I'd venture a strong majority of the searches for collection information on the Collected Editions blog regard Green Lantern TPBs, whether because of Hal Jordan's new life at DC Comics, Ryan Reynolds in the new Green Lantern movie, or the popularity of the Blackest Night miniseries as of this writing. Either way, I'm long overdue for a list of the best and essential Green Lantern collections out there (see our previous Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and Flash lists).
* Green Lantern Hal Jordan - Pre-Crisis
Setting aside any of DC Comics' Green Lantern archives (or Showcase Presents volumes, for that matter), there's just a handful of pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Green Lantern Hal Jordan volumes I'd recommend (and of them, some of them are "cheats"). To wit, the collection of the ground-breaking 1970s Green Lantern/Green Arrow crossover title, which dealt with generally untouched topics like racism and drug abuse, is still in print and referenced in today's continuity.
Two books not necessarily still in continuity (and not actually published pre-Crisis, either) are JLA: Year One and Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold -- these books have been superseded by other Justice League origins, but I think they're worthwhile in their depiction of the friendship between Hal Jordan and Flash Barry Allen. DC has also recently published collections of the 1980s Green Lantern Corps mini-series and series under a Tales of the Green Lantern Corps banner -- these are not my favorites, especially the later stories, but have recently been referenced more and more in the modern Green Lantern series and the Blackest Night crossover.
(Edit: As discussed in the comments, DC: New Frontier is an out-of-continuity story, but gets to the core of Hal Jordan in a dynamic and beautiful way. For someone like me who came to Green Lantern via Kyle Rayner, all I needed was Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier to make me a Hal Jordan believer.)
- Green Lantern Chronicles Vol. 1
- Green Lantern Chronicles Vol. 2
- JLA: Year One
- Flash & Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold
- Green Lantern/Green Arrow Collection HC
- Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1
- Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2
- Absolute DC: The New Frontier
* Green Lantern Hal Jordan - Post-Crisis
Given Hal Jordan's popularity right now, you might be surprised to find that only the beginning and end of his previous series in collected format. Emerald Dawn are two collected miniseries that functioned like Superman: Man of Steel and Batman: Year One after DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, and The Road Back collects the first issues of that Green Lantern ongoing series. With that series' fiftieth issue, Hal Jordan became Parallax (of sorts) and Kyle Rayner became Earth's Green Lantern. A notable one-shot from this era is Ganthet's Tale by John Byrne and Larry Niven, introducing the titular Guardian who was important to Kyle and in the current Green Lantern series.
- Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn Vol. 1
- Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn Vol. 2
- Green Lantern: The Road Back
- Green Lantern: Ganthet's Tale
- Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight
* Green Lantern Kyle Rayner
I, for one, wasn't much of a fan of Green Lantern post-Crisis -- the Corps history too inscrutable, the aliens too unrelatable, and the conflict between gray-haired Hal Jordan and smarmy Guy Gardner often dissolving into so much bickering. So I for one jumped onboard when DC wiped the slate clean and introduced Kyle Rayner as the all-new, all-different Green Lantern, and much of my exposure to the Green Lantern mythology came in these books. Per my DC Trade Paperback Timeline, Kyle has a big moment in the crossovers Zero Hour and Final Night. Kyle's first and seemingly definitive writer was Ron Marz, through to Emerald Knights, but Judd Winick's run from New Journey through Passing the Torch is equally notable in establishing Kyle's place in the DC Universe. Out of continuity, but written by Marz and worth a creepy read, is Green Lantern Versus Aliens, featuring both Hal (in the past) and Kyle.
- Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight/New Dawn
- Green Lantern: A New Dawn
- Zero Hour: Crisis in Time
- Green Lantern: Baptism of Fire
- Green Lantern: Emerald Allies
- Final Night
- Green Lantern: Emerald Knights
- Green Lantern Versus Aliens
- Green Lantern: Circle of Fire
- Green Lantern: New Journey, Old Path
- Green Lantern Legacy: The Last Will of Hal Jordan
- Green Lantern: The Power of Ion
- Green Lantern: Brother's Keeper
- Green Lantern: Passing the Torch
* Green Lantern Hal Jordan - Current Series
In 2005, in something of a DC renaissance between Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis, writer Geoff Johns resurrected Green Lantern Hal Jordan in spectacular fashion. If Green Lantern: Rebirth weren't enough, DC saw similar success with the Sinestro Corps War crossover (the kind of in-title crossover that subsequently lead the way for Superman: New Krypton and Batman RIP). This new Green Lantern title, as most everyone knows, continues strong, having just surpassed its fiftieth (and formerly Hal Jordan-removing) issue and serving as the cornerstone of the Blackest Night crossover and subsequent Brightest Day event. Alongside the book, Ron Marz returned to write a twelve-issue Ion miniseries starring Kyle Rayner that lead in to Sinestro Corps War.
- Absolute Green Lantern: Rebirth
- Green Lantern: No Fear
- Green Lantern: Revenge of the Green Lanterns
- Green Lantern: Wanted - Hal Jordan
- Ion: The Torchbearer
- Ion: The Dying Flame
- Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War Book One
- Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War Book Two
- Green Lantern: Tales of the Sinestro Corps
- Green Lantern: Secret Origin
- Green Lantern: Rage of the Red Lanterns
- Green Lantern: Agent Orange
* Green Lantern Corps - Current Series
As I mentioned, I was never much for the first iteration of Green Lantern Corps, but the gritty space police-procedural that emerged alongside Green Lantern: Rebirth, written first by Dave Gibbons and later by Peter Tomasi, has become one of my favorite series. Maybe it's because, again, there's a crime and horror undertone to this series that resonates better with me than the Justice League humor of the 1980s, or maybe it's because the writers have taken a page from Beau Smith's book and portray Green Lantern Guy Gardner as a person, rather than a caricature, but I always look forward to these books. Green Lantern Corps crosses over with the Sinestro Corps War titles, and also with Blackest Night.
- Green Lantern Corps: Recharge
- Green Lantern Corps: To Be a Lantern
- Green Lantern Corps: The Dark Side of Green
- Green Lantern Corps: Ring Quest
- Green Lantern Corps: Sins of the Star Sapphire
- Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse
* Blackest Night
The following collect the Blackest Night miniseries and Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps issues, the Tales miniseries and "resurrected title" one-shots, and also six character-specific miniseries: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Justice Society, Titans, and Flash.
- Blackest Night
- Blackest Night: Green Lantern
- Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps
- Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns
- Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps
- Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps
- Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps
* Green Lantern One-Shots
We'll round this list out with a bunch of Green Lantern collections that don't necessarily fit in continuity or otherwise stand on their own. Notable about Green Lantern: Fear Itself (by Ron Marz) and Traitor is that they feature multiple generations of Green Lanterns (Hal and Kyle, and then Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott in the former and Hal's predecessor Abin Sur in the latter). In Brightest Day is a "greatest hits" collection of sorts, hand-picked by Geoff Johns as inspiration for his current Green Lantern run. Willworld is an original graphic novel starring Hal Jordan and written by J. M. Demattis, which I believe was meant mainly as a vehicle for the late dynamic artist Seth Fisher to produce some DC work. JSA Presents Green Lantern are Alan Scott-focused stories culled mainly from the JSA Classified series.
- Green Lantern: Fear Itself
- Green Lantern: Traitor
- Green Lantern: In Brightest Day
- Green Lantern: The Greatest Stories Ever Told
- Green Lantern: Willworld
- JSA Presents Green Lantern
I think that covers it -- if you find a trade I missed, please let me know. You can see these books in easier-to-browse format at the Collected Editions Trade Paperback Store.
I've listed some of my favorites above, but I'd be curious to know what's your favorite Green Lantern story?