J is for Jordan, Hal
First appearing in Showcase 22 in 1960. Hal Jordan is the first human being inducted into the Green Lantern Corps. A 2nd generation air force pilot, Hal was a natural test pilot with his precise piloting skill and his lack of fear. He left the USAF and joined the private sector working for Ferris Air. That was when it happened. In the desert there was the crashed ship of Abin Sur, the Green Lantern of this sector of the universe. With his dying breath, he instructed the ring he wore, which acted as both badge of office and side arm for these space cops, to find an person both honest and without fear. This ring found Hal who took Abin Sur’s place. Hal became one of the founding members of the Justice League of America, a hero in his own right and an influential character linked to several others. From there came other Green Lanterns, including Guy Gardner and John Stewart.
After being a test pilot, insurance investigator, toy salesman and trucker, Hal eventually left the hero business around the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths, after a couple of stories, the Green Lantern title started again, finding Hal as a man in his late 30’s having been a Lantern for 15 years and looking at getting out. He didn’t and carried on as a more seasoned hero until the events of Reign of the Supermen, during which Coast City was destroyed. This broke Hal, who wanted to restore his home and battled the Corps to make that happen, eventually destroying the main Green Lantern Battery and extinguishing the power of the Green Lantern Corps before taking that power for himself under the name Parallax. He tried several times to restore his city, his timeline, his life before his death during Final Night. He later became the Spectre before returning, during the Green Lantern Rebirth mini-series. Much of his crimes were ret-conned away and he was now a younger and more confident Green Lantern at the height of his power and heroism.
I kinda lost a lot of interest in him by that point, the sainted Greatest Lantern Ever. But that still left 40 or so years of story with a flawed and interesting character. From the early cocky GL who tended to get hit in the head a lot, to the disillusioned hero full of doubts that partnered with Green Arrow. From the uncertain if he wanted to be a Green Lantern around Crisis, to the wandering and soul searching man on the road. From the delusional and nigh-omnipotent Parallax to the Spectre, an agent of redemption. I liked Hal Jordan, when he could do wrong, not so keen on the post Nu52 version. Or the movie version if I’m honest.
J is for Justice Society of America
The particular run that always does it for me is the Justice Society of America relaunch in 2007 by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham, if that wasn’t enough, when both were firing on all cylinders, we had painted covers by Alex Ross. This floated the idea that rather than be just a hero team, the JSA was a way of honouring the traditions of the past and building the heroic foundation of tomorrow, a true society. With the mainstays of Alan ‘Green Lantern’ Scott, Jay ‘The Flash’ Garrick, Carter ‘Hawkman’ Hall and my personal favourite Ted ‘Wildcat’ Grant being the leadership, the rest of the team was 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation bearers of the legacy of former JSA members, examples being Liberty Belle, Hourman, Citizen Steel, Power Girl, Sandman and many many many more.
This was a vast and at times sprawling cast which covered 75 years and several worlds of history, but often all have their own voices and their own roles to play. The zenith of this series was the huge Thy Kingdom Come story which included the Superman from the 1996 series Kingdom Come, pulled from between panels in that story. The cast was diverse in origin, culture, race and ability including a Starman who suffered mental illness and a disfigured Damage. This was one of my favourite titles that year and every now and again, I go back to it. This is a series that the Nu52 completely erased, but it’s worth having a look at in any event. It may not be a current title, but it is a good one.
J is for Jewelry
In real life, jewellery is primarily adornment/accessorising or symbolic, I wear my wedding ring happily as the only jewellery I wear. Many people wear rings, bracelets, necklaces and other items for many reasons. In comics, jewellery is so much more.
Mostly used as a way of keeping power with a person, or on a person rather than being innate. The best example of this is the Green Lantern Ring, another example would be the Legion of Super Heroes Flight Ring. It was a way of keeping the power to hand as well as having narrative reason to take the power away from the hero, to add adversity to the situation. There’s also stuff like the Flash ring, which was used for costume storage, admittedly that makes little sense.
The variety keep on coming, from the bracelet types that Marvel used often (Quantum Bands for Quasar, Nega Bands for Captain Marvel) and even more. Wonder Woman even has a magic Tiara, to say nothing of the broach-like Eye of Agamotto. Magic rings, mystical totems and wearable weapons have that nonsense on stilts sort of feel to them, but as an aid to imagination, it can’t be beat. And other than that, it’s fun. You remember fun right?
J is for Jack of Hearts
Next Time: K if you can believe that.