Green Lantern (vol.3) #48 (January, 1994)
“Emerald Twilight, Part One: The Past”
Writer – Ron Marz
Penciller – Bill Willingham
Inkers – Romeo Tanghal & Robert Campanella
Letterer – Albert De Guzman
Colorist – Anthony Tollin
Assistant Editor – Eddie Berganza
Editor – Kevin Dooley
Cover Price: $1.50
Got some Hal Jordan related talkie-stuff in the offing, and figured it’d be in the best interests of my research to reacquaint myself with (at least the open of) the Emerald Twilight storyline. It’s been a good few years since I last visited this tale… let’s get right into it.
We open with an injured Hal Jordan kneeling in a smoldering crater. The camera pans back to reveal the twelve-miles square wasteland that was once Coast City. Hal’s hometown, which was destroyed by Cyborg Superman and Mongul during the Reign of the Supermen storyline (in Green Lantern #46).
Hal looks at the decimation surrounding him, and thinks about how he wears a ring that could do anything. It’s interesting that these thoughts would pass through Hal’s mind at this point. He, theoretically, has the most powerful item in the Universe… and yet, he was powerless to save his home… his neighbors, his friends…
Hal pops a blast of emerald energy into the sky. From out of the resulting green miasma field walks Martin Jordan, Hal’s father. What is particularly off-putting, is that Martin seems annoyed, almost put out… he asks Hal rather nonchalantly, “did you want something?”… quite bizarre. Hal says he wants to talk about their relationship… how Martin was never proud of him, like he was of his other sons.
Martin plainly answers that he was proud of his other sons because they actually accomplished things in their lives. Hal protests, and begins running down his accolades… which is all well and good, until Martin reminds him that he fell a bit short when it came to saving Coast City. This is a side of the Jordan’s that I didn’t know about. You (or I) always got the feeling that Hal was the apple of his father’s eye. Guess not, eh?
Martin tells Hal that he’s wasted enough of his time, and hops into his jet. What follows is the reenactment of Bishop’s plane crash from Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn #1. Adult Hal reacts similarly to child Hal.
Suddenly, Jessica Jordan… Hal’s mom, shows up. Hal tries to confide in her… talk about his father’s disapproval. Rather than help him work through his issues, she recommends that he just let it all go. After all, there’s nothing he can do about it. Again… all the power in the Universe, and there’s nothing Hal can do.
After mom leaves, Hal becomes a bit indignant, and goes all “f-that noise”… and uses his ring to recreate Coast City! Hal has fancied himself a God.
He is surprised to find his first girlfriend, Jennifer sitting under a tree. We get the impression that not even Hal knows how powerful his ring is, he’s almost a spectator here. They chat as though they were old friends, and Jennifer agrees to walk Hal to his parents house.
While they walk, they reminisce over their teenage years. Hal met Jennifer a few years after the death of his father, and credits her with helping him finally deal with it. As they approach Hal’s folks’ house, we learn that Jennifer and her family were still in Coast City when it was destroyed. She says it was “over pretty quick” and that nobody blames Hal.
Hal enters the house and finds his father sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of coffee. This meeting is quite different from the first. Martin is happy to see his son, and is just about to say he’s proud of Hal, when…
The ring runs outta juice!
Hal is left in the wasteland, where he is joined by a projection of one of the Guardians of the Universe. He is informed that he is in violation of Green Lantern code, as he used his power for personal gain. He is ordered to surrender his ring and head to Oa for disciplinary actions.
Hal gets a wicked look on his face, and says… yeah, I’ll go to Oa, but you ain’t gonna like me when I get there!
As he flies Oa-bound, we meet a couple of stargazers hanging out in the desert. Don’t worry about them though, it’s not like they’re important or anything…
|Who’s that boy?|
Okay, one chapter in… and what’s to come still isn’t clear. Right now, we’ve got a Hal Jordan who is certainly abusing his power… however, considering the circumstances… not an unforgivable offense. What we know is that Hal’s ticked at the Guardians… hell, that may as well be “Tuesday” to Mr. Jordan. He’s at odds with his blue-bosses more often than not.
This is what’s so great about this story. Even a chapter in, and nobody could guess what’s to come. One could assume that Hal and the Guardians hash things out… some threat reveals itself going into the landmark issue #50… bing-bang-boom… back to normal come #51.
Hal really shows a new side to himself here… especially as it pertains to his relationship with his father. I’d always been under the assumption that Hal was “daddy’s little boy”… the one most likely to follow in his footsteps… here, we find out that’s not exactly the case. Martin Jordan has apparently never even told his boy that he’s proud of him. You gotta imagine that’s something that eats away at Hal on a daily basis.
Unless of course this is the ethereal equivalent of “projection”, in the psychological sense. In that, Hal is projecting his own feelings of failure onto the manifestation of his father. Perhaps, as his father was his hero… and Hal sees himself as a failed hero, the ultimate judgment of his endeavors would come in the form of his dad’s shame. Or maybe I’m just thinking too hard…
Hal’s internal feelings of failure are almost given a flesh and blood form with the destruction of his home town, Coast City. This is akin to Superman failing to save Metropolis, or Batman not being able to save Gotham City. The emerald construct of Martin Jordan even calls him out on his failure… which may well have been the final nail for Hal’s sanity.
This was such an exciting time in the DC Universe. Actual change was occurring… real, (theoretically) irreversible changes. The DC Universe spent many years between the Crisis on Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis evolving… growing… changing. Here, Coast City is wiped off the map. This was a huge deal. Made it feel like nobody was really safe! It’s unfortunate that these changes were all swept under the rug in order to make the books look like they did in the 1970’s.
There’s a bit of controversy… not only with the entire Emerald Twilight story, but this issue in particular. This was never supposed to be this issue we received. The build to issue #50 was supposed to be penned by long-time Green Lantern scribe, Gerard Jones. In fact, his story was even solicited!
The original solicitation for Green Lantern #48 (Gerard Jones version):
“Superman and the Justice League gather by Green Lantern’s side as Hal confronts the horror of the destruction of Coast City. Meanwhile on Oa, the Guardians of the Universe find themselves fighting a lethal battle against… the Guardians of the Universe.”
That doesn’t seem like the book we just read, does it?
I know Ron Marz drew a lot of H.E.A.T. (nyuk nyuk) for this, but this is a fantastic story. Bill Willingham is a wonderful writer, who I too often forget is also a wildly talented artist in his own right. This is how you usher in a new era… most definitely recommended. Whether you dig Green Lantern/Hal Jordan or not, this is an awesome piece of DC lore that all fans should check out. It’s been collected a bunch of times, and is available digitally.