Deck Log Entry # 124 The Lamp and the Lightning (Part 2)

Mail from fans thrilled over Green Lantern # 13 (Jun., 1962) and The Flash # 131 (Sep., 1962) hit editor Julius Schwartz’s desk like an avalanche.  It was early enough in the Silver Age that having two super-heroes meet and team-up was still an uncommon, and exciting, event.  As tempting as it might have been to make the Flash-G.L. team a regular feature, Schwartz believed that familiarity bred, if not contempt, then certainly boredom.  Instead, regular-but-infrequent doses of popular concepts, such as the annual Justice League/Justice Society cross-overs, would keep the fans’ appetites whetted for more.


Following that template, a joint Flash-G.L. adventure would appear nearly every year, alternating titles, throughout the rest of the decade.  “Parasite Planet Peril”, from Green Lantern # 20 (Apr., 1963), saw the two Justice League pals once again drawn together in a crisis.


This “book-length novel” begins with trouble already in full bloom.  As reported by a Coast City television newsman, California has been hit by an incredible malady called the “vanishing plague”.  Across the state, the afflicted individuals first become pale, followed by an inexplicable and steady loss of substance until, within hours, they vanish from sight completely.  So far, at least forty people have succumbed to the mysterious illness.


As scientists and public-health officials organise to tackle the problem, the authorities request the help of local super-hero, Green Lantern, and that of the Fastest Man Alive, the Flash.  Also involved in the emergency are Carol Ferris, serving as a volunteer nurse, and Iris West, who has arrived in Coast City to report on the plague for her paper, the Picture News


By now, after two vacations together, the ladies have become quite chummy and, during their down time, have a little girl-talk about their respective relationships with Hal Jordan and Barry Allen.


At the report of the next outbreak, the Flash whisks a stricken man to the hospital, where Green Lantern attempts to stem the plague’s effects with his power ring.  Though the Emerald Crusader gives it everything he’s got, he’s unable to prevent the latest victim from fading away.  On top of that, he’s too preoccupied to worry about the fact that he’s not feeling too good himself.  He’s light-headed and white as a sheet, and it dawns on the Flash that it’s not because G.L. skipped breakfast that morning.


Yes, Green Lantern has the vanishing plague!  For some reason, it’s affecting him at an accelerated rate, and as his strength of will lapses, he gives the Flash his power ring.  The Scarlet Speedster pushes out every bit of green energy out of the ring that he can, but like before, it’s futile, and the Green-clad Gladiator vanishes before the Flash’s eyes.


The Flash kicks it into super-high gear.  Suspecting a microörganism may be the culprit, he falls back on his expertise as a police scientist.  Taking a tissue sample from one of the plague victims, he uses the power ring to magnify it a million-fold---and is stunned to discover the existence of an alien humanoid at the sub-atomic level.  The Flash immediately uses the ring to shrink himself down to that infinitesimal size.


The Scarlet Speedster arrives to discover that Green Lantern and all of the other vanishing-plague victims are alive and well on this sub-atomic world, called Mikridion.  G.L. gives his teammate the low-down.


Two native races cohabit Mikridion.  One, the Mikrids, uses a form of mental radiation to enslave the other, the Bowerds.  However, the mental energy required to do this is staggering and is nearly exhausted.  In order to prevent a revolt by the Bowerds, the Mikrids kidnapped people from our outer world by shrinking them to their own sub-atomic size.  Once here, the victims’ brain power was leeched and used to replenish the Mikrids’ mental energy.


The Flash returns Green Lantern’s ring, and together, the two super-heroes clean house.  The story would be over by the end of chapter two---except for one thing.  The Mikrids transport Iris West and Carol Ferris to their world and wire them to a device called “the devastator”.  If the Flash uses his super-speed, or the Lantern, his ring, the devastator will detect it and automatically disintegrate Iris and Carol.


As it turns out, that’s not such a problem for Our Heroes.  They simply do it the old-fashioned way, with fists.  So accustomed to keeping their foes under mental domination, the Mikrids aren’t prepared for active resistance.  It doesn’t take much more than “Look, your shoelace is untied!” for the Flash and G.L. to clobber the villains and rescue their girlfriends from the devastator.


They leave the freed Bowerds in charge and, one power-beam zap later, the Flash, Green Lantern, Iris, Carol, and all of the other kidnapped Earthlings are back home.  Just in time for Hal Jordan and Carol to keep a double-date with Barry Allen and Iris.  The fellows do the best they can to look surprised after making the mistake of asking the girls, “So, how did your day go?”


It’s just one panel, but it’s enough to remind the readers that the Flash and Green Lantern are just as much buddies when they’re Barry and Hal.  In fact, they’re more extended socially by the fact that their significant others, Iris and Carol, have become gal pals, as well.


There are other signs that the camaraderie of the two super-heroes is growing.  The Lantern confides to the Flash that he keeps his power battery hidden in his hangar at Ferris Aircraft.  And when entrusted with the power ring, the Crimson Comet recalls G.L.’s earlier explanations on how the ring is activated by will power.




The next year’s Flash-G.L. offering---“Trail of the False Green Lanterns”, from The Flash # 143 (Mar., 1964)---opens by presenting police scientist Barry Allen with a baffling dilemma.  Central City cops have arrested four men for brawling on a public street.  That’s not the weird part.  The kicker is all four of them are identical in dress and physical appearance---and each gives his name as Hal Jordan!


When Barry “casually” drops by the room where the men are being held, he sees four carbon copies of his friend, who should be half-a-country away, in Coast City.  So identical are the four Hals that Barry cannot tell them apart, even after the real Jordan sends him a telepathic message via his power ring.  It’s only when Barry spots the faint glow of the power ring that he pinpoints the genuine article.


Barry arranges for the real Hal to be released in his custody, and once alone, Jordan tells his chum that he’s as much in the dark as Barry is.  Hal had been test-flying the X-35, a new ship manufactured by Ferris Aircraft.  His mission was to fly the X-35 to the rim of space and then land it at a Ferris field near Central City.  Since he was in the neighbourhood, Hal explains, he decided to pay Barry a visit.  That’s when things took a bizarre twist.  While walking toward police headquarters, Hal was ambushed on the street by his three look-alikes and forced to duke it out with them.


But the rugged test pilot has no more idea where his three doubles came from than Barry does.  They change to their super-hero identities to solve the mystery.


It doesn’t stay a mystery long, however.  Before they get started on their investigation, Green Lantern and the Flash zip out to the west coast, so G.L. can recharge his ring at his power battery.  He barely finishes his oath when he and the Scarlet Speedster are confronted by a trio of Green Lanterns, the same three who had been Hal Jordans back in Central City.


“It was no trouble escaping from our cells,” they explain.  “We simply willed ourselves to become invisible and flew off!  Since we have become Hal Jordan and Green Lantern---we have all his powers and then some!”


The three G.L. doubles are more than glad to divulge what’s going on.


They were brought into existence by a man named Thomas Oscar Morrow.  Morrow, a scientist, had devoted his career to inventing a machine by which he could travel through time.  The best he had been able to accomplish, however, was to create a device which permitted him to view future ages.


With this capability, Morrow studied the creation of future inventions---what would be scientific marvels in our own time---and then copied them in his lab.  And Morrow had no compunctions about using those futuristic devices to rob and steal undetected.


While Hal Jordan was piloting the X-35 on the edge of space, Morrow chose that moment to test his latest purloined invention, a duplicator.  Morrow trained the ray of the duplicator on the X-35’s cockpit and, instantaneously, three identical replicas of Hal Jordan materialised in his lab.  And not just physically alike.  Each duplicate possessed the same knowledge, skills, and memories of the real Hal Jordan---and by extension, the Green Lantern.


Morrow discovered his lucky break when he forced the duplicates to reveal their knowledge by threatening to turn off the duplicator, which would immediately end their existences.  This inspired Morrow.  The criminal scientist had become bored with how easy it was for him to steal and he wanted a challenge.  He sent the three duplicates to Central City to assault Hal Jordan, knowing it would lure Green Lantern and the Flash into his scheme.  The goal?  A battle of super-skills, in which the super-heroes would fight to prevent the three false Green Lanterns from stealing the world’s greatest treasures.


The trio of replica G.L.’s announce that they will, separately, attempt to steal the Mona Lisa, the Statue of Liberty, and a rare collexion of British gold coins.  They challenge the Flash and the real Green Lantern to stop them.


Oh, by the way, they add helpfully, T. O. Morrow made some improvements on the power ring.  Thanks to future technology, their power rings are not stymied by the colour yellow.




And it’s on!  The three duplicate G.L.’s zoom away at blinding speed, with Green Lantern and the Flash in hot pursuit.  The Scarlet Speedster catches up with one of their quarries in Paris, where the replica has used his power ring to suspend the Louvre in mid-air.  With the aid of a cannon and some super-speed aeronautics, the Flash surprises the duplicate G.L. on the museum floor.


To his dismay, the false Green Lantern learns that even an improved power ring is no match for the Fastest Man on Earth.  It’s still a close thing, though, before the Flash finally manages to kayo the duplicate.  Then he takes the phoney’s power ring and uses it to imprison him in a green cage.


In New York, the real Green Lantern interrupts one of the duplicates lifting the Statue of Liberty with a pair of giant power-ringed tongs.  The Emerald Crusader is outmatched by his evil counterpart’s enhanced ring, which hurls yellow-coloured explosive projectiles his way.


As he inevitably does, G.L. finds a way around the yellow weakness of his ring, detonating the explosives harmlessly in New York Harbor.   Then he takes out his evil "twin" in a surprise attack and rescues Lady Liberty.  Part Two winds up with that duplicate in a power-ringed cage, as well.


Part Three sees the Flash and Green Lantern meeting while they cross the Atlantic, on their way to foil the last robbery in London.  To the readers who have been paying attention, a huge clue about the upcoming battle is given when G.L. makes it easier for the Flash to hurl across the choppy seas by power-ringing a ramp for his buddy to run on.



The Flash catches on, though.  That’s why, in London, when he finds himself waylayed by two false Green Lanterns, instead of one, the Scarlet Speedster isn’t taken unaware.  Instead, it’s the phoney G.L.’s who get slack-jawed, when the real Emerald Gladiator arrives in the proverbial nick.


From a monitor in his hide-out, T. O. Morrow observes the failure of the false Green Lanterns and switches off the duplicating machine, causing the replicas to fade out of existence.  Our Heroes aren’t left holding the bag, though.  They still have the power ring the Flash took from the duplicate G.L. in Paris.  It didn’t vanish when the carbon-copy Lanterns did.  Green Lantern commands the duplicate ring to lead them to Morrow’s secret lab.


A clever trick, but Morrow is even cleverer.  The criminal scientist has a trick of his own, a lethal one, waiting on the Flash and Green Lantern when they arrive. There’s a nice big explosion, but thanks to some super-speed work by the Scarlet Speedster, all Morrow succeeds in doing is demolishing most of his futuristic machinery.  The villain makes a run for it, but trips and plunges into an exposed coil.  One blinding shower of electricity later, Morrow goes up in smoke.


“Is that the end of him,” Green Lantern says grimly, “or has he tricked us some other way?”




It turned out to be the latter.  T. O. Morrow would resurface four years later as the villain behind the 1968 Justice League/Justice Society adventure that saw the creation of the Red Tornado.


“Trail of the False Green Lanterns” shows the friendship between the two heroes has firmly taken root.  They’re familiar with each others’ abilities and weaknesses, enough to know instantly when something isn’t right.  An easy sense of trust runs through their mutual undertakings.  At the police station, Hal Jordan is confident that Barry will single him out from his three doppelgängers.  And the Flash never doubts that G.L. will arrive in London in time so save him from the evil duplicates.


The last three Flash-G.L. team-ups of the Silver Age take advantage of the impact of their friendship on those around them.  We’ll have a look at those on the next go-round.

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Comment by Eric L. Sofer on May 13, 2011 at 7:41am

And I did SO like the art at that time... Infantino was looking really good, and Gil Kane just seemed to do no wrong.  Those books were so classic, and such good buddy books.  Even (dare I say it?) better than World's Finest, and not because of the characters, but because they were such a natural pairing.  (Superman and Batman and Robin were good friends - also completely natural - but again, what fazes Batman that Superman can't breeze through?  Sure, we can all think of a story or three... but forty-odd years' worth starts getting a little difficult.)




Comment by doc photo on May 13, 2011 at 11:50am
Although I enjoyed Marvel's more random approach to teaming their heroes,  DC's regularly scheduled team ups gave us something special to look forward to each year. It has been mentioned before that Flash may have been the king of Silver Age team ups - pairing annually with the Earth Two Flash and Green Lantern, as well as occasional adventures alongside Elongated Man and Kid Flash. And of course the JSA made their initial Silver Age appearance in the pages of The Flash.  I love Infantino's art from this period, it is great to see his interpretations of these other characters.
Comment by Philip Portelli on May 13, 2011 at 12:47pm

With all the heroes he met in his own book (GL, Elongated Man, Kid Flash, Golden Age Flash, Doctor Fate, Doctor Mid-Nite), the JLA and JSA plus his multiple B&B appearances, it is surprising that the Flash never got his own regular team-up book. In the 70s, he appeared three times in Super Team Family paired with Hawkman (vs Grodd), Supergirl (with the Atom vs T.O. Morrow) and the New Gods (where he runs through the Source!).

I'm still amazed that he missed Zatanna's Quest!

Comment by doc photo on May 13, 2011 at 2:35pm
It seems as if the Flash was such a great guy that other heroes just wanted to hang out with him. At least that's how I have always pictured him.
Comment by Commander Benson on May 14, 2011 at 9:51am

You’re so right, Fogey.  Infantino’s art in those days was so appealing.  Infantino had an architect’s eye for design---which gave The Flash that sleek look---but it didn’t translate well into his figure drawing.  In an interview, Murphy Anderson once expressed that, when he inked Infantino on the Adam Strange series, reining in some of Carmine’s anatomical extremes was the most difficult part.


Inkers like Anderson and Sid Greene made Infantino’s figures look sleek and graceful.  Infantino was not, in my opinion, a good inker of his own work, such as was in evidence in the Elongated Man series in Detective Comics.  Infantino-on-Infantino looked scratchy and slightly chaotic.


Still, back in the Silver Age, Carmine at least tried to adhere to reasonable figure drawing.  I remember what a big disappointment it was when he returned to The Flash in the early ‘80’s.  Instead of the elegance I remembered, his work was blockish and heavy.



Gil Kane was another penciller who was not his own best inker.  Joe Giella was better, but it made Kane’s pencils look honogenised.  There’s a noticeable difference in Kane’s Silver-Age art on Green Lantern between 1960-2 and 1963-onward.  Kane’s figures had been rather static in the earlier period.  By ’63 or so, he might have hit his stride, for his figures retained their elegance but gained motion and impact.


But Kane’s work really shone when Sid Greene took over as his regular inker, both on Green Lantern and The Atom.  Greene’s use of blacks and shading added a depth that had been missing.  And when Kane started inking Green Lantern himself, around ’67 or so, that depth was lost.  His figure work was still powerful, but it looked cruder, somehow.



As far as the pairing of the Flash and the Green Lantern, you’re absolutely spot-on about it being a more natural thing than the Superman-Batman team.  The Flash and G.L. had essentially equal power-levels, but---and this is an important “but”---different powers.  That made their teamwork much more creative than, say, when either the Flash or G.L. teamed up with his respective Earth-Two counterpart.  It was fun seeing the two Flashes or the two G.L.’s together in a story, but there was also a redundancy about it.


(Which is why, in that sense, the two Atom/Atom team-ups were more interesting; they had different powers.  It’s a pity that there were only two of those in the Silver Age.)



As you pointed out, in the Superman-Batman adventures, over in World’s Finest Comics, there were occasions when Batman and Robin fulfilled a vital rôle.  But also, many times, they were just along for the ride, or may as well have been.  In a great many WFC tales, the Dynamic Duo were simply there to delay the menace until Superman could arrive or their only function was to haul the kryptonite away so the Man of Steel could go into action.

Comment by Figserello on May 14, 2011 at 9:22pm
I mightn't have said it directly, but I was pretty blown away by Infantino's art when I looked at it in my Adam Strange thread. There's grace and elaegance there that modern comics could learn from. And the figures of Adam in graceful acrobatic flight are pretty much perfect. There is a good correspondance between the grace and elegance of the pictures and Adam's own unflappable grace under pressure.

I did wonder how much was the inker's doing and compared the one issue that wasn't inked by the regular guy. Adam still looked as graceful and athletic as ever, but I the great use of blocks of shadow and silhuettes of figures wasn't in evidence, so I'd imagine that aspect of the art wasn't from Infantino, but from the regular inker.

(I'm away from my Showcase volume at the moment so can't supply names. The B&W reproduction makes the use of blocks of shadow/black and the fully shaded silhoettes more apparent and not lost in the colours.
Comment by doc photo on May 15, 2011 at 10:03am

Joe Giella seemed to be Infantino's primary Silver Age inker, although I think both Anderson and Greene did a better job over Infantino's pencil work, same goes for Gil Kane. Giella's linework had a static look compared to the bolder brushwork of Greene and the more detailed rendering of Anderson.

As far as Gil Kane doing his own inking, I didn't care for it at first but over the years I have come to a greater appreciation. It doesn't always work, but when it does there is an energy to Kane's inking that is often glossed over by others.


Comment by Prince Hal on May 17, 2011 at 9:00pm
I loved all of the GA/SA team-ups. Events in the days when "events" meant something. I wonder if one reason Schwartz never teamed the two Hawkmen was that they looked so much alike. He could have used the later GA Hawkman costume, with the yellow cowl instead of the hawk mask, but even then, maybe they wouldn't have provided as much of a visual jolt as the team-ups of the Atoms, GLs and Flashes.
Comment by Philip Portelli on May 17, 2011 at 9:53pm
I still believe, had Fox, Anderson and Schwartz focused on their differences rather than worry about their similarities, a double-Hawkmen adventure would have been exciting. If they revived the E-2 Hawkgirl (establishing their marriage far earlier), the Feathered Foursome could have  battled the Ghost and the Shadow Thief or the Brain Wave and Matter Master. There was some untapped potential there!


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