Want to read a whole lot of awesome Green Lantern comics? This is the list I used to do just that, plus some context to explain the order I chose and some gushing about Green Lantern in general.
Just want the reading list without the context?
Skip straight to the list, and happy reading!
Caveat added in April 2020: Geoff Johns’ primary collaborator on the core GL series, Ethan Van Sciver, is a terrible person. His misogynistic bullshit is beyond vile. Were this a post about his work, it would be long gone from Yore. But this post isn’t about his work, it’s about a decade of Green Lantern comics that includes numerous titles not associated with Van Sciver — and one, the core GL book, which unfortunately does feature his artwork. For now, I’m leaving this post in place as a resource for folks who want to explore this era of Green Lantern comics.
In 2013 I got back into superhero comics (after reading mostly indie stuff for many years) when I read a comic that surprised the hell out of me: Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, which took a character I’d more or less dismissed and made him fascinating. That started a slow burn that led — by way of Morrison’s New X-Men, Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, Jason Aaron’s Thor: God of Thunder, and a couple of other titles — to a desire to explore a superhero who was new to me. A bit of Googling led me to Green Lantern, and specifically to Geoff Johns’ run on the title, which was widely regarded as being excellent.
I decided if I was going to jump in, I’d do a cannonball: read Green Lantern and all concurrent lantern-focused titles for all of Johns’ 2004-2013 run, 10 years worth of comics in 40 trades (plus a 41st for good measure). It was one of the best reading decisions I’ve ever made.
I came to love Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, Mogo, Despotellis, Kilowog, Sinestro, Soranik Natu, B’dg, and so many other great characters. I love the Green Lantern Corps, the mythology of the corps and the universe the lanterns inhabit, and the fact that lantern titles — especially Corps — are more sci-fi with superheroes than straight-up superhero tales. Taken as a whole, Green Lantern and its companion titles are over the top, pulpy in the best ways, often pretty crazy, larger than life, and a whole lot of fun. They’ve become some of my favorite comics.
But this venture wasn’t without its challenges. It’d been a long time since I’d read a DC or Marvel title on an ongoing basis, and I was unfamiliar with the mechanics of crossover events, dovetailing and intertwining stories that span multiple books, and the like. It was confusing.
More confusing still, while it seemed like there should be one correct reading order, I saw lots of disagreement online about the order in which these titles should be read. I wound up using two lists as the basis for my own (and many thanks to the folks who created them!): this post by SmashBrawler on ComicVine, and The Superheroes List part 1 and part 2.
My reading order isn’t definitive — this is just how I chose to read these titles. I had a blast doing it, and I hope I can simplify this process for others who are in a similar situation.
The goal of this list
For context, here’s what I wanted to do:
- Read Green Lantern and every other book starring lanterns (not necessarily every book in which lanterns appear) for the entirety of Geoff Johns’ run
- Keep it simple by, whenever possible, reading whole trades at once
- Introduce myself to Hal Jordan, who I knew next to nothing about
- Avoid spoiling anything in the process of figuring out my reading order
- Strike a balance between simplicity (reading trade by trade) and maximum fidelity to the story (reading issue by issue and roping in lots of non-lantern books)
This is the list I used to accomplish those goals. It’s presented as simply as possible because that’s what I found I wanted when I was reading these trades: a simple list. “Do this and you’ll have fun.” I did this, and I had fun.
Green Lantern reading order, 2004-2013
For 1-19 and 23-37, you can read each trade on its own, one after the other. (I call out a couple of cases below where I took the lazy route and you might prefer to go issue by issue.) Three big cross-title events — Blackest Night (20-22) and Rise of the Third Army through Wrath of the First Lantern (38-41) — however, need to be read issue by issue, jumping between concurrent trades as you go, in order for them to make sense.
You can also download this list, including my notes, as a simple text file.
- 1. Green Lantern: Secret Origin (paid link)
- Secret Origin isn’t the start of Johns’ run on Green Lantern, but the chronological first trade — Rebirth — is a bad jumping-on point if, like me when I started reading these books, you don’t know much about Hal Jordan. Secret Origin is a fantastic introduction.
- 2. DC Universe by Alan Moore (paid link): “Mogo Doesn’t Socialize,” “Tygers,” and “In Blackest Night”
- The first two of these stories from the 1980s are the foundation for a huge part of the lore underlying Geoff Johns’ take on the lanterns. (The third is just a fun read and is in the same book.) This is a totally worthwhile detour, although it won’t be apparent until later on why it’s so worthwhile.
- 3. Green Lantern: Rebirth (paid link)
- 4. Green Lantern: No Fear (paid link)
- 5. Green Lantern Corps: Recharge (paid link)
- 6. Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns (paid link)
- 7. Green Lantern Corps: To Be a Lantern (paid link)
- 8. Green Lantern: Wanted: Hal Jordan (paid link)
- 9. Ion: The Torchbearer (paid link)
- 10. Green Lantern Corps: Dark Side of the Green (paid link)
- 11. Ion: The Dying Flame (paid link)
- 12. Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War, Volume 1 (paid link)
- 13. Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War, Volume 2 (paid link)
- 14. Green Lantern: Tales of the Sinestro Corps (paid link)
- Tales of the Sinestro Corps should technically be interspersed with the preceding two Sinestro Corps titles, but I read it afterwards and enjoyed it that way.
- 15. Green Lantern Corps: Ring Quest (paid link)
- 16. Green Lantern: Rage of the Red Lanterns (paid link)
- 17. Green Lantern Corps: Sins of the Star Sapphire (paid link)
- 18. Green Lantern: Agent Orange (paid link)
- 19. Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse (paid link)
- Grab three bookmarks for this next part. Start with the first issue in Blackest Night: Green Lantern, then jump to the first issue in Blackest Night, and then to the first issue in Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps. Keep alternating issues in that order until you’re done with 20-22.
- 20. Blackest Night: Green Lantern (paid link)
- 21. Blackest Night (paid link)
- 22. Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps (paid link)
- 23. Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps (paid link)
- Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps should be woven in with the three previous titles, but I read it on its own afterwards and it was fine. (paid link)
- 24. Green Lantern Corps: Revolt of the Alpha Lanterns (paid link)
- 25. Green Lantern: Brightest Day (paid link)
- 26. Green Lantern Corps: The Weaponer (paid link)
- 27. Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors (paid link)
- 28. War of the Green Lanterns (paid link)
- 29. War of the Green Lanterns: Aftermath (paid link)
- Aftermath is the last trade prior to the start of New 52.
- 30. Green Lantern: Sinestro (paid link)
- 31. Green Lantern Corps: Fearsome (paid link)
- 32. Green Lantern – New Guardians: The Ring Bearer (paid link)
- 33. Red Lanterns: Blood and Rage (paid link)
- 34. Green Lantern: The Revenge of Black Hand (paid link)
- 35. Green Lantern Corps: Alpha War (paid link)
- 36. Green Lantern – New Guardians: Beyond Hope (paid link)
- 37. Red Lanterns: Death of the Red Lanterns (paid link)
- Pause here and grab four bookmarks. Like Blackest Night, the two final events in Johns’ run are designed to be read issue by issue, switching trades every issue. Unlike Blackest Night, the order isn’t entirely consistent. (There are also two large trades, Rise of the Third Army and Wrath of the First Lantern, which replace 38-41 on this list and presumably collect the issues in the right order. I went with the individual trades instead.) Here’s the issue-by-issue order for the final four trades:
- 1. Green Lantern – New Guardians #0
- 2. Green Lantern #0
- 3. Green Lantern #13
- 4. Green Lantern – New Guardians #13
- 5. Red Lanterns #0
- 6. Red Lanterns #13
- 7. Green Lantern #14
- 8. Red Lanterns #14
- 9. Green Lantern – New Guardians #14
- 10. Green Lantern Corps #15
- 11. Green Lantern #15
- 12. Green Lantern – New Guardians #15
- 13. Green Lantern – New Guardians #16
- 14. Red Lanterns #15
- 15. Green Lantern #16
- 16. Green Lantern Corps #16
- 17. Red Lanterns #16
- 18. Green Lanterns Corps Annual #1
- 19. Green Lantern #17
- 20. Green Lantern Corps #17
- 21. Green Lantern – New Guardians #17
- 22. Red Lanterns# 17
- 23. Green Lantern #18
- 24. Green Lantern Corps #18
- 25. Green Lantern – New Guardians #18
- 26. Red Lanterns #18
- 27. Green Lantern #19
- 28. Green Lantern Corps #19
- 29. Green Lantern – New Guardians #19
- 30. Red Lanterns #19
- 31. Green Lantern #20
- 32. Green Lantern Corps #20
- 33. Red Lanterns #20
- 34. Green Lantern – New Guardians #20
- 38. Green Lantern: The End (paid link)
- 39. Green Lantern Corps: Willpower (paid link)
- 40. Red Lanterns: The Second Prophecy (paid link)
- 41. Green Lantern – New Guardians: Love and Death (paid link)
Do any of these books suck?
Red Lanterns is terrible. The first trade is basically just an excuse to put Bleez in lots of boobs/butt poses, the writing in all three trades is godawful, and the story is generally wretched to mediocre. There are a couple of cool moments, but I was glad every time I could put a Red Lanterns trade behind me.
New Guardians wasn’t great for the first two trades (though still much better than Red Lanterns), but it picked up in the third one and finished strong. I wound up liking it.
The two Ion trades were just okay, but important for Kyle Rayner’s story. Not bad, just not great; well worth reading.
Everything else on this list — over 30 TPBs — I loved reading and would be thrilled to read again. This is a fantastic set of comics.
Look, a rabbit hole
In the course of reading these trades, I came to dig the lanterns so much that I bought a replica lantern:
…and jumped at the chance to pick up a piece of original artwork (Green Lantern Corps #15, page 11 — one of my favorite storylines in the whole arc, featuring one of my favorite parts of that story), which my wife framed up for my birthday:
So be warned: Your wallet won’t thank you for getting into Green Lantern — but apart from that you’re in for a real treat.