching it to its lantern-shaped power battery for a period of several seconds. When recharging their rings, some Corps members recite an oath. This oath differs from Corps member to member, but the most popular seems to be Hal Jordan’s:
In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware my power …
Green Lantern’s Light!
Who is Hal Jordan? He’s most easily described as a Tony Stark without all the cash. He’s a test pilot with a mouth and a thirst for danger. One day, he encountered the dying alien Abin Sur, a Green Lantern. Before his death, he gave his power ring to Hal, making him the first Green Lantern from Earth (others are Alan Scot, Guy Gardener, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Jade). More on Hal Jordan later.
Now, let’s talk storylines. As I understand there have been quite a few story arcs in the Green Lantern comic book series. The most influential ones to the series, in no particular order, are:
This might all seem a bit confusing if you’re not familiar with the entire timeline, so I condensed that as well for your convenience. I might’ve gotten a few things wrong, since I’m not big on the earlier story arcs. American comics are quite pricy in Belgium!
10 Billion Years Ago: The planet Maltus is formed… though it is said that life does not first emerge here.
4,6 Billion Years Ago: Life emerges on Earth. The White/Life entity makes its home within the planet.
4,04 Billion Years Ago: Renegade Maltusian Krona constructs a machine that pierces the temporal barrier and views the beginnings of time itself. Krona catches a glimpse of the hand of creation depositing the speck that would become the entire cosmos. His machine explodes at that instant, and the universe is shattered causing the creation of the original Multiverse as the universe replicates into an infinite number of parallel universes. At this same moment, the Anti-Matter Universe is created, unleashing evil and Entropy into the cosmos; thus, the original Monitor and the Anti-Monitor are born. As punishment for this act, Krona is transformed into pure energy by his fellow Maltusians and is sent to forever wander the cosmos. Krona’s actions is what caused the Oans to become the Guardians of the Universe, who then relocate from Maltus to the planet Oa. Shortly thereafter, the Guardians begin a two part mission in the Universe: 1) To clean up all miscreants, primarily the Empire of Tears which they entomb on the planet Ysmault, 2) Gather up all the magic in the cosmos into the heart of a star. This Starheart would eventually become sentient.
3 Billion Years Ago: The Manhunters are created by the Guardians, which is quickly regarded as a failed experiment — particularly after the Massacre of Sector 666 — and jettisoned when they launch an insurrection against the Guardians. When the Guardians elect to only banish the beaten Manhunters weaponless back to the worlds they made home instead of terminate them completely, a splinter group of Guardians head on an exodus from Oa to become known as the Controllers. Soon afterward the Green Lantern Corps are formed. Rori Dag of Rojira is chosen as the first Green Lantern.
2,5 Billion Years Ago: Oan race splits along gender lines: females evolve into Zamarons and settle on Zamaron. Without males now, the Zamarons eventually seek out the males of the planet Korugar. Using their mental acuity as inherent in them as in their former Oan/Malthusian mates, they consciously stripped themselves of their Blue energy and augmented the Crimson energy of their new Korugar lovers. Storing the Blue energy in the harmonic convergences of music in a manner known only to themselves, when they called it forth to mingle with their rosy emotions in the facet of certain star sapphires, the Zamarons controlled a Violet light which enabled them to conquer yet another world.
1 Billion Years Ago: Deciding against bringing back the Zamarons and punishing them as some of the Guardians wished, other Guardians decided to create a safeguard against this retaliation. The Guardians swore that whatever the provocation, no Zamaron or Korugarian would ever suffer more than confinement at their hands or at the hands of their agents. The cost for breaking this new law would cause their Central Power Battery on Oa to return to the nothingness from which they had created it.
2,000 Years Ago: The Starheart, free now to roam the cosmos, drifts to Earth. Yalan Gur of Sector 2814 was nearly killed by a yellow beast. The Guardians of the Universe removed the yellow impurity from Yalan Guy’s ring. Without any weakness, however, Yalan became arrogant and believed himself invincible, so the Guardians gave his ring a weakness against Wood instead. Burning up in atmospheric re-entry of Earth, fusing with his battery and perhaps the falling Starheart itself, Yalan’s ring and spirit become one with the Starheart.
69 Years Ago: Alan Scott begins his crime-fighting career as “The Green Lantern” after welding a Lantern from the Starheart he uncovers in 1939. He comes up with the name by chance and has no idea there is a Green Lantern Corps of 3,600 members patrolling the universe.
7 Years Ago: Hal Jordan is chosen by a dying Abin Sur to become Green Lantern of Sector 2814. After training with Kilowog and Sinestro, Hal is a founding member of the Justice League of America.
6 Years Ago: Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen go on adventures together around the Earth. John Stewart becomes Hal Jordan’s reserve Green Lantern. Not long afterward, Hal Jordan temporarily gives up being Green Lantern and John Stewart becomes activated full-time.
5 Years Ago: The events of “Crisis on Infinite Earths” occurs — Guy Gardner becomes activated as a Green Lantern. A dying Tomar Re’s last wishes are honored and Hal Jordan becomes Green Lantern of Sector 2814 again. John Stewart marries fellow GL Katma Tui. The events of “Millennium” (during which the Guardians leave their posts with the Zamarons into parts unknown to mate) and “Invasion!” (by the Dominators) occur shortly afterward. Sinestro is executed on Oa by Green Lanterns, violating the law/oath the Guardians took 1,000,000,000 years prior — the Central Power Battery immediately begins to decay. Entering it, Hal Jordan encounters Sinestro, whose consciousness has merged with the Battery temporarily, and first encounters the Yellow Impurity within the Battery. The Central Power Battery’s decay is halted, but while it is able to sustain the existing power rings out there, is now unable to generate new rings.
4 Years Ago: Katma Tui-Stewart is murdered by Star Sapphire/Carol Ferris. The events of “The Cosmic Odyssey” occur — John Stewart fails to stop the destruction of the planet Xanshi and all of its inhabitants. The events of “Third Law” occur. The events of “Trinity” occur.
3 Years Ago: The events of “Mosaic” occur — John Stewart becoming overseer of a melting pot of alien cultures on the planet Oa. Ultimately John Stewart is made into a Guardian, and resurrects Katma Tui. The events of “Reign of the Superman” occurs — Coast City is atomized by the Cyborg-Superman and Mongul I. “Emerald Twilight” occurs — Hal Jordan becomes insane as he falls under the influence (then total possession) of the living incarnation of fear, Parallax. The Central Power Battery on Oa is destroyed, the Guardians (save for Ganthet) sacrifice their lives, and the entire Green Lantern Corps is rendered defunct. Kyle Rayner becomes the only Green Lantern (his Power Battery made from a piece of Oa, and with Parallax free of the Central Power Battery he has no Yellow weakness). “Zero Hour” occurs — Hal as Parallax recreates Time before being stopped by a gathering of superheroes; Oa is destroyed by Kyle Rayner in an attempt to stop Hal Jordan. The events of “The Final Night” occur: Hal Jordan sacrifices himself to save the Earth from a Sun-Eater.
2 Years Ago: The events of “The Day of Judgment” occur — Hal Jordan becomes the Spectre. Kyle Rayner temporarily becomes host to the living incarnation of willpower, Ion, and resurrects the Guardians while Tom Kalmaku (with the help of Hal Jordan, as the Spectre) recreates the world of Oa in the events of “Legacy: Last Will & Testament of Hal Jordan.”
1 Year Ago: The events of “Rebirth” occur — Hal Jordan is resurrected and the Parallax and Spectre entities cast out of him; Parallax is put back into the Central Power Battery; Hal again becomes a Green Lantern as the Corps begin to rebuild (now going for 7,200 members instead of 3,600); trained Green Lanterns can now overcome their Yellow Weakness (restored, with Parallax back in the Central Power Battery) if they are conscious of its source: the Parallax entity. The events of “Infinite Crisis” unfold — the Multiverse is recreated as 52 separate universes; 52 Monitors are borne to watch over the Multiverse; the Anti-Monitor is resurrected in the Anti-Matter Universe. Kyle Rayner again becomes host to the living incarnation of willpower, Ion. The Sinestro Corps forms on Qward. The Star Sapphire Corps forms on Zamaron.
Present: Oa, now at the center of the universe, is fortified with orbital armor around it in the shape of a gigantic Lantern. The events of “The Sinestro Corps War” occur — after a short time being possessed by a freed Parallax, Kyle Rayner becomes a regular Green Lantern again; Sodam Yat receives the Ion entity; though Parallax is divided and kept inside four regular power batteries, unskilled Green Lanterns maintain their Yellow Weakness because Parallax’s long presence in the Central Power Battery has tainted the spectrum; former Guardians Ganthet and Sayd form the Blue Lantern Corps. The Red Lantern Corps form on Ysmault. The events of “Final Crisis” occur. The events leading up to “Blackest Night” occur. Oa’s armor is destroyed, Sodam Yat’s Ion entity is removed.
Late 30th Century: In the future of Earth-247, a time-displaced Kyle Rayner catches a glimpse of a ragtag group of bandits falsely calling themselves the Green Lantern Corps. During this encounter Cary Wren, a homeless resident of the 30th century, turns out to be Kyle’s descendant and — as such — is able to temporarily wield Kyle’s power ring.
31st Century: In the future of New Earth/Earth-0, a shattered Central Power Battery on Oa and two sole remaining Green Lanterns (one of them is Rond Vidar, The other is Sodom Yat; The Last Guardian of the Universe) are all that remain of the Green Lantern Corps. Rond Vidar is killed by Superboy-Prime leaving Sodom Yat as the sole representative of the GLC legacy. Not long afterward, coming forward on the undocumented orders from the late Guardians, the being “Dyogene” appears in front of Sodam Yat, then goes to seek out a new ringbearer. He finds and gives a ring to Kirt “Earth-Man” Niedrigh who soon enough just ends up rejecting it.
5700 A.D.: Hal Jordan and later Salaak in the younger years of their Green Lantern careers spend time in this century in service as “Pol Manning.”
Alright, in the end, this still seems confusing … As you can probably tell though, Hal Jordan is the most notable and famous of all the Green Lanterns. The upcoming movie tells the origins story of Hal Jordan. That’s why I’m including this last bit of text, which is all about Hal Jordan.
Hal Jordan was as I said before a test pilot, having followed in the footsteps of his father, Martin Jordan. He was given the power ring and battery (lantern) by a dying alien named Abin Sur, whose spaceship crashed on Earth. Abin Sur used his ring to seek out an individual who was “utterly honest and born without fear” to take his place as Green Lantern. Jordan became a founding member of the Justice League of America and as of the mid-2000’s is, along with John Stewart, one of the two active-duty Lanterns in Earth’s sector of space.
Following the rebirth of Superman and the destruction of Green Lantern’s hometown of Coast City in the early 1990s, Hal Jordan seemingly went insane and destroyed the Green Lantern Corps and the Central Power Battery. Now calling himself Parallax, Hal Jordan would devastate the DC Universe off and on for the next several years. However, after Earth’s sun was threatened by a Sun-Eater, Jordan sacrificed his life, expending the last of his vast power to reignite the dying star. Jordan subsequently returned from beyond the grave as the Spectre, the divine Spirit of God’s Vengeance, whom Jordan attempted to transform into a Spirit of Redemption, which ended in failure.
In Green Lantern: Rebirth, it is revealed that Jordan was under the influence of a creature known as Parallax when he turned renegade. Parallax was a creature of pure fear that had been imprisoned in the Central Power Battery by the Guardians of the Universe in the distant past. Imprisonment had rendered the creature dormant and it was eventually forgotten, becoming known merely as the “yellow impurity” in the power rings. Sinestro was able to wake Parallax and encourage it to seek out Hal Jordan as a host. Although Parallax had been trying to corrupt Jordan (via his ring) for some time, it was not until after the destruction of Coast City that it was able to succeed. It took advantage of Jordan’s weakened emotional state to lure him to Oa and cause him to attack anyone who stood in his way. After killing several Green Lanterns, Jordan finally entered the Central Power Battery and absorbed all the power, unwittingly freeing the Parallax entity and allowed it to graft onto his soul.
The Spectre bonded with Jordan in the hopes of freeing the former Green Lantern’s soul from Parallax’s taint, but was not strong enough to do so. In Green Lantern: Rebirth, Parallax began to assert control of the Parallax-Spectre-Jordan composite. Thanks to a supreme effort of will, Jordan was able to free himself from Parallax, rejoin his soul to his body and reclaim his power ring. The newly revived (and rejuvenated) Jordan awoke just in time to save Kyle Rayner and Green Arrow from Sinestro. After the Korugarian’s defeat, Jordan was able to successfully lead his fellow Green Lanterns in battle against Parallax and with help from Guardians Sayd and Ganthet, imprisoned it within the personal power batteries of Earth’s Lanterns, rendering the Green Lantern’s rings free of the yellow impurity, provided they had the power of will to do so. Hal Jordan is once again a member of both the Justice League and the Green Lantern Corps, and along with John Stewart is one of the two Corps members assigned to Sector 2814, personally defeating Sinestro in the Sinestro Corps War. Jordan is designated as Green Lantern 2814.1.
Post-“Sinestro Corps War”, DC Comics revisited the origin of Hal Jordan as a precursor to “The Blackest Night” storyline.
That sort of concludes the introduction to Green Lantern comics and ultimately the upcoming movie. I hope you at least learned something about the background story of the Green Lantern comics, I know it can sound really confusing if you’re not familiar with it. Don’t worry though, just give it a go and you’ll learn on the way.
Below you’ll find the trailer to that movie as shown at Wondercon 2011 and the trailer to the animated movie Green Lantern: First Flight which is certainly worth watching.
If you spotted any mistakes or have any comments on the subject, feel free to post it in the comment section below!