Note: There’s a lot of scrolling in this article, but that’s because there’s a lot of pictures. There’s not nearly as much stuff to read as it looks like, I promise.
Table of Contents:
0. Introduction: Why I wrote this.
1. Green Lantern Basics: A quick explanation of the Green Lanterns themselves for any newcomers. Chances are, if you’re interested in reading Green Lantern, you already know most of this information.
2. Important Names: A list of important characters with a brief description of each one.
3. Reading Order: A summary of the major events of the past five years of Green Lantern lore. THIS IS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO READ IF YOU WANT TO READ THE CURRENT GREEN LANTERN COMICS WITHOUT READING THE PAST FIVE YEARS OF GREEN LANTERN MATERIAL.
4. Other Lanterns: An explanation of the entire rainbow of Lantern Corps introduced during Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern. THIS IS ALSO INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT.
5. Current Green Lantern: A quick explanation of the various Green Lantern series in the New 52.
6. Final Word: Mushy sentimentalism about comic books. You could read it anyway, if you really want. I mean, I want you to.
I’m a moderator of /r/comicbooks, the comic book community on the website Reddit.com. Every single day, people come to the community asking what to read when they just now want to get into comics. And lots of the answers are good, but there’s one major problem I always see, and that’s that we give them too long a list of stuff to read.
For example, say somebody comes and wants to read Batman.Our reading list suggests that people read Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, The Dark Knight Returns, The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, and Year One. And then the users recommend reading the entirety of Grant Morrison’s run on the comics, since even with the reboot, Batman’s continuity didn’t completely reset. That’s a lot for new readers to try and take in.
But that’s the beauty of DC’s reboot. You don’t need to know the 70-year history of DC, or the past 20 years, or even the past five years. You want to keep up with what’s going on? You’ve got almost a year to catch up on. Twelve issues of any given book. That’s all. (Lets pretend for now that every book has reached Issue #12.) Even in Batman, you can read Batman or Batman and Robin and not really know anything about Damian Wayne or Grant Morrison’s changes to the franchise, and you’ll be just fine.
But you know where you’ll be confused as all hell? If you try to get into Green Lantern. Batman’s continuity had a soft reboot. Basically, some stuff changed, some stuff stayed the same, but overall, Batman Volume 2 Issue #1 is a good starting point. Green Lantern? If you try to read Green Lantern Volume 5 Issue #1, you’re gonna be pretty confused. You need to be intimately familiar with the past five years of Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern lore if you want to actually read Green Lantern #1. And while people have compiled extensive reading lists, the fact is, that’s a lot to ask of people.
So with all that said, welcome to Vivvav’s Green Lantern Guide for Newcomers. I’ll try to be as concise as I can in giving any new reader of Green Lantern all the information they need to dive right in.
Part 1: Green Lantern Basics.
What Is A Green Lantern?
A Green Lantern is a member of the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic group of space police charged with preserving order in the known universe.
How Do They Do That?
Every member of the Green Lantern Corps possesses a Green Lantern Ring, which is widely considered to be the most powerful weapon in the universe. The ring is fueled by the wearer’s willpower, and the general criteria for becoming a Green Lantern is exerting enough willpower to overcome your greatest fear. The ring is capable of turning the wearer’s thoughts into something called a “Hard Light Construct”, meaning it can make any object the wearer can imagine out of green energy. This can range from simple bubbles to use as protective shields, to swords, to methods of transportation. If you can imagine it, the ring can make it real.
All it requires is the imagination and willpower, and all of your wildest dreams come true.
Who Allows This?
The Green Lantern Corps is run by its founders, the Guardians of the Universe, on their home planet of Oa (pronounced “Oh-Uh”). The Guardians are a group of little blue men as old as time itself, incredibly powerful, and dedicated to maintaing peace throughout the cosmos. They themselves try to be as devoid of emotion as possible, trying to keep order through logic, even though their soldiers are very emotional beings.
Other Important Facts:
-Before the Green Lanterns, the Guardians had an army of robots called Manhunters. The Manhunters could not be used to dispense justice fairly, and were replaced by the Green Lantern Corps.
-The Green Lantern Ring needs to be recharged regularly. For this reason, each member of the Green Lantern Corps is given their own power battery, capable of recharging the ring. The power batteries are all connected to a larger Central Power Battery on Oa, which powers the entire Green Lantern Corps.
-A Green Lantern is not all-powerful. Their constructs and attacks are only as strong as the will they put into them. If they face an opponent whose strength is greater than that of their willpower, they will most likely not defeat that opponent.
-The known universe is divided into 3600 sectors. Each sector has two Green Lanterns patrolling it.
-If a Green Lantern should die, their power ring will search for a worthy replacement in their sector.
2. Important Names:
With over 7200 members of the Green Lantern Corps and the Green Lantern name having over 70 years of history, there are obviously some characters you’ll want to be familiar with before diving in.
Important Green Lanterns:
The original Green Lantern from the Golden Age of Comics in 1940. If you choose to read some older stories, you may see him from time to time. He was never a member of the Green Lantern Corps, but did use the name before the folks at DC Comics decided to reboot the character as a space cop. He is currently one of the main characters of Earth 2, a book about an alternate universe.
The first Green Lantern to be a space cop, created in the Silver Age of Comics in 1959. This is the main character of the current TV show, Green Lantern the Animated Series, as well as the (bad) live-action Green Lantern film from 2011, and the direct-to-DVD movies Green Lantern: First Flight and Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. He is the greatest Green Lantern and the most important member of the Corps, and is the overall star of the Green Lantern franchise. In his day job, Hal is a test pilot for military-grade fighter jets.
Hal’s designated replacement, introduced in 1968. This is the Green Lantern prominently feature in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon. A cocky, hot-headed man, Guy is a fierce fighter and a loyal friend, and for all his faults, a true hero. He does not have a secret identity.
Guy’s backup replacement. This is the Green Lantern who perhaps has the largest awareness in the mainstream media, having starred in the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons. John is cool-headed and rational, and will always make the hard choices if nobody else will. In his day job, he’s an architect. Like Guy, his identity is not secret.
A young artist introduced in 1994. Kyle was, for a long time, the only Green Lantern, when the Corps had been temporarily destroyed.
The most prominent of the non-human Green Lanterns, Kilowog is a big, tough, pig-like alien. He’s the Green Lantern Corps’ Drill Sergeant, who trains each and every member of the Corps to use their rings. He’s one of the most powerful Green Lanterns, and one of the most respected members of the Corps. He frequently calls people “Poozers”, a term that basically is like a real drill sergeant calling his trainees “Maggots”.
The only Guardian of the Universe to fully embrace emotion, Ganthet is a caring, understanding voice of reason among the Guardians of the Universe.
The Green Lantern before Hal, whose death caused Hal to inherit his ring.
Important Supporting Characters:
-Carol Ferris: Hal’s girlfriend and boss, the head of Ferris Aircraft. She’s a tough, no-nonsense gal. She is also now the leader of the Star Sapphires (see “Other Lanterns”).
-Sinestro: Hal’s mentor and the man widely considered to be the greatest Green Lantern of all time before Hal came along. Sinestro abused the power that came with the ring and was cast from the Green Lantern Corps. He has since dedicated himself to destroying the Corps in retaliation, and holds extra contempt for Hal Jordan. In the past few years, he’s formed the Sinestro Corps (see “Other Lanterns”).
-Krona: A rogue Guardian of the Universe who broke the greatest laws of the Guardians, embracing emotions to dangerous levels and trying to see the creation of the universe. Krona is one of the most powerful villains the universe has ever known, and has tried to conquer it multiple times, only to be stopped by the likes of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and of course, Green Lantern.
-Black Hand: One of Hal Jordan’s old enemies, William Hand is the black sheep of a family of morticians, who has always been fascinated with death. He eventually becomes the representatives of the Black Lantern Corps (see “Other Lanterns”).
-Atrocitus: An ancient and powerful being whose home world was destroyed by the Manhunters. He kept alive for years, eventually forming the Red Lantern Corps (see “Other Lanterns”).
-Larfleeze: The greediest creature in the universe, Larfleeze is the bearer of the Orange Lantern, and leader of the Orange Lantern Corps (see “Other Lanterns”).
-Arkillo: Kilowog’s equivalent in the Sinestro Corps, and the Corps’ current leader.
-Saint Walker: A prominent member of the Blue Lantern Corps (see “Other Lanterns”).
-Indigo-1: A mysterious woman who leads the Indigo Tribe (see “Other Lanterns”).
3. Reading Order:
The last six years of Green Lantern has been headed by one man: Geoff Johns. The major storylines can all be identified as follows:
-Green Lantern: Rebirth: The start of Geoff Johns’ run. Brings Hal Jordan back from the dead (and explains his death to all newcomers), explains why there are four human Green Lanterns, and revives the Green Lantern Corps.
-The Sinestro Corps War: Sinestro starts his own Corps of yellow ringbearers to combat the Green Lantern Corps (see “Other Lanterns”).
-Prelude to Blackest Night: The Red Lanterns, Orange Lanterns, Blue Lanterns, and Indigo Tribe are introduced, and the Star Sapphires rise in importance.
-Blackest Night: Black rings fall from the sky, resurrecting every dead superhero and supervillain. It’s an all-out war of life vs. death as the heroes of the planet Earth and all seven Lantern Corps must join together to fight this new zombie menace.
-Brightest Day: Krona steals the entities (see “Other Lanterns”) as part of his plan for universal domination in the next storyline.
-War of the Green Lanterns: Krona uses the entities to brainwash the Green Lantern Corps and try to take over the universe. It ends with Hal Jordan killing him. The Guardians, scared that Hal was actually able to kill a fellow Guardian, even a rogue one, kick Hal out of the Green Lanterns as a result. This immediately leads into Green Lantern #1 in the New 52.
4. Other Lanterns:
Every Lantern Corps has special abilities, is fueled by an emotion, and has a cosmic entity representing that emotion. They all rest on an emotional spectrum that matches the colors of the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet), and the further to either end of the spectrum a Lantern Corps is, the more they’re corrupted by it. For example, the Green Lanterns lie in the middle of the spectrum, meaning the ring doesn’t effect them at all. They can make light constructs, are fueled by willpower, and their cosmic entity is Ion, a giant green space fish made of willpower.
The Red Lantern Corps is fueled by rage. When a member dons a ring, they become savage, beastial, and consumed with anger, and are incapable of rational thought or basic speech. The sole exception to this rule is their leader Atrocitus. They cannot create constructs, but the ring replaces their blood with red napalm, which they vomit through their mouths, capable of destroying and setting fire to anything, including the constructs of other Lantern Corps. Their entity is the Butcher, a giant red space bull made out of anger.
The only true Orange Lantern is Larfleeze himself. As orange is the color of greed, he’s not willing to share his power. Instead, he can kill beings and then make copies of them, orange light constructs which make up his own Orange Lantern Corps. Every Orange Lantern is a construct of Larfleeze’s, and they’re all able to absorb the energy from other Lantern Corps’ constructs. The entity of the Orange Lanterns is Ophidian the Tempter, a giant orange space snake made out of greed.
Sinestro created his own Corps that harnesses the yellow energy of fear to power their rings. Rather than being powered by their own fear, however, the Sinestro Corps members all have the power to instill great fear in others. Their rings are functionally identical to those of the Green Lanterns, able to create light constructs just like the Green Lanterns are, and being so close to the center of the emotional spectrum, they don’t seem to suffer any corruption as a result. Their entity is Parallax, a giant yellow space bug made out of fear, who has a long history with Hal Jordan, as detailed in “Rebirth”.
For a while, Ganthet left the Green Lantern Corps and started a new Corps of Blue Lanterns, whose rings run on hope. On their own, the rings are capable of only flight. To create constructs, they must be near a Green Lantern ring, as hope is nothing without will to back it up. However, when near a Green Lantern ring, not only do they make constructs, but they supercharge the Green Lantern’s ring. They also have the ability to stave off the corrupting effects of Red and Orange Lantern Rings that are nearby. Their entity is Adara, a giant blue space bird made out of hope.
The enigmatic Indigo Tribe runs on compassion, with the rings instilling their wearer with overwhelming compassion. The tribe members are able to teleport long distances, and can emulate the properties of any nearby ring. Their entity is Proselyte, a giant indigo space octopus made of compassion.
The violet-clad Star Sapphires rings are powered by love. In addition to creating light constructs, the violet rings can also imprison others in crystals, which, if they hold a person long enough, will convert that person to the Star Sapphires. There are no male members of the Star Sapphires. Their entity is the Predator, a giant purple space reptile made of love.
The Black Lanterns are not fueled by emotion. They are zombies, raised from the dead by Nekron, the lord of the dead. They can sense the emotions that others feel, and feed on the hearts of the living, They are cruel and sadistic monsters. Their entity is Black Hand himself.
The White Lantern power is not a corps, but seems to be the source of all life itself. The White Lantern entity, known solely as the Entity, is a mysterious being who brings others back to life for a specific purpose, and controls those who wear its rings.
5. Current Green Lantern:
In the New 52, there are currently seven books with Green Lantern characters in them. Four are about Green Lantern characters themselves, while one sort of is and two are not. The two that are not are Justice League and Justice League International, the latter of which is being cancelled after its twelfth issue (and one extra-large Annual issue), and the former of which Green Lantern Hal Jordan seems to be leaving the cast of in the near future. The four books about Green Lantern characters are all leading up to an event called “Rise of the Third Army”, which may wind up changing the Green Lantern mythology as we know it once again. “Rise of the Third Army” starts in October. If you want to get caught up, the books are…
Taking place right after War of the Green Lanterns, this follows Hal Jordan, now kicked out of the Green Lantern Corps, and Sinestro, who the Guardians have forced to rejoin the Corps, as they try to return things back to the way they were.
-Green Lantern Corps:
These are the adventures of Guy Gardner and John Stewart, as well as various non-human members of the Green Lantern Corps. It’s about larger threats that require multiple Green Lanterns to handle them, as well as the inner workings of the organization.
-Green Lantern: New Guardians:
When Kyle Rayner finds the rings of other Lantern Corps attracted to him, he and a team of members of each Lantern Corps try to understand why.
Atrocitus has felt that something is wrong lately, and thinks that some changes may be required of the Red Lantern Corps, which starts with giving several members their intelligence and free will back. But is this a decision he will come to regret? This is actually a great book for new readers, as it gives you every bit of backstory you need to know in the first couple of issues.
Not a Green Lantern book, but one of the main characters is Alan Scott. This comic has nothing to do with the rest of the current Green Lantern stuff going on right now, but since the Green Lantern name is part of it, I felt it was worth mentioning.
6. Final Word:
I tried to make this all simple and easy to understand, and I hope I succeeded in that regard. If anything still confuses you, or you feel like something important is missing, feel free to leave a comment or send me a message.
The Green Lantern is a character with over 70 years of history. It’s one of DC’s biggest heroes, and has finally started to get mainstream appeal again in the past decade. This, along with DC relaunching their entire line of comics, naturally makes people interested in the Green Lantern, wanting to learn more about him. And when you come into issue #1, and everything feels like it’s in the middle of something really fucking big, that’s jarring. Having to read five years of comics takes a lot of time and money, an investment people can’t always make, and that turns people off and causes them to miss a truly epic story. I myself didn’t start reading comics until the New 52, and I was only able to keep up with this news by going online and reading every scrap of information I could find.
I love the Green Lantern, and I’m trying to make the journey into his book easier for everyone else than it was for me. So please, if you think this guide is useful, spread it around. Reblog it. Send links to any friends who have expressed interest in the Green Lantern, or anybody who hasn’t read comics in a while, and wants to know what they missed. I’d like to think that with the information presented clearly and simply, we can introduce a few new people to a whole universe of adventure.