The first thing that you have to understand is that it's all Julie and Mort's fault. Julie Schwartz and Mort Weisinger, to be precise. They were the ones who hooked me on science fiction at an early age, Julie with Adam Strange and Green Lantern, Mort with the Legion of Super-Heroes and Edmond Hamilton's unabashed space opera. These were the three series that, more than any others, I looked forward to.
Of course, Adam Strange lost his strip, but he'd show up now and again. And most of the stories were pretty good, at least until Alan Moore made a side-reference in Swamp Thing that another writer decided to pick up and run with, in the process running Adam straight into the ground. (Recently reprinted in a collection. Billy Dee says miss it at all costs. May cause brain damage.)
The LSH had a checkered career, losing their slot in Adventure, moving into the backup slot in Action, then being canceled and reduced to an occasional backup in Superboy. Of course, you just can't kill the Legion, it seems. They took over Superboy's book. And they've been up and down since then, surviving some awfully screwball editing.
But when it came to screwball editing, you just couldn't top what Kevin Dooley did to Green Lantern. Steve Englehart's Green Lantern Corps was canceled, despite quite reasonable sales, so that GL could be stuck into Action Comics Weekly as the lead strip. (In theory, Superman was the lead, but he only got two pages a week, as I recall. GL was the real lead feature.) Well, that scheme didn't work, so they spun Hal Jordan back into his own book and gave it to Kevin Dooley to edit.
Now, at that time, the GL franchise was strong enough to support three books, one each centered around Hal Jordan, Guy Gardner, and John Stewart. (Dooley edited at least two of the three books and possibly the Guy Gardner book as well.) It didn't take long for that situation to turn around. It may well be that some of the decline was due to saturating the market, but it was certainly true that the stories in the flagship Green Lantern title were just pretty awful. And when I see bad stories coming from a writer (Gerard Jones) who had been on my list of competent writers, I tend to blame the editor.
The editor (along with higher-ups at DC) blamed the character. The problem was that Hal Jordan apparently just wasn't able to sell to the modern comics market. (Amazing what a difference two years can make.) So they brought in Ron Marz to write Emerald Twilight which had Hal go loony with no plausible justification (assuming that you'd actually read the stories from the last six months), kill off the GLC, destroy the Central Power Battery, and become an astoundingly badly-named villain called Parallax.
This ticked me off. It ticked off a lot of fans. It ticked them off for years and years and years.
But the circle eventually is completed -- if you're lucky! -- and bad ideas are recognized for what they were. Geoff Johns has excavated the ruins left by ten years of this bad idea and Hal Jordan is back, alive, and leading a -- rather small for now -- Green Lantern Corps. And, if you're an old Green Lantern and JLI fan, you'll greatly enjoy Hal's brief discussion with Batman. (God knows that Guy Gardner did. :) )
And that's all comic book stuff. But I was reading through the issue and got to the point where Hal is fighting Parallax, who turned out to be an evil, alien entity that had possessed him without his knowledge.
Parallax says, "Give up. You failed once. You'll fail again. You're weak. You're scared. Give up now. Give up."
"Give up, damn you."
"I don't know how."
And that's what I learned so many years ago. I'm not a comic book character. I'm no superhero.
But years and years ago, I learned that I don't know how to give up. And maybe that's a character flaw.
But today, it's what I needed.