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My oldest son has recently taken to comic books and graphic novels, so we have been trying out books with a wide variety of characters. Green Lantern was one he especially wanted, although in all honesty we did not know much about this character. I chose this book because it tells how Hal Jordan became Green Lantern, which makes this the beginning of the story. This book is available with 2 cover designs. The one with a picture from the movie is less collectible, but very inexpensive with new copies available for only £2.81 including postage. As this book was meant to be read by children, I opted for this copy, saving myself roughly £7. I'm glad I did, as this appears to be a book which will be read over and over again.
Secret Origin begins with a young Hal Jordan sneaking off to see his father at the airport. His father is a test pilot, and Hal has inherited his love of flight, even after seeing his father killed in a mid air explosion. It seems some people are destined to take on certain roles, or jobs, and Hal was destined to fly. When he turns 18 he joins the air force to follow in his father's footsteps, but loses his family in the process. After giving up everything to fly - it seems that Hal may lose that as well - and he has at complete low point in his life when a strange force summons him to the side of a dying alien.
I think if most us were transported to a crashed ship, and found an occupant clearly not of this world, our instincts might tell us to run - to flee the unknown, but Hal Jordan is man used to conquering his own fears, and he doesn't hesitate to climb into the burning vehicle and attempt to rescue the traveller he finds inside. The alien is beyond help and has only clung to life long enough to bestow the ring on his successor - Hal Jordan the new Green Lantern of sector 2814. Now Hal must prove himself worthy of the ring - and he must face fears of a different nature as well, as he truly becomes a Green Lantern.
My sons do have an interest in aviation, which made this book all the more interesting to them, but even without this, I do think this graphic novel would have been a hit. It has everything. I can't say the art work is the best I have ever seen, but it is very good, especially the drawings of aliens, and this certainly has plenty of variety in alien life. This book has adventure and excitement, a truly evil adversary and unexpected allies. It has space ships, airplanes and a sense of magic, and on top of it all a sense of honour and nobility.
My son read this to himself immediately after it arrived, but asked me to read it to him again at story time. I was surprised to find my 3 year entranced as well, as he usually is not as fond of the graphic novels. Both children ended up falling asleep before I could finish, and instead of just putting a bookmark in and leaving the rest for the next night - I stayed up and finished it myself. I have to admit - this one really does have good storyline. Both children have requested it again since, and Green Lantern is now a favourite with both boys running about reciting the Green Lantern Oath. We've also had some late night discussions as we let our imaginations run wild thinking of what we would do with such rings.
I really like this book for so many reasons. As an adult, I could still enjoy the story and pick on some parts that the children would not, but the storyline is simple enough that even the 3 year can understand most of it and really enjoy the story. I love the fact that books like this make reading fun. I personally believe that nothing builds a child's competence in reading quite so much as reading for pleasure. This means I do consider this book educational - although some would scoff at considering comic books as part of a child's curriculum. I also think this book, like many comic books actually sets a very good moral example. Comics are often criticised for being too violent - and there is some violence in this as well - although it not extreme or explicit. But I think we over look the fact that comic books usually do have some type of moral code. This one in particular explores topic such as grief, revenge and hatred in a very positive and helpful manner. After all, these are issues all of us must face at some time. Mediums like this make it easy to discuss these feelings with children. They also show the harmful effects of allowing grief to fester, and the need to confront our own personal demons without ever being preachy or pushy. But perhaps the best thing about this book is simply that it is so much fun to read, and a lovely way for my family to pass an evening, curled up a bigger duvet, reading stories and imagining trips to other worlds.