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.
I vividly remember buying Green Lantern #76 from my then-LCS when I was in high school, probably somewhere in between 1981-82 for an absurdly high price of...$15. At least it was signed by Neal Adams!
Note: I always assumed that the title of the book was changed to Green Lantern/Green Arrow even when it was revived in the 70s but that was never the case. It wasn't until the 1983 reprint series that a book had that name.
Green Arrow, of course, got his new look in Brave & Bold #85 (S'69) but for all intents and purposes, he was still the same Silver Age Ace Archer, just with a beard. It was in Justice League of America #75 (N'69) where Oliver Queen lost his fortune via underhanded ways and gained that liberal and social conscious attitude. While he became the only JLAer with a personality for a bit, he never really came down on his teammates, just greedy and dangerous "fat-cats" and corrupt politicians. Instead of being spun off into his own title where his views would constantly be challenged and modified, he was made the co-star of Green Lantern with #76 (Ap'70) where he would, for the most part, do all the challenging and modifying!
As you can see, all this happened in a very short span of time, especially for comic books.
As for the book itself, it's a starting point and while it's neither clever nor innovative, it gets this new narrative moving.
Having just reread it myself, here are my thoughts:
I bought #76 off the newsstand. I bought most of the other issues as they came out. The Neil Adams art was incredible and Denny O’Neil’s stories were engaging. I was in sixth grade at the time and aware of the world around me (as a result I did well on current event quizzes). O’Neil was addressing real world problems.
But taken too far that becomes a problem. Of course, we can’t think too deeply about superhero stories. They’re fun and escapist and sometimes even illuminate a bit of the human condition, but, boy, have them address reality and relevancy and that can go bad quickly. Superman or Captain Marvel could have ended WWII in an afternoon. Apollo 11 was a big deal, except humans had been traveling all over the universe for years by 1969. I’ve said it before that Bruce Wayne could do so much more for Gotham than Batman can. Yes, I know those stories wouldn’t be as exciting and fun to read, and a good Batman story can really sing.
Unfortunately, I think O’Neil overstated his case sometimes. The nuance was lost. Too many stories were hamhanded. Even here he undermines himself. Slade as a slumlord raises interesting questions, but before we know it, he’s also established as a criminal. So much for nuance.
As a landlord we could argue about his tactics. He just may be a stupid landlord by not investing in his properties and increasing their value. Or his buildings may be rent controlled. But, alas, he’s a criminal. Reading it today, I find it interesting that he wants to tear down his buildings to build a parking lot. A not too subtle dig at DC’s owners, perhaps, on Denny’s part.
The ergono retcon is enlightening, but too little, waaayy too late. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t around when that was published and became canon.
Also, I’m not super sympathetic to Mike’s situation. Okay, you have to take care of your grandmother. Instead up roughing up the landlord, you should be working. Two, three jobs, if that is what it takes. I assume, that you can find some work, and I recognize that isn’t always easy. (Part of the reason I am a business professor today is I couldn’t quite understand during the recession of 1982 why so many of the HR people I had the misfortune to deal with were such idiots. I hope I do a better job preparing my students, but enough of that). Or, Mike, go to night school or learn a trade. Yeah, that’s not as much fun as hanging around with your buddies, but you have responsibilities.
(Another aside, in the mid 70s I had dropped out of college, but I eventually went back. In 1980, I was working full time as a cook, and taking 21 credit hours at a [fine] community college. It can be done. I even did some fun stuff. Looking back, I wonder when did I sleep? At the same time I loaned some money to my grandmother. She needed it to qualify for some aid to get a new furnace. To qualify it had to be a loan not a gift and we both attested to that. At the time I thought if I never see that money again, which was just about all I had at the time, everything would be fine. But my grandmother treated it as a loan, and I don’t know how she did it, but she paid me back.)
Looking at the story today, Hal was written out of character. I agree with The Baron, he is pompous in the opening pages, which isn’t Hal. Also, this characterization of GA got old fast. His feuds with Hawkman in JLA were ridiculous, but that was also other writers, not just O’Neil. Did O’Neil even initiate that?
We’re in for some interesting stories. Some of them haven’t aged very well, but Adams‘ art work is amazing. Denny O’Neil, over the course of his career, wrote some great stories, but when he gets preachy they lose their impact. Let’s remember these were written for kids. Yeah, yeah, I know. But the editorial thinking was that most of the readers were children, even if there was more of a recognition that a growing number were teenagers and even college students.
Len Wein started the Green Arrow/Hawkman bickering in Justice League of America #100 (Au'72) and really turned it nasty by #103 (D'72). Eventually it stopped, probably due to Hawkgirl joining the team and she wasn't going to put up with it or him!
That was simply lazy characterization. Both characters deserved better.
"...that does appear to be a somewhat creative construct Hal has come up with. Or has he used it before?"
I'll deal with the easy question first. I have been keeping track of how Green Lantern uses his power ring since I began this reading project and I hope to present my findings... well, I was hoping to do it today. But I've been experiencing some back pain lately and sitting at the computer aggravates it. But I can say that, no, Green Lantern has not built a mousetrap light construct before... at least not in his own title. One of these days I will fold his JLA missions in, but I've got to get my initial list up first.
In this first issue (of the new direction), Green Lantern builds eight light constructs, but but uses it in a seemingly-magical-but-actually-super-scientific way only once. I don't know if that due to Adams interpretation of O'Neil's plot of if O'Neil was purposefully writing visually giving Adams the opportunity to cut loose, but Green Lantern made three light constructs in as many panels on page three, and an additional one on page four.
"Of course, we can’t think too deeply about superhero stories. They’re fun and escapist and sometimes even illuminate a bit of the human condition, but, boy, have them address reality and relevancy and that can go bad quickly."
That's pretty much how I feel about it. Having said that, though, I've read this run many times and I have never had as strong of an emotional reaction (previously I have had no emotional reaction at all) when I read Green Arrow's speech evoking MLK and RFK: "On the streets of Memphis a good black man died... and in Los Angeles, a good white man fell...
"There’s nothing wrong with the message, per se – of course, there was a lot that needed fixing in this country in 1970, and none of it has been fixed fifty years later."
To wit: "...remember America... it's a good country... beautiful... fertile... and terribly sick! There are children dying... honest people cowering in fear... disillusioned kids ripping up campuses... Something is wrong! Something is killing us all...! Some hideous moral cancer is rotting our very souls!"
"(Always assuming the other heroes would let him do it.)"
Regarding the imposition of Green Lantern's ideals on the world, I will be dealing with Parallax in this discussion in due time.
That discussion I mentioned (tongue in cheek, I assure you) yesterday in which Captain Comics and Commander Benson "ruined" Green Lantern for me must have been 15 years ago (I estimate), and that was the last time I read the O'Neil/Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow. In the intervening years, however, I have since read DC's The Creeper and Hawk & Dove. for the first time (actually, I've read both series twice by now). My thought now is that the "Hard Travelin' Heroes" arc is much more of an outgrowth of titles such as those than it was earlier issues of Green Lantern (which was, at the time, in danger of being cancelled). It wasn't in vogue to cancel and re-start series at the drop of a hat back then as it is today, but if such a drastic change were to happen today, it would certainly rate a "new number one."
Denny O'Neil would also move Batman away from his authoritative alliance. In the Silver Age, Batman was a duly-deputized officer of the law. He even had a badge. By 1970, he was once more becoming a vigilante, answerable only to himself, though he still had a strong bond with Commissioner Gordon and good relations with the GCPD.
Issue of the Issue:The plight of coal miners.
Slapper Soames runs the town of Desolation. He also owns the mine and exploits the workers. Johnny Walden is a folk singer whose songs have got the miners riled up. Passing through, the "Greens" have to pick a side. the characterization is all one dimensional, especially that of Saomes' ex-Nazi foreman who is practically a caricature. Green Lantern learns that the Guardians have reduced the potency of his ring wil he's on this "leave of absence"; specifically, they removed the default that protects him from mortal harm. they leave the town with (according to Green Arrow) "nothing to look forward to except more poverty... and ignorance."
Wishy-Washy Speech of the Month: "I used to speak that oath with pride... with conviction! But now... I'm not convinced of anything! The world isn't the black-and-white place I thought it to be--once, I might have fought for Soames! But Green Arrow has made me think that maybe authority isn't always right--and I don't know what is just!"
Yep. That's a clear-cut case of "ergono-poisoning" if I ever saw one.
"The world isn't the black-and-white place I thought it to be."
Strange. That's the way Denny wrote it.
Issue of the Issue: Cults (with a smattering of motorcycle gangs and Indian rights thrown in for good measure). the charismatic "Joshua" stands in for charles Manson, and the "Demons" represent the Hell's Angels.
Enter: Black Canary. She is still the widow from Earth-2 at this point and has not yet been retconned into being her own daughter. (If you don't know what I'm referring to, don't ask.)
The action is specified as taking place in Washington State, which makes me question where last issue was set. Somewhere back East, I had assumed, but America's a pretty big country if you've ever driven across it.
Issue of the Issue: Indian rights (carried over from last issue.
Pierre O'Rourke claims to own the trees the Indians also claim. Theodore Pudd reprents the lumberjack's union. The story is set near Evergreen City, where Green Lantern once worked as an insurance adjuster. the trio of heroes split up this issue. Black Canary helps the children on the reservation; Green Lantern, determined to work within the system to change the law rather than disobey it, flies off to see his congressman; Green Arrow masquerades as the spirit of Indian Chief Ulysses star.
Narration: These three... have vowed to find America... to learn why this land of the free has become the land of the fearful!
Wishy-Washy Speech of the Month: "I once thought that this ring, plus my oath, plus good intentions, plus will power--equaled a certain force for justice! That was when I saw things as either black... or white... before I realized it's a grey world--nothing but grey." I just had a though. I'll bet it was comics like this one... maybe this exact one... which inspired Steve Ditko to create Mr. A.
Absolutely nothing is resolved by the story's end, but Denny O'Neil quotes from The Armies of the Night by Norman Mailer: "Brood on that country who expresses out will... she is America--once a beauty of magnificence unparalleled, now a beauty with leprous skin. God writhes in his bonds. Rush to the locks, deliver us from our curse. For we must end on the road to that mystery where courage, death, and the dream of love give promise of sleep."
I first read Green Lantern/Green Arrow #78 and #79 in an old paperback (that I still have), that's in black-and-white and cuts the pages and panels apart to fit.
You're right that nothing gets resolved, but Green Lantern and Green Arrow get into a knock-down, drag-out, mask-pulling fist fight over it.