When DC Comics announced that the Earth-born Green Lantern team-up book, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, would be ending, readers bid farewell to the brotherhood and male bonding in that series. But there was no letdown for what would come next as Jordan would star in his own solo series again, The Green Lantern, set to debut this November 7, written by Grant Morrison (All-Star Superman, Happy) and drawn by Liam Sharp (Wonder Woman). The immediate question comes up, what is it about Hal Jordan that would interest Morrison? They have nothing in common, and that’s exactly what drew him to the project.
Morrison spoke to SYFY WIRE and other press last week as he revealed his plans for The Green Lantern, building on the knowledge that it will be looking at the space cop aspect. First, Morrison had to make sense of the most drastic changes and contradictions in Hal Jordan’s personality over the years, starting with his test pilot days. Jordan's creator John Broome was on a Jack Kerouac-type journey, and took Green Lantern on a similar trip.
“(Hal) suddenly goes from being a test pilot to an insurance investigator, then a toy salesman,” Morrison explained. “None of these things seem to relate to each other at all. I love that sense of disconnection and dislocation, and reading up some of the American astronauts, (like) Buzz Aldrin, (who) talked about having come back from space, finding it really difficult to deal with life on Earth. They'd seen this perspective, and that was only from the moon.”
“(Hal’s) been to the other end of the galaxy. He's seen planets, where it's a utopia where people live for thousands of years, the political system is perfect, where they don't use money, where capitalism is a distant memory, and he comes back to this–this mud hut, the Earth. You're trying your best, but, honestly, he's got a pair of shoes made of liquid quicksilver. How do you really integrate?”
In coming home to Earth, Morrison explained that Jordan may have accepted a diversity beyond anything we even have on planet Earth. He's beyond the squabbles humans have with each other. “When he comes back, we’re all one species (to him). He’s so far in another place dealing with other living, intelligent creatures that are nothing like us. I think that's an important aspect of him. For us he seems old-fashioned, when he's actually, wide open, you know?”
Morrison would go on to explain the next phase of Jordan’s evolution into the right-wing cop, paired with the liberal activist, Oliver Queen in Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Green Lantern / Green Arrow team-ups in the 1970s.
“It was quite funny, because the guy who's portrayed as the bone-headed cop is actually wandering the earth trying to make sense of things. The other guy's a millionaire who just lost his fortune. There was a moment in his life where (Hal) thought he was this dumb cop, who had to try and justify his existence. So taking all of those contradictory aspects of the character, like with Batman, if you combine them as one person, it's like a real person, because all of us have these shades, these contradictions in us."
“I think the most effective characters are the ones who seem like, ‘Hal Jordan wouldn't do that.’ Oh, yeah, he kind of might, because he's reacting to something in a way that you didn't expect him to.’ I think in the first four issues (of The Green Lantern) particularly, people will be saying, ‘Hal Jordan wouldn't do that. Grant, you do not understand this character.’ Then, you'll see what we're aiming towards."
Some of the depths that Morrison is willing to explore with Hal Jordan come from the confidence he has in artist Liam Sharp. Once Morrison knew he was on board, it pushed him to think bigger.
“We wanted to bring a European influence to it, which is ideal, because Liam’s from England, but he was really influenced by French graphic novels and by British comics, as well. So, the first couple (issues), you'll see the influence of bande dessinée and 2000 A.D. in there, the works of Virgil Findlay and it gives the whole thing a different look. It almost takes it away from being a superhero comic, and it's very much a golden age sci-fi comic."
"So, it encouraged me to go even crazier with the locations and the planets and the alien creatures, because I know he can handle it. It's taken influences that suit the character, but haven't really been applied in that way before, and Liam's just been the perfect collaborator."
"The Green Lantern is a book all about light. So spectacle was an important part of what we wanted with big fantastic images, amazing worlds, stuff that only George Lucas could probably manage.”
Morrison and Sharp have mapped out a long course for The Green Lantern, 10 issues have been written and Morrison has already begun plotting out the “second season.” He revealed future stories include the exploration of the Guardians’ understanding of the way the universe works, the Controllers, an appearance of Commander Crack, and an exploration of Hal Jordan’s relationship with the Flash. In fact, many of his friends and lovers will be used as mirrors pointed at Hal. And yes, a much-anticipated reunion with Oliver Queen.
“I want to play with what was taken as the basis of their relationship back in the '70s, whereas, one guy's an unemployed toy salesman, and the other guy's a millionaire who just lost his money. I want to invert a lot of the things, where suddenly, maybe Hal's the left wing guy. You know? Maybe there's a bit of bull***t about Oliver Queen."
Fans of Morrison's work know the world building and high concept science-fiction was going to be easy, but the most challenging thing is proving to be Hal Jordan himself – a far departure from who Morrison is, and that challenge of writing Hal has been the draw.
“When I was younger, all the characters I wrote like The Doom Patrol, were misfits like me,” Morrison admitted. “(Hal Jordan) is a very complex, gnarly character, and I don't even think I've scratched the surface yet. We really only feel we start to get him at episode three. But, it's been a journey. It's been strange, fun, and that's what I like about it. He's unusual and just a weird guy.”