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Green Lantern: Earth One' Puts A Feminist Spin On A Familiar Superhero Story: BUST Interview

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Corinna Bechko is the first woman to write an Earth One title with Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1. In 2010, DC Comics decided to release the Earth One series, a re-imagining of the origin stories of their most famous superheroes like Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman. Our Hal Jordan, AKA Green Lantern, has been re-imagined with a new origin story, and the primary person creating this male superhero is a woman — let that settle in for a moment. Goodbye toxic masculinity, so long female characters who are flat. 

The story was created by Bechko and her life partner Gabriel Hardman, with artwork by Hardman. BUST had the opportunity to read Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1  and speak with Bechko about the comic before it hits bookshelves on March 20.

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Bechko, a trained zoologist and author of Image Comics' Invisible Republic and Dark Horse’s Angel is usually known for writing horror, she says she was very excited when DC Comics tapped her and Hardman to bring to life their own version of Hal Jordan’s story. In this story, Jordan is an astronaut who works for a now privatized government entity.

“I am always really happy to write science fiction. I love to write science fiction probably almost as much as I love to write horror, so this was a really good chance to write a science fiction story and I was thrilled by that," Bechko says.

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In Earth One, Bechko and Hardman create a world not too different from ours. There are scientists, there is even NASA, and more importantly, there are characters that are incredibly relatable. But Green Lantern is still a white male superhero — one of many, many other white male superheroes. What makes their version unique? Can a book that stars a straight white male be feminist?

“Our Lantern story is very much a feminist story. And I do really consciously try to do things like make sure there are a lot of women in the stories and I try to make sure there is friendship between women in stories because I feel that’s something really lacking in a lot of modern fiction,” Bechko says.

Hal Jordan is the protagonist, but the book has many female characters, and many of the women are equally heroic as Jordan. Without giving too many details away, the opening scene features a black woman as the captain of the ship, setting up the precedent that this is a world of equals.

“That was very deliberate. And it’s not something to be undermined; she right away does something very heroic, even though it is at great personal cost and it really hurts everyone,” Bechko said. “I don’t want to give anything away, but I feel like the action she took as the captain are the actions she has to take for the good of the rest of the crew. And even though maybe it isn’t what our main character would hope for — although he’s heroic enough to recognize this is the correct action — we really wanted to start it off with showing that Jordan will become a hero, but already there are heroes; they are just expressed in a different way.”

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The captain's heroic decision sets the tone for the entire graphic novel, including the journey of Hal Jordan. This is a world where people aren’t born heroes, but are made heroes from their actions. More importantly, there is no such thing as a chosen one. “It was interesting going into it because we wanted it to feel like Green Lantern. But there’s a long history of characters who are special and were chosen for something and we wanted to keep the character as Hal Jordan but it felt wrong that he should be the most special man in the system, like, why him? So we very consciously made it that he had the chance to be special. We thought of it in terms of, it’s not that he already is special so the ring chooses him, it’s that he finds a tool and then what do you do with this tool? You can choose to do good or do bad or do nothing. So he had to stand up to say I chose to be heroic. So, that was our core concept,” Bechko says.

The ring is a tool. But it is a tool that doesn’t function too well. Diving into the journey of the ring is where the book really takes off. Because of the ring, Hal Jordan survives in space and travels. In order to create these worlds, Bechko turned to her background in zoology. 

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“I think we wanted to make sure that a lot of the things that are actually happening now, you know at max five minutes from the future. It’s supposed to be something that could almost happen soon," she says. “One reason I like to write sci-fi is because I can bring that in. I feel like a lot of times people think of science fiction as being about the machine and computers and the AI or whatever but another big part of science fiction is the physical. And a lot of what goes into designing alien worlds or alien creatures it’s good to have a grounding in actual animals or what could happen physically. So Gabriel and I talked about that a lot, in designing the worlds, like could they be? Could it happen here, but hopefully we’ve given people something that could happen somewhere. We don’t want to break with reality in that way we want to break with it in other ways but not in that way.”

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Like all the other Earth One series, this book is a reimagining, this time of the Green Lantern saga. The Earth One series seeks to tell the earliest stories of all of DC’s most famous heroes. In this book, we meet some of Lantern's archnemeses and see how Hal Jordan works with other Lanterns in order to solve their energy crisis. The Green Lantern's rings are tools of power; however, the power source has been depleted, many people have become slaves, and it is up to Hal Jordan and those he meets along the way to save the day.

Hardman's artwork gives the comic a feeling of grit, which is very welcoming for this book. After all, this is a story about how government entities have been privatized on earth and how our heroes are trying to figure out what is depleting all of the energy from all of the Green Lantern’s rings.

The book takes the reader on a journey of friendship and heroics to distant worlds. As a beginning book, Bechko and Hardmon have set up a world where not only Hal Jordan can be a hero but other heroes can also shine. After creating such a compelling and relatable story there is one question that remains: Will there be an Earth One: Green Lantern Vol. 2?

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“You know, I don’t know. I mean the ending of this, I know some people have said oh the ending of this is open to possibility. But I think it’s open to possibility because it’s not a tragedy or a horror story that ends very final, it ends hopeful and you know hope means you can imagine a future, you can imagine a lot of possibilities so certainly we’d be open to working on another but there’s nothing planned,” Bechko says.

Earth One: Green Lantern Vol. 1, is an example of how more women should write male characters. Bechko and Hardman created a graphic novel that is not only accessible, but also has a character that peope can to look up to and admire. Most importantly, he knows the right way to be a hero is by allowing others to help. “I hope readers will be inspired to see that, you know, you don’t have to be special to be somebody and to be heroic that you can step up and be heroic, that you already are somebody,” Bechko says.

images courtesy DC

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Isabel Dieppa is a writer and actor. She is a part of the performance duo Of This World in Chicago, IL. Her interests lie in science, art, and history. Past writing includes interning for the Chicago Field Museum ECCO program, the national theater blog HOWLROUND, music reviews for UR Chicago, and in a former life was a beat reporter for the Indiana Daily Student. She loves archaeology, kitties, and dancing. The next big adventure may include an archaeological dig in Peru. Follow her on twitter @isabelsdieppa

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