One of the more controversial moments in comics was the decision to turn Hal Jordan, the most well known Green Lantern, into the villain Parallax following the events of the destruction of Coast City during the Reign of Supermen and the destruction of the Green Lantern Corps during Emerald Twilight. Hal’s journey back to being a Green Lantern was a long process, finally achieved during Green Lantern: Rebirth and that journey included a long detour when Hal became the Spectre.
In some ways, Hal Jordan becoming the Spectre, the literal spirit of God’s vengeance, was an interesting path to take the iconic character, giving readers a new story that they likely never expected to see. But at the same time, pretty much everyone wanted Hal Jordan to get back to being a ring slinger. Here are 5 Reasons Why Hal Jordan made a good Spectre, and 5 reasons why he should stay a Green Lantern…
10 Spectre: Punishment
Let’s face it, Hal Jordan needed to be punished for what he did. He wiped out the Green Lantern Corps and killed a number of beloved characters. And after that, he tried to wipe out all of reality and reshape it to his wants. Those aren’t heroic acts, and Hal’s choices needed to have consequences. Hal becoming the Spectre was a perfect form of punishment for what he had done, and it fits with his past. Now, instead of being an intergalactic cop, Hal was the judge and executioner for God.
9 Green Lantern: Redemption
While becoming the Spectre was a form of redemption for Hal Jordan, it wasn’t a complete resolution. After all, as the Spectre, Hal couldn’t really be with his friends and family. He was trapped forever seeing the universe but not actually being a part of it. He still got to do good, but this form of good was darker than the good he did as Green Lantern.
Returning Hal to being a Green Lantern and retconning the story so that his actions were not his alone, but the entity of Parallax, Hal could be completely redeemed. And while that kind of thing isn’t realistic, neither is the idea of a guy with a ring flying across the galaxy keeping the peace.
8 Spectre: Story
The world is filled with stories of people committing horrible acts and then looking for redemption. We, as humans who often feel guilt for our past actions, from a weird lie we’ve told to something mean we said to actions far worse, and we like to see others be redeemed because it tells us that we too can be redeemed, even if we can never go back to who we were before. Hal’s turn into Spectre is his redemption. And while being Spectre suggested he could never return to the life he once lived, it made it clear that Hal’s days of being a hero were far from over.
7 Green Lantern: History
Stan Lee once explained comics as having “the illusion of change”. We want to see our heroes go through the wringer and come out on the other side differently, but we usually don’t want those changes to be anything major. Having Hal Jordan become Parallax and then Spectre was a huge change, and for a lot of fans it was too much.
With a character like Hal Jordan, there may be too much history to make such a massive shift in their story. It is akin to having someone besides Bruce Wayne be Batman – you can do it for a little bit but at the end of the day, Bruce needs to put the cowl back on. More than any other member of the Corps, Hal Jordan is Green Lantern in the eyes of the masses, and changing that history is hard to do.
6 Spectre: Evolution
Maybe Stan Lee was right when he said that comics are about the illusion of change, but sometimes true change can be a good evolution of a character. Superman being married just feels right now, and ever since Marvel decided to end Spider-Man‘s marriage, they have been trying to put Peter Parker and Mary Jane back together, suggesting that a married Spidey also made more sense.
Letting the characters grow and change works when those changes build the story – when they evolve the character – and Hal Jordan’s journey from Lantern to Parallax to Spectre was an interesting evolution filled with potential.
5 Green Lantern: Unfinished Stories
Most superhero stories are open-ended, meaning that there is no real plan for the character’s path. DC doesn’t have some grand tale for Superman sitting in a drawer waiting for the day they decide to quit publishing new Superman stories, they play it all by ear. What that means is that a superhero’s story is never really finished, and that’s why major changes to them can be difficult.When Hal Jordan became Parallax and Spectre, there were lots of pieces to the character that were left in limbo, seeming to never be discussed again. These unfinished stories upset readers and played a big part in bringing Hal, and the Green Lantern Corps, back.
4 Spectre: New Beginnings
A constant problem with superhero comics is that after decades of stories with the same characters, it can be hard to come up with new things to do. Superman can only be split in two so many times before it gets repetitive, right? Doing something as wild as having Hal Jordan, who had been around for over thirty years, leave behind his Green Lantern life and become first Parallax and then Spectre opened the door to a slew of new stories. Without the path DC took Jordan down, we wouldn’t have gotten Kyle Rayner, for one thing.
3 Green Lantern: Recognition
And as cool as it was to get new stories, there’s no ignoring a simple fact – Hal Jordan is Green Lantern. Yes, there are Alan Scott, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner – among some 7200 others, but at the end of the day Hal is the person readers usually think of when they think Green Lantern. Even when Hal was evil, it was his design that was showing up in merchandise. Even when he was Spectre, readers still thought of him as a member of the Corps. Hal Jordan is the face of the Green Lanterns.
2 Spectre: It Was Cool
It’s a controversial thought, but Hal Jordan as the Spectre is just a cool idea, and it fits with the character’s past. Hal was never one to hold down a job, and being a Green Lantern is a job. Having him lose that job and move to a new career fits. Jordan also has issues with authority, but as Spectre he found himself having to take orders from God. You don’t get much more authoritative than being the creator of all existence.
Having Hal Jordan turn evil and then become the Spectre wasn’t just cool, it was revolutionary. It was something that had never really been done with a major comic book character before, and DC taking that chance, and running with it for so long, should be commended.
1 Green Lantern: He is Cool
He’s a test pilot who gets the ultimate flying machine in the form of a ring that is as powerful as his own mind and makes him a space cop. The basic concept of Hal Jordan is one of the coolest ideas in all of fiction. Who wouldn’t want to be able to just fly off to another planet at any given moment? Who doesn’t love the Green Lantern oath? He has a cool job, a cool costume, and cool jewelry. Hal Jordan being a Green Lantern is just cool.
Hal Jordan has had an interesting history with DC Comics. Was he better off as the Spectre, or as Green Lantern?