Tales of the Green Lantern Corps volume 1


By Len Wein, Mike W. Barr, Paul Kupperberg, Robyn Snyder, Todd Klein, Joe Staton, Don Newton, Carmine Infantino, Paris Cullins, Dave Gibbons & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-2155-3 (TPB)

When mortally wounded alien cop Abin Sur crashed on Earth he commanded his power ring – a device which could materialise thoughts – to seek out a replacement officer, honest and without fear.

Scanning the planet, it selected brash young test pilot Hal Jordan in nearby Coast City, California and brought him to the crash site. The dying alien bequeathed his ring, the lantern-shaped Battery of Power and his professional vocation to the astonished Earthman.

Over many traumatic years, Jordan grew into one of the greatest members of a serried band of law-enforcers. For billions of years, the Green Lantern Corps protected the cosmos from evil and disaster, policing countless numbers of sentient beings under the severe but benevolent auspices of immortal super-beings who deemed themselves Guardians of the Universe.

These undying patrons of Order were one of the first races to evolve and dwelt in sublime, emotionless security and tranquillity at the very centre of creation on the small world of Oa.

Green Lanterns are chosen for their capacity to overcome fear and are equipped with a ring that creates solid constructs out of emerald light. The miracle weapon is fuelled by the strength of the user’s willpower, making it one of the mightiest tools imaginable.

For eons, a single individual from each of the 3600 sectors of known space was selected to patrol his, her, their or its own beat. Being cautious and meticulous masters, the Guardians laid contingency plans and frequently appointed designated reserve officers and set up contingency plans for inheriting the office of their peacekeeping representatives.

Jordan’s substitute was a nice quiet (white) PE teacher named Guy Gardner, but when he was critically injured the Oans’ fallback option was a little worrying to staid, by-the-book Hal.

In Green Lantern/Green Arrow #87 (December 1971/January 1972) ‘Beware My Power!’ introduced a bold new character to the DCU. John Stewart was an unemployed architect and full-time radical activist: an angry black man always spoiling for a fight and prepared to take guff from no-one.

Jordan was convinced the Guardians had grievously erred when selecting rash, impetuous Stewart as Sector 2814’s official Green Lantern stand-in, but after seeing how his proposed pinch-hitter handled a white supremacist US presidential candidate trying to foment a race war, the Emerald Gladiator was delighted to change his tune…

As time progressed Jordan – and his occasional successors John Stewart and Guy Gardner – found reason to question the Guardians’ motives and ineffability: increasingly aware of issues that called into question the role of their masters. The same doubts also infected many of their once-devoted fellow operatives and peacekeepers. All too frequently, the grunts began seeing the formerly infallible little blue gods exposed as venal, ruthless, doctrinaire and even capricious…

However, before those issues boiled over during and after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, a superb series of back-up yarns graced the pages of Green Lantern, dedicated to broadening the horizons of the readership with tales of the vast and varied membership of the Emerald Army…

This first Fight’s ‘n’ Tights trade paperback compilation – also available in eBook editions – gathers miniseries Tales of the Green Lantern Corps plus a string of back-up tales from Green Lantern #148, 152-154, 161, 162, and 164-167 (covering May 1981 through July 1983): a period of radical change and increasing cosmic calamity foreshadowing that aforementioned, reality-altering calamity that would irrevocably reshape the DCU…

The drama begins in a triptych miniseries conceived and detailed by Mike Barr & Len Wein, with art by Joe Staton & Frank McLaughlin that despatched the Emerald Gladiators against the ultimate threat…

The onslaught begins in ‘Challenge!’ after Jordan meets anxious new recruit Arisia of Graxos IV. The nervous neophyte has barely introduced herself to the star-spanning veteran when all 3600 officers are summoned to Oa, where the Guardians inform them of a universal existential threat.

Rogue Guardian Kronos has returned from the dead and again threatens to destroy the universe by uncovering its forbidden origins. His fresh attempts to roll back time are bolstered by an invader from beyond reality that has allied with the obsessed madman for its own reasons…

The first strike comes as amassed Green Warriors communally charge their power rings: an act which causes the Great Battery to explode in a horrific detonation that slaughters thousands of officers. Not only does this act deplete their ranks, but the destruction means the Corps has only 24 hours to solve the crisis before the green energy fades away forever…

By bringing Arisia up to speed on friends and foes alike throughout the chapters, Jordan provides a potted history for the readership as the legion of surviving heroes rally, but another blow comes as the Guardians themselves fall prey to the mysterious invader from beyond: a being who controls the dead and plans on destroying all life…

Things go from bad to worse in ‘Defeat!’ as the ranks of the fallen swell with valued former comrades and even immortal Oans. One glimmer of hope comes as one slave of death-lord Nekron switches sides, inspired by the valiant resistance of the green warriors…

With the stakes at their highest, the last remaining Lanterns go on the attack, invading the death dimension and ready to employ the most desperate tactic ever devised. The gambit of course succeeds and results in ‘Triumph!’

The era of science fiction TV fed an appetite for alien characters, and with a ready-made legion of such ready and waiting further adventures of the Green Lantern Corps soon followed: both as back-ups in the regular GL magazine and in regular Annuals. The wonderment began with an untitled exploit by Paul Kupperberg, Don Newton & Dan Adkins from Green Lantern #148 wherein cute squirrel Ch’p proved looks were deceptive and feelings irrelevant when he was ordered to save the marauding inhabitants of Berrith.

It didn’t matter that the feral hunters had predated and consumed Ch’p’s people for centuries…

Carmine Infantino rendered the saga of Quarzz Teranh who proves his ‘E’Sprit de Corps’ after being ordered to destroy a black hole at the cost of his own life, and later returned to render a tale of ‘Paradise World!’ where confirmed pacifist Jeryll is faced with a moral dilemma after employing the violence her entire species has foresworn..

The answer came in the next issue as the troubled GL made ‘The Choice’ (Infantino inked by Frank Chiaramonte)…

Kupperberg’s final contribution was illustrated by Paris Cullins & Rodin Rodriguez as sentient vegetable GL Medphyl follows murderous raiders onto an inhospitable world to be challenged by ‘A Matter of Snow’ and the depths of sadistic villainy…

Issue #161 (February 1983) featured a tale from Robin Snyder and vanguard of the “British Invasion” Dave Gibbons. ‘Storm Brother’ saw retired Lantern Harvid hunted down by his greatest enemy, testing the bonds of family to the limits.

Todd Klein scripted the next few Gibbons vignettes, beginning with ‘Apprentice’ which finds a youthful protégé overstepping his bounds and playing with forbidden green fire, after which ‘Hero’ sees “the green man” fall foul of unflinching cultural rules when he tries to save a roving colony of space vagabonds. Some people just can’t be trusted…

‘Green Magic’ is 2-part tale from Klein & Gibbons fable that opens with a ‘Test of Will’ after reluctant Green Lantern Hollika Rahn suffers for her misguided interference in a global war between scientists and sorcerers. Thankfully, she has friends she doesn’t know working for her to ensure her eventual victory, before this initial compilation concludes with a battle among herd sentients to inherit the Green Power. Of course, the true ‘Successor’ is one nobody in the bellicose family ever expected…

Light, straightforward, done-in-one action-adventures that offer a brief moment of entertainment are in pretty short supply these days, but if that’s appealing to you, this is a book and series you should indulge yourself in at your earliest convenience.
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