The 10 Biggest Moments from Ron Marz’ Green Lantern Run
From Green Lantern Vol. 3, #48 in January of 1994 all the way to #125 in June of 2000 (with a modicum of breaks along the way), Ron Marz was the Geoff Johns of that era of Green Lantern comics. There were ups, there were downs, there was crazy stuff, but always it was entertaining. Down to Earth more often than not, to where there’d be any sort of big space adventure, that’d be a big deal. I loved that. I admit, I would have never picked up an issue of Green Lantern had I not read in Wizard Magazine that “big stuff” was going on in the title. I picked up #50, backtracked a little from there, and the rest is history.
Let’s go down memory lane a little bit of some of the highlights of Ron Marz’ tenure as the gatekeeper of Green Lantern:
#1. The Dissolution of the Green Lantern Corps
There could be a lot said about “the madness of Hal”/”Hal turning evil” (which he didn’t really, per se) or even the destruction of Coast City (which didn’t actually happen in any Green Lantern issues, but rather the Superman family titles during “Reign of the Supermen”), or “Hal killing the Guardians” — which never even happened, by the way! They very clearly suicided, go back and re-read GL Vol. 3, #50! (that means you, too, Tony Bedard) — but far and wide, the biggest moment in the volume at large was the dissolution of the Corps. Note, I say “dissolution” of the Corps and not the “destruction” of the Corps. While Volume 3 would often times allude to many Green Lanterns perishing when Hal “turned off the lights” in “Emerald Twilight,” when the Corps was eventually restored… we aren’t given the name of even one casualty we know of that died during such (despite seeing a bunch of bodies in “Emerald Fallout” in the pages of Beau Smith’s “Guy Gardner: Warrior”). Even far before that, Hal would say, “I left them enough power, to survive.” But that’s not really the point.
Since 1960, there was the Green Lantern Corps, one GL per each one of the 3,600 sectors. Suddenly, over thirty years later in 1994, that number shrunk from 3,600 to One. That’s a pretty big deal. Beyond side things like giving Jade a ring, or the super temporary (like, 2 prestige format issues and that was it) “New Corps” written by Chuck Dixon, or much later when John Stewart got a ring (again), too… that was it. For 11 years. Kyle Rayner was the guy. For a generation or two. That’s a pretty big deal, one that is often belittled or ignored because it doesn’t quite suit the post-Geoff Johns narrative.
#2. That Time Hal and Kyle Switched Bodies during their First Adventures
You don’t remember that? It was Green Lantern Annual #4 from 1995 during the “Year One” theme for all the annuals that year. It was fantastic! Not long after “Emerald Twilight,” Hal as Parallax is charging up at the same time Kyle charges his ring… they both go back to their earliest adventures, body-swapped with one another. To be clear, Kyle still looks like Kyle in the past, and Hal still looks like Hal in the recent past, and everyone calls Kyle Kyle and Hal Hal, but they’re living out the other man’s adventures and relationships. With me on that?
Hal goes back to when Alex was murdered by Major Force… and manages to save her life! Kyle goes back to one of Hal’s first adventures from Showcase #23 against the Invisible Destroyer. Kyle also pays a visit to Carol, who admits an attraction to him (well, when he’s Green Lantern, anyway… I love how this unintentionally foreshadows Kyle’s eventual actual relationship with Carol in the fairly recent past). Things get pretty fucked up when Hal, after saving Alex’s life, legitimately falls in love with her. He remarks that it isn’t right and goes to leave, yet agrees to stay with her forever instead of going on Green Lantern adventures. It’s a bit of a mix of tragic and craziness.
In the end, the two men return to their own times and have a heart to heart at Alex’s grave… and both admit they each have a much better understanding of the other man. Hell, Kyle even admits he understands somewhat then how Hal could crack from being under the Guardians’ thrall for so long (there’s a funny scene in it in which the Guardians appear to Kyle, as Hal, ordering him around and Kyle just stares blankly at them before telling them to bugger off).
#3. “Emerald Knights”
A big event (way before this was anywhere near a regular thing) spread out over 6 issues in GL, Vol. 3 #100-106. I’m sure Marvel had done this at different times, and probably even DC. But this was new to me. Basically, Hal Jordan from his earliest days appears in the present and teams with Kyle against his older, evil self, Parallax. It’s a very poignant story. Mostly it’s the young version of Hal aghast that he would one day become as Parallax, who then literally becomes pitted against his older self. In the end after much fighting and even Justice League involvement, it is determined and agreed by all three men that both Hals must return to their own time. They do so, both the young Hal knowing that he would one day become Parallax and take out the Corps, and older Parallax Hal knowing that his Zero Hour plan would fail and he would die.
This is after Hal actually died in “The Final Night,” so it’s a Parallax out of time (this opened up the door, many fans like myself thought, to other “missing” Parallax stories to come, since even though he’s already dead, he could have had other adventures throughout time before that… but this never happened).
#4. “Parallax View: The Resurrection of Hal Jordan”
Taking place in GL, Vol. 3 #63 & #64. This was a pretty fascinating tale for me as a kid. I hadn’t even gotten around to reading the original 1970s “Hard Travelling Heroes” comics where Green Lantern teamed with Green Arrow to deal head-on with the social issues of the time, (I did, of course, later) but I knew enough to understand that was a major event. Even then, I found it heart-breaking. These old, possibly best friends (a long contention is “who is Hal’s best friend? is it Barry Allen? is it Oliver Queen?” with good arguments to be made on either side until Geoff Johns beginning with and post-GL Vol. 4 only allow Hal to interact with Barry Allen… though to be fair, it’s hard to do a lot of character stuff in between 30 back-to-back events) who once traveled the world together and shared such an adventure… here’s Hal, and he genuinely wants to take Ollie on a new one. Like, legitimately. He shoes up in his civvies ready to go, wanting to spend some time with his old friend. But it’s different, it’s skewed. This is Parallax Hal, pre-space bug retcon that began in “Rebirth”… it’s a Hal who legitimately feels like Zero Hour was for a good reason and now, in its aftermath, mostly just wants to remind himself of the good old days. Oliver Queen is having none of it, of course. But largely it is Kyle vs. Hal, Round 2. With the Justice League as backup. But the battle doesn’t end with a proving of who is more powerful.
It’s only two issues, but it remains in my mind as some of the strongest writing (and art! Darryl Banks has never been better) I’ve ever seen, and one of the definitive Kyle Rayner stories. By the end, Hal dismantles the whole Justice League and realizes this isn’t what he wanted at all and kind of goes into some kind of strange quantum place.
I read many years later that the intention from this point was to introduce a Parallax ongoing series, with this story serving as the springboard. God, I would have read the shit out of that! Instead, it was decided that Hal just needed to go away, period. Thence, “The Final Night.” Which was really good as well. I just wish we got to spend a whole lot more time with Parallax Hal. For the time that we had him (yes, before the space bug retcon), the DC universe had its own version of Dr. Doom. Perhaps an even better, more sympathetic and historied version of Dr. Doom. I’m not sure we’ve really had that at DC before, or since.
#5. Deciding what to do with Another Power Ring
Before Chuck Dixon’s “The New Corps” (where Kyle tries and fails to start a new Green Lantern Corps because of a variety of reasons… well, beyond editorially) there was GL Vol. 3, #107. First thing’s first: he gives a ring (the ability to do so a parting gift from Hal in the past from “Emerald Knights”) to his recently depowered girlfriend, Jade, and they became partners in every sense of the word. For myself, it was the apex of one of the “cutest couples” I’d ever seen in comics.
It’d been a thing fans had pondered since Kyle first got the ring. Surely, eventually, Kyle would get the chance to remake the Corps, wouldn’t he?
#6. Kyle Single-Handedly Defeating Nekron and Destroying Mogo
Don’t remember that either? Oh, it happened, and it wasn’t an Elseworlds. Take that, “Blackest Night,” and Hal Jordan.
It was 1998, the Green Lantern Annual #8, the “Ghosts” event that went through all the DC annuals that year. I’m going to cheat here, because Ron Marz didn’t write this annual, it was Steve Vance. Nonetheless, it was still falls firmly under the umbrella of “The Ron Marz Era.” So forgive me this cheat. I just feel like it’s too big of a thing to ignore.
So yeah, a force brings ghosts back into physical form and Nekron “seizes the opportunity” to pit the deceased members of the GLC against Kyle. Long story short, within 39 pages Kyle manages to re-kill most of the resurrected/Black Lantern (basically) Green Lanterns, blows up Mogo (see? John Stewart wasn’t even the first person to do it), and challenges Nekron face-to-face to throw anything else he’s got at him. Nekron admits defeat and flees.
Remember when Nekron kills Kyle during “Blackest Night”? It was a revenge killing.
#7. Kyle Blows up Oa
I know, you may have heard when Oa got blown up in the last few years by Relic in one of the first post-Geoff Johns stories like it was no big deal. Guess why? It wasn’t a big deal, and not even the first time. The first time, everyone was talking about it, and it lasted about a decade (it was brought back in “Legacy: The Last Will & Testament of Hal Jordan”).
This went down in Green Lantern Vol. 3, #0, immediately following the events of Zero Hour.
#8. That Parallax Special
We’re basically talking about “The Final Night,” but that wasn’t written by Ron Marz… this was. “Parallax: Emerald Knight.” Set between the penultimate Final Night #3 and #4, this was basically Hal’s big goodbye to everybody before having to save the Earth from the Sun-Eater. And what a goodbye it was.
I legit teared up reading this as a kid, and still do. I hadn’t yet exposed myself to Hal’s earliest adventures yet beyond a smattering but this just… felt… so…. sad! After killing Cyborg Superman, he begins his rounds. He gives well wishes to his estranged girlfriend, visiting Ollie’s grave (which we’d learn later on in Kevin Smith’s “Quiver” was actually to resurrect him!), his old buddy Tom “Pieface” Kalmaku, and even John Stewart, for whom he cured him of his paralysis. By the end, Ganthet realizes that Hal is still good and even offers him a new Green Lantern ring and a fresh start. He refuses, knowing the sacrifice he’d have to make for the good of everyone.
Doesn’t exactly sound like the behavior of an Evil Space Bug-possessed man, does it? Ah well.
By the end of the issue, when Hal arrives to the shock of the good guys who all hate his guts after what he did during “Zero Hour,” you know exactly what is going to happen next, what he’s going to do. And the anticipation of what’s coming is even more heart-wrenching than the actual sacrificial act to follow.
#9. “Hard Traveling Heroes: The Next Generation”
This took place in GL, Vol. 3, #76 & #77, as well as Green Arrow #110 & #111. It was really pretty cool. It took the old iconic “Hard Travelling Heroes” storyline by Dennis O’Neil from the 70s and updated it to make it about the new people in the Green Lantern and Green Arrow mantles, respectively.
It may not have started the trend, but it reinforced everything that was great about DC at the time. Progression. Legacy. That things were moving forward, not backward and not standing still. Maybe not toward something, necessarily, but always moving forward. I miss that about DC, personally.
#10. Kyle Rayner Defeating… Thanos?
Yeah, you read that right. In the pages of “Green Lantern/Silver Surfer: Unholy Alliances,” that’s exactly what happened. You can tell Ron Marz was having a shit ton of fun here, and the special is a delight to read. As it should be… Ron Marz by this point had already written Green Lantern for years, and had a sizable Silver Surfer run behind him over at Marvel.
As well as many other interesting character moments. Basically, Hal Jordan as Parallax talks Silver Surfer into being on his side, while Thanos talks Kyle Rayner into being on his side… and both Hal Jordan and Thanos eventually show their true colors and the good guys must unite to banish them away (Thanos back into the Marvel universe proper, of course). As a kicker, the ending even directly led into the big “DC vs. Marvel” mini-series (in which fans were allowed to vote on the winners) which in turn, led to the Amalgam Universe which is still looked back on with fond smiles and memories. Mostly.
I think that about sums it up. Thank you for reading this far. Let me know if I missed your favorite moment.