Green Lantern Omnibus Volume 1

As I mentioned in my latest Jiminy Christmas rant I picked up The Green Lantern Omnibus Volume 1 at a discount bookseller in Toronto for $38.  It collects material previously collected in DC Archives Green Lantern volumes 1-3 if you can find them.  I do have these volumes on my shelf at home but couldn’t pass this up for two reasons: it was a great price and I wanted to see how DC was handling the oversized format.  Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

Green Lantern Omnibus Vol 1

Collecting SHOWCASE #22-24 and GREEN LANTERN #1-21 in a massive new hardcover! These are the tales that introduced Hal Jordan and feature his induction into the Green Lantern Corps. Also included are the intros of the Guardians of the Universe, Star Sapphire, Sinestro and more!

Wow, that was underwhelming.  This book collects the first four years of the silver age Green Lantern stories from 1959-1963.  As this is a collection of collections, the three DC Archives, there is absolutely nothing new.  The introduction is from Gil Kane and was in the first DC Archive, same for the biographies at the back.

What is new is the size: 7.5×11″ versus 6.75×10.5″ of the original books and the DC Archives.  That doesn’t sound like a big jump but it feels significant in your hand when reading.  More importantly, the pages are a brilliant white as opposed to that odd yellow or vanilla colour of the Archives.  The Omnibus pages have a nice gloss but are thinner and have a lighter and almost fragile feel to them.  The binding is sewn and glued: looks and feels particularly durable.

GL Omnibus Interior

Unfortunately, the original material and thus all reprints suffer from the massive white margins: 1.25″ on the bottom and 0.75″ on the top, giving us 9″ of actual content per page.  Of course, this carries across most of DC silver age books: that’s just the way it was.

If you’re new to the material then this is a great introduction to the character.  Over the course of the book, we learn how Hal Jordan becomes Green Lantern and who the characters of his circle are, both human and alien.  These early books were written to be self-standing and still provide a small continuity and character development: new readers could jump in but existing readers were fed just a little to keep the character moving.

Gil Kane describes the stories best in his foreword.  There was still a lingering cloud of repression that was yet to be dissipated.  Characters could run, fly, jump and ride horses but they could not hurt each other badly.  Plots were generally puzzles with an unexpected resolution that left the artist with about one or two panels of concluding action in which to punch the villain out.

The cover art is the Gil Kane I knew from the late 1970s and early 80s: the art of the book is from a much younger Kane and fit in more with the DC style of the era.  It’s solid and dated all at the same time.

if you already have the material in another format I can’t recommend picking this Omnibus up.  For those who haven’t read them, it’s a solid value in a larger and brighter package.

The Green Lantern Omnibus Volume 1
DC, 2010, ISBN 9781401230562

Originally published at Comic Book Daily under my Bound Together column.