Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

…AND WE’RE BACK. Sorry about that last month. I had some things going on. You know. Business. Dealings. Certain friends of friends of friends that I needed to check in with. That kind of thing.

With X-Men: First Class this summer’s sleeper hit and Captain America: First Avenger gearing up to be pretty incredible, there’s a ton to look forward to. Too bad I’m still totally traumatized by Green Lantern. Every time I see a movie promo at Burger King or whatever I just shake in fear and pain.

I’m going to keep it off the movie today though. I run my mouth about movies a little too much these days when I should just stick to what I already know is good: the comics. I mean, if nothing else, Green Lantern is still a comic worth READING…and here’s why. To me, I think the thing that makes Green Lantern such an exciting and well-revamped piece of intellectual property is how self-contained (but- expansive) it is.

It’s a bit like Batman that way. Sure, seeing Batman run around with Superman (or hooking up with Wonder Woman?) can be enticing in a way, to sort of compare and contrast their styles and philosophies. But ultimately, Batman works best when it’s sort of ‘set’ within Batman. It’s about crime more than superpowers. There’s this contained cast that pertain strictly to the story of Batman.

Green Lantern has this similar feel to it, I think. Where it’s kind of like science fiction, but science fiction that can stand on its own two legs separate from all other comics. I’m surprised at how the older I get the more this is sort of what I want.

I do LOVE seeing Spidey and the X-Men team up and I’m sure Joss Whedon is going to make the Avengers movie incredible, but the idea of every comic's premise has really started to grip me lately. I don’t know why but I love that now more than I loved whatever random-obligatory-crossover-fight that I had four billion issues of as a kid.

So yeah, Green Lantern. In this case: it’s aliens and power rings that make the universe tick. Hal’s just one guy with a ring in a whole sea of others. Sure, he’s our ‘chosen one’ that’s going to lead the Lanterns through their Darkest Night and all that. But I think Green Lantern is kind of like Star Wars or Star Trek in this way, you know?

The parameters of the universe the characters exist in are sort of set. The comic book is about power rings. Lots of characters have them and go about using them in different way. (And often with increasingly clever and sneaky tactics…after all, when we’re dealing with emotions and willpower as a fueling source of these things, the only way to defeat your opponent is to kind of outthink them. Only, you know. Literally, in this case.).

You know something else? I know this is cheesy, but I think maybe I just love the idea that the Guardians are the GOOD guys of the DC Universe. Sure, they make mistakes and maybe they’re a little stringent and harsh sometimes. And despite their seeming benevolence they aren’t totally above petty political squabbling themselves.

Although don’t get me started on the whole female half of the Guardians leaving them to start their own race or whatever that was about- that’s just bizarre). Mostly, I just like the idea that the Guardians really put the Green Lantern Corps together to protect an entire universe.

So if you DO want to look at this comic in the context of the entire DCU? Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman are the ‘big three’ at the heart of DC. And they're the focus of the comics that are probably going to sell the most. But it’s kind of like Hal Jordan is playing in the ‘big leagues’ in comparison, isn’t it?? I mean, what Superman does for Metropolis and Earth is incredible. He’s literally god-like.

Hal is a much smaller piece on the chessboard of a much LARGER game, I think. Green Lantern as a comic is about the fabric of the entire DC universe. The stark opposite of the kind of no fate, right or wrong choices that you see all over Batman are kind of replaced with themes about destiny and fate.

I keep coming back to Batman. It’s interesting how much these two comics have started to clash, actually (and correspondingly- the characters can’t seem to stand each other in the books). Batman is all about using fear while Hal is all about overcoming it. To me, that’s just my favorite bit about Hal as a character.

You ever see The Waterboy? It’s that Adam Sandler movie. The thing is it’s based on an old Arthurian legend. You know, Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table (I took a medieval literature class in college)?. I swear to God I’mnot making this up. The Waterboy is actually the story of Percival.

Percival is this knight who grows up in this backcountry swamp area and pretty much knows nothing about politics. Because he’s raised to be so honest he goes out and decides he wants to be a knight. The thing is by the time he catches up with Arthur and all those guys things are sort of a joke. It’s sort of like yeah, Arthur’s the king but no one really takes him seriously anymore or does anything heroic. They just sit in this banquet hall and get drunk and go through the motions.

But Percival (of course) takes being a knight very seriously. So he’s like: “How do I become a knight”? And the other knights are like: “Okay. Well why don’t you go kill a dragon.” And Percival is like: “All right!” and the knights kind of respond: “HA, good luck with that kid! Ha ha!”

Percival ends up really KILLING A DRAGON, so then everyone has to pick up their game and act like a real damn-knight like Percival is in order to save face. This helps Arthur kind of get his groove back and start doing things and all parallels with The Waterboy. The thing is there’s a little bit of this going on with Hal Jordan too.

See Hal’s confidant but people don’t like him because he SOUNDS ignorant. He really DOES the thing he says he’s going to do and it’s almost unbelievable. He’s just honest, I think. The other knights (i.e. Sinestro) don’t really take Arthur (i.e. the Guardians) seriously anymore.

They do things their way and actually think the king’s (Guradians’) ideals are stupid and just get in the way. Hal starts acting the way a knight (Lantern) is supposed to and shows everybody ‘see? That’s how you do it.’. In essence, this restores the King (Guardians') hope AND credibility in one stroke. (I told you it was a great story!)

Bruce Timm’s animated Green Lantern: First Flight really nails this I think (if only he had directed the movie). I love it when Hal announces to the Guardians that he’s taught himself how to use the ring. Hal responds with something like: “I’ve got it.” And one skeptical Guardian says: “…you’ve…’got’ it?’ And Hal says, confidently, ‘Yeah. I’ve got it.’ It sounds foolish, but then Hal blows everybody away and turns out to be the man.

Interesting take on the whole thing, right?