The TOP 13 GREEN LANTERN COVERS – RANKED

GREEN LANTERN WEEK: Former GL writer RON MARZ takes a stab at some of the Emerald Gladiatior’s greatest art…

Welcome to GREEN LANTERN WEEK! On May 17, 1940, All-American Comics #16 gave us the original Green Lantern — Alan Scott — and the rest is history. All week long, we’re celebrating 80 years of the best of GL — from Hal Jordan to John Stewart to Kyle Rayner and so much more. So click here for the complete INDEX of features — and beware Green Lantern’s light!

Just about any theme week demands a 13 COVERS salute. To make this one special for GREEN LANTERN WEEK, we’ve invited former GL writer Ron Marz to come up with his own gallery. So here are the TOP 13 GREEN LANTERN COVERS — RANKED:

By RON MARZ

Quite a career, 80 years. Batman and Superman both passed those milestones, and the next crop of DC heroes are celebrating those anniversaries, including Green Lantern. But unlike the Dark Knight and the Man of Steel, Green Lantern is not a singular offering. With a few exceptions for specific storylines, Bruce Wayne is Batman, and Clark Kent is Superman. It’s always been that way, and likely always will be.

But Green Lantern is different. Green Lantern is … well, that depends on who’s your favorite, doesn’t it? Is it Alan Scott? Hal Jordan? John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kyle Rayner, or one of the newer bearers of the ring? One of the aspects that makes Green Lantern pretty unique among franchises is you get to pick your flavor. Who is your Green Lantern?

Obviously, I’m a bit partial to Kyle Rayner, the Green Lantern I co-created with Darryl Banks. But I’ve written almost all of them, and I love the lore and legacy of the entire concept. I leaned into that a bit for my Kyle story with artist Darryl Banks that appears in next month’s Green Lantern 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 from DC Comics. (Click here.) We’re both proud to be a part of that issue, and of that history. Which brings us to… the 13 Green Lantern covers I’ve picked as the greatest.

Considering 80 years of covers proved to be an even more monumental task than I expected. That’s a lot of covers to review. So I gave myself some ground rules. The comic needed to be an actual Green Lantern issue, or at least a Green Lantern/Green Arrow issue, not from any of the ancillary or spinoff series through the years.

Let’s light the lantern…

13. Green Lantern #26. I included this one because I thought it was only fitting to have an early Gil Kane cover from the Silver Age. You can see that Kane anatomy really starting to show itself here, more obvious than in a lot of the previous covers. The other thing I love here is the unmasked Hal looks a hell of a lot like Paul Newman, who was the visual inspiration for Gil’s interpretation.

Joe Giella inks

12. Green Lantern #87. I don’t love the text splattered all over the cover, but this initial appearance by John Stewart is a powerful introduction by Neal Adams. Love that logo too, with the heroic Hal Jordan figure.

11. Green Lantern #127. Had to have at least one shot of the gathered Green Lantern Corps on this list. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better one than this Brian Bolland masterpiece, featuring so many of the familiar alien Lanterns.

10. Green Lantern #196. Prime Guy Gardner, prime Howard Chaykin. Perfectly captures Guy in all his jackass glory, with rich Chaykin textures.

9. Green Lantern #155. Perhaps Joe Staton isn’t the first Green Lantern artist you think of; that accolade likely goes to Gil Kane or Neal Adams. But my pal Joe certainly ranks high in the pantheon of GL greats. This Hal image featuring the oath is, for my money, Joe’s best GL cover image. (Bonus: Joe’s house has a hidden, secret staircase that leads up to his studio!)

Mike DeCarlo inks

8. Green Lantern #1. I will be the first one to admit I never loved Alan Scott’s costume. Or at least the color scheme of Alan Scott’s costume. But this Howard Purcell image on the very first Green Lantern comic makes it all work, with the train lantern filling the background.

7. Green Lantern #51. I had to. It’s my guy. First cover appearance by Kyle Rayner, and the debut of his personalized costume, thanks to Darryl Banks. I’m proud of what we created in Kyle, and grateful for all the people who have told me that Kyle is their Green Lantern.

Romeo Tanghal inks

6. Green Lantern #86. I think I actually bought this book off a sparsely populated spinner rack in a drug store when my older sister was babysitting me. I must have been very young, hardly even reading, and certainly had no idea what the story was about. But this cover hit me right between the eyes, and frankly, scared the hell out of me with that hypodermic needle.

5. Green Lantern #181. Take this job and shove it, Green Lantern style, immaculately delineated by Dave Gibbons. “I quit” images have a grand tradition in comics (Spider-Man’s costume in the trashcan, Dick and Wally walking away in The New Teen Titans, for two), and this is one of the best.

4. Green Lantern #167. I really wanted to find room on the list for Green Lantern #166 as well, another Gil Kane masterpiece, but I just ran out of room. I’m such a huge Kane fan, I could have produced a list of 13 covers all by Gil. This one stands out thanks to the signature Kane anatomy against those big, blue, bald heads. (Want more Kane GL covers? Click here. – Dan)

3. Green Lantern #200. When you want power in a cover illustration, you call Walter Simonson. When you want a power battery in a cover illustration, you also call Walter Simonson.

2. Green Lantern #49. For me, one of the truly iconic Green Lantern images, and not because I wrote the story from which Darryl Banks produced this image. The pose, the expression, and the limited palette make this one jump out at you. I know there’s a T-shirt that sports this image, but I never managed to get one.

Tanghal inks

1. Green Lantern #76. Turns out one of, if not the most iconic Green Lantern cover includes Green Arrow as a necessary component. Ollie destroying Hal’s lantern, thanks to the perfect draftsmanship of Neal Adams, is often homaged (Paul Pelletier did it during my run), but never equaled.

MORE

— The Complete GREEN LANTERN WEEK Index of Features. Click here.

— EXCLUSIVE FIRST LOOK: NEAL ADAMS’ GREEN LANTERN 80th Anniversary Retailer Variants. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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6 Comments

  1. So glad to see Joe Staton represented here! “Joe certainly ranks high in the pantheon of GL greats.” Indeed he does!!!

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  2. My least favorite to very favorite Green Lantern goes like this.
    5. Guy Gardner – Too much chutzpah!
    4. Alan Scott -the 1st, but not my fav. & was before my time in many ways.
    3. Kyle Rayner – his artistic imagination made for interesting ring creations.
    2. John Stewart – his mechanical engineering mind made cool creations.
    1. Hal Jordan – what can I say? For me he’s the original and best.

    I know there have been others, but these are my fantastic 5.

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  3. of all the times ive seen it, ive never noticed until now that Adams actually kind of botched the anatomy/positioning on the cover of #87. there is no way the hand of the arm of Hal’s that Jon is holding would be tucked behind that leg that far back. i think he got lazy on this one. in his defense you could literally just make these all Adams GL covers.

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  4. As someone who has saved and then slightly altered one or two of Adams works on my computer I can agree that his art or anatomy isn’t always perfect. I’ve also done that with one of Jim Lee’s most popular works. But Adam’s is still one of the best and one of the people in comics I respect more than most for his many other accomplishments.
    I see what you mean about the arm, but you could also speculate that if Hal’s left arm were in front of his hips that Jon won’t be able to hold onto the arm as well and would probably slip from his grip.
    We should expect better art on the covers, but then we should also expect artists like Rob Liefeld to be a LOT better as well.

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  5. Wonderful pics. I agree that this article could have been filled with just Kane covers… so let’s suggest something different – Green Lantern #113, José Luis Garcia-López (praise be his name) at his best; it’s the one with Hal, Dinah and Ollie on a snowy mountain, with lava, and a creepy lady in the sky!

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