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 —