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Top 50 DC Characters #4

Now DC’s turn…

4. Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) (1 point for Hal as Spectre) – 1091 points (25 first place votes)

hal.jpg

Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, the revamped Green Lantern debuted in the pages of Showcase. Hal Jordan was a test pilot who was chosen by the dying former Green Lantern of Sector 2814 to be the next Green Lantern for the Sector (which includes Earth). The Green Lantern Corps are basically space cops, who use these rings that can create anything that the ringbearer can imagine.

Hal basically went on to become the most successful Green Lantern there ever was. He also helped co-found the Justice League of America.

Years later, Hal embarked on a tour of America with his Justice League teammate, Green Arrow. The series of adventures were written by Denny O’Neil and drawn by Neal Adams, and are well regarded classics to this day.

hal 1.jpg

Eventually, Hal appeared to have snapped after his hometown of Coast City was destroyed by a bad guy. It appeared as though Hal was now a villain called Parallax. He even tried to recreate the entire universe!!

Hal then sacrificed himself to re-ignite the Sun, which had gone out. He returned as the human host for the Spectre, but soon, we learned that not all was right with Hal.

As it turned out, a big yellow fear monster (A cool point to the person who can find me the earliest internet usage of that term!) had possessed Hal back when he became a villain, and IT was responsible for him being a bad guy.

Once free of the possession, Hal helped rebuild the Corps that he had destroyed as Parallax, and he know is once again – the most notable Green Lantern out there!

hal 2.jpg

Here is why Dan Dick had him #1…

I came to the Silver Age of comics in 1964 — my first being the October issue of Justice League of America. I was immediately fascinated by the idea of a character whose power and ability were fundamentally limited only by his imagination and strength of will. Oh, sure, the flaw in the ring made him vulnerable to yellow, but by using his brains he could overcome that limitation every time. In many ways for me, he was an amalgam of the very best of both Superman and Batman, but more ‘normal.’

Jordan was a fly-boy who thought the world of himself, then had to shift his entire paradigm to think of the world. He wasn’t alien, but he was empowered by an alien technology — something that appealed greatly to the sci-fi geek in me.

The reason GL, particularly Hal Jordan, rises to the top of the list for me is the evolution of the character over time. Green Lantern went from the two dimensional cartoon character of the 60’s through the phenomenal Denny O’Neill/Neal Adams partnership with Green Arrow in the 70’s, a transformational yin-yang storyline that made GL remember his human side, and helped comics grow-up and take on more serious issues.

The question I carried from my youth into adulthood was always, “If power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, what the hell happens when you possess cosmic power?” The trajectory of Hal Jordan’s story over the past decade has been a tour-de-force romp through multiple answers to that question. As I reflect on it now, The Spectre should have made my top ten list, but escaped me at the time. I’d put Spectre right up there with Batman (around number 4). So the merger of those story lines was nerd-vana for me.

Lastly, there has always been a slightly mystical/religious aspect to Green Lantern — with his chanted recharge mojo, and his lifelong battle against those dark urges that burst forth in the Parallax story arc.

I have grown to appreciate the Golden Age Alan Scott, and was on board from the start with Kyle Rayner (I never got Guy Gardner; never cared for John Stewart), but Green Lantern is, was, and always will be Hal Jordan, with every flaw, fault, and misgiving.

Maybe not the most exciting explanation, but the only one I got!

And here is Ryan Kelly’s reason….

I started reading comics when I was four, and my very first comic was an older Green Lantern my dad had kept from the Seventies, one of the O’Neil and Adams run, with Green Arrow. Anyway, I didn’t get it at the time, but years later I’d go back and read my dad’s old comics again and see more than just superheroics in his Green Lantern comics. Instead of just fighting supervillains, they was fighting social injustice. And I think I connected more with Hal than with Ollie because, while Ollie’s heart and mind were in the right place, he was absolutely set in his convictions, while Hal’s were changing over time, and being younger I felt the same way.

Much later, when I could get the chance to read the Fox, Broome, Kane, and Schwartz run in Showcase volumes, I’d get a chance to see the original Hal Jordan. A fearless pilot (which plays on a lot of kids’ power fantasies) with a strong family connection, a friends he trusted enough with his secret (uncommon in Fifties and Sixties comics), and an interesting love life with his boss. I think that era of the book embodies all of the things that make Silver Age comics great.

Thanks Dan and Ryan!!

#3 tomorrow!

46 Comments

My god, could it be possible that Wally is number one?

No, Jaap, it almost certainly couldn’t. But he’s at least cracked the top three!

My number 4 comes in at number 4 as I partially expected.Hal Jordan is very probably the first DC hero I was exposed to in around 1970 or so, via a huge box of old DC comics my next door neighbour brought home for his son and which I borrowed. There’ve been huge chunks of his various series that I could not stand (particularly the Action Comics Weekly era and subsequent Gerard Jones written series), but currently Geoff Johns is taking Hal to greater heights than I could ever have hoped for.
Many will prefer Kyle Rayner and Guy gardner but Hal IS the one, true Lantern as far as I’m concerned.
so tomorrow, it’s on to Wally unless there’s been a huge upset.

“so tomorrow, it’s on to Wally unless there’s been a huge upset.”

Ambush Bug will use his mighty fourth wall powers and come in 3rd, 2nd and 1st.

Probably.

Hmmphf!!!

Shoulda been Guy Gardner, not Hal Jordan!

There’s just simply no accounting for taste! ;-)

Four Lanterns all in the top 50 pretty interesting, though not in the order I would have had them in, I do like each of them for different reasons. Also, Its interesting that John Stewart didn’t make the Top 50 despite the Justice League cartoon’s giving him more exposure..

Where’s Ch’p?

Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) is one popular guy. He’s has more points than the other Green Lanterns (Kyle, Guy and Alan) who made the list combined. He’s a lady’s man since he’s got over twice as many points as the top placed female (Wonder Woman #8). He’s a traveling dude since he’s got almost twice as many points as the his old traveling buddy (Oliver Queen #7). He has almost 300 points more than #5 (Joker).

However, the most telling is that he is the highest ranked Galactic character. These are the characters who spend as much or more time in space as on Earth. You could argue that Superman falls into that category too, but he’s far more earthbound and typically only goes into space to protect Earth. Hal goes into space to deal with issues that never even touch the Earth. As a Galactic hero, he has 40% of the points of all the DC Galactic heroes combined and more points than all of Marvel’s Galactic heroes combined.

Which leads me to, I thought it was interesting, but not surprising, that the Galactic heroes are not well represented on this list. There were 7 in DC and 4 in Marvel. (I did not count Starman or Animal Man or any number of other people who had notable adventures out in space, but whose base is really back on good old Terra Firma.) To put it succinctly, I think people occasionally like heroes to go into space, but prefer short ventures.

Interesting note that both lists have a single villain (Dr. Doom and Joker) in the top five, but a fairly substantial gap until the next villain (Magneto @ #13 and Lex Luthor @ #19).

Looking at Doom, he’s more popular than every member of his primary opponents, the Fantastic Four. He’s barely more popular than the Thing. He is more popular than any three other members of the team. While Joker is has a third of all villain points for DC, Doom has almost half of all villain points for Marvel.

But the BIG news is that due to coming on strong, DC has passed Marvel by over 200 points! I mentioned previously that I suspected that DC had a ton of points tied up in their top spots and that is definitely true. The question is whether Marvel’s top spots will match it. Doom and Thing were pretty close. I’m guessing that #3 won’t be much higher, but the top two will be huge.

Looking at the number of top votes, there are 279 votes for #1 cast for Marvel so far (50%) and 235 for DC (40%). However, only 19 characters have more than 10 top (#1) votes. Marvel has 14 characters and DC has only 5. The lowest ranked is Ultimate Spiderman (#26) with 12 #1 votes. The highest ranked is Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) @ #4 who has 25 #1 votes! The other characters (from highest to lowest) are : Thing, Hulk, Nightwing, Wolverine, Green Arrow, Hawkeye, Wonderwoman, Thor, Cyclops, Iron Man, Nightcrawler, Dr. Strange, Starman, Deadpool, Multiple Man, and Jean Grey. Based on this, DC seems to have a broader range of favorite characters while Marvel fans have stronger feeling for specific characters.

I almost forgot to mention the William Tell matchup. Hawkeye vs Green Arrow. Hawkeye came in at #8 while Green Arrow came in at #7. However, Hawkeye beat Green Arrow on points (676 to 552). Like the Submariner vs Aquaman battle, I think we have to call this a tie!

Where are all the “Jordan has no personality” haters now?

GL has one of my favorite costume designs. The logo and color scheme are perfect. He and the Flash’s (the scarlet, Barry Allen to present) costume are paragons of the silver age ‘look’.

Where are all the “Jordan has no personality” haters now?
I’m here.

How the hell did a wet blanket like Jordan get to number 4?

Yeah, this confuses me a bit.

I didn’t realize so many people actually liked Hal.

I thought it was just a myth.

3) Flash
2) Superman
1) Batman

Honestly, I’m a little surprised Wonder Woman isn’t in the top 5. The other 4 are no shock to anyone.

GL & LOSH are the only DC books I ever really got into. Back in the 90’s, when all comics quality just went to hell and I was looking to pare down my purchases, it was real hard to let GL go. Then issue 50 came, and Hal was killed. Well, that’s all the excuse I needed… c-ya!

I was surprised as how long DC stuck with the decision. They let him stay dead for a long time. Then they made him the Spectre. (shakes head in disgust)

I LOVE the concept of Green Lantern: Space Cop with a Magic Wishing Ring.

But Hal? Meh. Doesn’t do much for me.

Maybe it’s because I didn’t get into the larger DC universe (beyond Superman and Batman) until after he went crazy and Kyle was GL. Everyone was yelling about how awesome Hal was without ever explaining why (beyond “because he’s not Kyle” and “because he was GL when I was a kid”). I read some old stuff with him and just didn’t see it.

I don’t dislike the character, just don’t really love him either. But I’ll always take a look at a Green Lantern book, because man, that’s an awesome concept.

Space pimp FTW!

“Where are all the “Jordan has no personality” haters now?”

I’m right here.

And regardless of ranking, he still has no personality.

So I guess the top three are pretty obvious now, huh? Just a matter of where they fall in. Wally is probably #3, Superman #2, and #1 is, of course, Scooter from Swing with Scooter.

I liked Hal. Until they broke him. The folks at DC basically sacrificed him to Kyle. What better way to make the new guy look better than ruining the old guy and then having the new guy beat him? Of course they ruined him before that by tacking on the alchoholic thing on him.

I don’t mind that Hal is a wet blanket. It comes from having the strongest willpower on the planet. It makes him rigid and stubborn. Like Patrick Stewart on Star Trek. Better writers get behind that mental armor and show how difficult and painful it is for such a strong willed character to grow and change.

Unfortunately we were given Deus Ex Machina in the form of his sudden insanity and a superficial drinking problem at his youth. Both broke the fundamental virtue of Hal Jordan, his indomitable will. A trait that he shares with Marvel’s Daredevil. (As seen in the most excellent Born Again). The Parallax explanation doesn’t help at all. Just because he has a moment of despair and depression, he becomes vulnerable to the fear demon? We all suffer from such feelings from time to time. But Hal’s rigidity and willfullness should have prevented him from falling to any depth.

Saying that the Parallax demon just happens to be that powerful only makes Hal seem that much less weaker. Especially now that we see rookie Green Lanterns overcome the yellow weakenss/fear factor during their first year on the Corps.

I used to resent Kyle, just because he was spawned in the destruction of a favorite, iconic character. But Mark Waid won me over with his run on JLA. Now it seems that by making him Parallax, DC wants to lower him to the the status that Hal fell too. As if they wanted to prove that Kyle couldn’t be better than Hal, because he fell to the Parallax demon as well?

I really don’t understand why a company known for its iconic bigger than life characters would continue to conceive plot devices to drag their characters through the mud. Now, it seems all the DC heroes are taking turns falling off their pedestals and then trying to recover.

They used to just fight villains.

Wally beats Hal and my faith in the world is renewed. Now we can say that the Top 3 are gonna be interesting characters.

And if you think Supes is not interesting go read Camelot Falls.

Actually,

If I thought of it I would have voted Hal high as Parallax(pre-Johns).

The idea of that fearlessness driving him to thinking he could remake all of reality is a good hook.

They broke Hal long before the Parallax junk. He hasn’t been cool in almost 40 years, unless you count New Frontier.

“And if you think Supes is not interesting go read Camelot Falls.”
Which, with the exception of some admittedly great character moments here and there, will just confirm your suspicions, IMO.

I mean, I love Superman and I’m a fan of Kurt Busiek, but Camelot Falls- and his work on the Super-titles in general- has underwhelmed me so far. Still, he’s had to deal with a lot of delays and from all reports been an absolute pro about it, so I’m looking forward to his next arc.

Hal Jordan is proof that every bad thing ever said about comic book fans has some grounding in truth. That is how much Hal Jordan fucking sucks.

I’m another one of those readers who thinks Hal is the most boring character in comics. “Green Lantern” is really interesting (I even don’t mind Hal in the mask that much), but Hal Jordan’s personal life bores me to tears.

That said, I still love Green Lantern Corps.

I also understand how the love of a specific character can be due to an emotional response regardless of that character’s actual merit. I love Aquaman and Darkhawk, because those characters got me into comics, but neither are GREAT characters, especially the latter :)

“Where’s Ch’p?”

There are still 3 spots left. The true Green Lantern is still to come.

I’m happy to see Wally will beat Hal. I didn’t start reading comics til Kyle was GL, and there has not been a cool Hal Jordan story since (besides New Frontier, which is an alternate universe tale). Meanwhile, Wally has been interesting ever since, and doesn’t have to coast on big moments and nostalgia. But if Wally beats Superman, there will be no justice in this list.

Ya know, nagging about Hal not having an outstanding personality is like complaining that pro wrestling isn’t real. Y’all are crabbing that it isn’t what it’s not trying to be.

The Hal Jordan GL stories aren’t about triumpging despite great personal trauma, character introspection, or some other intellectual, highbrow prusuit. It’s about a space cop beating the crap out of the bad guys. The concept is really pretty simple. Y’all are trying to make it more than what it is.

The O’Neal/Adams GL/GA teamup worked because Denny understood what both characters are and are not. Hal is boring & out of touch with society. I wonder why… maybe because he’s a SPACE COP, not an Earth bound hero.

All this add together and explains why it was so easy to break the character. All the tragedy & emotional crap just doesn’t pan out with Hal. It should have just bounced right off him. They tried to make it stick, and destroyed the character.

“It’s about a space cop beating the crap out of the bad guys. The concept is really pretty simple. Y’all are trying to make it more than what it is.”

That’s what I love about Green Lantern. However, if my Green Lantern stories can be all that while featuring an interesting character (like Kyle, Guy, or John) I’d much rather have that. I’d buy GL if it featured any of the other Earth GLs, and I’d get a great monthly dose of space cop violence featuring characters I care about and relate to. It’s just hard to create dramatic violence when I don’t care about what happens to the main protagonist. Sorry, Hal.

All that said, Geoff Johns is currently making the GL mythos more interesting than it’s ever been in my lifetime.

Where are all the “Jordan has no personality” haters now?

::raises hand::

“Where are all the “Jordan has no personality” haters now?”

I’m here too, but I came in late and have to sit at the back of the room.

Have a good day.
John Cage

Hal Jordan is proof that a superhero can work without having any actual personality at all, just a costume and a power-gimmick. How sad it is to see this shallow cardboard cut-out pushing so many good characters from the top 5. Hell, even the guy who placed at #51 for DC is WAY more interesting than Jordan.

“Where are all the “Jordan has no personality” haters now?”

Checkin’ in.

Wow- I’ve read little of the character, but he must have something going for him if he can stir such extreme emotions.

Maybe I’ll check some stuff out. I’ve read the O’Neill/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow, but that’s about it.

What other Hal stuff do people recommend?

Check out Emerald Dawn.

Jordan has no personality.

Of course, neither did most DC characters until the late Silver Age.

All these Jordan haters are probably the same ones whining about not having any Legion members in the top fifty. Yeah, cause they all have such strong personalities. That’s why they lump like thirty of them into a group. And Superman and Batman? Textbook “good cop, bad cop.” Talk about boring. Batman makes J’onn J’onnz look like Britney Spears after an eightball.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci

September 27, 2007 at 4:11 pm

I’ve tried to be good, really I have. I can’t stand the JLI but I kept my snarky mouth shut because of the love many folks seem to have for those characters. The Marvel list contains an X-character that sends me into fits – my absolute least favorite character in comics – but I didn’t even name him / her. This Hal bashing has stepped over the line and as Hal was #3 on my list I feel I must join the chorus defending him. So …

Just for his Gil Kane designed costume alone he should make the top 10. I mean, look at that thing – it’s beautiful.

Hal doesn’t have a personality? I must vociferously disagree. Hal is a mature adult. He’s extremely competent, maybe a little over-confident, and his main flaw is that he defines “himself” as his “job.”

That’s Hal’s whole problem; he’s a SUPER-hero! He’s not some dumb slacker who lucked into the most powerful weapon in the universe. He’s not some anti-social buffoon in moon boots and a bowl haircut. He’s friggin’ super-hero!

What’s the matter? Can’t “relate”? GOOD!

Bravo to the greatest Green Lantern of all, Hal Jordan!

Hmm–3 spots for Gnort to be the top GL!

(Okay–I’m kidding, really.)

Applauds Vincent Paul Bartilucci. Well said.

Standing ovation for Bartilucci. Buy that man a beer!

Man, people seem to be really bipolar about Hal: they either worship the ground he walks on or hate his guts. I had him on my list, but mostly because he is the cornerstone of the Lantern Corps.

Vincent Paul Bartilucci, thank you.

Taylor,

Speaking as a Hal Jordan fan (I would have had him as my #2 if I knew about the voting before it finished), and as a fan of John Stewart and even Kyle (JLA won me over), I think the reason Hal fans get so vocal is because the hater minority (proved by Hal’s placement on this list) are so damn bitter and insulting about the character. I think its a mostly defensive reaction. Which really does no one any justice on either side.

Its the Green Lantern Corps. There CAN be more then 1.

I think the reason Hal fans get so vocal is because the hater minority (proved by Hal’s placement on this list) are so damn bitter and insulting about the character. I think its a mostly defensive reaction.

In fact, the Hal haters are by far the more vocal, rude and immature set, and always have been. They spout rhetoric like “He was always boring” mostly because they’ve heard other haters say it before. Or based on some crappy comcs from the 1990s. And who doesn’t know: With DC you shouldn’t judge ANYTHING by the 1990s. *shudders*

The haters are insecure, and just want THEIR favorite to be # 1. And when they’re reminded why Hal IS Green Lantern, they freak.

Instead of ripping a character that’s a big part of DC history, you guys would do well to read the Green Lantern Archives. Far from being boring, Hal is a dynamic, fun character in those stories. If you’ve got blinders on you’ll never see. And you’re missing out.

[…] Comics Should Be Good!: The countdown wraps up with Marvel characters #25-#21, #20-#16, #15-#11, #10-#6, #5 The Thing, #4 Dr. Doom, #3 Daredevil, #2 Captain America and #1 Spider-man; and DC characters #25-#21, #20-#16, #15-#11, #10-#6, #5 The Joker, #4 Hal Jordan, #3 The Flash, #2 Superman and #1 Batman. And those that almost made it Captain Marvel and Deadshot. Also, was Dazzler ahead of her time? Love those phone books. More and more comic book urban legends revealed. Proof that comics love witches (and hate doctors). And Batman keeps his hands to himself. […]

Eli said …
And who doesn’t know: With DC you shouldn’t judge ANYTHING by the 1990s. *shudders*

Especially not JLA. Or the Flash.

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