When did Green Lantern’s most infamous look debut and why does it matter?

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Today we look back at when Hal Jordan first got his gray temples.

In “When We First Met,” we highlight the various characters, phrases, objects, or events that eventually became notable parts of comic lore, like when someone first said “Avengers Assemble!” or the first appearance of Batman’s giant dime or the first appearance of Alfred Pennyworth or the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter. Stuff like that.

My buddy Gene B. wrote me asking if I had covered this before, but I hadn’t, so here we go!

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HOW HAL JORDAN’S GRAY HAIR OCCURED

In 1987, Mike Grell wrote and drew a mini-series called longbow hunters starring Green Arrow and in the series, Green Arrow is celebrating (well, “celebrating” is probably the wrong word) his 43rd birthday…



The miniseries was a major hit and it surprisingly led to a lawsuit green arrow series the following year (I don’t think even Grell really thought Longbow Hunters would lead to a Green Arrow series). This series, while great, also kind of solidified a number of things that happened in comic book culture in the late 1980s and early 1990s, namely the idea that comic book superheroes were almost inherently silly in nature, that superhero names were almost inherently silly. and that we had to allow these old characters to grow. Throughout Mike Grell’s run on Green Arrow, Oliver Queen was almost never CALLED “Green Arrow” and he celebrated his 44th birthday shortly after the series debuted. When Hal Jordan starred in the book of green arrow #20 (by Grell, Ed Hannigan and Dick Giordano), it was just like “Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen’s best friend” and not like Green Lantern…



But that’s kind of the rub, isn’t it? If Oliver Queen was now in his 40s and Hal Jordan was his longtime best friend, wouldn’t that suggest that Hal Jordan was ALSO in his 40s? If Hal was on some sort of hot streak, that would be an easy thing to ignore, but instead Hal Jordan was a little angry. the Green Lantern Comic was actually briefly hot for a while in the mid-1980s and Steve Englehart and Joe Staton Green Lantern Corps had a bit of a buzz about it, but then the idea came up that Green Lantern would be used as the main element in Weekly action comics, a noble experiment in comic book anthologies that didn’t really work out well, and with Hal leaving his own title and “only” appearing in action comics, Hal has lost some of his place in the DC Universe. After all, one of DC’s most popular superhero comics during this time was Justice League International, which featured an entirely different Green Lantern, Guy Gardner!


Yet, by the time Hal is action comics feature ended in action comics #635 (Hal would make a few more appearances before the show reverted to a monthly Superman title), Hal’s hair didn’t have any gray in it…


This changed when Green Lantern received a new book in 1990, The Green Lantern, Hal being just one of three Green Lanterns who would get stardom in the book, along with John Stewart and Guy Gardner…


The book (by Gerard Jones, Pat Broderick and Bruce Patterson) opens with Hal Jordan, somewhat aimless at this point in his life, reflecting on the FIFTEEN YEARS since he became a Green Lantern. We can all debate the merits of a changing timeline for superheroes, but I think it’s still pretty shocking to see a comic suggest that Hal Jordan had been a Green Lantern for FIFTEEN YEARS…



And yet, that was the state the DC Universe was in at that time, where it was really starting to lean into the idea of ​​separate generations and the Teen Titan generation coming of age.

What’s weird is that Broderick doesn’t even have any real consistency with gray hair, because the comic opens with Hal’s gray just kind of mixed in there, but later in the issue , it’s more specifically on the temples…


HAL JORDAN’S GRAY HAIR DEVELOPS OVER THE YEARS

Interestingly, you can see how Broderick kind of kept it to kind of a patch of gray on the temples…


It’s really when Mark Bright took over that the gray temples grew…



What’s interesting is that when Hal Jordan was about to come out of the book, Darryl Banks had the gray wrap entirely around Hal’s hair…


In this number, The Green Lantern #50, Hal Jordan becomes Parallax and is replaced by a young man named Kyle Rayner, seemingly completing the idea suggested in those earlier issues that these heroes had grown too old and a new generation was needed (Oliver Queen was soon killed, and succeeded by his son, Connor Hawke).

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THE SHOCKING REASON BEHIND HAL JORDAN’S GRAY HAIR

Parallax later sacrificed himself to save Earth from a dying sun and he was then briefly host to the Spectre, the Spirit of Vengeance, but years later he was resurrected in Green Lantern Revival and in the third issue (by Geoff Johns, Ethan Van Sciver and Prentis Rollins) we learn that Hal was possessed by an evil yellow entity KNOWN as Parallax and that its first effects on the hero were to prematurely return his hair gray (perhaps as something Hal feared would happen to him? I’m a little unsure about that part of it all)…



Suffice it to say, regardless of the current setup of the post-Infinite Frontier DC Universe, Hal probably isn’t old enough for gray hair anymore.

Thanks to Gene for the suggestion! If anyone has a suggestion for a standout comic first, message me at [email protected]!

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