Peter David Sneaks Hal Into the Marvel Universe
Flashback Fridays is a new feature series on The Blog of Oa where I’ll shine a spotlight on some of my favorite stories and moments from Green Lantern’s history, most of which occur in the years prior to Geoff John’s pivotal mini-series from 2004, Green Lantern: Rebirth. This first installment isn’t from a Green Lantern issue, in fact it’s not even from a DC comic book. Instead we’re going to the other side of the aisle and jumping into Marvel Comics territory.
The year is 1995, one year after DC chose to turn Hal Jordan into a villain and made him the big bad of DC’s major line-wide event, Zero Hour: Crisis in Time. Writer Peter David, who once wrote Green Lantern’s adventures in DC’s Action Comics Weekly series, is now working at Marvel and writing what is still considered one of the best runs on the Hulk in the long history of Bruce Banner and his anger induced alter ego. David’s Green Lantern work was thought-provoking, at one point exploring Hal’s emotions and how Abin Sur’s power ring literally interpreted his instructions to find a man without fear. The ring managed to remove what little fear it detected in the test pilot in a retelling of the origin which remained canon only for a short period of time until James Owsley re-wrote it in an issue of Secret Origins. That issue introduced the concept that remains in effect today that a Green Lantern needed to be able to overcome fear rather than not feel any at all.
Whether it was just a cheeky little easter egg or David’s expression of dismay over the way DC handled Hal Jordan remains a mystery, but in issue 426 of The Incredible Hulk David and artist Liam Sharp had Jordan appear as a mental ward patient under the care of Doc Samson. Hulk was going through a bit of a mental mix up of his own where the personalities switched the bodies they had inhabited, leading to a very smart “Professor Hulk” and his angry counterpart the Savage Banner. Banner at one point breaks free and knocks over a man rambling about all of reality crashing in on everyone.
While it’s not clear at first who the man is in this cameo appearance, Doc Samson at this point refers to him only as “Mr. J” – and that’s not the Joker. In the next panel the mysterious Mr. J explains why he was never in harm’s way with a punch line and close up that clearly signals with a nudge and a wink who he is.
While not a classic Green Lantern story, the Incredible Hulk #426 is a neat little moment where the walls between the universes came down, even if unofficially. Which in my book makes it all the cooler.