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.
Issue of the Issue: Water pollution / toxic waste
GA mentions that they have "crossed the country twice," so maybe they did go from Star city to Evergreen City via Kentucky. GL has promised GA not to use his ring unless absolutely necessary. Their truck is run off a bridge by a reckless driver and they are rescued by a boat carrying plastic waste. The boiler is overheating and about to explode, but when asked by the captain for help, GL replies, "Marine repair is a bit out of my line!" What? What!? I'll betcha Gardner fox woulda found some way to keep that boiler from exploding.
The boiler explodes, GL is injured and the boat is sinking fast. The Guardian (whose powers are diminished while in human form) chooses "the needs of the one over the needs of the many" and transports GL to a hospital. The next day, the Guardians appear and send him to the world Gallo to be tried by the Tribune. GL and GA go along as character witnesses. We soon learn that the world's chief mechanic has programmed his robots to overthrown the real Tribune and has taken over the courts himself. The Guardian is sentenced to death, and GL and GA are found guilty of contempt of court (sentence: death).
the weirdest part of the issue is, while fighting back, GL thinks, "It's hard--very hard for me to use my ring! Though the judge is mad, I;m conditioned to respect the authority of the law!" Not only is the "judge" mad, he isn't even really a judge! They persevere, but the Guardian elects to stay behind to face trial by the Guardians themselves.
Nice cover, but I really prefer the one from the reprint. Now that's a great cover!
Issue of the Issue: The population explosion. (Duh.)
The splash page is an homage to James Montgomery Flagg's painting of Uncle Sam as one of the Guardians says, "I WANT YOU... to answer the charges brought against yourself." The story opens on Oa with GL, GA and BC on hand as witnesses. At some point between issues the charge has escalated from endangering a boatload of sailors to endangering the whole planet! The Guardian was found guilty, stripped of his immortality and exiled to the planet Matus to live out his remaining days. From here, the story becomes a sci-fi treatment of unchecked population growth, and a fairly preachy one at that.
Wishy-Washy Speech of the Month: There are actually two. First, there are [what have become] GL's usual doubts while charging his ring: "When I first spoke those words, I had no notion of the kinds of evil there are... I was very young then... very innocent! I wish I could be like that again!" Second, there's this speech to the Guardians: "One more thing... I suddenly find I've lost my respect for you! I'm not sure I want to keep this ring! I think maybe you should be high and mighty without my help! I'm not resigning... yet! But I'm considering it... believe it, Guardians!"
Ooh... way to take a stand there, Hal. I'll bet that showed 'em! He sounds like a rebellious teenager not yet ready to move out of his parents' house.
The end of this story has an odd sense of finality to it, as GL and GA/BC go their separate ways.
Black Canary takes a teaching position at the Meadow Hill School, an establishment run by none other than Jason Belmore (the first time he's even been shown although mentioned as early as #49).Apparently he's now back with Carol Ferris, who introduces him as her fiance. She is now confined to a wheelchair, crippled (to use some non "PC" language) by a mysterious seizure four weeks earlier The issue begins with an equally mysterious attack by a flock of birds and a cameo appearance by Alfred Hitchcock.
The school's cook, Grandy, has an unusually strong voice in running the school, (I don't know whether or not the resemblance is purposeful, but Grandy reminds me an awful lot of Spiro Agnew.) He is in control of an odd-looking mutant girl named Sybil.
Whiny Speech of the Month: Green Lantern manages to get through his oath this issue without being wishy-washy, but he later confides to Carol: "Those days are gone... gone forever. The days I was confident, certain... proud to be a servant of the Guardians! I was so young... so sure I couldn't make a mistake! Young and cocky, that was Green Lantern! Well, Carol, I've changed! I'm older now... maybe wiser, too-- Yeah, maybe wiser... and a lot less happy!" Boo frickin' hoo. Cry me a river, Hal.
I guess the appearance of Jason Belmore in this issue never made much of an impression on me all of the other times I read this story in years past because I hadn't read the stories leading up to it. Once the threat has been defeated, Green Lantern finally... FINALLY.... reveals to Carol that he's Hal Jordan. they are standing right in front of Jason and neither one of them seems to notice. Oh, well. that revelation alone elevates this story above the usual hearts and roses of Hal and Carol.
I know there is more "relevancy" yet to come, but they must have meant it at the end of #81 when the caption read: "Thus, the journey is doneQ Perhaps they have found what they sought... and perhaps not..." If you'd've asked me before today how long the "Hard Travelin' Heroes" phase lasted, I would have sworn it was more than five issues.
It was this reprint series that allowed me to see the entire run of these stories.
There were a few stories in the can after the book was canceled that got repurposed as backup tales in The Flash, of all places. I can't remember if they were included in this reprint collection. I saw them in a Green Lantern DC Digest.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
Why no recap for #82 with its Women's Lib message? And a genuine super-villain (and a familiar one at that)?
Plus one of the Harpies reappeared without explanation in Action Comics #443 (Ja'75) as part of the Queen Bee's Anti-Justice League and described as Black Canary's foe.
Later in Merlyn the Magician's Who's Who entry since he was in the Anti-Justice League as Green Arrow's counterpart (as well as #82's main villain as GL's), she was only mentioned as "an ally".
Jeff of Earth-J said:
Oh, make no mistake -- that IS Spiro Agnew. And the "odd-looking mutant girl named Sybil" is Richard Nixon! CBR's Brian Cronin points it out here: "Comic Book Legends Revealed #358" (go to the last item).
Cronin does a full article about it here: "When Green Lantern and Green Arrow Fought Little Girl Richard Nixon!"
And this might be getting ahead of what you're doing, Jeff, but ... oh, why not? "Ten Goofiest Moments in Green Lantern #76-85"
I admit, I spotted the Agnew resemblance right away, but I never twigged that Sybil was supposed to be Nixon; I always just thought she was an ugly little kid. Maybe because the idea that Agnew was Nixon's puppet master is just too preposterous to even consider.
"I can't remember if they were included in this reprint collection."
"Why no recap for #82 with its Women's Lib message?"
Oh, just getting lazy, I guess.
"And a genuine super-villain (and a familiar one at that)?"
The villain is Sinestro, but it was such a minor appearance I thought I'd keep it simple and go with just the visual instead. I should have known better. Mea culpa.
"Plus one of the Harpies reappeared without explanation in Action Comics #443"
I did not know that.
"And the 'odd-looking mutant girl named Sybil' is Richard Nixon!"
Oh, fer--! [headslap emoji] Of course I see it... now. (Now I can't unsee it.)
"I admit, I spotted the Agnew resemblance right away, but I never twigged that Sybil was supposed to be Nixon; I always just thought she was an ugly little kid. Maybe because the idea that Agnew was Nixon's puppet master is just too preposterous to even consider."
"Ten Goofiest Moments in Green Lantern #76-85"
I'll save those until I get to #85. (I'm saving the rest of "Deck Log" #228, too.)
On the splash page, this issue is described as "a story plucked from the fears of a nation." Well...
Carol and Hal pass the next three weeks in romantic bliss until, one day, Carol informs him that she has an appointment with Dr. Wilbur Palm, who is also the mayor of Piper's Dell, a little town on the coast built below sea level. Unfortunately, "Dr. Palm" is also GL's old foe Black Hand. Get it? "Palm"? "Hand"? That's a joke, son! I keep throwin'em but you keep missin'em. (Nice boy, but a little slow on the uptake.) Anyway, Piper's dell is a synthetic town... meaning not only it it the town's only industry, but that it's made almost entirely of plastic. One of the things manufactured there is a little device called a "Kaluta" (which makes me wonder if that's a sly reference to the comic book artist of the same name.).
TRIVIA: Oliver Queen likes rock & roll and Hal Jordan likes Dixieland. (I would've pegged him as a Perry Como man, myself).
COVER NOTE: The photo of "Wilbur Hand" is actually Carmine Infantino.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
"When I first spoke those words, I had no notion of the kinds of evil there are... I was very young then... very innocent! I wish I could be like that again!" Second, there's this speech to the Guardians: "One more thing... I suddenly find I've lost my respect for you! I'm not sure I want to keep this ring! I think maybe you should be high and mighty without my help! I'm not resigning... yet! But I'm considering it... believe it, Guardians!"
He couldn’t have been that young and innocent. He was a test pilot and IIRC had previously been in the Air Force and possibly the Korean War. This sounds like he’s doing the Guardians a personal favor by continuing as a Green Lantern. They don’t have to wait for his resignation. They could say “thank you” and replace him.
Green Lantern #83 was released on February 23, 1971, at which point Nixon and Agnew had been in office 25 months. He was Nixon’s “attack dog” railing against war protestors and the news media. Since he was so visible I suppose somebody (I can’t imagine who) might think that Nixon was controlled by him.
Issue of the Issue: Drug abuse
The issue begins with the tale of Kitty Genovese, but flipped to apply to Oliver Queen as he is mugged by a gang of junkies. Ironically, he's shot by an arrow, not just any arrow but one of his own arrows. that was his first clue, but he doesn't see it. Stupidly, he dismisses the danger posed by a crossbow bolt. I mean, if anyone should be aware of the damage an arrow can inflict, I woulf think it would be the Green Arrow. It's in his name. GA is pretty clueless when it comes to what his ward has been up to; even when GA finds Speedy in the company of junkies, GA assumes he's working undercover. PC NOTE: The words "nigger" and "chink" are also used.
Whiny Speech of the Month: This time it goes not to Green Lantern, but Speedy: "Say a young cat has someone he respects--looks up to... an older man! And say the older man leaves... chases around the country... gets involved with others and ignores his young friend! Then... the guy might need a substitute for friendship. He might see it in--junk." He couldn't have been more clear, really, without coming right out and saying it. GA still doesn't get it: "Gee, Speedy-- all your tale lacks is violin music! I'm touched... my stomach is--because every time I hear a sob story, I almost lose my lunch!" I'm not sure what happened to the "bleeding heart liberal," but...
CLIFFHANGER: ...in the very next scene, GA catches Speedy shooting up heroin.
Hey, what's that on the cover? The CCA's stamp of approval? The only reason this issue was published with the seal was due to Stan Lee's publishing the issues of Spider-Man dealing with Harry Osborn's LSD use without CCA approval. His pioneering rebellion led to the Code loosening its restrictions. that's not to denegrate the efforts of O'Neil and Adams, only to point out that they took the next step.