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. 

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"No one?"

Although it's always nice to receive feedback, I wasn't soliciting responses with that remark... honestly! I also didn't intend to stay away from this discussion for nine days but, like I said, I overextended myself a bit. Besides, because I jumped ahead it seemed like a logical place to take a short break. It's also difficult to gauge which posts will draw responses and which will not. Last summer I moved two quickly from one character to another on either my (uncompleted) "Starmen" discussion or my (uncompleted) "Sandmen" discussion. (I do plan to get back to those one day, but being furloughed really took the wind from my sails.) I forget which it was, but people still wanted to discuss one character after I had already moved on to the next. Something similar happened just this week in my "Howling Commandos" discussion. I moved on to #100 prematurely, before two lengthy, informative and well-considered posts about the Korea and Viet Nam issues came in.

You may have noticed I vary the pace of this discussion from time to time, sometimes covering each issue individually, sometimes doing a collection at a time. My original intention had been to cover #172 to #200 in three posts but, as you can see above, I had more to say about the first third of these issues than I thought I would. I'm currently only two issues into the John Stewart" phase, and I'm already thinking of reverting to an issue-by-issue basis. (Any thoughts on that?) Another reason to go issue-by-issue is that this run has some really nice covers. One could almost follow the narrative of the arc just by looking at the covers alone.

Sorry, I tuned out when the conversation turned to Clark Kent convincing a winning mayoral candidate he didn't actually win. I wasn't disappointed that Ollie wouldn't be the mayor -- I found the idea preposterous, given that if Oliver Queen was as famous as Green Arrow there would be no way to keep a secret identity (that beard thing, as The Baron mentions), but also because I didn't want to read stories where the hero's secret identity was something as tedious and boring as municipal politics. But the idea that a mayoral candidate would take as a given the results of an election because some guy told him, instead of, you know, watching TV or reading a newspaper or talking to somebody else just ticked me off as a kid. I don't expect my superhero comics to be perfectly plausible, but c'mon guys, make an effort.

And then Ollie became mayor later anyway. Bleah.

But back to Green Lantern. I enjoy your points and perspective and have nothing to add. I will answer your question about where Itty came from, and that's the period where Green Lantern was a back-up feature in The Flash. For some reason I thought you covered that, but I guess not.

Itty first appeared in The Flash #238 (Dec 75).

Oh, thanks! I covered the O'Neil/Adams GL back-ups in Flash #217-219), but those are the only ones I've ever read. From My perspective, Itty just popped up out of nowhere!

And I withdraw my question from yesterday (about the pace of this discussion).I've asked those kind of questions before, and the answer has invariably been to proceed at whatever pace I prefer, so that's what I'm going to do. 

GREEN LANTERN: SECTOR 2814 v2 shifts its focus from Hal Jordan to John Stewart. It reprints #182-193, and also documents the creative shift from Wein/Gibbons to Englehart/Staton.

NOTE: From this point, "Green Lantern" refers to John Stewart, as Hal Jordan becomes a supporting character in what was formerly his own title. I have chosen a cover to represents the Green Lantern featured in in each of the three volumes (not necessarily the cover chosen by DC). #181 was the cover I chose to represent Hal Jordan; #185, John Stewart.

...but we begin with #182.

This issue begins with Hal Jordan visiting the gravesite of his predecessor, Abin Sur. Hal Jordan's origin as GL is recapped. This issue also introduces new supporting character, newscaster Tawny Young. The cover is representative of the content of the issue. When Hal Jordan learns that John Stewart has been chosen by the Guardians as his replacement, he is not only surprised, but upset. First, I can't imagine why he would be surprised because John Stewart has been his designated replacement since Guy Gardner was incapacitated. Second, on what grounds can he possibly be upset? He quit

The villain this issue is Major Disaster, something of a joke but a good foe to illustrate the differences between experienced Hal Jordan and Neophyte John Stewart. Reading this run in rapid succession, I discern a formula, or at least a pattern. A villain is introduced and the plot builds, usually while dealing with the threat (or, in this case, the subplot) from the previous issue, then ending the issue on a cliffhanger as the new threat moves to the forefront.

CLIFFHANGER: Major Disaster threatens the Baldwin Hills Dam and demands to see "Green Lantern."

Notice how the narrative arc progresses, just via the covers, from #182 to #183. In an early scene, Hal Jordan comes whining to Tom Kalmaku about John Stewart being chosen to be the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814. Tom is understandably upset that, when Hal was having a crisis of conscious, he went to Superman and Flash and Green Arrow rather than his supposed friend and confidant. (How Tom knew that is not explained.) Hal whines, "You're missing the point, Tom--Stewart works for Ferris. So what am I supposed to do?" 

FLY YOUR DAMN PLANES!

What do you think you're supposed to "do"?

Sheesh!

I didn't get his reaction at the time, but I get it now. Hal is behaving in character. I didn't have as strong of a reaction to Hal's behavior as Commander Benson did in regard to #49, but I get it. That's not to say I agree with it; I didn't then and I don't now. But I do now see that Hal's insecurity is built into his character. I don't like to admit it, but there it is. From a storytelling perspective, he's behaving in character

On the superhero side, Green Lantern is still very much adjusting to his new role. Major Disaster cracks the dam, and Green Lantern uses his ring to create a new dam, something we have seen the previous Green Lantern do with ease in the past. BUT... he allows his concentration to wane and the light construct dam bursts, which shatters his will power. At that point, he manages to "power ring" a viaduct which does manage to save the day, but just barely

This issue ends with Carol Ferris pointing out that Hal should be happy with the new GL, and Hal thinking, "Yeah,, I should, shouldn't I?  So why do I feel like someone just stuck a dagger in my gut? What in God's name have I done to myself? Lord, what have I done?"

This may be the point at which Adam Benson's and my own divergent opinions converge.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I didn't get his reaction at the time, but I get it now. Hal is behaving in character. I didn't have as strong of a reaction to Hal's behavior as Commander Benson did in regard to #49, but I get it. That's not to say I agree with it; I didn't then and I don't now. But I do now see that Hal's insecurity is built into his character. I don't like to admit it, but there it is. From a storytelling perspective, he's behaving in character . . .

This issue ends with Carol Ferris pointing out that Hal should be happy with the new GL, and Hal thinking, "Yeah,, I should, shouldn't I?  So why do I feel like someone just stuck a dagger in my gut? What in God's name have I done to myself? Lord, what have I done?"

This may be the point at which Adam Benson's and my own divergent opinions converge.

By this time, I was no longer recognising DC's characters as the ones I had grown up with.  (And the Crisis would put a solid period on that for me.)  But I was still buying the comics, out of inertia.  Thus, I was following the Green Lantern title, but had no emotional investment in it.  So I didn't notice what you did, Jeff, that here was Hal Jordan acting like a wienie, again.

In fact, he's acting like a childish wienie.  There's only one way to make sense out of the fact that Hal Jordan got so upset over John Stewart taking his place as Green Lantern, and that is, Jordan wasn't expecting anyone to take his place.  In other words, when Jordan quit the Green Lantern Corps, instead of interpreting it as an act of a man who has made a decision and is resolutely sticking to it, it was an attempt at manipulation.  Hal figured that, as "the greatest Green Lantern of them all", the Guardians would do anything to keep him in service.  In quitting, Jordan fully expected the Little Blue Guys to back off and plead with him to stay in the Corps and, moreover, give him the latitude to perform his duties however he wanted.

Instead, the Guardians said, "Fine," and appointed another G.L. in his place.

That scenario is the only way it would make sense for Hal Jordan to resent John Stewart---whom, after all, was the most qualified to do so---for taking his place.  The fact is, under that interpretation of Jordan's purpose in quitting, Hal would have resented anybody taking his place, for the idea was for the Little Blue Guys to say, "Oh, no, Hal Jordan of Earth, please don't quit!  We'll let you do whatever you want."

That completely undermines any remaining image of Hal Jordan as a "man's man".  A true he-man would've reacted, "I'm ready for the next phase of my life.  I hope John can do a good job as the new Green Lantern," and never would have whined about it.

Good observation, Jeff!

I think that Hal's reaction to John Stewart being the next Green Lantern of Space Sector 2814 was that he honestly didn't think that the Guardians would offer it to another Earthman, giving the times they had admonished him for staying on Earth so much, fighting costumed criminals!

Also I meant to add this before but I really enjoyed an earlier run on Green Lantern from #130-151 (Jl'80-Ap'82) by (mostly) Marv Wolfman and Joe Staton. The book was supported by two great back-ups with "Tales of the Green Lantern Corps" that introduced Arkkis Chummuck who was sorta a Kilowogg prototype and featured Ch'p looking more realistic and not like a cartoon and the 80s adventures of Adam Strange!

It pulled off a guest spot by Space Ranger and introduced readers to another Wolfman creation, the Omega Men! 

And the villains...

  • Evil Star
  • Doctor Polaris (laying the groundwork for his appearance in Crisis On Infinite Earths)
  • Eclipso (with a neat slow build-up with Bruce Gordon)
  • the Gordanians (from New Teen Titans to establish the Vega System)
  • the Bloch Family (who would hound Hal for years)
  • the Tattooed Man (who get killed! But got better later!)
  • Goldface (who would become a major villain)
  • Black Hand
  • the Weaponers of Qward who would create the Anti-Green Lantern Corps

After that, Hal would get exiled from Earth and the book would suffer for it, usually with the "Tales/GLC" feature being better than the lead. But this would lead into your collections, Jeff!

Plus George Perez drew some great covers!

In #181, Hal Jordan says (to the Guardians), "Frankly, I don't give a damn [who you give the ring to]! There are thousands of inhabited worlds in my space sector... countless worthy beings... give this ring to one of them! I really don't care who you give it to--just so long as it isn't mine anymore!"

Obviously. the fact that that Guardians offered it, not only to another Earthman, but to his designated replacement, for some reason blindsided him.

"Good observation, Jeff!"

Honestly, it didn't occur to me in 1984 and probably wouldn't have now without your "Deck Log #228" and reading all these issues in the context with the earlier ones. I'm not particularly pleased with this new (to me) revelation, but kudos to Len Wein to picking up on it and following through.

During this same era, Walt Simonson took a lot of heat (from short-sighted fans) for what he did with Balder the Brave in Thor. but Len Wein will ultimately leave it up to Steve Englehart to turn Hal Jordan's character arc around. Will he succeed? Keep reading.

CLIFFHANGER: Major Disaster threatens the Baldwin Hills Dam and demands to see "Green Lantern."

The Baldwin Hills Dam was a real thing in Los Angeles County. It actually did fail in 1963, so Green Lantern trying to save it in 1984 doesn't compute. I'm very aware of this because my wife Gayle and her friend (as teenagers) were running down the street from a wall of water. They zigged and it zagged. It was never rebuilt and that area was changed into a regional park.

#185-186 (#184 was a reprint):

Green Lantern has dinner with Tawny Young and flashes back to his "origin" (his most recent one, anyway). At first he refuses the responsibility, but the same 6 Green Lanterns who intercepted Hal Jordan (twice) on his way to resign (Katma Tui, in particular) talk him into it. The Guardians chose him not only for his fearlessness and his honesty, but also for his experience (ironic, considering the way his first mission almost ended). 

The sub-plots develop on all fronts: Bruce Gordon continues to be harassed by his alter ego (Eclipso); Clay Kendall is released from the hospital; Rich Davis (seeking a final shot at glory due to his heart condition) knocks Hal Jordan unconscious and takes off in the experimental solar jet for its test flight.

CLIFFHANGER: Eclipso appears.

#186 is Len Wein's last issue as writer/editor. Paul Kupperberg is credited with "plotting assist above and beyond the call of duty." Predator joins the fight against Eclipso and defeats him. Rich Davis lands the plane, but the strain is too much on his heart and he dies.

INTERLUDE:

When I first read these issues (culminating in #186), I got the feeling I was missing something. In 1992, DC even tried to make Eclipso the "Big Bad" of the year. He even got a short-lived (18 issue) series out of it. In 2003, however, DC reprinted Eclipso's first appearance (from House of Secrets #61) in the Even More Secret Origins 80-Page Giant one-shot and I was able to read it at last. It was a perfunctory, by-the-numbers origin story and I really didn't miss all that much. #186's flashback to #139 provided all I really needed to know.

I always knew that Eclipso was DC's House Villain, more so than Darkseid at that time from his wars shown in Justice League of America #109 and Metal Men #48-49, plus a few reprints!

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