Green Lantern: Where Do I Start?

This might feel more like a letter column question, but in truth, so many people have asked this that I thought it might be more helpful to create one place with one answer, and then I will simultaneously have been helpful, and never have to write out this answer again.  On MySpace, Twitter, email, forum and websites, everyone wants to know where they can get in on some of this space-cop action.  And it's a good question, because it has been a long time since the world of Green Lantern has been this exciting, and had this many people interested.  In fact, never in all my years have I seen Green Lantern generating as much buzz as right now.  From the start of July's Blackest Night event, to the upcoming animated feature, to building feature film rumblings, Sector 2814 is sort of in its brightest day.

I feel a little like I should apologize for that…Oh well.

Recently, my M.O. has been to tell people to just go pick up the most recent issue of something, and go from there, most likely sorting out what's going on, and figuring it out as you go.  That's certainly possible with Green Lantern, and the stories are in a bit of a lull at the moment, gearing up for the official start of Blackest Night.  However, the stories being told now are, in fact, built in from the beginning of Johns' run on the title, and things are more satisfying if you want to make the commitment and investment to read the key points in the larger story.  That being said, you don't need to read everything that came before.  There are lots of jump on points designed to people to start reading throughout, and it's one of Geoff Johns' strengths to keep the books accessible to new readers.

But here's what I think you should read if you want to get the most out of Green Lantern these days.  There are other books to be read, but these are the core of what you need to get a good handle on things.

Green Lantern: Rebirth – Hal Jordan was dead, and they had to bring him back. Rebirth is that story, and it marks the start of Geoff Johns' legendary run with the ring wielder. Johns has a great knack for bringing you up to speed without feeling like you're just reading exposition. Teamed with artist Ethan Van Sciver, this is the start of the definitive modern Hal Jordan.

Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 – Sinestro is Green Lantern's arch foe, when he forms his own corps of bad guys wearing yellow rings, the we see a huge universe spanning story involving all the Green Lantern Corps, and just what makes Hal Jordan so special. This is probably the finest modern Green Lantern story to date.

Green Lantern: Secret Origin – Published right after Sinestro Corps War, Secret Origin takes us back for an in-depth retelling of Hal Jordan's origin, including his early relationship with Sinestro, as well as his rocky start in the Green Lantern Corps. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis take the classic Hal Jordan origin story, and throw on a very fresh coat of paint, while still respecting the past.

Green Lantern #36-40 and Blackest Night #0 – These issues bring us into the present, with the Rage of the Red Lanterns story arc, and the current Agent Orange arc.  To be honest, I'm not sure how integral these are to the later story, but if you can grab the issues, you'll be caught right up to the current goings on.  Chances are, these stories will be mostly recapped with the start of Blackest Night, but I'm also incredibly intrigued by the events with Hal Jordan and the Blue Lanterns.

BONUS READS!  Perhaps you don't just want to know what you can read to appreciate the current stuff, but you just want to know some great Hal Jordan stories.  These are the best I've read.

Green Lantern / Green Arrow Collection Vol.1 and Vol. 2 – These books compile the classic run of writer Denny O'Neil and legendary artist Neal Adams. When Hal Jordan is confronted with the real world by Green Arrow, they hit the road to see what America is really like. Touching on politics, racism, drug use, and all sorts of issues which hadn't ever been touched on in comics, these issues changed not just Green Lantern, but comic book history, and they've never been the same since.

DC: The New Frontier – Master creator Darwyn Cooke tells his unique take of the time just prior to the start of the Justice League of America. The story focuses very heavily on a young pilot named Hal Jordan who has no fear at all. This stripped down version of a late 50's era hero is a wonderful and elegant re-imagining of Green Lantern, and his place in the DC Universe.

Showcase Presents: Green Lantern, Vol. 1 – If you really want to go back to the place where it all started, check out these black and white reprints of Hal Jordan's earliest adventures, written by John Broome, and illustrated by Gil Kane. This includes the first appearance of Hal Jordan from 1959's Showcase #22, as well as the Guardians, Sinestro, and his lifelong love, Carol Ferris. If you're a nut for the classic comics, this is the book for you.  And remember folks, Stan Lee wouldn't hire Gil Kane to work at Marvel because he said he drew everyone, "too gay."

JLA: Year One – While not specifically a Green Lantern story, in 1998, Mark Waid and Barry Kitson re-told the origin of the Justice League in 12 issues. It really shines when it comes to depictions of these characters as the JLA is forming. We get to see some great moments in the relationship between Hal and Barry Allen, the Flash, and it's just a fun read.  There are trades out there, but a new version will be available from DC in December later this year.  If you see it in a shop, pick it up!


  1. As an extra added bonus read, don’t forget the Green Lantern Corps: Recharge mini which brought back the Green Lantern Corps.

    That mini was co-written by Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons, with art by the still-regular penciller Pat Gleason.

    It’s just as good as the Hal Jordan Lantern stuff.

  2. "We get to see some great moments in the relationship between Hal and Barry West, the Flash, and it’s just a fun read."


    Barry West?

  3. I higly recomend to anyone who wants More Green Lantern to also pick up some of the Green Lantern Corps Trades. They’re cheaper than some of the GL Books for the most part, and most are in fact better. Recharge and Dark Side of Green are the Two I suggest most. And if you’re not reading GLC by Blackest night, you will be missing some story, and a whole lotta fun.

  4. @emergencyexit             nit pick…..

  5. barry west is a spoiler for the end of flash rebirth – barry and waly merge into one!

  6. I agree with GreenLantern2814, the Dark Side of Green is a great read!  I keep hoping the Corpse will show up in future issues…

  7. Thanks for this Josh.  You guys got me jazzed on this series, and I’ve loved every bit of it.  Folks, consider all these recommends seconded.  If only I had the finances I’d go back and pick up GLCorps too.

  8. Add Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns.  Sequentially, I think it comes right after Secret Origin

  9. @emergencyexit – Good spot. As if it never happened…

  10. Some great choices but if you want some Kyle Rayner stuff, Ron Marz’s earlier issues are really worthwhile. I think they’ve been traded but I could be wrong.

  11. Great article! I’ve already sent it to three people who’ve been asking about Green Lantern 🙂

  12. If you want to get into Green Lantern lore, I would suggest "In Brighest Day".  This is a trade with classic stories picked by Geoff Johns.  I can’t help but think these might be the books that inspire his writing.

  13. I jumped onto GL with secret origin (at the same time going back and catching up from rebirth) its a great run

  14. I love ‘Green Lantern/Green Arrow’, and the Silver Age stuff so very much.  Great rec on ‘JLA: Year One’ as well, and I’d mention that the ‘Flash/Green Lantern: Brave and the Bold’ miniseries that the same creative team worked on is a terrific book in the same vein.

  15. @ohcaroline I whole heartedly agree, I think that the Brave and the Bold mini was largely overlooked.

  16. Great list.  I picked up the trades of Green Lantern inbetween Rebirth and Sinestro and they were…less than satisfying, except for the Batman issue which I enjoyed.  It is entirely possible to go from Rebirth to Sinestro Corp and not fell left out. 

    Of course, just jumping right in is also sound advice!

  17. @drakedangerz   I love the Batman issue, and also the Green Arrow teamup that I think is an Infinite Crisis tie-in (?)  I suppose the rest is forgettable, though I confess I stopped reading a few issues into Sinestro Corps war and, other than ‘Secret Origins’, haven’t really been back on board since.

  18. Nicely timed article I was looking at some GL trades at lunchtime and wondering where to begin. Clairvoyant powers are obviously sharp today Mr Flanagan.

    On a related note will you be getting a sponsored click through to Amazon UK (and other countries). I want to buy some books and want to help iFanboy but cannot afford shipping to the UK on a regular basis. I know this has been asked before but I don’t think I’ve seen an answe;  I might have missed it.

  19. @ohcaroline-Yeah, there were a few pretty good issues tucked into the beginning of the run.  It’s just that the Batman issue was the one that jumps out at me because of the cool geekout moment at the end 🙂

  20. Nice to see this one not get the blanket ‘just pick up an issue’ answer (although that really does work).

    Johns has done so much to make Hal Jordan a viable character these days, to truly appreciate what’s happening (and about to happen) in the GL books, you really need to read just about his entire run on the series. I’ve got a feeling his Star Saphire arc could come back sometime during Blackest Night. If you can afford it, this is one series you won’t be disappointed in picking up all in trades.

    I’d also recommend Emerald Dawn by Keith Giffen and Priest (still using the Owlsey name then). This is, I believe, the last tiime Hal’s origin was tackled before Rebirth and is good, fun comics.

  21. DC just released the Green Lantern Chronicles, which are cheap normal trade sized color reprints. They’re done on the original quality papers.

  22. Good list Josh.  You get major points for putting Rebirth and SCW before Secret Origin.  I wouldn’t have thought of it, but it certainly is the way to go.

  23. I love the green Lantern corps book as well. Love Guy Gardner and all the various corps members who actually look alien, especially the planet and the microscopic Lanterns. Also, it avoids earth in the early run so if you love Nova and any annhiliation book i’d recommend it. Also check out JLA Age of Wonder from elseworlds for a great WW1 era Hal taking on the hun. 

  24. This is good because I wanted to try GL again, but wasn’t sure where to start. Sounds like I can jump right to the Sinestro Corps War.

    See, my only beef here is that I’m one of the few folks who read Rebirth in issues and thought it was REALLY mediocre. It did feel like a lot of apologetic exposition to me. Maybe some of it is because I had read GL back when Hal had the gray hair, then when he went mad, when Kyle took over, and even when Hal became the Spectre. So, it felt like a series that existed only to explain away and reset everything, which to me is never the height of creativity. I felt like the series was a LOT of exposition surrounding a very skeletal plot that, as I recall, basically went like this: "This whole time, I’ve been possessed! I’m not gonna take it anymore! I’m breaking free! Raaagh! I broke free! No, really. Why don’t you believe me, Batman?"

    OK, so maybe not that exactly, but… let’s just say it kinda put me off the rebooted series. However, the raves over the Sinestro Corps war has me ready to try it out again.

  25. The Final Night trade is probably vital since it sets him up to become The Spectre.  (I think.)  Also Zero Hour.  Sucky, but it’s printed on nice paper.

  26. i had never read any GL, so i started with "rebirth" and read all the way up to current.  then i read GL corps, starting with "recharge" and up.  i have 10 issues left to read and i’ll be current with that title.  i never would have imagined that i would be enjoying a GL book, let alone two!  i recommend reading as much of johns’ run as you can – you just know he’s planting little seeds throughout the entire run….  love it!

  27. @horatio

    Why would anyone want to read Hal Jordan being sexually abused? Why?


  28. @drakedangerz  Oh, yes, the Batman issue is the best.  I’ve read it but don’t own it, do you happen to know the number?  Because I should look for that (though it’s probably pricey due to being the Batman issue).

    @daccampo  I think that’s a fair assessment of ‘Rebirth’ actually.  I mean, I enjoyed it on the ‘fun comics’ level, but I zoned out for most of the exposition.  And truly, I think the issue of Hal’s responsibility for Parallax has never been satisfactorily addressed, which has a lot to do with my dropping the series.  Hal’s moral stance toward Sinestro doesn’t really make sense to me, and it’s turned me off the character somewhat.

  29. tells me its issue #9.  Hope you track it down! 🙂

  30. Mark Waid’s first ‘brave and the bold’ mini was six issues of hal and barry stories. it was really really good. great barry kitson art.

  31. Willworld is one of my favorite comics ever.

  32. Josh, I can say from experience that your picks are right on the money.  I picked up the four essential trades you listed earlier this year, and feel like I have a good handle on the whole GL universe now. 

    The "Tales from the Sinestro Corps" and the first few trades of Johns’ run are also good primers for all of the non-Hal characters in Green Lantern.  It’d be hard to find a more encyclopedic and comprehensive description of the Corps than the text at the back of "Tales."

  33. oddly enough, i feel like Green Arrow: Quiver should be included here. While it’s the resurection of Ollie Queen, its where i was introduced to Hal Jordan and i really learned what he’s all about because he plays such an integrel role in that story, and really got me set up for his "rebirth" and redemption with GL: Rebirth.

    also, once youve been introduced to Hal, you should check out Hal Jordan: Wanted, and the Lost Lanterns stories.  those were both pretty kick ass stories.

  34. @daccampo, I wasn’t going to say anything, but bolstered by your confession I will admit that I read Rebirth and had a visceral "uck, uck, no!" reaction. I was not picking up what it was putting down; it felt like someone putting on one of those green visors and balancing a continuity ledger.

    That said, 1) Flash Rebirth has me reconsidering the whole thing with fresh eyes and 2) the Sinestro Corps drumbeat cannot be denied. 50,000,000 Elvis fans can’t be wrong, etc.

  35. Rebirth, which I haven’t gone back and read, might not be entirely necessary.  I’ve heard both sides of the coin with it.  But read Sinestro Corps War.  If you don’t like that, this isn’t your bag.  Fair enough.

    As far as the stories between Rebirth and Sinestro Corps, I dropped that book at that time, because, frankly, I was pretty bored.  I jumped back in, and wasn’t lost, which is why I didn’t recommend any of the trades in the middle there.

  36. Several days late 🙂 Thanks, I’ll pick up Recharge and Rebirth and maybe some GL issues if there are still any left (I buy used mostly).

    Is the Ion series any good? What are the titles that happen mostly in space?

  37. @Jimski – the drumbeat thing never went right for Alan Parrish. It’s never good.

  38. @Jimski — hahaha, sounds like we’re in the same boat. I’m enjoying Flash thus far, and I am definitely game to try Sinestro. We shall see.

  39. @Chlop – I found the Ion 12-issue informative and entertaining but you only really need to read it if you want more clarity on Kyle Rayner.  If you’re interested in reading more about Parallax and how it affected Hal Jordan, read a couple of issues from the middle of "Return of Superman" to see Mongul destroy Coast City, then read "Emerald Twilight" (collected with "New Dawn" introducing Kyle Rayner and inspiring Gail Simone’s "Women in Refrigerators" essay and website ).  I recently read "Emerald Dawn" I and II, and "The Road Back" and they’re skippable.  Johns takes care of all of this stuff just by reading Rebirth – Agent Orange and it’s way more entertaining.

    Also, The Green Lantern Chronicles Volume 1 just came out.  These are color reprints of original Hal Jordan Silver-Age titles.  (muddi900 already mentioned it).

  40. I feel odd. I went back and re-read Sinestro Corps war 2 or 3 weeks ago and was really underwhelmed compared to the first time I read it. Maybe I was just in a funk, or maybe I was too busy anticipating the great moments near the end. I thought Superboy-Prime played a much larger role in the series, but I was completely wrong. I love him as a villain, so maybe that’s why I wasn’t quite as into it the second time. It’s not bad by any means and anyone who hasn’t read it should check it out. I’m just trying to sort out why it didn’t get me going as much as it did the first time.

  41. I’ve been eyeing Green Latern and DC as a whole a lot lately.  This is awesome, thanks to all.

  42. @Anson17 – this time put "Hey, Pachuco" on before you start reading.

  43. The extent of my Green Lantern knowledge is contained within the books you mentioned.  Rebirth and Sinestro Corps are all I think you’d need.  I’ve also read the Lantern/Arrow team ups and I love those.  That rascal Speedy sure got in over his head.

  44. I have not actually written in ith this question, but it’s been on my mind. Apart from ‘New Frontier’, my first real immersion with Green Lantern have been through the last few issues. I read ‘Secret Origin’ just last night and i’m happy to begin to have some context for the all of the buildup to Blackest Night. Thanks for the advice, Josh!  

  45. In the 80’s Len Wein and Dave Gibbons did a short run that while may not be monumental in GL history, except maybe the part where Hal quits and John takes over, but I’ll always have a soft spot for that short run and I think it should be included on the "Bonus Reads"

    Also, some of the issues between Rebirth and Sinestro Corps are awesome, especially the three part arc with Black Hand(who is going to be the main villain in Blackest Night!) was awesome and you can see that Johns was planting the seeds for Blackest Night since then.

  46. Thanks so much for posting this list, Josh; I jumped onto the GL bandwagon with REIRTH and have been following it closely ever since, but I have a friend who just had his socks knocked off by REBIRTH and short of telling him to read everything since that arc up until BLACKEST NIGHT #0 (which he got this past Saturday and LOVED), I didn’t know what to tell him in regards to where to begin.

     And just reading through this posts has given me some more great ideas as to what else to recommend to him (like the excellent IN BRIGHTEST DAY collection)

    So thanks again! 

    Y’know, I know I’m not the first person to say this, but I really wish the folks at DC would number the collected volumes of current ongoings like GL; I wanted to jump into the current WONDER WOMAN runs a while back but was pretty lost as to where to begin

  47. @ShonenRafa77 I just try to start when a creator comes on.  But yeah, it shouldn’t require research to figure that out.

  48. Funny I was just about to ask about good Hal Jordan books. This helps me out alot the only thing I own out of these is New Frontier.

  49. I’m not sure if this is the place, but if anyone wants to throw themselves into trying to read this Green Lantern saga from the start (and I encourage it) but want to read this in story order, I’ve got this for anyone that would like it. I believe it is pretty accurate.
    Rebirth Prequel story from Secret Files and Origins 2005
    Green Lantern: Rebirth #1-6
    Green Lantern: Secret Files and Origins 2005
    Green Lantern #1-6
    Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1-5
    Green Lantern #7-9
    Green Lantern Corps #1-6
    Ion #1-8
    Green Lantern Corps #7-9
    Ion #9
    Green Lantern #10-17
    Ion #10-12
    Green Lantern Corps #10-13
    Green Lantern #18-20
    Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1
    Green Lantern #21
    Green Lantern Corps #14
    Green Lantern #22
    Green Lantern Corps #15
    Green Lantern #23
    Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Parrallax
    Green Lantern Corps #16
    Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Cyborg Superman
    Green Lantern #24
    Green Lantern Corps #17
    Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime
    Green Lantern Corps #18
    Green Lantern #25
    Tales of the Green Lantern Corps: Ion (after SCW)
    Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps: Secret Files and Origins 2008 (kyle story that takes place on OA then he leaves with Guy for Earth)
    Green Lantern Corps #19 (Kyle & Guy back on Earth)
    Green Lantern #26-28
    Green Lantern Corps #21-22
    Green Lantern Corps #20, 23-28
    Green Lantern #29-35
    Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 (Guardians leaving for Zamaron)
    Green Lantern Corps #29-30 (on Zamaron Fatality, Karu-Sil in crystals)
    Green Lantern #36-38 (Fatality awakens)
    Green Lantern Corps #31-32
  50. @DarkKnightDetective – sounds good, thanks.

  51. I jumped on with Sinestro Corps War and had no trouble following anything. I dropped off immediately after and was just keeping an eye on the titles until Rage of the Red Lanterns came out and I’ve been regularly buying GL and sporadically buying GLC ever since. Now that Blackest Night is gearing up, I’m buying both of ’em again.


  52. Thanks for the list.  GL: Secret Origin sounds interesting.  I recently started up on GL.  I loved Rebirth and it is essential.  I’d also recommend Emerald Dawn.  With the Sinestro Corp Wars, I really liked the GL issues in it, but the GL Corps issues didn’t mesh and really brought down the GL issues.  I felt kind of ripped off because I would’ve been much happier with just the GL issues in one HC. 

    I’m glad they did Blackest Night #0 as a FCBD issue.  From reading it, I know it’s not for me.  I prefer stories about Hal, Kyle, Guy, but not publisher wide events which is what Johns made Blackest Night sounds like.

  53. Thanks Josh!!! I just got the Synestro Corp vol 1… PSYCHED!!!!!

  54. all of these are great jumping on points. i bought GL rebirth and havent stopped buying since

  55. all of these are great jumping on points. i bought GL rebirth and havent stopped buying since



  58. @Jimski : LOL! Thanks.

  59. Uhm, Asterios Polyp or The 2 Sinestro Corps War Trades?

  60. you guys should consider updating this for the coming rush of new GL fans (hopefully)