Review: Green Lantern: A Celebration of 75 Years

This week sees the release of another DC Comics hardcover celebrating 75 years of a storied character -- this time, Green Lantern.

While some of the previous volumes have sparked some spirited discussion about major omissions, Green Lantern: A Celebration of 75 Years is unlikely to do so. Most of the key notes are hit -- and the themes, concepts and even characters the comprise the Green Lantern mythology are so fractured and varied that it seems as though once you get all the formalities out of the way, there's almost no room left for anything else.

Retailing at $39.99, you can get it at your local comic shop or online via booksellers like In Stock Trades, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

With a heavy focus on Hal Jordan -- a given considering the character's history -- the volume does surprisingly well at giving each major Lantern a chance to shine, from Alan Scott through Simon Baz with stops along the way for Guy Gardner, John Stewart and Kyle Rayner.

Hell, even Alan Scott's longtime co-star Streaky the Wonder Dog gets some page time in here!

Some of the inclusions are obvious -- the first appearances of Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner and John Stewart, for instance -- while some are somewhat more inspired. The inclusion of Emerald Twilight's conclusion, giving us the first look at Kyle Rayner with a ring and introducing fans to the "evil" iteration of Hal Jordan who was around for most of a decade in the form of Parallax, is a gratifying surprise, since post-Rebirth it seems DC would prefer to forget they ever drove the Silver Age Green Lantern crazy to begin with.

Probably the most surprisingly fun choice is the inclusion of a story where John Stewart elects to unmask and perform as a public hero. At this point, it seems almost like a time capsule; many superheroes now lack a secret identity and anything except spacefaring adventure is largely irrelevant to the Earth Green Lanterns. Still, at the time this seemed like a bold move and was one of a number of things to set Stewart apart from the pack more than just being "The Black Green Lantern."

I understand the compulsion to address both Alexandra DeWitt, whose death played a key role in the development of Kyle Rayner's story, and the tenure of Judd Winick, the only truly notable Kyle Rayner writer besides his creator Ron Marz -- but I would argue they should have done better by both than the issue they chose.

A notable omission, in terms of exploring the history of the Green Lantern Corps in an accessible way to the kind of casual reader who might be caught by a volume such as this, might be Green Lantern #55 from the Marz run, in which Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott gives then-new Green Lantern Kyle Rayner a crash course in the mythology as well as aspects of DC history impacted by the Green Lanterns and vice versa.

Those aren't the only questionable inclusions; while the desire to have them in the book is understandable, a few of the Johns selections -- Green Lantern: Rebirth #1 and Green Lantern #0 from the current run -- are baffling from a storytelling point of view and are far from complete and stand-alone stories themselves. Ending on Green Lantern #0 -- where Simon Baz gets the ring -- is particularly strange as it gives the impression that his joining the Corps is somehow a culmination of all that's come before. This would be entirely appropriate if it were Baz who was the current star of the series, but given that he's already all but forgotten, it seems an odd note on which to close such a book.