I’m going to be straightforward with you: I love Green Lantern. It’s my favorite comic book franchise of all time and I can safely say that these characters have been a very positive influence in my life throughout the years. And let’s be honest here: stories about travelling through different worlds, intergalactic wars, knowing different types of people across the universe and having a ring that can virtually do anything… who wouldn’t love that?
When it comes to Green Lantern, there is a wide variety of stories to choose from and there is a little bit of everything for everybody, so I’m sure that at least one of these choices is going to be of your liking. If you’re a new reader that wants to get into the vast world of the Green Lantern Corps, I hope this list of the 15 best Green Lantern comics that you MUST read works for you.
In brightest day, in blackest night, don’t let these comics escape your sight!
15. Three of a Kind. Vol. 3 #91, Green Arrow Vol. 1 #130 and The Flash Vol. 2 #135 (1998).
The 90s were a time of change for the comic book industry as a whole, but I think DC definitely had the most interesting changes because many of the classic characters were replaced with successors that have been actually well-regarded as time went on, unlike other companies. So in this story, Three of a Kind, we meet the 90s iterations of Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner), Green Arrow (Connor Hawke) and the Flash (Wally West).
The story of this comic is actually quite simple: Kyle, Wally and Connor are all friends and they have decided to take a break from the superhero business going to a cruise for a couple of days while Kyle is also coping with breaking with his girlfriend at the time, Donna Troy (former Wonder Girl). Sadly, a group of minor villains is also on the cruise and our heroes not only have to face them, but also protect and save the passengers before the boat sinks
Simple, effective and entertaining, Three of a Kind is a fun and classic superhero story that shows how in the 90s there were mantles that had been passed on and did so with a more palatable approach–characters like Kyle, Wally and Connor never felt like gimmicks, even if the results for each character throughout the years has varied.
The Rebirth initiative revitalized multiple DC titles back in 2016 and brought most of their characters back to glory, which was certainly true with the Green Lantern comic and especially with the main character, Hal Jordan.
To add a bit of context to the beginning of this comic, we need to understand that the Green Lantern Corps has seemingly disappeared from the universe and the villain Sinestro and his army, aptly called the Sinestro Corps, have taken over the control of the universe.
Hal Jordan had resigned from the Green Lantern Corps due to multiple events of the New 52 era, but now he has built a new ring from his own will and has decided to bring the fight to Sinestro as a one-man army.
Writer Robert Venditti is one of the most underrated creators in the industry right now and his work on Sinestro’s Law and the rest of his Green Lantern run is simply amazing, taking the character of Hal Jordan back to the levels of quality that he enjoyed with Geoff Johns. Venditti has the benefit of counting with artist Ethan Van Sciver, who is quite likely the one who has done the best art for this title.
A great starting point for new readers that shows you what Hal and the Corps are all about.
Another great way to start is going straight to the beginning and I believe that both Emerald Dawn miniseries are a great example of what you can do when you update a classic origin story and improve the elements that you already had at your disposal. If you want to know more about classic Green Lantern and the character of Hal Jordan, then these two miniseries are great for you.
I put these two miniseries together because I think they go hand in hand: the first one tells you all you need to know about Hal’s humble beginnings as a cocky air pilot and how the dying Green Lantern, Abin Sur, gives him the ring with his dying breath.
Meanwhile, the second miniseries shows you his relationship with the then-greatest Lantern, Sinestro, and his fall from grace once Hal discovers how he has been ruling a fascist estate in his home planet of Korugar.
These two miniseries are fun, very well-drawn and it presents you a post-Crisis reboot of Hal Jordan where you get everything you need to know about his origins. And while it’s not my favorite origin about Hal (more on that later), it’s very good and worth your time.
This collection includes both miniseries, so it’s not a bad deal at all, and no doubt this is one of the best Green Lantern comics!
When Kyle Rayner was the main (and only) Green Lantern in the 90s and early 2000s, he had to deal with the responsibility of carrying with the legacy of the Corps all by himself and writer Judd Winnick decided to raise the stakes even more by giving Kyle all the power of all the Green Lanterns that existed before the Emerald Twilight fallout, turning him into a god-like being called Ion.
This storyline was very interesting because it showed Kyle coping with the consequences of having so much power and the capacity that he had to change the universe. It also deals with the ramifications that it has with his girlfriend Jade, the Justice League and the different conflicts that he had to endure throughout the years, such as his missing father, which is a subplot that has a fine resolution here.
The Green Lantern in the early 90s was struggling on a commercial and artistic level and they decided to shake things around through the Emerald Dawn miniseries and also through Ganthet’s Tale, which introduced the famous Guardian that would become instrumental in the franchise’s mythos and also the one Guardian that people actually like (the Guardians by and large have proven to be douches in the comics).
The team that made this comic is actually interesting because you not only have legendary artist John Byrne on pencils, but you also have a science fiction writer named Larry Niven, who decided to revamp Green Lantern’s mythology by adding a lot more lore and concepts that are actually quite interesting.
It also introduces Ganthet, who is definitely the star of the comic with a few memorable quotes, who decides to ask for Hal Jordan’s help to deal with a threat that goes all the way back to the beginning of the Guardians.
I always liked this comic because it’s the first time that we’re really shown upfront that the Guardians have a lot of skeletons in their closet and that factor would prove to be monumental in subsequent Green Lantern stories throughout the years.
It’s a testament to how much Green Lantern was struggling in the early 90s that DC decided to destroy Hal Jordan’s home, Coast City, in a Superman title during the Reign of the Superman story arc. They wanted to revamp the title by removing Hal and adding a new main character, which is why they hired then-Silver Surfer writer Ron Marz and he pulled these two stories that I believe are one and the same, Emerald Twilight and A New Dawn.
Emerald Twilight takes place after Cyborg Superman destroyed Coast City, Hal is devastated and while having a mental breakdown, he decides to use his ring to bring back everything he once knew, but once it runs out of energy, a projection of one of the Guardians tells him that he is discharged because he used his powers for personal gain.
Hal then snaps, steals energy from the projection and goes on a rampage to Oa, the planet of the Guardians, to steal the energy of the Power Battery and he kills multiple Lanterns on the way there.
A New Dawn deals with the aftermath: the Guardians are dead, the Lanterns are gone and Hal has assumed the identity of Parallax after absorbing the power of the battery. Only Ganthet managed to escape and went to Earth, where he chose a young man named Kyle Rayner in an alley and gave him the last Green Lantern ring. This story deals with Kyle’s origin story and the consequences of his recklessness as a superhero.
Say what you want about Emerald Twilight being rushed (Marz said that he wanted more issues to develop Hal’s fall from grace a lot better, but editorial couldn’t provide more time), but it definitely changed the status quo of Green Lantern and Kyle Rayner would go on to become a fan-favorite.
I think these two stories are actually very interesting in the sense that you rarely see a legend falling the way Hal did and how a new hero has to carry on the legacy of an entire army all by himself.
A true exhibition of what makes a real good Green Lantern comic.
The trade we recommend includes issues up to #57, plus some additional issues from New Titans and R.E.B.E.L.S.
Alan Moore didn’t spend too much time working on the Green Lantern title, but his contributions would prove to be very important during Geoff Johns’ acclaimed run and it would also expand the Green Lantern mythology in a very interesting manner.
One of Moore’s biggest contributions was the prophecy of the Blackest Night, which Johns obviously took a lot of ideas from. Another important factor was the creation of the character Sodam Yat, who was poised to become the greatest Lantern of all time.
If you don’t want to go for the individual issues, there’s a nice collection called DC Universe by Alan Moore that inlude these annuals, together with other very good stories as Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, that is one of the best Superman stories from all time. Get it on Amazon by clicking here.
I know a lot of comic book fans don’t like the Final Night event and it has been quite forgotten as years went on, but I personally enjoyed because I think Hal Jordan’s death in this event is handled quite tastefully and it gives a sense of closure to a character that became a villain and found a sense of redemption through his sacrifice here to reignite the sun.
What I like the most about this event is the fact that Hal gets to close many cycles in his life, talking to his former Corps partners, Guy Gardner and John Stewart, visit Oliver Queen’s grave, meeting former lover Carol Ferris and so on. It’s a nice way to thank loyal readers after all these years and a dignified way to end the story of Hal Jordan for the time being.
And I said “for the time being” because this is comics and no one really stays dead.
What did I tell you? No one stays dead in comics. Hal Jordan is back, baby!
Geoff Johns’ Green Lantern is widely regarded has the best that the title ever had and rightfully so. After returning Hal to the fold in the Green Lantern: Rebirth miniseries, here we have our protagonist trying to have a normal life as an air pilot and superhero once again and we’re going to see him face some old foes along the way, with Johns starting to establish many different elements that would become synonymous with his run.
It’s the part of Johns’ run that feels the most faithful to Hal’s classic adventures and it’s a really good way to introduce people to a new chapter in this character’s life. But it only gets better moving from here.
Or if you want to go for a higher ammount investment, but that will give you hours and hours of fun, you can get the Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus benemoth, that also includes Green Lantern: Rebirth, Green Lantern from issues 1 to 25, plus some issues from Green Lantern Corps and specials.
Quite a good value for the money for any Green Lantern fan.
I know that this may sound exaggerated, but I think this is, along with Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One and John Byrne’s Man of Steel, the best origin story that DC has ever produced. Geoff Johns took his time to revamp Hal’s origin with the aptly titled Secret Origin and managed to add a lot more to the mythos without changing the key elements that turned everybody’s favorite air force pilot into what he is.
In fact, Johns makes Hal’s origin even better, giving more depth to the relationship that he has with his mother and brothers, the consequences of his father’s death and how Hal wants to live up to his legacy.
We see the reckless young pilot that is thirsty for life and danger, but we also get to see the heart of the hero and how he learns to be the Lantern he would become, learning from the likes of Killowog and Sinestro, who has never been written better than during Johns’ run.
You also have the art of the great Ivan Reis, who adds a lot of detail and majesty to this story, which is extremely fitting. In fact, this story has some of my favorite art in any comic: the drawings are great and the colors have a degree of life that I have rarely seen, before or after.
Perhaps the best starting point for any potential reader.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Johns’ run was the fact that he constantly expanded the mythos and added multiple layers of complexity to what was a somewhat undeveloped universe, as far as the Green Lantern goes. And Agent Orange is one of my favorite stories in his run given the fact that it introduces one of the most interesting concepts in the form of its main antagonist, Larfleeze.
What I love about Larfleeze is that the Orange Lantern, one of the many Lanterns from the emotional spectrum that Johns created alongside artist Ethan Van Sciver, represents the power of greed and this character is so greedy that he keeps the lantern and the battery all to himself, having an army of constructs made out of the people that he has murdered. With the secret of the Agent Orange is discovered, Hal and the Corps need to put an end to him.
It’s fun, it’s interesting and it sets the stage for one of DC’s biggest events in the last thirty years or so, Blackest Night.
When writer Dennis O’Neill and artist Neal Adams took over the Green Lantern title, the character was struggling and not doing very well, so they decided to team him up with another character that wasn’t doing so well, Green Arrow, and played an allegory where Hal Jordan would represent the values of the Republican Party and Oliver Queen the ones of the Democrat Party, with both of them travelling through America and dealing with many problems along the way.
The book was not only successful because it showed two political opposites working together for a common goal, but it was also one of the first books where O’Neill and Adams gained mainstream attention and is one of those comics that helped them take off as creators.
The stories were entertaining due to O’Neill’s writing and Adams’ artwork was groundbreaking at the time, combining precision on anatomy with a lot of dynamism. This run also introduced the character of John Stewart, who would go on to become essential to the Green Lantern franchise.
The friendship between Oliver Queen and Hal Jordan is the stuff of legends in the DC Universe and it has its beginnings right here.
Even though Kyle Rayner was minor success in the 90s and managed to gain the love and appreciation of the fans, the title was starting to feel stagnant in the mid-2000s and Geoff Johns took the title in 2004 with the goals of injecting new life to the Green Lantern comic. How he was going to do that? By finally bringing Hal Jordan back as a Green Lantern after a stint where he came back from the dead and became the Spectre (long story, it’s complicated).
This miniseries addresses Hal’s comeback, but it also sets a retcon in motion that would change the story of Emerald Twilight where Hal went crazy by stating that he wasn’t really himself, but rather he was possessed by the fear entity Parallax.
This would prove to have consequences on Hal’s stint as the Spectre as he loses more and more about his humanity and the rest of the superhero community, led by Kyle and Oliver Queen, try to help him in the process.
Green Lantern: Rebirth has to deal with many elements at the same time, but Johns manages to do that swiftly and brings excitement back to the tile. Even to this day, the writing on this book feels fun and full of life. It also shows how much knowledge Johns has on the Green Lantern mythos and how he uses said knowledge to develop them even more.
We also see the beginning of his partnership with the great Ethan Van Sciver, who delivers some of the best art of his entire career and, at least to me, the best rendition of Hal Jordan that you’re ever going to see.
A modern DC classic. Get it on Amazon by clicking here.
Johns set up Blackest Night from the very beginning of his run and I have to say that it was well worth the time, effort and investment that required because it’s one of the best DC events of all time and a tremendous experience if you were reading everything that came before.
The story at this point is very simple: the prophecy is fulfilled and the Black Lanterns have risen from the dead, looking to destroy life itself all across the universe. This event not only requires the help of the Green Lantern Corps and the rest of the DC heroes, but also the input of the difference Corps that were created during Johns’ run, becoming an epic confrontation between life and death.
This event really lived up to its promise, in my view, becoming an overwhelming battle for the heroes and a moment where all the previous deaths that we have seen in the DC Universe gather a level of importance and consistency that didn’t have before.
Johns took the concept of comic book deaths and decided to make a huge meta commentary where the Black Lanterns, representatives of death itself, are not happy with people constantly coming back.
That’s why I actually recommend getting the omnibus of this event; that way you can see the ramifications that this event has across the whole DC Universe as multiple characters have to face corrupted versions of their loved ones that died.
It’s also an event where the likes of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman don’t have a main role; it’s actually Hal, the Lanterns, the Flash (Barry Allen), Mera and Atom the ones that have a much more centric role here and it’s actually quite refreshing to see.
One of the last great DC comics and one that you should read.
Where you will find reeeeallly good material that will keep you reading for weeks. A real good value for the money!
The Sinestro Corp War is the best Green Lantern story. Simple as that. It’s the franchise’s crowning achievement and one of the best comic book stories that I have ever read. It has everything that you could expect from a superhero story: great action, high stakes, a lot of dynamism and an emotional element that keeps you invested on these characters.
Sinestro has decided to create his own Corps and have his ultimate revenge against the Green Lanterns, so he has gathered pretty much every single lowlife of the universe and also joined forces with some of the most dangerous of the DC Universe, such as Cyborg Superman, Superboy Prime, the Anti-Monitor and Parallax (now possessing Kyle Rayner).
Hal, the Corps and the rest of the DC superheroes would need everything they have to defeat them in this epic intergalactic war.
This is without a shadow of a doubt Johns’ crowning achievement as a writer and a testament to everything that makes Green Lantern great. I cannot tell you how many times I have read this comic and how I always get a new great character moment or a tremendous display of art from generational talents such as Ivan Reis, Patrick Gleason or Ethan Van Sciver.
It’s a phenomenal resolution and a justification of why Johns brought Hal back to the forefront of the franchise; he is the definitive embodiment of what the Green Lanterns stand for and the third act sums up his character for me, providing some of the best lines of the entire story.
One of the best comics of all time. Read it!
Read some of these comics and enjoy!
And as we always say… keep reading good comics!