Tuesday 19 September 2017

Hal Jordan and the Bruce Wayne Problem

Its hard to remember after over a decade of Damian Wayne but there was a time when Bruce was a pretty minor figure in Batman comics. That sounds mad to say but its honestly the truth, Grant Morrison even called it out in his first issue of Batman when he has Alfred calmly inform Bruce that he's doing the gravelly Batman voice all the time now. In the 90s and early-2000s it seemed that Bruce was Batman 24/7. That was also the time when the whole “Batman is the real personality, Bruce Wayne is the mask” psychology was really prevalent.

Then Morrison came along with an explicit agenda to resurrect the “hairy-chest love God” Bruce Wayne (and yes, those were his words at the time) and thankfully it stuck. Even though the character has been “killed off” twice since then Bruce as a person outside the suit has remained a very important element of the Batman comics. Bruce's time as an amnesiac while Jim Gordon was Batman springs to mind as a prime example. You'd never have seen such an extended examination of Bruce as a person back when I started reading comics.

So what does this have to with Hal Jordan?

Well, in last week's issue of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Hal experienced a vision or a visitation of his father during a tense and stressful moment. During the scene, Hal's father says this:

... you can't lose sight of the ground […] you can't go all out, all the time. Be Green Lantern but don't forget to be Hal Jordan.”

Reading that it struck me how divorced Hal is from his Earthly roots, even from the personality of Hal Jordan, when he's in uniform. Perhaps its an effect of the mask, he's really the only Earth Lantern who's still portrayed as having a secret identity. John and Guy haven't worn masks in years (may never have done under present continuity) and both have public identities to the point that not long ago Guy was having trouble getting teaching gigs because of the risk his other job represented to the kids. Kyle still wears a mask but, let's face it, Kyle's heart is too firmly pinned to his sleeve to be anything other than Kyle Rayner at all times.

There's also the fact that Hal has a life back home that he's actively in the business of ignoring. John, Guy and Kyle don't. At this point none of them have Earth-based supporting casts or careers (is John even still an architect?). Hal has his brother's family back home at the very least and some day they're going to cycle back to him and Carol Ferris being a thing because there's decades of narrative gravity pulling him back to that relationship.

As much as I've always preferred the space-based side of the GL mythos there's is something inextricably Earthy about Hal. He's John Wayne in space and that does mean he sometimes has to go back to the good old US of A every now and again otherwise it just doesn't feel right.

Also, I do feel he sorts of needs an ill-advised love interest in his life and no one on Mogo is dumb enough to volunteer at this point. 

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