Justice League part 2 — Green Lantern is a job

Left to right: Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, Arkkis Chummuck — all entirely different people.

I was in New York recently, having dinner after a show (as one does) with some friends.  At the table were the Magazine Editor, the Famous Actor, the Rock Star and the Primatologist.  Conversation turned to Justice League.  (Conversation has, no doubt, been edited to be more self-serving.)

TODD.  My son has turned me into a geek.
PRIMATOLOGIST.  (apres spit-take) Turned you into one?!
TODD.  Hey, before Sam started watching Justice League, I had never heard of Arkkis Chummuck.  Now I know who Arkkis Chummuck is.
ACTOR.  Who is Arkkis Chummuck?
TODD.  Arkkis Chummuck is a Green Lantern that Hal Jordan was teamed up with for a while.  Arkkis is from a planet of werewolf-looking creatures who practice cannabalism.  And Hal Jordan kind of held Arkkis Chummuck at arm’s length, thinking that he was some kind of a savage for his cannibalistic ways.  But as we get to know Arkkis and his culture, we come to learn that there are deep, spiritual aspects to their practices that Hal simply didn’t bother to think about because of Arkkis’s appearance and habits.  So Hal —
EDITOR.  Wait — what do you mean he’s “teamed up” with Arkkis Chummuck?
TODD.  Hal Jordan is only one Green Lantern.  The Green Lantern Corps, you see, is based on a planet called Oa, where the the Oans have the magic Power Battery, which happens to look like a green lantern.  And that’s where the Green Lantern Corps is based.  Hal Jordan is only one of, I think, 36,000 Green Lanterns, and each Green Lantern polices a certain zone of the universe.  Hal Jordan was only the Green Lantern of the zone that includes Earth, since that’s where the intelligent life is in our sector of the universe.  If you —
ROCK STAR.  And who is the “Jon Stewart” guy?
TODD.  He —
ACTOR.  There’s a Green Lantern named Jon Stewart?!
TODD.  He — yes, he spells it with the “h” —
EDITOR.  I wonder if Jon Stewart named himself after —
TODD.  John Stewart was an “angry black guy” living in Detroit in the late sixties, and Hal Jordan got teamed up with him —
PRIMATOLOGIST.  Wait, why did Earth get two Green Lanterns?
TODD.  John Stewart was being trained as Hal Jordan’s backup.  And in the Justice League cartoon, John is still from a bad neighborhood in Detroit but they made him a marine —
ACTOR.  Wait, so “Green Lantern” isn’t a guy
TODD.  No, although there is a Green Lantern named Guy Gardner, redhead with a bowl haircut who nobody likes —
ROCK STAR.  And isn’t one like a cartoonist or something?
TODD.  That’s Kyle Rayner —
ACTOR.  — “Green Lantern” is a, an office.  A position.
TODD.  That’s exactly right.  “Green Lantern” is a job.  So when people say they don’t like Green Lantern, it’s like saying they don’t —
EDITOR.  I had no idea —
PRIMATOLOGIST.  Are there any female Green Lanterns?
TODD.  Are there?  Why, one of the most important Green Lanterns is Katma Tui, a dark-red-skinned alien who trained John Stewart —
ROCK STAR.  But the whole thing with the, you know, the color yellow —
TODD.  Ah, yes.  But, according to one story, you see, the power ring is not vulnerable to the color yellow — rather, the Guardians merely tell Green Lantern that his ring has a flaw, because otherwise he would eventually be driven mad with power.  But the important thing is, people, they — all these Green Lanterns are entirely different people.  Hal Jordan is a test pilot and John Stewart is a marine and Kyle Rayner is a cartoonist and they’ve all been given this responsibility and they all respond differently to the job.  It’s like the word “Policeman.”  You have all kinds of different policemen and all kinds of different stories you can tell about policemen.  You have Hill Street Blues and Dirty Harry.  Or “Lawyer.”  Or “Doctor.”  So that’s why Green Lantern, a character I’d never even thought about, suddenly has become, I don’t know, vital and interesting to me, just that one twist — Batman is a guy, Superman is a guy, but Green Lantern is a job.  And I think he’s the only one who is a job, I —
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34 Responses to “Justice League part 2 — Green Lantern is a job”
  1. greyaenigma says:

    I was thinking someone should do a Jon Stewart Green Lantern image. Then I figured I should try Google first. Best I found was this.

  2. medox says:

    I’ve had an eerily similar Green Lantern-themed conversion at one point myself.

  3. What kind of interview process would applicants go through? What kind of references do you need to be Green Lantern?

    • Todd says:

      Unfortunately, there is no interview process to be had. Green Lanterns are simply chosen by the Guardians.

      Although happenstance occasionally plays a part. Hal Jordan, for instance, became a Green Lantern because an alien happened to crash-land near where Hal happened to be standing one day and the dying alien gave Hal his power ring.

      • black13 says:

        Canon has it that when a Green Lantern dies, the ring takes off and finds the nearest suitable person to attach itself to.

        Which is why Hal Jordan got the ring, initially. A later story told that Hal was chosen over Guy Gardner only because he happened to be closer to the dying Abin Sur than Guy. And some current GL issues had Lanterns dying, and showed their rings take off, muttering something like, “Looking for suitable replacement.”

  4. greyaenigma says:

    In Darkest Night

    You may also want to read some of the Alan Moore stories regarding the Green Lantern Corps (including corpspersons reporting back to the bosses plus what amounts to watercooler talk), and then Legend of the Green Flame, which has some interesting old-meets-new Green Lantern stuff going on.

    • megachef says:

      Re: In Darkest Night

      I’m seconding the Alan Moore suggestion; it was those short stories he wrote about the Green Lantern Corps that really got me interested in the whole concept.

      The idea of the GLC definitely lends itself to the “policeman” concept; of course, you could also pursue the military aspect, particularly with a group of Lanterns. (Insert horrible pun regarding “thin green line” here.)

      I read somewhere that Bruce Timm and company were at one point working on a proposal for a Green Lantern animated series which would have featured several members of the Corps. (This was before Justice League, I believe.) Call me crazy, but I would have loved to see a full season of that.

      • greyaenigma says:

        Re: In Darkest Night

        There’s at least one episode of Justice League that has the GLC acting pretty much like an army. I’s definitely like to see more of them. Ah, Killowog. And Katma Tui!

      • zqadams says:

        Re: In Darkest Night

        It was in fact planned at one point, long ago. IIRC, it was going to be lighter-hearted than the other DCAU stuff, and the character designs for Hal, Kilowog, Ch’p et al. wound up being used in the Duck Dodgers episode where Daffy gets a GL ring.

  5. toliverchap says:

    Well once the six heroes formed the League, a corporation of sorts with a headquarters and company space jet, I think they all sort of made being a superhero a job. It plays much more like a job later on in the JLU eps when they have many lower superheroes as employees and even some regular people working for them.

    • Todd says:

      Yes, but it’s not like if Superman dies, someone else gets promoted to Superman. Only Superman can do Superman’s job. Anyone with a power ring (approved by the Corps) can be a Green Lantern, which is part of its appeal.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Who is Guy Gardner!? Ahhh…

    • Todd says:

      This is Guy Gardner.

      • Anonymous says:

        I kind of wrote that after reading that convoluted little tale… I think I get it. Revisionist history+Attempt to win readers=new Green Lantern. More revisionist history gives him a ‘deep’ storyline…

        • Todd says:

          I don’t know about the “revisionist history” part, all I know is that Guy Gardner was a Green Lantern after Hal Jordan.

  7. black13 says:

    If I ever get to write Green Lantern, I know which approach I’ll take.

    Two words: Frontier Marshal.

  8. kornleaf says:

    K…. i see NO mention of Parallax…

    • Anonymous says:

      Parrallax IS Hal Jordan…

      • kornleaf says:


        from wikipedia

        Parallax was actually an ancient demonic parasitic entity dating back to the dawn of time, that actually was the sentient embodiment of fear, and which traveled from world to world, feeding off the fear of sentient beings, and causing entire civilizations to destroy themselves out of paranoia.

        It was this creature, yellow in color, which the Guardians of the Universe imprisoned within the central Power Battery on Oa using fear’s opposite energy, willpower. Parallax had lain dormant for billions of years, his true nature covered up by the Guardians to prevent anyone from trying to free it, and thus, it had eventually come to be referred to as simply “the yellow impurity.” This was the reason why the rings were useless against the color yellow: Parallax weakened its power over the corresponding spectrum, and hence only someone with the willpower to overcome great fear could master the power ring.

        • greyaenigma says:

          No spoilers!

          Next you’ll be telling us Hal Jordan is The Spectre.

          Comics is a weird medium that way, with all the convoluted histories and tortuous continuity. Some heroes appear to actually be their own children.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Guy Gardner

    I was really bummed that JLU never got around to animating Guy Gardner — that was a missed opportunity. An animated version of the classic Guy Gardner/Batman showdown would’ve kicked all kinds of ass. Wonder what he would sound like, though. Joe Pesci?

    Kent M. Beeson

    • zqadams says:

      Re: Guy Gardner

      Nah, not Joe Pesci. Tom Wilson.

      Also, while there are certain qualifications, I think it’s fair to say that “Flash” is *kind* of a job–sure it’s mostly passed down through family lines and you have to already have the powers to be the Flash, but the fact that there will always be one for the next thousand years, unlike Superman or Batman, counts for something I’d say.

      So Mr. Alcott, you watched much of JL Unlimited yet? I’d love to see what someone like yourself, who’s obviously excellent at analyzing this sort of thing but doesn’t have the 20 years of background a lot of “geeks” do, had to say about “For The Man Who Has Everything” or “The Once and Future Thing.”

      • Todd says:

        Re: Guy Gardner

        Well, I’ve known about “The Man Who Has Everything” from the Alan Moore story, which I read eons ago in The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told (back when I thought I should own one Superman book). I thought they did a good job of bringing the story to life. The story itself is, of course, brilliant. You take these characters who seem to have everything, then focus on the one thing they do not have (ie “a home, parents,” etc). You find the one thing they’ve always wanted, the one thing they can never have, and you simply give them that thing. “What does the protagonist want?” indeed. You give them the thing they can never have and see how they define themselves. If Krypton never exploded, who would Superman be? If Bruce Wayne’s parents had not been killed, who would he be?

        Which raises a good point about the Justice League shows in general. The best of the scripts are always aware that the powers are only half the story. It’s who possesses the power that makes the story interesting. This is why Superfriends is a lame collection of action tales and Justice League is a masterpiece.

        Green Lantern is a perfect illustration of this concept. If the ring’s power is limited by the imagination and will power of the bearer, then that power can range from none at all to all the power in the universe.

        As for “Once and Future Thing,” I always enjoy a good time-travel/alternate universe story. I didn’t know who some of the characters were when I first saw it, but Sam set me straight on them (“Let’s look him up on Wikipedia!” is an oft-heard phrase in my house.) There’s an excellent Teen Titans episode that touches on similar story points and I never get tired of them.

        I also loved the JL episode where they cross over into the comic-book universe.

  10. urbaniak says:

    Thank you for referring to me as famous.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Fair enough. The no-longing-gaze thing is probably why I like them so much. Very little mushy stuff.

  12. Anonymous says:

    It was definitely a Twin Peaks reference. It dated quickly.

  13. Anonymous says:

    [Psst! Pitch a Runaways movie before Joss Whedon does!]

  14. Anonymous says:

    Who are “they”?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Re: Oh, the huge manatee