Monday, August 24, 2009

Hal Jordan - The Right Stuff

Hal Jordan 5 by 5.

Hal Jordan was chosen to be the Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814 because he was a man who could overcome great fear, who valued life and had a great sense of duty. In short it ain’t easy to be a Green Lantern…you need “the right stuff”.

I mean ANYONE who sticks his paw into an unbelievably powerful green battery and says in a bold voice:

“In brightest day
In blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil’s might
Beware my Power

(tell me you don’t get a little tingle whenever you read that…I knew it …you do !)
…has GOTTA have the right stuff. Otherwise they’d laugh such a cornball right off the stage. I mean with all respect to Ben Grimm the Green lantern Oath has got “It’s Clobberin’ Time!” pretty much beat!

More than any other DC character Jordan retains the late ‘50s – early ‘60’s Right Stuff persona that was so much a staple of the period. Hal Jordan made his debut in Showcase #22 in October, 1959, when the US was just beginning to get into the Space Race with the Soviet Union , after the latter’s launching of Sputnik. NASA had been formed in July of 1958 and names like John Glenn, Alan B. Shepard, Gus Grissom and test pilots Chuck Yaeger and Scott Crossfield were the very definition of the word HERO for most Americans.

In 1958 Jordan was purposely created to embody the Astronaut/Aviator hero of the time. He was a test pilot who risked his life every day in a hurtling piece of machinery. He was “Can Do Harry Hair Chest” right down to his Kennedy Era/Camelot toes. Jordan was confident and morally unambiguous. He was not deeply introspective but had a strong sense of right and wrong. He was the perfect cop.

Those qualities, with a few minor tweaks describe Jordan in 2009. Hal was not broken, so why fix him? In fact whenever DC creators toyed with his basic persona (in the 70’s socially relevant Neal Adams period or the Parallax arc) Green Lantern…Hal Jordan ultimately disappeared.
It was not until Geoff Johns revived GL by going back to the beginning, that Jordan joined DC’S “A” list once again. When Johns takes on a character (Superman, Flash, GL etc.) he always goes back to the Silver Age core of that character. He revisits the basic character traits that made that hero so popular to begin with. With Superman it involved reviving many of the Mort Weisinger “Superman Family” conventions like Kandor, Supergirl and Krypto. In the case of Hal Jordan it is a return to the “Space Cowboy” test pilot we met back in the early Showcase issues. Of course it is all updated for a more sophisticated audience but a good concept that worked in 1958 it seems can find new life 50 years later.

The Silver Age Hal Jordan is back and is once again one of DC’s flagship characters. With all due respect to the rest of the Corps, Hal IS the one true Green Lantern!

Next…Susan Storm is the greatest Superhero(ine) in the Marvel Universe! (no kidding!)

That’s 30!


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