“Green Lantern” Timeline / Reading Order:

For the Berlin Tagesspiegel, I’m writing a series of essays on DC super-heroes (and their surrounding fan culture). With this years’ “Green Lantern” movie and 2010’s bestselling “Blackest Night” comic event / crossover, I thought it would be fun to read most of the “Green Lantern” comics to bring me up to date.

Unfortunately, most of them aren’t very good.

And most good ones require prior knowledge of earlier events.

After reading nearly 50 collections, here’s a first, tentative timeline for the “Green Lantern” series: Where can you start? What can you skip? And what shouldn’t you miss?

Please comment if you have additional recommendations!

But first things first: See the (excellent) Wikipedia entry for the ‘Green Lantern’ publishing history… and the (even MORE excellent) DC Universe Trade Paperback Reading Order Timeline to see how these adventures tie into the larger stories of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman etc..

[The 1*, 2*, 3* etc. rating in brackets is the number of stars that I gave the book on Goodreads. No stars means that I haven’t read it yet.]

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good starting points and standalone adventures:

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historical collections and their reading order:

  • here’s a list: I haven’t read any of these 1940ies/50ies/60ies reprint collections, though.

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old stories that are important to understand the newer plots:

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Crises, crossovers and big events: Green Lantern and the DC Universe, 1986 to the late 1990s (most of this is important… but with bad art, flat characters and not much fun):

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Kyle Rayner: Star of ‘Green Lantern’ from 1994 to 2004:

[There are lots of issues missing from the collected editions. I’ve read all single issues – and I can recommend most of them. The one exception: You can quit with issue 155 and ignore the end and the ‘Ion’ series. Nothing of consequence happens there. Make sure to read “Infite Crisis” and the surrounding books, though: By then, the current ‘Green Lantern’ series starring Hal Jordan was back, too.]

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“Green Lantern” & “Green Lantern Corps”: The current series:

[I am surprised how much I dislike the character of Hal Jordan, his girlfriends and Geoff John’s convoluted, dry and joyless storytelling. BUT: ‘Green Lantern Corps’, the companion series, is one of the best DC comics right now. Read ‘Green Lantern’… if only to understand the madness, mayhem, drama and excitement of ‘Green Lantern Corps’. It’s worth it… and both series get better if you read them together.]

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The “Blackest Night” crossover – and everything after:

(I have not read these books so far. Please visit the DC Trade Paperback Timeline for details on the reading order and additional updates!)

I’m not sure how important the ‘Brightest Day’ miniseries is for the ‘Green Lantern’ mythos… and I don’t know how important the ‘Justice League: Generation Lost’ series is for Green Lantern Guy Gardner’s love life / character development.

The main series – ‘Green Lantern’, ‘Green Lantern Corps’ and the new ‘Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors’ continue in the following collections:

There will be another 2 or 3 collections before in September of 2011, four new monthly comic series continue the ‘Green Lantern’ storylines:

‘Green Lantern’ (by Geoff Johns)

‘Green Lantern Corps’ (by Peter Tomasi)

‘Green Lantern: New Guardians’ (by Tony Bedard)

…and ‘Red Laterns’ (by Dave Milligan), all starting with new first issues.

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Mistakes? Corrections? Recommendations? Feedback?

Let me know in the comments! Thank you!

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Related Posts:

13 comments

    1. I like the series a lot! And it keeps getting better.

      There are two problems: The earliest (2005) stories by Geoff Johns (“Green Lantern: Rebirth” and the two or three following arcs) are not very good (storytelling-wise), AND not very good places to start. So… I only really liked the concept / series when I read comics from the 80ies and 90ies (all with their own flaws / problems).

      The second problem: I love Guy and Kyle, and I’m very interested in John. Hal, though, can be a boisterous doofus, and it takes time to really understand his character. I talked more about these things HERE:

      https://stefanmesch.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/interview-sally-pascale-comic-reader-feminist-blogger-and-the-internets-most-outspoken-green-lantern-fan/

  1. I really liked this post. Very informative, with minimum spoiling (a plague that seems to be almost impossible to avoid in this kind of articles). I’ll do a more analysis of it (if you still are interested in this kind of issues, it been almost 4 years…). For the moment, I have one single important question: I try to get into the current series, beginning with Rebirth. I discovered, as you did before me, that it is not a good starting point. Thanks to this post and others, I realized that a good starting point is Emerald Twilight (I’m familiar with most of the classic Green Lantern mythos till the end of V2, and I watched the Origins animated movie, based on the Secret Origins 2008). But I hadn’t read “The Death and Return of Superman” yet. My questions are regarding this:
    1) I already know that in TheDandRofS aftermath
    ……………………………………………………………………………..coast city is destroyed

    , and that fact leads to the events of Emerald Twilight and Final Crisis
    My question is: Will Emerald Twilight/Final Crisis spoil me more facts about TheDAndRofS?
    2) Beginning with Rebirth, at what point is mandatory that I had read TheDAndRofS?
    Thanks for your responses if you are yet into this kind of issues, and again for the post.

  2. I know that my previous comment is awaiting moderation. I noticed that I made a few typos. I you can correct them it would be less shameful for me🙂
    1) Second line: “I’ll do a more DETAILED analysis of it”
    2) Third line: “It’S been almost 4 years”
    3) I’d enclosed the “…coast city is destroyed” line inside SPOILER tags, but they got filtered. Could you add “SPOILER” at least at the beginning of the line (I really HATE spoilers)
    It you can’t, well, it’s ok. If you find more typos, please correct them.
    Greetings.

  3. Another mistake (that’s embarrassing :()
    When a said “Final Crisis”, I obviously meant “Zero Hour” (seriously, i you can edit my post it would be awesome ;))

    1. I can’t edit – sorry. but no worries. I get this, and I make a lot of mistakes myself, and I won’t judge you for it.

      as for Coast City: personally, I did not feel like the storylines intersected in any meaningful ways: sure – Hal loses his city. but it’s not important (for “Emerald Twilight”) to really understand what happened there in detail. so… I personally enjoyed “Death and Return of Superman” a lot – but it’s not super-important for the “Green Lantern” mythos.

      you MIGHT want to find out who “Cyborg Superman” is, though (…an thus, read the Superman storyline anyways). his choices make differences in the post-“Rebirth” GL cosmos.

  4. Thanks for the quick response and your understanding🙂
    I’m not so worried about DandRofS being necessary to read “Emerald Twilight” (I’m going to read it anyways, but it’s big and I want to begin reading modern Green Lantern at the same time), but about “Emerald Twilight” spoiling DandRofS for me if a read it first. In other words, are the events in DandRofS discussed or recapped in “Emerald Twilight”?, or is more like “Ok, this tragedy happened, it is not necessary to discuss it, let’s build upon it”?
    Regarding my second question, I presumed that at least knowing about “Cyborg Superman” would be important (I saw that good cover with him in it). In what point of the current series is it mandatory to have read DandRofS (in other words, before which of the numbered arcs).
    Greetings.

    1. Cyborg Superman: the series started in 2006. I think he became relevat as early as 2007

      and: no – I don’t think reading “Emerald Twilight” will substantially spoil “Death of Superman”. you will know SOME very basic things… but really: it’s more of a “this tragedy happened” thing, yes.

  5. Okay so I actually followed this guide and im not sure if I have bought the right comics? I bought “the greatest stories ever told” and “in brightest day” but it all looks really old and some of the dates inside go back to 1960s. So not sure what I’m doing?
    Thanks in advance

    1. a lot of DC series – “Superman” or “The Flash”, for example – have been rebooted so often that you can start with comics from 2011 or later.

      “Green Lantern”, though, is more or less intact. the 1960s stories are very goofy and not must-reads, but there is a LOT of 1990s material that is still relevant (Parallax, “Emerald Twilight” etc.) and there were some super-influental short stories in the 1980s, written by Alan Moore (the author of “Watchman”). you can read big story arcs like “Blackest Night” without reading these earlier stories… but it’s MUCH more fun to start with some early material… beause to this day, the writers are referencing it and building on it.

      (if you dislike old comics a lot and are more eager to jump right in, start with “Green Lantern: Rebirth” from 2006)

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