Green Lantern: Legacy is a re-imagining of DC’s Green Lantern for their fairly new DC Zoom all-ages imprint. The graphic novel is written by Minh Lê and illustrated by Andie Tong. Whereas previous attempts to reboot Green Lantern, and other DC characters, for a new audience have mostly been a mixed bag, I’ve found that the books DC has been putting out under its DC Zoom and DC Ink imprints for all-ages and YA audiences to be mostly successful. Indeed, at times I’ve found these imprints have produced some absolute gems, like Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass and Shadow of the Batgirl. When I saw that Green Lantern was getting a similar treatment, I was pretty excited.
Green Lantern: Legacy finds a brand new take on Green Lantern, albeit featuring some familiar faces. The main character of the book is 13 year old Tai Pham. Tai’s grandmother is a Vietnamese immigrant who owns a local neighborhood shop called the Jade Market. What Tai soon finds out is that there’s a lot more to his grandmother than he knows. These developments launch him into his adventure as a full-fledged member of the Green Lantern Corp. For those who aren’t familiar with the source material, the Green Lanterns are essentially a group of space cops whose rings give them the power to make constructs using only their willpower. You can imagine how this is all a bit much for Tai to take in.
I thoroughly enjoyed this re-imagining of one of my favorite DC characters. I think my age and familiarity with DC comics history would probably place me more firmly in the target audience for the DC Black Label imprint that was launched around the same time as DC Zoom and DC Ink. Black Label is mature, gritty, dark, and violent. In other words, it’s the same old stuff that we’ve been getting for 30 years but now they’re allowed to swear. The books have been mostly un-inventive and boring. My theory about why is that they’re being told by the same people who have been telling DC stories forever.
Where DC Zoom and DC Ink have differed is that they’ve brought in people who aren’t known primarily for their work in the genre and let them refresh characters for an audience they understand. It reminds me of what Marvel did with the Ultimate universe back in the early 2000’s. DC has tried a similar path before, with the Earth One graphic novel series, but those are still primarily written and drawn by the same people who were telling the stories in the main line. You can change Superman and Batman’s origins but still have it feel the same if it’s a story told by the same people who’d be working on the original continuity.
Green Lantern: Legacy is no exception to the standard that the previous DC Zoom and DC Ink books have set. Lê and Tong have taken the Green Lantern framework and brought back the feeling of awe and adventure I felt when first reading it as a kid. The story itself is pretty light and quickly paced, perfect for an all-ages audience. Lê gives Tong a lot of space to tell the story visually and Tong rises to the challenge. There are plenty of easter eggs and nods to Green Lantern tales of the past, even as the creators help build something that feels new.
Often when books are called “all-ages” what it really means is that they’re for children. I thought Green Lantern: Legacy lived up more fully to the all part of all-ages. It’s a story that can be read and enjoyed by kids, about a 13 year old, but it’s really just a fun and enjoyable story. There’s plenty of struggles for Tai that will be familiar to child and adult alike, even if some of them deal with being a super hero. I don’t think writing a book that can appeal to a wide audience. Speaking of a wide audience, it’s also good to see a book about and written by a more diverse group of people than you’d encounter reading Hal Jordan’s old adventures.
Green Lantern: Legacy succeeds on several fronts. It’s a good re-imagining of a character with a long legacy and it’s a fun all-ages super hero story. I’m hoping that we get to read more of Tai’s adventures in the future and I applaud DC for doing a good job telling stories that try to appeal to a wider audience.