(a) Sami Basri
This was the issue I was waiting for. Green Lantern is my favorite superhero, and while Kyle Rayner is my top Lantern, I especially love Hal Jordan’s character history throughout the Silver Age. One of the best dynamics about Hal in the 60s and 70s was his team-ups with both the Flash and Green Arrow. Both men offered Hal a different way of seeing the world and lessons on how to be a better hero. Barry Allen ironically taught Hal the value of slowing down to learn as much as you can before jumping into a situation. Oliver Queen gave Hal a sense of social responsibility and liberal flare. In the ‘New 52’, those relationships have to be rebuilt from scratch if DC decides to let them exist at all. Though issues of Justice League make it clear Hal and Green Arrow have a somewhat sordid history now, Flash and Green Lantern’s friendship has apparently carried over, and Brian Buccellato gets to tell the story of their first meeting in The Flash Annual #2.
In The Flash Annual #2, Hal and Barry meet for the first time because they’re both cops. Well, that’s the why, but the how is that they are both investigating the disappearance of children from Coast City. Brian Buccellato strikes gold with this sequence. Green Lantern meets Barry Allen, not the Flash, but immediately recognizes Barry as the Flash by voice alone. “Come on, I recognize your voice! I was just speaking with you.” To someone whose read a lot of the original relationship between these two characters, this is spot on — it’s tongue in cheek without going overboard. Hal always messes with Barry, and it’s fun to see that at the start of their friendship.
Surprisingly, this isn’t a straightforward flashback issue. I expected to spend the entire time at least five years in the past when both Hal and Barry were learning how to be the heroes they had just become. Instead, Buccellato offers up a now-and-then style tale that forces Flash and Green Lantern to join forces against the same enemy on two different occasions. It very much reminded me of Green Lantern vs. Alien, a series that saw Hal Jordan quarantine the eponymous aliens on an uninhabited planet, then follows Kyle Rayner years later as he leads a mission to rescue the crew of a crashed ship. Hal and Barry discover that the kids are being taken by aliens who intend to train the kids to be combatants for a place called Arena World. Their first time visiting, Hal manages to secure the release of the children without a major conflict. In the present, we discover Hal had in fact offered up himself and Barry as competitors in Arena World all those years ago.
The rest of The Flash Annual #2 is a testament to how well Buccellato knows Barry Allen and also how well he’s able to write Hal Jordan without making the characters sound like a complete dick. Barry scolds Hal for not telling him about the deal and Hal gets angry at Barry for not appreciating that he saved all those kids. Barry thinks Hal is irresponsible. Hal thinks Barry is uptight. It’s classic Flash and Green Lantern. And it’s classic for a reason: it works. Hal and Barry are the least morose members of the Justice League. Superman and Wonder Woman have their whole stoic thing going on. Batman is Batman. Aquaman is a King, which is bound to make a guy grumpy. And Cyborg just doesn’t do much else than monitor the planet and join in the fighting (at least, for now). There have been a lot of team-ups in the ‘New 52’, but not many feel as natural as Hal and Barry’s.