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Monday, 4 July 2011

Seen the movie? Read the book - Thor and Green Lantern

You may have noticed a few high profile superhero films coming out this year.  A month or so ago we had Thor, Marvel comics' favourite Norse god.  A few weeks ago we had Green Lantern, DC's favourite space cop.  Hopefully you enjoyed the films and now want to read some of the comics.  Well, we've got some suggestions for you.

For what it's worth, I felt that Thor was the better film, but I prefer the Green Lantern comics.  The Green Lantern film had a fair few faults, partly because it was made by fans for fans, but they did get Hal Jordan's character down perfectly, as well as making some fun ring constructs and developing a great Oa.  But on with the recommendations.  We'll start with Green Lantern as that's what I'm more comfortable discussing:
The Hal Jordan character has been around since the 1950s.  For most of this time he has been a Green Lantern, then he went evil, died, became a supernatural spirit of vengeance, then came back to life again.  The recent film was his origin story (as these things so often are) but if you want a jumping on point to the comics, you don't need to start from the decades old stories.

Green Lantern movie prequels.  Several one-shots (short magazine style issues) have been released to tie in with the film.   Each one centred on a different character - Abin Sur, Hal Jordan, Kilowog, Sinestro and Tomar-Re, and are designed to complement the character's stories in the films.  They are listed in full here, with a blurb for each issue.  They will be collected as a trade, due to be released October 2011.

Green Lantern: Rebirth.  This is set after he had died and come back, and tells of how Hal became a Green Lantern again.  It also features the other Green Lantern and sets the stage nicely for everything that has been happening in the Green Lantern universe since.

Green Lantern: No Fear.  Set after Rebirth, this book explores Hal's new life back in the Corps and the Air Force.  It's a straightforward story with villains, aliens, Hector Hammond and action.

Blackest Night.  One of the big events of last year.  In addition to the Green Lantern Corps (operating on willpower), the DC Universe also has the Star Sapphires (harnessing the power of love), the Indigo Corps (harnessing compassion), the Red Lanterns (rage), the Sinestro Corps (fear), the Blue Lanterns (hope) and and Orange Lantern (greed - hence why there's only one of them).

In Blackest Night the Black Lanterns are discovered.  They are the risen dead, but unlike the other Corps, you don't have to be special to become a Black Lantern.  Oh no.  Instead pretty much every dead being in the universe is reanimated and comes to earth looking to destroy everyone else.  As they are pretty good at killing people, their numbers only grow.

It's a great story that perhaps relies a little too much on knowledge of the DC universe to fully appreciate it.  It also has some quite violent art, so I would hesitate to give this to young ones.  If your kids want to read about Hal Jordan point them in the direction of one of the other books instead.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow volume one.  Written in the 1970s, this has Hal Jordan and another hero, Green Arrow, go on a road trip to find the real America.  Green Arrow has always been a left wing radical, so he decides Hal Jordan needs a political education, hence the road trip.  Both of them come across as jerks in this, partly because of the writer's politicising of the text, but it's still a good read.

I didn't know so much about Thor's comic incarnation before I saw the film.  I have since read and been recommended some comics, of which I will pass the details onto you.  Sadly Thor is beardless in the comics, but don't let that put you off.

Avengers Disassembled: Thor.   This tells of how Ragnarok comes to the Norse Gods, and how Thor has to save his kin.  Handily enough for fans of the recent Marvel films, Iron Man and Captain America are also in it.  I haven't read this myself but it serves as a precursor to the trade I have read, which is:

Thor, volume 1.  This collects the start of a new series and is written by Michael J Straczynski (who wrote Babylon 5).  I have read this one and I must say I quite enjoyed it.  Thor comes back to earth and recreates Asgard in middle America, locating all the missing Gods and restoring them to life.  There's a nice bit of gender bending going on as well, which is always fun.

Straczynski being who he is, does tend to bring in a lot of politics to his writing, which can seem a bit heavy handed.  Part of this may be to do with the fact that this is a Marvel book - Marvel comics, when compered to DC comics, have a reputation for making their stories more gritty and realistic.  However, any unexpectedly heavy scenes are balanced out by the rest of the book, so it doesn't come across as too preachy.

Also released is Thor, volume 2 and Thor, volume 3.  All should give you a good overview of the Marvel universe as well as Thor's place in it.

If you prefer to try things out more cheaply, you can always get some digital comics.  Thor ones are listed here.

Happy reading!


  1. I was expecting a little recommendation for Green Lantern Secret Origins.
    The modern retelling of Hal Jordan origins.
    (I personally prefer Emerald Dawn, but...)

    Just sayin'!

  2. Ah! I forgot about Secret Origins! Good call Eyz, everybody, go try Secret Origins (and Emerald Dawn) as well!
    ~ Saranga
    (I don't think blogger is letting me log in)

  3. (me as well when I answered a little ago~ Might be just a little issue, but looks fine to me now)