One of the DC Universe’s most iconic heroes is the Green Lantern. While characters like Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Jessica Cruz and even the alien G’Nort all have their fans, but few Lanterns are as iconic as Hal Jordan.
But with every brightest day comes a blackest night, and the DC Universe has rarely been darker than when Hal Jordan descended into madness as the villain known as Parallax. Now, we’re taking a closer look at how the greatest Green Lantern fell so far and how he DC managed to redeem this fallen hero.
After the destruction of his hometown, Coast City, at the hands of Mongul and the Cyborg Superman in “The Death of Superman,” Hal was overcome with grief, and he attempted to resurrect the entire city in the “Emerald Twilight” storyline by Ron Marz, Bill Willingham, and Darryl Banks in 1994. His lone ring didn’t contain the power necessary to maintain such a construct, which put him on a warpath right to the Central Power Battery on Oa.
He tore through anyone standing in his way, maiming friends and killing GL icons like Kilowog, the renegade Sinestro and the Guardians of the Universe themselves. Hal absorbed the full powers of the Battery, rebranded himself as Parallax and vowed to remake the universe for the better. He would then go on to threaten the entire DC Multiverse during Zero Hour: Crisis In Time by Dan Jurgens and Jerry Ordway later that same year.
Hal’s status as a villain would last until 1996’s The Final Night by Karl Kesel, Stuart Immonen, and José Marzan Jr, in which a rogue Sun-Eater engulfed the Earth’s sun, threatening all life on the planet. After every other attempt to prevent the Sun’s collapse in that crossover failed, Parallax involved himself, entering the heart of the Sun to reignite it, killing himself in the process. Although he’d been branded a villain, fans caught a glimpse of the hero Hal used to be as he gave his life to save the world, reciting his Green Lantern oath for what he thought would be the last time.
Jordan wouldn’t get another chance at redemption until 1999’s Day of Judgement event by Geoff Johns, Matthew Smith, and Steven Mitchell. After the Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance, is forcibly bonded to the fallen angel Asmodel, the supernatural juggernaut goes on a rampage that threatens reality. While a team of heroes led by Wonder Woman and Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern, journey to the afterlife to find the Spectre’s former host — Jim Corrigan — and convince him to reclaim his role, they are redirected to Purgatory, where many fallen heroes’ souls reside.
That’s where the heroes find Hal Jordan, who is desperate for the chance to atone for his misdeeds. With Corrigan no longer an option, Alan Scott believes Hal to be the only person with the willpower necessary to contain the Spectre’s power. They return to Earth, and Hal battles for control of the Spectre against Asmodel and Neron, prince of Hell, on the Astral Plane. When the Spirit of Vengeance asks Hal why he thinks himself worthy to act as host, Hal breaks down, believing himself unworthy and deserving only of punishment. The Spectre obliges, bonding with the former Green Lantern as penance for his sins.
Hal maintained this role as the Spectre for years until 2004’s Green Lantern: Rebirth, by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver, Marlo Alquiza and Mick Gray. It was revealed that not only had Hal been bonded to the Spectre, but that Parallax had been too. Wrestling for control of the Spirit, Hal could feel himself losing ground, with Parallax gaining more power. The true nature of Parallax was soon revealed to Kyle Rayner by the last Guardian, Ganthet, and Kyle relays this information to Hal’s best friend, Oliver Queen, while Hal himself learns from the Spectre.
Parallax was never an identity that Hal chose to adopt, but rather a cosmic entity of fear that infected and possessed him. Imprisoned in the Central Battery on Oa by the Guardians, Parallax managed to infiltrate Hal’s ring when he was at his lowest point after the destruction of his home.
Parallax maintained control of Hal for years, with Hal’s true heroic self only shining through during crisis like Final Night and Day of Judgement. With this knowledge, Hal frees himself from Parallax and the Spectre, reclaiming his mantle as the Green Lantern. With his remaining allies in the Green Lantern Corps, Hal manages to defeat Parallax and imprison him in the Battery once again, cementing his return and redefining his status as a hero.
Many considered Hal Jordan the greatest Green Lantern of all, yet many also consider him to be the Corps’ greatest threat. But after his fall from grace and struggle for redemption, the character earned his title as a hero, and he’s proven himself capable of shining bright, even after his blackest night
After Hal Jordan broke bad and became one of the worst villains in the DC Universe, the Green Lantern had to do a lot to restore his heroic legacy.