REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS ALL-STAR GREEN LANTERN
Blended in with any number of assortments of DC Universe Classics figures, has been a series of figures known as the All-Stars. Now, the entire DC Universe Classics line will soon be known by this name, at least at the retail level, but for the moment, this designation has referred to re-releases of previous, particularly prominent characters from earlier assortments, that perhaps collectors might have missed the first time around.
This has included such notable individuals as, as one might expect, Superman, Batman, Flash, Martian Manhunter, and others. One unusual entry in the All-Stars offerings was Power Girl, who had previously been part of a Wal-Mart exclusive wave.
And then there's Green Lantern -- Hal Jordan. Now, admittedly, there's been several versions of this figure. He was first released in Wave 3 of the DC Universe Classics line, in his classic uniform. A somewhat more classic version, lacking the green shoulders, was produced in a two-pack which also featured Abin Sur. Another Hal Jordan, with the white hair around the temples, which was later revealed to be a result of his possession by Parallax and not a sign of going gray early, turned up in the Green Lantern 5-pack, which also featured Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Tomar-Re, and Sinestro.
There were also White Lantern and Black Lantern versions of Hal Jordan. Neither of these especially impressed me.
But there was one version of Hal Jordan as Green Lantern that remained highly elusive to me -- the modern costume version. Supposedly this was first released as Toys "R" Us exclusive. I never saw it. It was next released in a two-pack, one of the DC Universe Classics/Masters of the Universe Classics crossovers, accompanied by Zodac. That set was similarly hard to find.
Finally, the modern costume Green Lantern was the All-Star offering for Wave 20, the final retail wave of DC Universe Classics. Somebody at Mattel decided to have mercy on me and the other collectors who really wanted this particular version of Green Lantern, and made him just a little more available. For that, I am thankful to them.
Let's consider the history of Hal Jordan, and then have a look at the figure.
Harold "Hal" Jordan is the first human shown to join the Green Lantern Corps and a founding member of the Justice League of America. Jordan is the second DC Comics character to adopt the Green Lantern moniker. Jordan was created in the Silver Age of Comic Books by John Broome and Gil Kane, and made his first appearance in Showcase #22 (October 1959) to replace the original Green Lantern Alan Scott from the Golden Age of Comic Books.
In 1994, the story "Emerald Twilight" saw Hal Jordan turn into the supervillain Parallax. Later, in the Zero Hour miniseries, he attempts cosmic genocide. He was replaced by Kyle Rayner as the new Green Lantern. In 1996's crossover story "The Final Night", he attempted to return to his heroic roots by dying to save the Earth, and later returned as a spirit of redemption in the persona of the Spectre.
Hal Jordan was resurrected in the 2004 miniseries Green Lantern: Rebirth, which revealed that Parallax was actually an alien parasitic entity that influenced his prior villainy. He subsequently returned to the Green Lantern Corps and became the protagonist of the subsequent volumes of Green Lantern.
Hal Jordan was ranked 7th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes in 2011.
After achieving great success in 1956 in reviving the Golden Age character The Flash, DC editor Julius Schwartz looked toward recreating the Green Lantern from the Golden Age of Comic Books. Like The Flash, Schwartz wanted this new character to have a different secret identity, origin, and personality than his 1940s counterpart. A long time science-fiction fan and literary agent, Schwartz wanted a more sci-fi based Green Lantern, as opposed to the mystical powers of Alan Scott, the 1940's Green Lantern. He enlisted writer John Broome and artist Gil Kane, who in 1959 would reintroduce Green Lantern to the world in Showcase #22 (September–October 1959).
The character was a success, and it was quickly decided to follow-up his three issue run on Showcase with a self-titled series. Green Lantern #1 began in July–August 1960 and would continue until #84 in April–May 1972.
From Green Lantern #151 (April 1982) until #172 (January 1984), Jordan was exiled into space for a year by the Guardians in order to prove his loyalty to the Green Lantern Corps, having been accused of paying too much attention to Earth when he had an entire sector of the cosmos to patrol. When he returned to Earth, he found himself embroiled in a dispute with Carol Ferris. Faced with a choice between love and the power ring, Jordan chose to resign from the Corps. The Guardians called upon Jordan's backup, John Stewart, to regular duty as his replacement.
In 1985, the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" storyline that rebooted much of DC Comics' character continuity saw Jordan again take up the mantle of Green Lantern. The new Corps, with seven members residing on Earth, included several aliens, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner. The alien Lanterns took a more direct hand in human affairs, a fact not appreciated by human governments. Eventually, the Earth corps broke up, with several members returning to their home sectors. The Guardians soon returned to this dimension, and Jordan worked with them to rebuild the fractured Corps.
During this time, the character's origin story was re-told and expanded in two limited series by Gerard Jones, Emerald Dawn and Emerald Dawn II. The first series expanded the role of the Corps in his origin and also provided more details about his childhood and his relationship with his father and brothers, while the sequel detailed the role of Jordan in the downfall of Sinestro.
In the 1993 Reign of the Supermen storyline, the villainous Hank Henshaw disguised as a reborn Cyborg Superman enlists the alien tyrant Mongul and his forces and comes to Earth in a plot to take advantage of the death of Superman. In the process, Coast City (Jordan's former home) is destroyed and all of its seven million inhabitants murdered, bringing Jordan to take revenge on Mongul, who had replaced it with Engine City, with which he planned to turn Earth into a new Warworld. Jordan was off world at the time of the attack on his hometown, having returned well after its destruction. It was later revealed that the Cyborg Superman's wife came from Coast City, and he destroyed it as he wanted to remove all traces of his past life.
This leads into the Emerald Twilight arc: Jordan uses his power ring to recreate Coast City as an instrument in the process of overcoming his grief, talking to ring created versions of his old girlfriend and parents. After his ring's power expires a projection of a Guardian appears and admonishes him for using the ring for personal gain and summons him to Oa for trial.
Angered at what he sees as the Guardians' ungrateful and callous behavior, Jordan absorbs the energy from the Guardian's projection, goes insane and attacks Oa to seize the full power of the Central Battery, destroying the Corps in the process, taking their power rings as his own and leaving them to die in space, and ending the arc when he kills Kilowog, Sinestro who has been resurrected to fight him but has his neck snapped, and all the Guardians except for Ganthet who was protected by the other Guardians and survived without Jordan's knowledge. He then renounces his life as Green Lantern, adopting the name Parallax after absorbing the Power Battery's vast powers. After he emerges from the Central Power Battery, he walks past and looks at the dead Guardians and steps on his former ring, crushing it in the process.
Jordan is replaced by Kyle Rayner by Ganthet as the Green Lantern of Earth when Rayner comes into possession of the last power ring, created from the shattered remains of Jordan's.
DC Comics subsequently began a new Green Lantern (vol. 4) series starting with issue #1 (July 2005), making Hal Jordan once again a Green Lantern and his past homicidal actions retconned to be the result of Parallax, now revealed to be caused by Hal having been 'infected' by the Parallax fear entity that had possessed him.
Trying to rebuild his life, Hal Jordan has moved to the nearly deserted Coast City, which is slowly being rebuilt. He has been reinstated as a Captain in the United States Air Force, and works in the Test Pilot Program at Edwards Air Force Base. The series introduces new supporting characters for Hal, most notably a man from Hal's past, Air Force's General Jonathan "Herc" Stone, who learned Hal's secret as Green Lantern during a battle with the Manhunters and acts as his ally. He also begins to develop a romantic attraction with his fellow pilot, the beautiful Captain Jillian "Cowgirl" Pearlman. The returning characters also include Carol Ferris, Tom Kalmaku, and Hal's younger brother James Jordan with his sister-in-law Susan and their children, Howard and Jane.
The Green Lantern Corps also has been successfully rebuilt. Despite the revelation that Hal's past villainous activity was because of the influence of Parallax, many of Hal's fellow Corps officers (except Kilowog, Salaak, Stewart, Gardner, and Rayner) are unwilling to trust him. Despite being freed from Parallax, his experience also has led Hal occasionally to lack of confidence and self-doubts. Hal also become friends with Kyle Rayner after their first battle with Parallax.
A new account of Green Lantern's origins was released in the (2008) Green Lantern series. In this new origin, Hal Jordan, is working as an assistant mechanic under Tom Kalmaku himself, barred from flying due to his insubordination while in the U.S.A.F. and his employers lingering guilt about his father's death in the line of duty, when Abin Sur, fighting Atrocitus of the Five Inversion, crashes near Coast City.
Hal and the rest of the Green Lantern Corps find themselves at war with Sinestro and his army, the Sinestro Corps during the events of the Sinestro Corps War. In the Agent Orange story arc, Hal Jordan is briefly in command of Agent Orange's power battery after he steals it from Agent Orange in a battle. The orange light of avarice converses with Jordan, his costume changes, and he becomes the new Agent Orange. However, Larfleeze quickly takes his power battery back from Jordan.
During the Blackest Night, Hal allies himself with six other Lantern Corps during The War of Light. He finds himself facing many of his deceased allies, enemies, and people he failed to save reanimated as undead Black Lanterns under the control of the Green Lantern Corps' ancient enemy Nekron. Hal finds himself not only teaming up with Barry Allen - The Flash, who is also resurrected from his death, but also must work with his enemies Sinestro, Atrocitus, Larfleeze, and his former love that he has sort of got back together with Carol Ferris (who is now a Star Sapphire once more). Hal fights the Guardian, "Scar", whom he defeats according to the prophecy from the "Book of Oa".
After the events of Brightest Day: Green Lantern, the storyline continues into War of the Green Lanterns. Hal and Guy are captured by Krona and forced to watch Krona taunt Hal that his friends including Carol are stuck in the so-called "Book of the Black". During the final battle, Hal manages to free Carol, Sinestro and the others from the Book of the Black. Hal kills Krona, releasing the entities from the Guardians. However, the Guardians believing Hal to be the most dangerous Green Lantern, discharge him from the Corps, strip him of his ring and return him to Earth. It is revealed that the Guardians are afraid of Jordan because they believe what happened to Krona would eventually happen to them if they allow him to continue being a Green Lantern. This has led into the "New DC 52" stories for Green Lantern, which I'm not going to get into here, although I will say that out of the entire "New DC 52" fiasco, Green Lantern's corner of the DC Universe appears to be the least affected thus far -- thank goodness.
I've always been a fan of Green Lantern. I like the comics, and I believe that Geoff Johns has done a superb job expanding Green Lantern's universe to an epic degree. I even enjoyed the live-action movie, and wouldn't mind seeing a sequel. In the meantime, I'm pleased that I can enjoy the current Green Lantern adventures to a fair degree without the stench of what's happening elsewhere in the "DCnU" (DC new Universe) creeping in too much -- and I hope it stays that way.
So -- how's the figure? Truly excellent. But perhaps a better question might be, with any number of other Hal Jordan figures available in the line, why place such an emphasis on this one?
When Hal Jordan resumed his duties as Green Lantern several years ago, a slight but distinct change was made to his costume. Previously, Hal Jordan's costume was predominantly green, with a green torso, shoulders, trunks, with black sleeves, leggings, white gloves, and green boots. There was a bit of black on the sides of the torso. The Green Lantern emblem was in the center of the chest.
Following Hal Jordan's return, the new costume brought the green on the torso to just below the belt line, stopping it at an angle on the front and back, without it becoming the actual trunks of the costume. The leggings were entirely black. It was a subtle change. It wasn't like, you know, taking away Superman's red trunks, or messing with the look of the "S" symbol or something. And I'm really not certain of the reasons for it. But it wasn't anything objectionable.
When the DC Universe Classics line introduced the Green Lantern figure into the line-up, even though Hal Jordan had been wearing his current costume for several years at that point, the figure presented nevertheless had green trunks. This wasn't a big deal for me. I was only too happy to welcome him into my growing collection, and I certainly didn't have a problem with his classic look. Nevertheless, I thought it would be cool to have a Green Lantern figure wearing the modern costume.
Then I learned that Mattel indeed planned to make one. I've already reported on the luck I had tracking down its two previous releases. Needless to say I was delighted to find the Wave 20 release.
The figure is truly superb. The headsculpt is an excellent rendition of Hal Jordan, with an appropriately heroic and determined expression on the face. The costume is perfect, bringing the green trim on the torso down to just the right point, and cutting it off front and back at a neat angle. Exceptionally neatly painted.
And for an extra treat, the costume has a metallic sheen to it! The green is definitely a metallic green, the black portions of the costume are a glossy black, and the white gloves have a pearlescent/metallic sheen to them.
So the question should be raised here -- is this appropriate? And my response to that question would be -- yes. Depending on the artist, there are any number of instances that I could show from modern Green Lantern comics where Hal Jordan's costume appears to have a metallic sheen to it. Also, in modern times, it's been shown that the costumes of the Green Lantern Corps are in fact derived from the energy of the power rings themselves! They appear to have some of the properties of fabric -- they can tear, for example. But they can be readily repaired by the power rings. This was certainly evidenced in the live-action movie, as well.
What does energy-based fabric look like? I haven't the slightest idea. But it wouldn't surprise me at all if it would have a certain metallic reflectivity to it. And it looks really cool, too.
Now, admittedly, this makes this Green Lantern figure something of a standout, both among his Justice League compatriots, as well as other members of the Green Lantern Corps, of which there has been no shortage of figures. Line up Hal Jordan alongside Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash, and Martian Manhunter, and he stands out -- unless you've got the metallic Aquaman from the two-pack with Black Manta.
Line up Hal Jordan alongside John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, Kilowog, Tomar-Re, Naut Ke Loi, Medphyll, Katma Tui, B'dg, Sodam Yat -- wow, they really have made a lot of them -- I'd still like to see them do Arisia -- and the only other one that has a metallic-looking uniform is the robotic Stel, which is certainly understandable. And in his case, it's not even his uniform, it's just his robotic body. So Hal Jordan is a standout even among his peers in the Corps.
Do I have a problem with that? No. For one thing, as a longtime Green Lantern fan, if Hal Jordan wants to stand out in a crowd a bit, it's fine with me. Secondly, the metallic and gloss finish is not so pronounced that it stands out THAT much. It's not as though he's been chromed. And there are other figures in the line with either metallic or gloss finishes to them. Batman Beyond is head-to-toe gloss black. Robotman and Gold of the Metal Men have strong metallic finishes to them. So does the Anti-Monitor. Put Hal Jordan in a crowd of his immediate peers in the League or the Corps and he stands out -- a bit. Put him in a large crowd of DC Universe Classics figures, and he blends.
There's an additional factor, a somewhat accidental benefit. Now, sometimes, painting an entire figure with metallic and glossy paint can cause that figure to have any number of stuck parts. This is not a good thing. However, I consider myself very fortunate. My Green Lantern figure does not have any stuck parts. What he does have is very nice, tight articulation, that still moves well when necessary. If every DC Universe Classics action figure in my possession (and heck, throw in the Masters while you're at it) had articulation like this -- I'd be one very happy camper about it.
The absolute only shortcoming with regard to this figure is that he doesn't come with an actual lantern battery. Doubtless that will be annoying to some. I find it unfortunate, but not bothersome. If nothing else, I've got enough of those sitting around here, between that Green Lantern five-pack and two assortments' worth of Green Lantern Classics figures, that he can just borrow one from someone if he needs it. I've never been that much of an accessory hog.
So, what's my final word? This is a tremendous figure. Worth waiting for, even if I would have preferred to have found him a little sooner than this. I'm glad to have him now, and I certainly got a prime specimen, for which I am thankful. This figure is very well-made, using the established "male-hero" body molds that do such a good job of maintaining consistency in the line. Of course, he has a distinctive right hand, showing the power ring, which has also been painted metallic green. He is certainly well-painted. I don't know how much more complicated a thing it is to paint an entire figure like this, but Mattel has done a superb job. And of course, the articulation is superb. The figure is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles.
And it's cool to have a Green Lantern figure in his modern uniform. I believe any DC Universe Classics collector, even if they have a previous version of Green Lantern, will welcome this figure into their collection.
The DC UNIVERSE CLASSICS "ALL-STARS" edition of GREEN LANTERN in his modern costume definitely has my highest recommendation!