The story behind “Legend of the Green Flame” is almost as interesting as the story itself. Actually, no, that’s not true. The story includes Superman in Hell, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) driven by the loneliness of losing most of the GL Corps, and the bond shared by two old colleagues and friends. It’s a great short story in that distinctive Neil Gaiman way.
And a continuity snafu killed it for years.
In the late 1980s, DC Comics converted Action Comics to Action Comics Weekly, an anthology book with separate features starring Superman, Green Lantern, the Blackhawks, Phantom Stranger, and others. The company soon realized the book wasn’t working, so editor Mark Waid tapped rising star Neil Gaiman to write a grand finale bringing all the Action Weekly characters into a single book-length tale (with a focus on the two big stars, of course).
And Gaiman did. But he hadn’t reckoned with the continuity monster. This wasn’t long after DC rebooted its continuity in the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and not everyone was on the same page regarding what the new canon was. Gaimain’s script hinged on Superman and GL being old friends who knew each other’s secret identities, but DC editors had decided to put the “secret” back in Superman’s identity. Only the Kents, Lana Lang, and Batman were allowed to know. And yes, the script would have lost some heft if Superman and GL were mere casual acquaintances.
So the script was banished to limbo, and upon its rediscovery, DC realized it could just publish the story as an out-of-continuity prestige format book. After all, a great story isn’t worth killing because of a continuity glitch.
So track it down and read it, because it’s Neil Gaiman writing Superman and Green Lantern and doing a superb job of it in limited space.
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: DC Comics
How to Read It: no individual issues, it’s just Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame
Appropriate For: ages 10 and up