Review by Frank Plowright
There’s always going to be discussion about any collection claiming to be the greatest, and DC closed off one avenue of complaint by restricting this selection to stories starring Hal Jordan, the character around whom the franchise revival was hung from the late 1950s. Smartly, though, other familiar faces are present. Guy Gardner features in one inclusion, while the 1970s introduction of John Stewart is provided, very nicely drawn by Neal Adams (sample left), and we see Kyle Rayner, but this is Hal’s collection. With one exception he’s the primary character around whom all rotate.
A pleasing circular opening and closing occurs, by beginning with the alien Abin Sur crashing on Earth and bequeathing his green ring to Hal, so starting his glorious Green Lantern career, and closing with a wistful look at Hal’s connection with flying from a young age. In 2006 there must have been some confidence that Geoff Johns and Darwyn Cooke’s then recent ‘Flight’ was the classic it’s proved to be.
With all the options available it’s questionable to open with John Broome and Gil Kane’s origin story, then to continue with a story half of which is occupied with a recap of what we’ve just read. Filling in a few more details indicates perhaps the second story alone would have been better, with Kane’s elegance (sample right) still looking polished. Both creators were still in place three years later for a nutty 1964 story in which Green Lantern starts selling power rings to the public, Kane’s art looking even better. There’s another artistic leap from Kane for 1970’s ‘Lost in Space’, but surely only the inclusion of major enemies Sinestro and Star Sapphire, otherwise unseen, distinguishes Mike Friedrich’s plot.
From Denny O’Neil and Adams in 1971, it’s a thirteen year leap to Len Wein and Dave Gibbons. Gibbons revels in Hal flying around space, and standing alone this is a sprightly reboot that still catches the attention. That doesn’t apply to Gerard Jones and Pat Broderick’s 1990 story of an unconvincing Guy Gardner unburdening himself to Hal, now grey around the temples, and two hayseeds making away with power rings. The sense of fun and companionship aimed for there is actually delivered by the writing team of Tom Peyer and Mark Waid and artist Barry Kitson as they re-establish Hal’s friendship with Barry Allen, the Flash.
The longest story teams Hal with his predecessor Alan Scott, and also supplies a cameo for later Green Lantern Kyle Rayner. Covering those bases appears to have been the reason for inclusion, as the story is average, Benjamin Raab reducing a great Green Lantern villain to a monologuing idiot, although the art from Jamal Igle and Pete Woods is nice. Thank goodness for the closing ‘Flight’ to set things right again.
Fot anyone wanting to sample Hal’s Green Lantern adventures over the years and take a brief look at other Green Lanterns, this fits the bill. Not all stories are classics, but some are, and there’s little poor art. Overall quality, though, is compromised by a need to feature associated characters.