DC's Showcase Presents series is something which makes this old comic book fan very happy. Presenting 500-plus pages of silver age (or later) comics in chronological order makes for a terrific way to purchase a huge chunk of a character's history for cheap. The catch - they're in black and white. While this is a nice way to showcase the pen and ink artwork of the period (sorry, colorists!), it does diminish a very appealing aspect of comics - especially one like Green Lantern, whose powers and vulnerabilities involve different colors to a high degree.
Nonetheless, Green Lantern Volume 1 is a great buy. It's cheap, it's huge, and it presents the character, to my mind, that best exemplifies the period of the early 1960s. Hal Jordan is a test pilot who inherits a powerful ring that allows him to travel in space and join an intergalactic police force. I can't imagine a more exemplary character for an age and a country just beginning its space flights, harnessing new and powerful energies in both war and peace, and attempting to police the world in the Cold War.
John Broome's writing is good, if simplistic in spots (a requirement of the era's Comics Code authority, unfortunately, which restricted violence, moral ambuguity, and all other sorts of things which make "modern" comics so interesting). But the stories still almost universally contain kernels of good sci-fi ideas. Time travel, antimatter universes, shrinking to subatomic size, all sorts of sci fi ideas populate these pages. Younger readers ought to find the stories exciting and entertaining. Older readers might be a bit more bored, but there's plenty of period subtext for the avid student of sociology or 60's futurism to enjoy.
The art is the main draw, here. Gil Kane is unquestionably one of the greats of the silver age. His style here is fluid, uncluttered, and not quite as dynamic as his later stuff, but the elements are there. His layouts and anatomy are still creative and interesting. Watching his style evolve over 20 issues is a treat. Later volumes show his style progressing even further.
In summary, this volume should appeal to any fan of the character, any student of the 1960s, and any appreciator of Gil Kane's art. Since I am all three, this was a certain buy for me. Other than this group though, I would say that this book is appropriate for Silver Age aficionados and bright, inquisitive kids. At this price, it can't be beat.