The theater lights dimmed around me and a glowing green Warner Bros. Logo appeared on screen. With my box of Junior Mints in hand, I quickly scanned the reactions of everyone in the audience. Being the uber nerd that I am, I had already seen the Green Lantern trailer online earlier that day. With this second viewing I was more interested in the reactions of non-comic book readers than seeing the crappy CGI costume slapped on Ryan Reynolds. The general response didn’t sound all too excited, which can’t be good news for WB. Whether comic fans want to admit it or not Green Lantern isn’t a character as big as other DC properties. I had always felt that Green Lantern was a character who was on the verge of becoming as iconic as Batman and Superman. Sadly he has yet to reach his full potential. But that’s about to change.
A lot of Green Lantern’s sudden burst in popularity amongst fans, which probably caught the eyes of some Hollywood execs, is due to comic writer Geoff Johns. It appears that it is his own personal crusade to return the Silver Age Green Lantern to his former heroic status. But as great as John’s other graphic novels, like Green Lantern: Rebirth and Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War, Green Lantern: Secret Origin is a perfect starting point for new readers.
This hardcover collection tells the story of how an earthling, Hal Jordan, began his journey to become a celebrated hero under the name Green Lantern. Long before he became the protector of all life in Space Sector 2814, the only thing Jordan ever cared about was flying. Jordan is an incredibly talented test pilot but he’s so reckless that he almost appears suicidal. This cocky and selfish attitude has completely distanced Hal from friends, family, and colleagues. One day while sitting in the cockpit of his father’s wrecked aircraft, Hal Jordan is abducted by a glowing green beam of light. He is instantly transported to a dying alien named Abin Sur. Knowing that he was on the verge of death, the alien allowed the ring to find the nearest replacement. By accepting this power ring Jordan becomes a member of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force lead by a group of immortals known as the Guardians. Along with the alien Sinestro, the Green Lantern of Sector 1417, Hal Jordan tracks down Abin Sur’s murderer as well as uncovers the dark and hidden history of the Guardians.
The artwork is provided by the very talented Brazilian comic book artist Ivan Reis. Every page is exploding with color and excitement. Reis proves that he is a master of storytelling. Whether Johns asks for an explosive confrontation between Sinestro and the blood thirsty Attrocitus or a dramatic scene where Hal Jordan creates an image of his deceased father out of green energy, Ivan Reis is more than able to deliver.
Green Lantern: Secret Origin is a damn near flawless example of a mainstream superhero comic. Retelling a character’s origin story is usually met with annoyed groans but Johns makes all the old feel brand new again. He manages to both reestablish all of the basic Green Lantern mythos but provide his own ideas creating a fresh and exciting new take on a character created back in the 1960s. He also does the impossible by somehow making Green Lantern’s campy weakness against the color yellow to be something exciting as well as symbolic. The biggest strength in Johns’ writing is that each character is given distinct personalities and motivation. Even the monstrous Attrocitus, the slayer of Abin Sur, is given a tragic back story which justifies his hatred towards The Green Lantern Corps. The only weak point of this book is the characterization of the obsessive and villainous Hector Hammond. Although he becomes quite a major enemy to Hal Jordan, Hammond feels like he’s crowbarred into this graphic novel.
The upcoming Green Lantern film has a chance to be an epic space opera that can revitalize the superhero film genre that so many critics and filmmakers have found to be tired. But it could also be just another crappy adaptation, filled with dull plot clichés as well as an over use of CGI that will bring back painful memories of George Lucas’ Star Wars prequels. Whether the film is bad or good I’m pretty happy with just owning Green Lantern: Secret Origin. All other incarnations of the character are just superfluous in comparison.
Final Score: 9 out of 10