Hal Jordan seems to be the most popular of the Green Lanterns and yet I find it hard to understand why. He was not the first Earth Green Lantern and there are four other human lanterns to choose from. All of them seem cooler and better than Hal hands down.
Why other Lanterns Are Better
Let's start with Alan Scott. Alan is the original Lantern way before Hal. He has the golden age look and feel. He also has Jade as a daughter who is a great character in her own right. In Addition Alan has the most unique power, origin and costume of all the earth Lanterns.
Guy Gardner is the smart-@$$. He is the less than reverent, rebel with his emotions bubbling to the surface. I remember watching the special features of the recent Green Lantern cartoon and they attributed a similar attitude to Hal. In the cartoon I would agree and I liked the cartoon but, that is not the Hal I see in the comics. Hal seems much more dry in his comics. Guy is also the crazy one who has been burned over and over again. Despite that Guy has a heart of gold that he tries not to let anyone see. This can be seen in his romance with Ice and his friendship with G'Nort who wouldn't have even been in the league if it wasn't for Guy.
Guy was also chosen to be the Green Lantern when Abin Sur crashed his ship on earth. Hal only got the ring because he was closer. How would the mythology of the Green Lantern be had Guy been selected before Hal?
John Stewart has two neat personalities. In the DC Animated Universe John is a marine. (once a marine always a marine) It gives a whole new aspect to the Corps. In the comic books he is the human Green Lantern who doesn't wear a mask. He is a man of the people and he even got married unlike most superheroes. John is also the only main Green Lantern who is a minority and is one of the most popular superheroes of color ever.
Kyle Rayner seemed like a younger Hal Jordan in the beginning and he did have the horrible origin story of his girlfriend being cut up and put in a refrigerator. Kyle however came into his own as a more relaxed hero. He is also the most creative of the Green Lanterns. Being an artist he makes really neat constructs with his ring and has a much more modern uniform than the other Lanterns.
Why Hal Is Not That Great
To me Hal has always had a "Superman" like attitude. He has also always had a self-righteous attitude and, yet seems more screwed up than any other lantern and most heroes. Look at his track record.
- Hal is a quitter. He quit being a Lantern for a time.
- Hal doesn't get along with his fellow Lanterns. He took away Guy Gardner's ring and tried to take away John Stewart's.
- Hal can not be counted on. He inadvertently trapped Guy into the Phantom Zone and thought he was dead but before his body would have even been cold he hits on Guy's fiance Kari Limbo. a very short time. Can anyone really blame Guy for his anger...Oh yeah Hal can.
- Hal is not a team player. When Guy was put in charge by the Guardians during Crisis of Infinite Earth's Hal turns on him. Again he quit the corps and the League and tried to take other lanterns rings and get members kicked out of the league.
- Hal has a questionable relationship with a very young woman. Hal has a serious relationship with Arisia. Arisia was a young teenager who willed herself to look older. Hal himself said that he still thought of her as a child and then a very short time later had his relationship with the young girl. Tell the judge "she looked 18" and see how far it gets you. Later, even after the age reboot of Arisia he is seen hitting on an underage Supergirl. All the while reminding himself that he has food in his refrigerator that is older.
- Hal has problems with Alcohol. Hal is the only superhero I know of who went to prison for drunk driving.
- Hal is a weak protector. Hal is the only hero I know to loose his "protected city" completely. Other heroes have had tragedies in their city but under Hal's watch Coast City is completely destroyed. Every man, woman, child and blade of grass is wiped out.
- Hal is unstable. Hal went mad with the loss of Coast City and tried to will it back with his ring. He then went and killed all the remaining Green lanterns and became Parallax. Yes, I know after the fact a story was written saying he was possessed but that didn't really fit what happened originally. When going back and reading the stories it never seemed fit. Lets face facts the Parallax story was made up just to bring Hal back. I maintain he was too far gone to come back.
- Hal has an evil soul. Hal became the Spectre because his soul was in purgatory for his sins. Supposedly this was for killing all the Green Lanterns. In the DC Universe the Spectre is the Wrath of God himself. This brings up many questions. Is God wrong in having Hal in purgatory? Was Parallax more powerful than God and was he able to stay undetected for a time? Did God not care that Hal was possessed and therefore not responsible. Was Hal in purgatory for something else? I'm still not sure. This is just one of the problems with the reboot.
- Hal Jordan is prejudice. Hal had a friend Tom who he referred to by the racist name "Pieface" or "Pie". Now in his defense Hal seemed to treat Tom with respect in most cases but calling him Pieface is not that respectable. Hal also had weak relationships with people of color. (see image)
Hal has so many poor qualities and they are so many Green Lanterns to choose from. I do not understand his popularity. I do not understand when there are so many other Lanterns to choose from people still think of Hal as a good hero. He has been rebooted over and over again because he always does scuzzy or lame things that make him look bad. You can reboot Batman and say he was always a ham sandwich but that doesn't change things in the past stories. This is just another point of proof to his being a less than great hero. Who is your favorite Earth Lantern, and why? I also ask again What's so great about Hal Jordan?