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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Yeah, I agree with all those points, Dave. Hilar isn't so much a "toy" as he is a stand-up comedian. 

#72:

Although written by Denny O'Neil, this one has a very Broome-like plot. John Broome would often take a well-worn science fiction trope then attach his own hook to it, and that's what O'Neil has done here. For example, science fiction is often referred to as "space opera" and, in this case, the "hook" is making the story about a group of space-traveling troubadours  and there you have it: "Phantom of the Space Opera." Also, all of the main players and locations are named after classical composers. Its a clever idea, but...

I find myself without much to say about this little run of stories I've set for myself to read today. I think I could have saved a considerable amount of time by simply reading them all, then commenting about them all at once rather than following the read/post, read/post pattern I established yesterday. Oh, well. Omly three issues to go. I can keep it up for that long.

Hal's new job was only mentioned, and there were no romantic sub-plots this issue.

#73:

Okay, THIS is more like it! Mike Friedrich joins Gil Kane (inked by Murphy Anderson!) for this issue (and the next) and returns Green Lantern to Coast City where he belongs. The first person he meets is Tom Kalmaku, pumping gas at a local service station. "What you doing working at a gas station? Quite a comedown from fixing jets at Ferris Aircraft!" says the ex-test pilot/toy salesman. Instead of punching him in the mouth, Tom explains that he owns the gas station, and a half dozen others. He also has three kids now. Even Hal admits that people must call him "Mr. Kalmaku" now, although he himself continues to call him "Pieface." (Jerk.)

There are other changes as well. For one thing, Coast City has elected its first black mayor. Also, off-shore oil drilling is now permitted. No sooner does he learn of this than one of the rigs explodes, spewing oil into the ocean and onto the beaches. He puts a stop to it, but the first person he recognizes in the crowd is none other than (wait for it)... Carol Ferris. He sweeps her not only off her feet but into the air, rudely snubbing the new mayor in the process.

Noooo! She's bad for you? Can't you understand that? Actually, I can. Before my last girlfriend and I broke up for good, we went through a whole series breakups and reconciliations. Carol is no longer with Jason Belmore (who we never did see, BTW), nor did she ever marry him. He did give her a Star Sapphire, though. (Uh, oh.) Green Lantern leaves Carol on the beach (Good for him!), but she immediately transforms into her even bitchier alter ego. They fight, she loses. But her last command using the gem, though, wipes Hal Jordan's memory of Green Lantern and transports him to low Earth orbit.

Great cliffhanger!

#74:

This is one of the few comics in the omnibus which I actually own an original copy of, but I don't recall whether I bought it because it's a "key" issue in the Green Lantern/Star relationship, or I just found it at a good price. I'm not going to reveal how Hal Jordan escaped the vacuum of space, but by the time he returned to Coast City, Sinestro was with Star Sapphire on the beach. (Waitaminute... was "Jason Belmore" Sinestro all along?) They fight, but the charge runs out of Green Lantern's ring and he is knocked unconscious in the surf. 

Star Sapphire and Sinestro begin to mix it up, and Tom catches the coverage on the news. He rushes to the hotel at which Hal Jordan is registered in an attempt to find the power battery and get it to him. Meanwhile, Green Lantern has regained consciousness and is inching his way to his room. This leads to the scene depicted on the cover. After Green Lantern has recovered, Star Sapphire reverts to Carol Ferris and Sinistro surrenders and disappears. Because she never retains the knowledge of being star Sapphire, Green Lantern tells Carol the whole story and she runs off down the beach.

That's basically the end.

#75:

John Broome returns for the last issue before the Young Turks' Regime. This is another one I own in its original format but, unlike #74, I remember exactly when and why I bought it. (I'll get into that when this discussion moves on to #76.) Also unlike 374, this one didn't really click with me, and I can tell you why. #75 is really a follow-up to "the Sept. '69 issue of Flash." {I need an issue number, Schwartz! grumble grumble] Okay. #191. I've got that one.

Because I've got Flash #191 now (I didn't have it when I first bought Green Lantern #75 as a backissue), I decided to go ahead and read it, but I'm not going to go into too much detail at this time. (Maybe I will someday during a discussion of The Flash.) the two stories don't really have all that much to do with each other and, even though the story in Green Lantern #75 is more or less self-contained, it does refer to Flash #191 often enough to make me feel as if I'm missing part of the story (certainly part of Olivia Reynolds' story) reading GL #76 alone. 

That's as far as I'm going to take this discussion right now (i.e., today). I'm going to take a couple of days off (from this discussion), but I will return with the O'Neil/Adams era. (I just won't try to do it all at once.) 

A few disjointed observations on today’s discussions.

I won’t say that GL #70 inspired it, but the notorious movie The Toy (1982), had Jackie Gleason’s super-rich character “buy” Richard Pryor’s character for his son. Saw it once, which was more than enough.

Regarding GL #72, there were no Phantom movies or Broadway shows to inspire the title in 1968 or 1969. In 1969 Aweful Movies with Deadly Earnest was an Australian TV Series that showed, among others, the 1943 remake of Phantom of the Opera which starred Claude Rains as the Phantom. It’s unlikely that, in 1969, either Julie Schwartz, Denny O'Neil or Gil Kane saw an Australian TV show, unless they travelled there (remember travelling?). Maybe one of them viewed the 1925 Lon Chaney version on a movie projector (no videotapes or anything then).

I’m sure that few readers at the time, and today, had any trouble identifying the rear views of Star Sapphire and Sinestro on the covers of #73 and #74.

Phantom of the Paradise was a few years in the future (1974), that couldn't have been an inspiration.

That was my first thought, but was still in the future. I beat the bushes on 1968 and 1969 movies and Broadway shows and only found the Australian TV show.

Dave Palmer said:

Phantom of the Paradise was a few years in the future (1974), that couldn't have been an inspiration.

I see no reason not to assume that 1911 book by Gaston Leroux or the 1943 remake of the movie starring Claude Rains was the inspiration behind #72's title. Both were well-known works in their respective media. (Later still came Kirby's "Phantom of the Sewers" in The Demon.) 

Speaking of inspirations, in response to a letter of mine published in Comics Buyer's Guide #1582, reader E.J. Barnes of Amherst, Mass. speculated that "ergono" was possibly and anagram of "orgone": "Orgone was the sexually based life-force theorized by Freudian disciple Wilhelm Reich, who advocated the preposterous, and clearly subversive, idea that sexual repression was bad for individuals and society. He coined the term 'sexual revolution.' the titles of one of his books. Accused by 1950s American journalists of being a sexual anarchist, his orgone-collecting experimants were shut down by the FDA, his books were burned, and he died in prison in 1957."

Reich turned up as Orgone Lad in a Supreme comic.

In the 1960s I saw the Claude Rains film on TV so it was definitely available.  I assume it was the Claude Rains version.  Additionally, there was the 1962 Hammer film.  And the Aurora plastic model in the 1960s.  My father made it for me, as well as painted it.  I wish I still had it.

Captain Comics and Commander Benson ruined Green Lantern for me!

Yopu may have noticed I posted an image of the cover to 1983's GL/GA reprint series rather than that of the original Green Lantern #76. That's because the reprint series is where it all began for me. "The battle of values that shook a nation!" Some the the very first comics I ever acquired (as backissues) were the Thomas/Adams runs of Avengers and X-Men. I knew that Neal Adams had done "some" work for DC (mainly Batman), but I had no idea he had done a whole series! Man, this was like finding the Holy Grail! I loved it and I read it many times over the ensuing years, but let's do this up right...

#76:

The O'Neil/Adams era of GL/GA (now a.k.a. "Hard Travelin' Heroes") is rightly remembered as one of the most influential runs in the history of comic books. It was painted with very broad strokes, not intended to answer questions, but to raise them, to make young readers aware of the issues, but not necessarily to sway them one way or the other. Denny O'Neil's primary goal was to get them to think about the problems confronting America. I was very happy with this series and re-read it from time to time over the next decade or so. Then captain comics wrote a column about the old black man who accosts Green Lantern in #76: "I been readin' about you...how you work for the blue skins... and how on a planet someplace you helped out the orange skins... and you done considerable for the purple skins! Only there's skins you never bothered with--! ...the black skins! I want to know... how come?! Answer me that, Mr. Green Lantern!"

And Green Lantern hung his head in shame. "I... cant..."

Cap pointed out the fallacy in the old man's argument. "Yeah!" (I thought at the time.) Green Lantern has saved the whole blamed planet several time over, including the "black skins"! Where does that old man get off? The discussion spilled over to Cap's message board and Commander Benson pointed out that, in this arc, Green Lantern became nothing more than a straw man for Green Arrow to attack with his more liberal views. Holy crap! I never looked at it that way before. I re-read those stories at the time with those points of view in mind and I'll damned if they weren't right!

Benson went on to point out that Green Lantern in particular had to be written out of character for the story to work. (Green Arrow never had much of a personality up until then, so it's really a moot point as far as he is concerned.) I couldn't speak to that then, but I can now. First of all, I will concede that, yes, Green Lantern was written out of character. but what about Cap's point? Was the old man really out of line? I thought so then (15+ years ago), but now, in 2020, I'm not so sure.

To return to Justice League of America #110 (which Cap mentioned a few weeks back) in which Hal Jordan heroically slipped on a bar of soap and knocked himself unconscious, John Stewart, as Hal's designated replacement, was chosen to be Green Lantern that issue. Cap didn't care for that story, but I was in elementary school and it was my first (non-reprint) Green Lantern story. It was also the first story in which I saw St. Louis' Gateway Arch depicted and, to this day, one of the few drawn correctly. but I digress...

In that story, Green Lantern's (John Stewart's) first with the JLA, he says, "IUt's against the Green Lantern's code to use the power rings to give these folks new housing--so I just used it to reconstruct the old buildings the intant they were destroyed--minus the roaches, rats, collapsing ceilings and such... Those old tenements are now as clean and sound as they day they were built! I promised these kids a Christmas present--and they got it!" See? Hal Jordan could have done something for the "black skins."

But all that's not to say I don't understand comic book heroes being written out of character; I do. In many ways, Civil War is the "Hard Travelin' Heroes" of my era. (I won't say "my generation" because Cap is younger than my older siblings.) Talk about heroes being written out of character in order to make a story work! Iron Man? Mr. Fantastic? Waht about Captain America in Civil war: Front Line #11? In that issue, Captain america is being interviewed by Sally Floyd.

FLOYD: Let me ask you something, sir? Do you know what MySpace is?

CAP: I'm not sure I understand the relevance of that question, Sally...

FLOYD: No, you don't understand the question, sir. I'm trying to illustrate a point here, so bear with me. Do you know who won the last World Series? Or who was the last American Idol? When was the last time you actually attended a NASCAR race? When was the last time you watched The Simpsons, or loggedonto YouTube to watch a stupid video? Answer?

And Captain America hangs his head in shame, just as Green Lantern did when confronted by the black man.

My point is, I find it hard to get worked up about the scene from GL:/GA #76 in comparison to CW:FL #11. But just to prove I'm still a comic book geek, that scene in Star City was, eventually, accounted for in continuity (albeit more than two decades later). In issue #39 of Green Lantern [third series], Green Lantern again comes into direct contact with Ergono and is captured by Olivia Reynolds, who has been possessed by it. She explains: "Sudenly, without will, your mind gives equal weight to every possibility, is swayed by every argument." 

Green Lantern comes to the realization: "the first time I was blasted by Ergono I was hammered by an awareness of my own morality. It shook me. It nearly finished me. I rallied back on pure emotion--but after the incident was over I never felt quite the same. Just a few days later I had that confrontation in Star city with Green arrow. I stopped a young ghetto dweller from attacking a slumlord--and Arrow ridiculed me, accused me of playing super-cop to feed my ego. Normally, I'd have told him to let me do my job. But instead--it shook me to the core of my being. For years after that my will was shaky. I lacerated myself with doubt and indecision. Dear Lord. Were all those years of confusion caused by that one blast of Ergono?"

You decide.

Here are my reactions to this issue, written up last night before I had seen what Jeff posted:

  1. “There’s no need to thank me, people!” Seriously? Is this consistent with how Hal was being portrayed at the time? Was he really this pompous of a parody of a super-hero?                                  
  2. While we’re on the subject, was all this consistent with how Ollie was being portrayed back then – as a strident, self-righteous jackass?                                                                                                      
  3. And a Guardian of the Universe – an immortal alien super-intelligence from a race not known for their tolerance for impertinence – just listens to Barney Rubble when he starts raving at him hysterically instead of just saying, oh, “Green Lantern Hal Jordan, keep your monkey quiet, won’t you? Give him a banana or something!”?                                                                                               
  4. Overall, if I didn’t know better, I’d suspect this was the product of a gifted high schooler who’d just had their first realization that there’s injustice in the world. It has that overwrought heavy-handedness of the kid who has not yet learned that less can be more, sometimes.  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.  It’s just that a message gets across better depending on how it’s presented, and I feel like this message could have been presented a little more smoothly.                                                                                                                                       
  5. The other weakness is that there’s no real argument. Hal never speaks up for himself at all. Ollie rants and then Hal’s all “You’re right! (Sob!) Tell me what to do, wise one!” A little more substantive discussion, with Hal giving his side of things, might have been a little more helpful. Hal could have been shown to learn something – and even to realize that “fighting for justice” is more complex than just “beating up law-breakers”, without just being yelled into submission. As it is, Hal comes across as a target set up for Ollie to knock down.                                                                                              
  6. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a valid conversation to be had here concerning what a Green Lantern’s duties are. Are they essentially super-policemen, or are they meant to be super social workers – or would “social engineers” be a better term?  Is fighting the Lamplighter or Goldface really the best use of Hal’s time?  I assume that at some point the Guardians have pointed out to Hal that while the Earth is lousy with super-heroes (you can’t swing a dead cat on Earth without hitting a super-hero), there are plenty of worlds in his sector that are not.   If he is a super-policeman, what is the distinction that allows him to go after Count Vertigo or Sonar but not Fidel Castro or Kim Il-Sung?   (I mean, I get that what the “real-world” reason was, but I wonder what the “in-story” reason would be.)  If he does go in for social engineering, isn’t he just going to end up imposing his (or, to be precise, Ollie’s) ideals on the world and becoming Sinestro 2.0?  (Always assuming the other heroes would let him do it.)

 

Really, I come back to the thought that the idea that a single Green Lantern – no matter how capable – could adequately “police” a 3600th part of the universe is inherently nonsensical.  While Hal’s busy rousting landlords, the Niblpiblii will be processing the Porculons as lunch meat. When he goes to help the Porculons, the S’Norq – S’Mrrf War will be devastating a dozen solar systems, and so on, ad infinitum.

 

That said, I’m glad that I finally got a chance to read this, since it was an “important” (Or “pivotal”, perhaps?) comic.

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