I decided to move these posts over from "What Comics Have You Read Today?" and make a discussion out of it.
GREEN LANTERN: I started re-reading Archive volume one today (August 23), which comprises Showcase #22-24 and Green Lantern #1-5.
GREEN LANTERN ARCHIVES, v2 (#6-13): I have already mentioned elsewhere that Tracy finds that Hal Jordan's parents did not give him an alliterative name as they did their other two boys to be completely unbelievable. Political correctness aside, "Pieface" is a stupid nickname. (I rank it right up there with "King Faraday" and "Tom, Dick & Harriet.) Personally, I find the term "little Eskimo grease monkey" (which Broome uses at least once each issue) to be even more offensive. The covers of each of these issues stands out in my memory, but the splash pages are quite distinctive and memorable as well. I have learned to skip all of the footnotes (as well as the oath) in order to avoid repetition.
GREEN LANTERN ARCHIVES v3 (#14-21): Up until this point, all stories had been by John Broome and Gil Kane, but in this volume, Gardner Fox writes one story (of two in each issue) in #16, 17 and #21. Also, in #18, Mike Sekowsky pencils six pages (over Gil Kane layouts). The Gardner Fox story in #16, "Earth's First Green Lantern," is remarkable in that it answers the question, given that a Green Lantern can fly through space via his or her power ring alone, why was Abin Sur travelling in a spaceship in Showcase #22? Fox provides a convoluted explanation regarding energy creatures called Larifars and the theft of "I-factors" from victim races.
What makes this story remarkable is that Alan Moore provided a completely different explanation in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps #2 (1986). As I recalled these two contradictory stories, I preferred the one by Alan Moore... until I re-read them both in the course of this project. Whereas both stories use the explanation that Abin Sur is using a spaceship because he's worried about his ring losing its charge, in the Fox story, he does so as a ruse so (for convoluted reasons, as I mentioned) Larifars do not see him recharge his ring' "Earth's First Green Lantern" knows his ring will remain charged until the time limit is up. Alan Moore's story, as entertaining as it is otherwise, does not account for this fact, so I must change my favorite to the earlier Gardner Fox story.
GREEN LANTERN ARCHIVES v4 (#22-29): Within these eight issues, John Broome wrote five stories, Gardner Fox wrote ten. The comics themselves were published without credits, but that information is provided in the table of contents. It's fun to guess which stories were written by witch writer. [HINT: The distinctive way Fox uses nouns as verbs is a dead giveaway, as is his use of the term "star-sun." He also tends to throw in more theoretical physics.) Also this volume includes: the third appearance of Hector Hammond (#22), the first appearance of the Tattooed Man (#23), the first two appearances of the Shark (#24 & #28), [arguably] the first appearance of Mogo (#24), the return of Sonar (#25), the return of Star Sapphire (#26), the first appearance of Black Hand (#29), a cameo appearance by the Justice League of America, and more. The first solo Green Lantern story I ever read ("The House that Fought Green Lantern" reprinted in a 100-Pager in 1974) originally appeared in #28. Tracy finds it even more implausible that Hal wasn't given an alliterative name after the introduction of Judge Jeremiah Jordan. No "weenie-ization" of Hal Jordan yet.
Every definition of "uniform," noun or adjective, means that all are the same. So Spider-Man ) an individual, not a member of a group, isn't wearing a uniform.
Okay, I really can't complain about the thread jack during the week I was away because I invited this one myself! In an effort to get back on track...
#39: This issue features an antagonist (I can't really call him a "villain"), an alien named Bru Tusfors, with one of the greatest bad-guy names I have ever heard: "Brutus Force." He and Green Lantern patched up their conflict by the end of the story and, to the best of my knowledge, Brutus Force hasn't been seen since.
#40: If one of the stories in #10 was my least favorite so far, then this issue's story is my favorite... not simply because it ties in with the cosmology of Crisis on Infinite Earths, but because my wife bought a copy for me on the occasion of our first wedding anniversary (paper). I wanted to read this story for many years following COIE (it which we learned whose giant hand it was cradling the universe). It's not that I couldn't find one, but I couldn't find one at a price I was willing to pay. Up until the time of our first anniversary, it hadn't been reprinted. It has since been reprinted many, many times (in many, many formats), and deservedly so.
#41: This issue introduces Dela Rheron as a second Star Sapphire (they all look alike). Ever since the Society of Super-Villains series was released a couple of years ago, I puzzled over who the Star Sapphire in that series might be... until reading Green Lantern #41. This issue also features Myrwhydden (who lives in the land within Green Lantern's power ring) from #26, a sort of counterpart to Superman's Myxyzptlk who also plays an important role in the end of the series (still decades away at this point).
#42: The third chapter of the serialized "Zatanna's Quest." It has been only a couple of months since I last read the first chapter for my "Hawkman" discussion. I had planned (at the time) to read the SA DC series in "Zatanna order" (which would have put Atom Archives next), but plans change. For many years I believed (and still believe) that it's inconsequential whether some reads the original version of a story when he is, say, ten years old, or another person reads a reprint of the same story for the first time a decade later when he is ten years old. After reading Cap's comments last week about Justice League of America #110, however, I am prepared to concede that it does make a difference whether one is, let us say, ten years old or twenty the first time he reads a particular story.
TOMORROW'S TOPIC: Political Correctness
I am not politically correct... in any sense of the term, really. I have certain... let's say "viewpoints"... that I consider to be "progressive" (which I have shared with my wife), but which Tracy has insisted that I never share with anyone else. I have never done so, and I'm not going to do so now. ["Political Correctness" (as I see it), as it relates to Green Lantern, is substituting the word "darkest" for the word "blackest" in Green Lantern's oath.] But I do want to revisit that "Pieface Kalmaku" thing.
In my department of the company I worked at previously to my most recent one, there worked a woman of Japanese descent everyone referred to as "The Japper" (or simply "Japper"). It was many months before I learned her given name was Joyce. (I always referred to her as "Joyce.") One day came a social gathering at which spouses and children were invited. Joyce had a daughter who was 11 years old at the time. Everyone decided (this was back in the '90s) that it "wouldn't do" for the girl to hear her mother's co-workers refer to her as "Japper," so the decision was made in advance to call her "Joyce" at the event.
The girl found out anyway (because she wasn't an idiot), and thought that that was pretty cool. She later even encouraged her own friends to refer to her as "Japper." I don't know. I, personally, don't tend to use euphemisms [such as "N-word" or "C-word" or (ahem!)"I-word"], but neither do I use (for the most part) the word they represent. I don't shy away from them, but I also tend to agree with Maya Angelou (she who shares my birthday) that "Poison is poison." [Paraphrasing here];"If 'you put poison in a bottle with a smiley face on the label instead of a skull & crossbones, it's still poison."
OTOH, just as Joyce's daughter was okay with being called "Japper," I can accept that Tom Kalmaku is okay with being called Pieface. Hal Jordan himself refers to Tom as "Pie" about 50% of the time. It's not that I object to that. It's the "-face" that I object to. Anytime one adds "-face" to a so-called "nickname" it becomes pejorative.
And I stand by my assertion that "Eskimo Pie" is not all that clever in the first place.
The phrase "politically correct" is another way of saying a statement is wrong. If someone call a statement "politically correct" they are saying that it isn't really correct. On a show we were watching they had a character disparaging gay people. Then a gay character tells him he is politically incorrect, which means that the gay character agrees with him but that it's impolite to say it. Stupid writing.
"One memory is that I grew frustrated with Hal because he seemed to forget every clever use of the ring issue to issue. If he figured out a way around yellow in issue X, he had to think of a new way in issue Y. This was no doubt John Broome trying to keep the strip from becoming repetitive, but to the Li'l Capn it made Hal look like an idiot."
Cap, I think I'm ready to address this concern now. I (respectfully) disagree, but if you can't wait, skip ahead to what I have to say about #48.
#43: Another story guest-starring the Flash. As I predicted, Tom Kalmaku's "casebook" came back to bite him on the arse as it was discovered by Major disaster during a burglary. The Flash is none to happy when he learns that Green Lantern revealed Barry Allen's secret to Tom. (Even though Green Lantern made it so Tom wouldn't remember, he didn't make it so no one else could read it.) Who was this casebook being written for again?
#44: Evil Star returns in one story, but I prefer the story with "The Bottler." (Sounds like a guy who brews his own beer.) His costume features a bottle on the chest, and his "utility belt" consists of (you guessed it) little bottles. It is another "Jordan brothers" story, with Sue (now Jim's wife) still convinced her husband is secretly Green Lantern. Jim is now an "image maker" (which we would call a "PR man" today). His first client is their Uncle Titus, who has a terrible temper (which we would call "bi-polar disorder today).
#45: Another story featuring the Golden Age Green Lantern. This is the story in which Doiby Dickles hooks up with an alien princess. (For some reason, I thought that happened in the Golden Age.)
#46: The return of Doctor Polaris and the death (or I should say "death") of Green Lantern. It is, I think, the first story of this title to be continued into the next issue.
#47: For the third time, Green Lantern (in this case, his "corpse") is whisked to the future (5706 to be precise). Once there, 58th century super-science fans the one remaining spark of life. He was called to deal with a super-virus, which turns victims' skin red, causes them to grow little horns, and makes them evil. the virus itself looks eerily similar to the Coronavirus, but Green Lantern is able to cure it with his power ring.
#48: Goldface returns with a new schtick. Green Lantern does try to defeat him the exact same way he did last time, but Goldface has found a way around that. therein lies the crux of Cap's remembrance above. It's not just villains with yeallow-themed powers, but the previous defeat of every returning villain (Evil Star and Dr. Polaris above, and especially Sinestro) is recapped, and John Broome or Gardner Fox sets up the situation that the bad guy can't be defeated the same way a second time. Call that "writer's fiat" if you will; I tend to see it as keeping the story fresh. It's not as if Green Lantern forgot how he defeated them before; it's that that way won't work again.
Okay, that's a good place to stop. Next time, we move into the "wenie-ization" phase.
GL #48 with Goldface is the only Silver Age GL that I still own that physically survived the Silver Age. I do have from GL #75 on, but does that even count as Silver Age? I probably had others, but I don’t remember any others. Gil Kane was one of my favorite artists, and I was certainly aware of GL: JLA was one of my favorite comics. I even talked my parents into getting me a subscription as a birthday present so I wouldn’t miss any. On top of that the Golden Age GL was one of my favorite JSA members (along with Mr. Terrific). So, GL was on my radar screen, but I don’t remember much before GL #75, which was a different animal indeed.
Back on September 15, The Baron said “I was talking to someone the other day, and I realized that I know next to nothing of Hal Jordan’s adventures from 1959-1975.” I think part of the problem is that until well beyond the Silver Age very little had ever been reprinted of GL’s adventures. He never had an 80 page giant.
Who did? The various members of the Superman Family who were all big sellers, Batman, the JLA, anthologies of war stories, and the Flash. This makes sense given that their regular titles were DC’s best sellers. There were also two issues of Secret Origins early on, but they didn’t continue. It raises a chicken-and-egg question however, what comes first popularity/sales or reprints? Would GL have sold better if readers had a bit more exposure to his history? As we got into the the late 1960s and into the 1970s we had ongoing access to just about all the Marvel characters; not so much with DC. I think the availability of Marvel reprints contributed to ongoing interest in the characters and built a fan base, as well as a stronger sense of continuity. Most of Marvel’s titles survived the Silver Age, many of DC’s did not.
Of the characters given 80 page giants the Flash was the lowest seller. Basically, GL was next, and not far off (for example, for 1965 the numbers for Flash were 298,151 and GL 275,679). Would some reprint exposure have helped GL? As the 1960s waned and the bump everyone got from Batmania faded, GL’s sales did slump much more than Flash’s. The “wenie-ization” was likely a misguided attempt to arrest that decline. Also, there was some declining interest in science fiction, and attendant rise in “mystery,” and GL was more straight science fiction, less pure superhero than Flash. Flash had a stronger rogues gallery, but would GL’s have been a bit better known if newer readers had been familiar with them from reprints?
(As an aside, actually, Metal Men sold better than Flash—334,245 in 1965. [I also had a subscription to Metal Men.] Why didn’t we see some Metal Men 80 page giants? Imagine a giant with two early Showcase reprints, a Golden Age Robotman story, Star Hawkins and Ilda, and to fill it out, if need be, some robot science fiction stories [MIS, Strange Adventures, HOS, HOM, My Greatest Adventure, Tales of the Unexpected—maybe even a robot themed Space Ranger story]. Maybe an early [less than book length] Doom Patrol. Or, if Robert Kanigher was the editor, a robot themed Wonder Woman story—I have to think there were some, or G.I. Robot, if it wasn’t too recent. I think that would have sold.)
So what reprints were there during the Silver Age:
The various JLA 80 page giants
Secret Origins (Summer 1961): GL #1 (July-August, 1960)
Flash #178 (April-May, 1968): Flash #131 (September, 1962, a team-up)
We did also get GL #88 (February-March, 1972), a “Special Surprise Issue,” more likely a “dreaded deadline doom” issue, which reprinted Showcase #23 (November-December, 1959), and GL #10 (February, 1962).
1973 brought two more reprints: GL #33 (December, 1964) in Wanted #5 (January, 1973), and Showcase #22 in Secret Origins #2 (the series) (April-May, 1973). Things did pick up in the mid-70s with DC Special #17 (Summer, 1975) and #20 (February-March, 1976). I may have missed one or two somewhere along the way, but basically slim pickings.
GL’s rich back story and previous adventures were a blank slate to any readers who weren’t there from the beginning. GL made it through the Silver Age, but just barely.