Is Green Lantern’s origin too complicated?

Posted: June 22, 2011 in All, Comic Books, Movies, Trailers
Tags: , , , , , , ,

The only reason I haven’t seen Green Lantern yet is because the trailer was very…busy…

Parallax. Hector Hammond. Sinestro. The Corps.

I understand you’re trying to start a franchise, but this could be bad.


Green Lantern and all his amazing friends

When I first started collecting comics, I knew nothing about GL except what I learned from the SuperFriends cartoon. Then, without really reading the books, I learned that Hal Jordan got his ring when an alien crashed on Earth. That was good enough for me. Then, I learned that it was because Hal is fearless. OK, now I’m very interested.

Now, as I read a few Green Lantern graphic novels a year, I learn that Atrocitus the Red Lantern caused Abin Sur’s ship to crash. And that Parallax was contained inside the battery, creating an impurity. And on and on….

It’s almost as if all the new stories are actually backstories.

Yes, I’m very glad that they explained the weakness to yellow. Yes, I’m happy for the details being filled in.

But my question – not a criticism, really (This is the first time I’ve ever questioned Geoff Johns) – my question is how elaborate is too elaborate for an origin story?

How much of it is story, and how much of it is explanation? Can you sum it up quickly while still retaining its power?

Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider which gave him spider powers. He failed to use his powers to stop a burglar. That burglar later killed his beloved Uncle Ben who always told him “With great power comes great responsibility.”

You don’t really need much more explanation than that for Spider-Man.

What I Learned: You have to keep the beginning simple. Make them want more.

I can’t say I’ve really learned this. I make this mistake all the time. I started a comic book with a time travel story, for crying out loud.

As a writer, you want to sink as much depth into your creations as possible. Then, you can’t wait to show your hand. But you’ve got to hold out, slow bet, up the ante, then go for the big reveal.

So, maybe what we should achieve in an origin story is a sense of wonder: We should be as wide-eyed and amazed as the hero. These wonderful/scary things are happening and we are just along for the ride. And we only learn as much as the hero does.


For the record, I like Kyle Rayner more than Hal Jordan. (Sorry!)




Disclaimer/background: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t think people should break rules of storytelling unless there’s a good reason. I write comic books, short fiction and children’s books. Just to put my comments in perspective, these are my interests and favorites: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I also like Justice League and Batman. My favorite comic writers lately have been Kurt Busiek, Peter David, and Geoff Johns. I am a huge Transformers fan. In children’s books, I go either simple or meta: either really simple stories or books about stories. In movies and books, I am more impressed with something small that makes me feel something rather than something I’m told is a “must-read” or a must-see.”

I make silly videos and post them here:


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s