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REVIEW:
DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS GREEN LANTERN
By Thomas Wheeler


The superb DC Universe Classics line continues -- and Mattel has a truly superb line of action figures here. The DC Universe is rife with amazing characters, and these figures are easily on a par with Marvel Legends. The plans I've seen for this line are nothing short of staggering, and there is no reason it should not enjoy a long and healthy life -- assuming it gets to the stores in good order so we fans can buy it.

One of the "characters" from Wave 3 that I found was none other than GREEN LANTERN, who's been a longtime favorite of mine.

It's interesting, but despite being a core part of the Silver Age revival of DC Comics, up until relatively recently, there weren't a lot of action figures of Green Lantern. Mego, I believe, had plans to do one, but never got around to it. The first real Green Lantern action figure, which happens to be a very nice one, was produced by Kenner as part of the Super Powers line in the 1980's. Hasbro made a nice 9" cloth-costumed one in the 1990's. And there's a seriously impressive 13" one, part of the seriously impressive line of 13" superhero figures, from DC Direct.

There's also been no shortage of heroes who have gone by the name of Green Lantern, and therein lies a real origin tale.

Technically, Hal Jordan is the second man to be known as Green Lantern, but he's also the best known and certainly the most popular. The first was Alan Scott, during the Golden Age of DC Comics. Although Scott remains active today as a member of the Justice Society of America, he is connected to the other Green Lanterns in name only.

When Hal Jordan came along, it introduced a whole new world -- or rather universe -- of Green Lanterns...

Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, he first appeared in Showcase #22 in October 1959. As Hal Jordan is testing a new flight simulator, the machine suddenly seems to tear itself free of its moorings and begins to fly through the air. Hal lands near a crashed alien spacecraft occupied by a fatally injured alien who tells Hal that he is this sector's Green Lantern. The dying man, Abin Sur, chose Hal to be his successor, using his Green Lantern power ring to bring him to the crash site. The alien calls Jordan a "man without fear" and gives him the power ring.

Though treated on Earth like a superhero, Hal Jordan soon learns that Abin Sur was a member of an elite force of intergalactic police called the Green Lantern Corps, who work for the Guardians of the Universe, based on a planet said to be at the center of the universe, called Oa.

A new account of Green Lantern's origins was released in the most recent Green Lantern series, re-tooled from the Emerald Dawn series. In this new origin, Hal Jordan, is working as an assistant flight mechanic under Tom Kalamaku, a character from the earliest days of this Green Lantern's stories. Jordan is barred from flying due to his insubordination while in the U.S.A.F. and his employer's lingering guilt about his father's death in the line of duty.

Abin Sur crashes near Coast City. Hal Jordan, reminiscing about the scrapped remains of his father's last plane, is called by Abin Sur, and given a training suit and the power ring of the Corps, that quickly uses to save a test pilot of his company from a crash, gaining the attentions of Carol Ferris, new owner of the aircraft company. With his last breath Abin Sur leaves instructions to fellow Green Lantern Sinestro about his final fate and his choosing. Jordan is taken to Oa, where he trains in a group of new recruits under Corps trainer Kilowog.

GL's history, especially in recent years, has been a complicated one, pretty much starting with the destruction of Coast City, his home town, my the alien warlord Mongul, who was serving the Cyborg Superman during the "World Without a Superman" storyline. Driven to apparent insanity and with a desire to first restore Coast City and then right all the wrongs of the universe, Jordan sought out the power rings of fellow Green Lanterns across space (there are 3600 sectors according to the Guardians), and ultimately absorbing the energy of the main Power Battery on Oa itself.

This transformed Jordan into Parallax, a villain who would, notably during the Zero Hour crisis, attempt to destroy and remake the universe. Jordan would apparently be killed during the subsequent Final Night crisis, and return, somewhat briefly, as The Spectre. Soon after assuming this mantle, Jordan chose to bend his mission from a spirit of vengeance to one of redemption, also making other appearances through some of DC's other storylines, such as advising Superman during the Emperor Joker storyline (Where the Joker stole the reality-warping power of Mister Mxyzptlk) and erasing all public knowledge of Wally West's identity as the Flash after his terrible first battle with Zoom. A new Spectre series based on this premise, however, lasted only 27 issues before cancellation due both to poor sales and continued calls amongst comics fandom to return the character to his roots as Green Lantern.

Jordan finally did reassume the mantle of Green Lantern in a fairly involved storyline entitled "Rebirth", that among other things, revealed that Jordan had not so much been driven insane as possessed by an entity of fear that was called Parallax, which manifested itself as an entity representative of the "yellow impurity" of the Green Lantern Corps. Their rings, in theory, could not work against anything that was the color yellow. That particular rule no longer exists, by the way.

During his various absences, Jordan was replaced by a young man named Kyle Rayner, who was given the last power ring by a Guardian named Ganthet. Although he comported himself well enough and was pretty much "the" Green Lantern for a number of years, including enjoying membership with the Justice League of America with other big guns like Batman and Superman, the character was never entirely well-received by people who always felt that Hal Jordan simply could not be replaced. For myself, I never really had anything against Rayner, but I admit I preferred Jordan.

Other notable Green Lanterns include John Stewart, an African-American who was chosen by Jordan as his "back-up". Stewart existed in relative obscurity until he was the main Green Lantern during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and later was the Green Lantern chosen to be on the Justice League animated series, which propelled the comics character to new heights as he joined the Justice League for a bit of continuity.

Then there was Guy Gardner, a brash and cocky individual with more attitude than brains, who also came into the limelight during the Crisis, and went on to serve with several versions of the Justice League, before having his power ring stripped from him. This didn't really stop him. He went out and got another one, and went through several character variations over the years. Today, all four men -- Jordan, Stewart, Gardner, and Rayner, serve the Green Lantern Corps in some capacity.

I think one of the things that has always appealed to me about Green Lantern is the sci-fi aspect of it. Green Lantern is not just responsible for Earth, but an entire sector of the universe. He meets alien beings, including other Green Lanterns, on a far more regular basis than any other super-hero. The stories are, when done properly, space adventure at their finest. And it looks as though Green Lantern may be getting a major push in 2009 with things we've never known about a great many Lanterns in the storyline, "In Blackest Night".

One of my favorite Green Lantern moments? Back in the 70's, the Lanterns were summoned to Oa to receive new, more powerful rings. Green Lantern has a conversation with a fellow Green Lantern who, although it is not stated as such, is clearly a Vulcan right out of Star Trek. Pointed ears, the Spock hairstyle, and he even gave the Vulcan salute before flying off into space. I loved that.

So, now we come to the Green Lantern figure from DC Universe Classics. This line is essentially an outgrowth of the Batman-Superman-centric DC Super-Heroes line. GL would not have likely appeared in that, but he's certainly here, and I am delighted to see him. Mattel is crafting some seriously impressive super-heroes here, and GL is most definitely one of them.

Mattel has designed a fairly standard "male hero body" to use for most of their characters, only changing details such as heads and the like as needed. I, for one, don't have a problem with this, as long as the basic body design is a good one, which it most assuredly is. Properly heroic, not pre-posed, and superbly well articulated, Mattel has designed a superb super-hero figure here. That it's seeing widespread use is evident by one little point in particular. There's a little "plug" in Green Lantern's back to fill in a hole where a cape would be glued for male figures that wear capes.

Green Lantern is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper-arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso (worked surprisingly well into the musculature of the figure), waist, legs (a somewhat unusual design allowing for back and forth as well as outward movement, but it works), upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.

The headsculpt is superb. Looks just like Hal Jordan, with the somewhat wavy brown hair, and the Green Lantern mask properly in place. Paintwork is excellent, very neatly done. A bit of a black overbrush in GL's hair gives the brown hair a little extra detail. Finally, an instance where I don't object to this procedure, unlike when it's used to dirty up an entire figure.

Green Lantern's costume has always been rather distinctive in my opinion, in that it doesn't use any primary colors such as red, yellow, or blue, as one might expect. The bulk of the costume is a very straightforward green, with black sleeves and legs (and some detail on the sides), green boots, and white gloves. I believe the gloves are there to showcase the Green Lantern ring on his right hand, which I have to say has been very nicely sculpted with a surprising amount of detail, and painted a somewhat metallic green.

The finishing touch, of course, is the Green Lantern symbol on the chest. Green Lantern stands about 6-1/2" in height, and really, this is a remarkable rendition of a character that, as far as I'm concerned, deserves to be a lot more popular than he is.

Green Lantern comes with two accessories, although I'm not sure it's entirely fair to call one of them an accessory. The one that it is fair to call an accessory is his Power Battery. Shaped like a lantern, Green Lantern must periodically charge his ring using this device, which taps the Central Power Battery on Oa. It used to be that this had to be done once every 24 hours. During the Rayner years, it was less frequent than that. Whether the 24 hour requirement has been restored or not, I'm not entirely certain. It is said that the ring works off of a person's willpower. Perhaps the stronger the will, the longer the ring can operate. And it takes a singular individual to operate one of these things, too. A story from a while back showed GL's longtime friend Green Arrow trying to operate the ring, and while he was ultimately able to do so, it took a supreme effort, and left him with a murderous headache. The lantern is nicely sculpted, molded from a light green plastic with a near-metallic finish, and has a movable handle.

The other -- "accessory" -- is part of the DC Universe Classics equivalent of the "Build-a-Figure" concept inaugurated by Marvel Legends. For DC, it's called "Collect and Connect", and the figure that can be constructed for Series 3 is Solomon Grundy, a longtime foe, ironically, of the Alan Scott Green Lantern character. Green Lantern comes with one of his legs. Essentially somewhere between a zombie and a frankenstein monster, Grundy is a superhuman walking pile of white flesh and pure meanness with a limited intellect. He's also pretty big, too, and this is certainly reflected in the action figure. Although I don't have all the parts, the leg is 5" long. This in a line where a "standard human" like Green Lantern is 6-1/2" in height. Do the math...

So what's my final word here? In all honesty, my biggest complaint about the DC Universe Classics line is its lack of availability. And that's something retailers and whoever else is involved needs to sort out -- and soon! Apart from that, though, this is an immensely cool and extremely impressive figure of Green Lantern, and I am sincerely pleased that I found him and have added him to my collection.

And if you're any sort of fan of the DC Universe, or of Green Lantern in particular, you will certainly want him in your collection. The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS GREEN LANTERN most definitely has my highest recommendation!