I own a copy of Showcase: Green Lantern Volume 1, which I'm sure I purchased when it was released in 2005.  I probably read it through when I bought it, and haven't re-read it since then.  Not surprisingly, I recall very little about the stories.  There's a lot of fans on this board of Silver Age DC comics and I was wondering if some of you would share your thoughts on the Green Lantern series.  The stories by Neal Adams and Denny O'Neil that started in issue 76 get all the publicity, but I'd like to know more about the first 75 issues.  How highly do you recommend them?  If I like the first Showcase, would you think I'm likely to enjoy the following volumes?  If I find the early stuff a little too silly, or dry and boring, does it get better later?  What are your thoughts?

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Well, though I haven't read them, I understand that Gil Kane drew an awful lot of them, and you either love him or hate him.

Frankly, I get tired of looking up people's nostrils real fast.

As Mister SA will attest, that era had a charm all its own. It was a more innocent time until around 1967-8.

Unfortunately, I don't have all those issues either. But I do know that Gil Kane was a great artist. A constant professional and a nice man by all accounts. His work has been called "the most anatomically correct in comics". Granted, not everyone could ink him properly, and the "nostril shots" did get a bit tiresome after a while, but you can't deny the quality of his work.

As for what to read, I would recommend through at least issue 50 in the Showcase reprints. But from what I've heard and read myself, the stories got kind of weird before the O'Neil-Adams era. Things like Hal Jordan not wanting his ring, and trying to use it as little as possible. But you decide for yourself John.

Kane's early Green Lantern stories don't have the same look as his later work. The earliest ones look fairly stodgy. Over time the stories got more imaginative, Kane began to bring more to the art, and physical action became more important in the strip. Eventually Kane had arrived at his later style. He didn't ink the stories himself before #50 (he did do some covers). To that point the inkers had been Joe Giella initially, and then Sid Greene. I'd have to go through his stories to figure out when the big faces with the up nostrils shots become a recurring feature of his art, but it might be even later. They had turned by ##73-74. After #61 other artists drew many issues.

I'm pretty sure that I have at least one of these showcases, that I scored for just $3.00   I don't  know that I read it all, so it's probably still in Mint condition.  The used bookstore where I bought it had three volumes each of one Green Lantern, one Metal Men, one Flash, and one Atom and maybe one Teen Titan volumes...three copies deep in each instance.  Alas, I bought the Metal Men and one other...probably the Green Lantern.  Stay tuned while I go check....

Lee Houston, Junior:

"But from what I've heard and read myself, the stories got kind of weird before the O'Neil-Adams era. Things like Hal Jordan not wanting his ring, and trying to use it as little as possible. But you decide for yourself John."

I've read very few of those stories, but I have read ABOUT THEM. What many fans of Adams & O'Neil fail to take into account is that as a series, GL was sabotaged by its own editors and writer long before they got there, in a sad, failed, and very misguided attempt to imitate Marvel. Series should be what they are, not what they aren't, and it does no goog for one series to try and imitate the style of others from a different publisher, especially if they don't know what they're doing.  When Adams & O'Neil were unleashed on the book, it was in dire straits, and what they did-- turning the entire series upside down, essentially, was a last-ditch desperate attempt to save it... which failed in the long run.

The same thing happened when Roy Thomas & Gil Kane (oddly enough) took over CAPTAIN MAR-VELL. And,\ when Thomas & Adams took over X-MEN.

But then, GREEN LANTERN has had a painfully long history of ups and downs, of various creative teams alternaterly working like hell to fix earlier damage, or upending forward strides and murdering the book all over again. The period that began with GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH was one of the "up" periods, and indeed, I felt the series was beginning to live up to its potential perhaps for the first time EVER.  But I've heard some disturbing stories about what happened only a few years later. Sometimes I think when certain teams are ready to leave a book, they should just END it... until the next right team comes along. Maybe we could avoid all those "down" period where the wrong people keep ruining things.

Regarding John's questions, I don't have the Showcases so I haven't read every issue. The feature gradually got very action oriented, and arguably too much so. After #50 his Coast City connections and Pieface were mostly dropped, in my view to the detriment of the strip (they reappeared in ##73-74) Some of the stories after #50 are bad - #52, for example, was probably not the strip's finest hour, even though it was written by John Broome - but I wouldn't say that all were (and I haven't seen many of them).

I never really got to excited over the Green Lantern reprints that I saw as a kid. I wasn't thrilled by the Kane/Giella artwork and the stories were underwhelming and the villains not that impressive (Major Disaster, Sonar, Black Hand). Oddly enough those I remember most were his team-ups with the Flash and Zatanna and his battle with a bruiser called Brutus Force. It's telling that I didn't buy the Green Lantern Archives or Chronicles though I do have the Showcase Presents!

Somebody mention my name . . . ?

 

Let's see, I think I can add something substantive.

 

Roughly-speaking, the Silver-Age Green Lantern series can be divided into three phases.  From his debut in Showcase # 22 (Sep.-Oct., 1959) until around Green Lantern # 23 (Sep., 1963), this span served as the Emerald Crusader's inculcation period.  Early on, the Guardians of the Universe and many of the functions of the power ring are still a mystery to G.L.  Gradually, he becomes familiar with these and has his first team-ups with G.L.'s from other space sectors.  Also, most of his regular super-enemies are introduced during this period.

 

 

The second phase, again speaking in sketchy terms, began in late '63 and continued through G.L. # 48 (Oct., 1966).  This was the classic Green Lantern period---he was well established as one of the foremost Green Lanterns; his experience and resourcefulness were major factors in most dire situations; and the G.L./Hal Jordan/Carol Ferris triangle was so familiar to the readers that it didn't need to be hammered into every script.

 

This is also when Gil Kane's art on the series reached its zenith.  Kane's pencils were still detailed, but his composition became less prosaic.  His "camera angles" became more innovative and there was a general increase in dynamism all around.  Moreover, his pencils were ably supported by outstanding inkers.  Sid Greene, in particular, was able to add depth and weight to Kane's figures.

 

 

G.L. # 49 (Dec., 1966) was the transitional point which led to the series' final phase.  This is the issue in which the Emerald Gladiator is told by Carol Ferris that she is marrying another man, Jason Belmore.  In response, G.L. throws a Hamlet-style hissy-fit and abandons Coast City. 

 

Thus begins the wienie-ing of Hal Jordan.  This I analysed in depth in a post on the old board, so I will omit the editorialising this time and just provide the facts.

 

The next issue, # 50, in the tale "Quest of the Wicked Queen of Hearts", we find that Jordan has taken a new job, flying tourists on sightseeing trips for the Skyview Lodge, in Idaho.  Hal is still moaning and groaning over his misfortunes, leading to the "less-ring/more-fists" element that Mr. Poague mentioned . . . .

 

One thing I've realized . . .  as Green Lantern has become more famous, I've suffered!  From now on, I'm going to give the Hal Jordan part of me a chance to do some fighting!  If I get into a battle even as Green Lantern, I'll use my fists---because they're Hal's fists---and use my ring only in an emergency and for special purposes!

 

Over the course of the story, Jordan cozies up to the boss's daughter, seeing her as just the one to take his mind off of Carol Ferris.  But, when he learns that she has a major crush on Green Lantern, he refuses to compete with himself again---and quits, stealing out at daybreak.  (And also leaving his Skyview Lodge employer in the lurch, since Hal was its only pilot; but Hal's sense of duty was one of the many man-qualities that got tossed out during this phase.)

 

In G.L. # 53 (Jun., 1967), Jordan takes a job as an insurance adjustor for the Evergreen Insurance Company, located in Washington state.  There, he remains for quite some time, but he never develops a supporting cast, outside of his boss, Mr. Lawford, who simply serves as a plot functionary.  Gradually, the whole "Use my fists and save my ring for emergencies" schtick is forgotten.  The scripts show G.L. duking it out more with his adversaries, but he no longer has any compunction about using his ring.

 

At first, some good stories came out of this period.  Especially worth noting is the two part G.L. Corps battle with the escaped criminals of the Prison Planet, which took place in G.L. # 55-6 (Sep. and Oct., 1967)---it's one of the high spots of the entire series.

 

Around 1969, though, things start to get uneven.  Gil Kane's art loses detail and depth.  The musculature of his figures becomes exaggerated, to the point where the Emerald Crusader begins to resemble a no-neck weightlifter.  And all too often, Kane inks his own pencils, resulting in a minimalist look to his art.

 

Script-wise, Gardner Fox stops contributing to the series in 1968, leaving John Broome as the only "Old Guard" writer still producing G.L. yarns.  Young Turk writers Denny O'Neil and Mike Friedrich sign on, and their emphasis on characterisation---pushing it to the point of melodrama, sometimes---is in contradistinction with Broome's tales.  Green Lantern/Hal Jordan loses his focus, shifting his emotional bent and motivations to whichever writer wrote any given story.

 

In G.L. # 69 (Jun., 1969), Jordan gets another disappointment in the love department, and once again (perhaps, the only consistent rendering of his character during this period), bails out.

 

I must go it alone . . . !  After this latest . . . disappointment . . . I can't face the insurance business as Hal Jordan . . . with its disasters and tragedies!  I'm going to hand in my notice . . . find a new job . . . .

 

(You really get the feeling that, before running off to marry Jason Belmore, Carol Ferris gave Hal a radical orchiectomy.)

 

In issue # 70 (Jul., 1969), Jordan takes a job as a travelling salesman for the Merlin Toy Company.  Ostensibly, this move was designed to expand the range of possible plot developments for Hal and G.L., but the series never really mined anything of value from it.  If anything, the characterisation of Jordan became even more erratic.  Even a brief return to Coast City and the old, familiar faces of Pieface and Carol Ferris, in G.L. # 73-4 (Dec., 1969 and Jan., 1970), doesn't restore the feeling that the old confident Green Lantern is back at the stand.

 

 

To answer Mr. Dunbar's question about recommendations, my advice would be to follow the series through Green Lantern # 56, and that's only to get a chance to read that epic two-parter I mentioned before.  Otherwise, there's not much to recommend the series after issue # 49.

DC's Green Lantern Archives series (six volumes so far) reprints through #47, and I believe the series improves throughout this entire period. My collection of the actual comics is spotty from #48-75, but I am eager to read those issues (perhaps morbidly so) from an historical perspective if nothing else. Well do I remember the Commander's description of Hal Jordan's wienie period, and he also gave me a new way of looking at the O'Neil/Adams period. I won't say he "ruined it" for me, but he certainly added a perspective I hadn't noticed the first time I read these stories (as reprints) in my late teens. To be fair, I probably would have noticed those stories same shortcomings the next time I re-read it as an adult, but I've never been able to look at or think about those stories the sam way since. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. One thing I discovered recently on my own, though (after reading the recent collection of Ditko's Hawk & Dove), is that I believe O'Neil drew less inspiration from previous Green Lantern comics for his celebrated run than he did from trying to put his own spin on Ditko-style "relevance."

To put it simply, later stories tried to be "different", when they should have been trying to be "better". When "different" didn't work, they tried to be "REALLY different". Result? Cancelled book.

Aw crap.... It's Metal Men 2 and Teen Titans 2.... I guess I eschewed the Kane Green Lantern after all. (I'm out of the discussion, guys.  I have only the reprints of the "reality issues" which came out recently. and I've tried to read and follow.)

 

Interesting side light: The used bookstore which sold this is now locked up in a custody battle, as the family is split over wanting to sell it off, lock stock and barrell and others want a careful inventory to maximize the return on the holdings.  In the meantime, the community weaps over the loss of this treasured but struggling historical bookstore that had a bit of everything and was housed in a former Carnige Library building!

Kirk G said:

I'm pretty sure that I have at least one of these showcases, that I scored for just $3.00   I don't  know that I read it all, so it's probably still in Mint condition.  The used bookstore where I bought it had three volumes each of one Green Lantern, one Metal Men, one Flash, and one Atom and maybe one Teen Titan volumes...three copies deep in each instance.  Alas, I bought the Metal Men and one other...probably the Green Lantern.  Stay tuned while I go check....

Well, I have Green Lantern Showcase, Vol 1 and was going to post something about it...but then Commander Benson did his usual thorough examination on Hal Jordan in the '60s.  All I can say is, "Ditto."

Thanks to the CB, I have ordered the following volumes of Showcase GL.  I've always liked the idea of Green Lantern and it sounds like these next issues are where DC came closest to hitting the mark. 

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