Green Lantern: The Silver Age volume 4


By Gardner Fox, John Broome, Gil Kane, Sid Greene & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-9435-9 (TPB)

After a hugely successful revival and reworking of Golden Age Great The Flash, DC (National Periodical Publications as they were then) were keen to build on a resurgent superhero trend. Showcase #22 hit newsstands at the same time as the fourth issue of the new Flash comicbook – #108 – and once again the guiding lights were Editor Julie Schwartz and writer John Broome. Assigned as illustrator was action ace Gil Kane, generally inked by Joe Giella.

Hal Jordan was a brash young test pilot in California when an alien policeman crashed his spaceship on Earth. Mortally wounded, Abin Sur commanded his ring – a device which could materialise thoughts – to seek out a replacement officer: one both honest and without fear.

Scanning the planet, the wonder weapon selected Jordan and whisked him to the crash-site. The dying alien bequeathed his ring, the lantern-shaped Battery of Power and his profession to the astonished Earthman.

In 6 pages ‘S.O.S Green Lantern’ established characters, scenario and narrative thrust of a series that would increasingly become the spine of DC continuity. Now that the concept of the superhero was swiftly being re-established among the buying public, there was no shortage of gaudily clad competition. The better books thrived by having something a little “extra”.

With Green Lantern that was primarily the superb scripts of John Broome and Gardner Fox and the astounding drawing of Gil Kane (ably abetted in this collection by primary inker Sic Greene) whose dynamic anatomy and dramatic action scenes were maturing with every page he drew. Happily, the concept itself was also a provider of boundless opportunity.

Other heroes had extraterrestrial, other-dimensional and even trans-temporal adventures, but the valiant champion of this series was also a cop: a lawman working for the biggest police force in the entire universe.

This fabulous fourth paperback and eBook compilation gathers Green Lantern #36-48 (April 1965 to October 1966) and, with Hal Jordan firmly established as a major star of the company firmament, increasingly became the series to provide conceptual highpoints and “big picture” foundations. These, successive creators would use to build the tight-knit history and continuity of the DC universe. At this time there was also a turning away from the simple imaginative wonder of a ring that could do anything in favour of a hero who increasingly ignored easy solutions in preference to employing his mighty fists.

What a happy coincidence then, that at this time artist Gil Kane was reaching an artistic peak, his dynamic full-body anatomical triumphs bursting with energy and crashing out of every page…

Scripted by Gardner Fox Green Lantern #36 cover-featured captivatingly bizarre mystery ‘Secret of the Power-Ringed Robot!’ (how can you resist a tale that is tag-lined “I’ve been turned into a robot… and didn’t even know it!”?) and followed that all-action conundrum with the incredible tale of Dorine Clay; a young lady who was the last hope of her race against the machinations of the dread alien Headmen in John Broome’s ‘Green Lantern’s Explosive Week-End!’

As previously stated, physical combat had been steadily overtaking ring magic in the pages of the series and all-Fox #37’s‘The Spies Who “Owned” Green Lantern!’ – despite being a twist-heavy drama of espionage and intrigue – was no exception, whilst second story ‘The Plot to Conquer the Universe!’ pitted the Emerald Crusader against Evil Star, an alien foe both immortal and invulnerable, who gave the hero plenty of reasons to lash out in spectacular, eye-popping manner.

For #38 (another all-Fox scripted affair), Jordan re-teamed with fellow Green Lantern Tomar Re to battle ‘The Menace of the Atomic Changeling!’ in a brilliant alien menace escapade counterpointed by ‘The Elixir of Immortality!’ wherein criminal mastermind Keith Kenyon absorbs a gold-based serum to become a veritable superman. He might be immune to Ring Energy (which can’t affect anything yellow, as eny old Fule kno) but eventually our hero’s flashing fists bring him low – a fact he will never forget on the many occasions he returns as merciless master criminal Goldface

Green Lantern #39 (September 1965) featured two tales by world-traveller John Broome, Kane & master inker Sid Green: opening with a return engagement for Black Hand, the Cliché Criminal entitled ‘Practice Makes the Perfect Crime!’ and ending in a bombastic slugfest with an alien prize fighter named Bru Tusfors in ‘The Fight for the Championship of the Universe!’ They were mere warm-ups for the next issue.

‘The Secret Origin of the Guardians!’ was a landmark second only to ‘Flash of Two Worlds’ (see Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups) as Broome teamed the Emerald Gladiator with his Earth-2 counterpart Alan Scott to stop Krona, an obsessed Oan scientist whose misguided attempts to discover the origins of the universe had first introduced evil into our pristine reality billions of years ago. His actions forced his immortal brethren to become protectors of life and civilisation in an unending act of group contrition – the Guardians of the Universe.

Simultaneously high concept and action packed, this tale became the keystone of DC cosmology and a springboard for all those mega-apocalyptic publishing events such as Crisis on Infinite Earths. It has seldom been equalled and never bettered…

Gardner Fox tackled issue #41 spotlighting twisted romance in ‘The Double Life of Star Sapphire!’ as an alien power-gem once more compelled Jordan’s boss and true love Carol Ferris to subjugate and marry her sometime paramour Green Lantern, and wrote another cracking magical mystery to end the issue as extraterrestrial wizard Myrwhydden posed ‘The Challenge of the Coin Creatures!’

The next release was ‘The Other Side of the World!’ wherein Fox continued a long-running experiment in continuity with a superb tale of time-lost civilisations and an extra-dimensional invasion by the Warlock of Ys co-starring the peripatetic quester Zatanna the Magician.

At that time the top-hatted, fish-netted young sorceress appeared in a number of Julie Schwartz-edited titles, hunting her long-missing father Zatarra: a magician-hero in the Mandrake mould who had fought evil in the pages of Action Comics for over a decade beginning with the very first issue.

In true Silver Age “refit” style, Fox concocted a young and equally empowered daughter, popularising her by guest-teaming her with a selection of superheroes he was currently scripting. If you’re counting, these tales appeared in Hawkman #4, Atom #19, Green Lantern #42, and an Elongated Man back-up strip in Detective Comics #355 as well as a very slick piece of back writing to include the high-profile Caped Crusader via Detective #336 before concluding after this GL segment in Justice League of America #51. You can enjoy the entire early epic by tracking down Justice League of America: Zatanna’s Search

The much-mentioned Flash guest-starred in #43: sharing a high-powered tussle with a new tectonically terrifying nemesis in Fox’s ‘Catastrophic Crimes of Major Disaster!’ and the next issue provide two tales – an increasing rarity as book-length epics became the action-packed norm.

Oddly, second-class postage discounts had for years dictated the format of comic-books: to qualify for cheaper rates periodicals had to contain more than one feature, but when the rules were revised single, complete tales not divided into “chapters” soon proliferated. Here though are two reasons to bemoan the switch; Fox’s ‘Evil Star’s Death-Duel Summons’and Broome’s Jordan Brothers adventure ‘Saga of the Millionaire Schemer!’, offering high-intensity super-villain action and a heady, witty comedy-of-errors mystery as Hal visits his family and is embroiled in new sister-in-law Sue’s hare-brained scheme to prove her husband Jim Jordan is Green Lantern… .

Earth-2’s Green Lantern returned for another team-up in #45’s fantasy romance romp ‘Prince Peril’s Power Play’, scripted by Broome, who raised the dramatic stakes with the hero’s first continued adventure in the following issue. Preceded by a spectacular Kane pin-up, Green Lantern #46 opens with Fox’s delightfully grounded crime-thriller ‘The Jailing of Hal Jordan’, before ‘The End of a Gladiator!’ details the murder of the Earth-1 GL by old foe Dr. Polaris, concluding with his honour-laden funeral on Oa, home of the Guardians!

Broome was on fire at this time: the following issue and concluding chapter sees the hero’s corpse snatched to the 58thcentury and revived in time to save his occasional future home from a biological infection of pure evil in the spectacular triumph ‘Green Lantern Lives Again!’

Bizarrely garbed goodies and baddies were common currency at this time of incipient TV-generated “Batmania” so when gold-plated mad scientist Keith Kenyon returned it was as a dyed-in-the-wool costumed crazy for Fox’s ‘Goldface’s Grudge Fight Against Green Lantern!’, a brutal clash of opposites and perfect place to pause for the moment.

These costumed drama romps are in themselves a great read for most ages, but when also considered as the building blocks of all DC continuity they become vital fare for any fan keen to make sense of the modern superhero experience. This blockbusting book showcases the imaginative and creative peak of Broome, Fox and Kane: a plot driven plethora of adventure sagas and masterful thrillers that literally reshaped the DC Universe. Action lovers and fans of fantasy fiction couldn’t find a better example of everything that defines superhero comics.
© 1965, 1966, 2019 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Green Lantern: A Celebration of 75 Years


By Martin Nodell, Bill Finger, Alfred Bester, Robert Kanigher, John Broome, Gardner Fox, Dennis O’Neil, Steve Englehart, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Ron Marz, Judd Winick, Geoff Johns, Paul Reinman, Alex Toth, Gil Kane, Neal Adams, Mike Grell, Joe Staton, Kevin Maguire, Darryl Banks, Randy Green, Ethan Van Sciver, Darwyn Cooke, Doug Mahnke & various (DC Comics
ISBN: 978-1-4012-5819-1 (HB)

Now a cornerstone of the DC Universe the many heroes called Green Lantern have waxed and waned over the decades and now feels much more Concept than Character.

This stunning compilation – part of a dedicated series introducing and exploiting the comics pedigree of veteran DC icons and concepts – is available in hardback and digital formats and offers an all-too-brief but astoundingly enticing sequence of snapshots detailing how assorted Emerald Gladiators have battled evil and injustice whilst entertaining millions and generations.

Collecting material from All-American Comics #16, Comic Cavalcade #6, Green Lantern volume 1 #30, Showcase #22, Green Lantern volume 2 #7, 11, 16, 40, 59, 76, 87, 188, The Flash #237-238, 240, Justice League #1, Green Lantern volume 3 #50, 51, Green Lantern /Green Lantern #1, Green Lantern: Rebirth #1, Green Lantern Secret Files and Origins 2005, #1 and Green Lantern #0 (cumulatively covering July 1940 to November 2012), the groundbreaking appearances selected are all preceded by a brief critical analysis of the significant stages in his/their development, beginning with Part I: The Green Flame Ignites 1940-1950

The first Emerald Avenger debuted in the 16th issue (July 1940) of the company’s flagship title All-American Comics, just as superheroes started to take hold, supplanting newspaper strip reprints and stock genre characters in the still primarily-anthologised comicbooks.

Crafted by Bill Finger & Martin Nodell ‘Introducing Green Lantern’ reveals how ambitious young engineer Alan Scottonly survives the sabotage and destruction of a passenger-packed train due to the intervention of a battered old railway lantern. Bathed in its eerie emerald light, he is regaled by a mysterious green voice with the legend of how a meteor fell in ancient China and spoke to the people: predicting Death, Life and Power.

The star-stone’s viridian glow brought doom to the savant who reshaped it into a lamp, sanity to a madman centuries later and now promises incredible might to bring justice to the innocent and afflicted…

Instructing Scott to fashion a ring from its metal and draw a charge of power from the lantern every 24 hours, the ancient artefact urges the engineer to use his formidable willpower to end all evil: a mission Scott eagerly takes up by promptly crushing corrupt industrialist Dekker who callously caused wholesale death just to secure a lucrative rail contract.

The ring renders Scott immune to all minerals and metals, enabling him to fly and pass through solid objects but, as he battles Dekker’s thugs, the grim avenger painfully discovers that living – perhaps organic – materials such as wood or rubber can penetrate his jade defences and cause mortal harm…

The saboteurs punished, Scott resolves to carry on the fight and devises a “bizarre costume” to disguise his identity and strike fear and awe into wrongdoers…

The arcane avenger gained his own solo-starring title little more than a year after his premiere and also appeared in anthologies such as Comics Cavalcade, All Star Comics and others for just over a decade. From those hectic heydays (and specifically Comic Cavalcade #6, Spring 1944) ‘They Are Invincible’ sees the hero and his comedy sidekick Doiby Dickles tracking thieves in fog and slip into a metaphorical quandary as their writer Alfred Bester (but not & illustrator Paul Reinman) becomes a reality-warping part of the adventure…

Like most first-generation superheroes, the masked marvel faded away in the early1950s, having first suffered the humiliating fate of being edged out of his own strip and comicbook by his pet Streak the Wonder Dog

Green Lantern volume 1 #30, cover-dated February/March 1948 cover-featured ‘The Saga of Streak’ by Robert Kanigher & Alex Toth as a noble, valiant canine (some very important people call them “Daw-uhgs”) tracks his missing owner/companion to the big city only to be gunned down by criminals. Saved by Green Lantern, they jointly rescue US intelligence agent Captain Sara Dale from deranged Dr. Malgoro and the grateful spy asks him to look after Streak until she returns from her next assignment. Within two issues the mutt was the lead feature, proving beyond doubt that the readers were losing interest in masked mystery men… at least for the moment…

A potted history of that interregnum follows in Part II: The Emerald Crusader 1959-1969 before a flash of green light heralded a bold new venture. After their hugely successful revival and reworking of The Flash, DC (or National Comics as they were) were keen to build on the resurgent superhero trend. Showcase #22 hit the stands at the same time as the fourth issue of the new Flash comicbook – #108 – and once again the guiding lights were Editor Julie Schwartz and writer John Broome. Assigned as illustrator was action ace Gil Kane, generally inked by Joe Giella, and the issue reveals how a Space Age reconfiguration of the Golden-Age superhero with a magic ring replaced mysticism with super-science.

Hal Jordan is a young test pilot in California when an alien policeman crashes his spaceship on Earth. Mortally wounded, Abin Sur commands his ring – a device which can materialise thoughts – to seek out a replacement officer, honest and without fear.

Scanning the planet, it selects Jordan and brings him to the crash-site. The dying alien bequeaths his ring, lantern-shaped Battery of Power and his professional vocation to the astonished Earthman.

In six pages ‘S.O.S Green Lantern’ establishes characters, scenario and narrative thrust of a series that would increasingly become the spine of DC continuity, leaving room for another two adventures in that premiere issue. Unlike the debut of The Flash, the editors were now confident of their ground. The next two issues of Showcase carried the new hero into even greater exploits, and six months later Green Lantern #1 was released.

In this new iteration Emerald gladiators are a universal police force (Jordan’s “beat” is Space Sector 2814), and having shown us other GLs, Broome surpassed himself with ‘The Day 100,000 People Vanished!’ (Green Lantern #7, August 1961) bringing the Guardians of the Universe into the open to warn of their greatest error: a renegade Green Lantern named Sinestro who, in league with evil Qwardians from an antimatter universe, had become a threat to our entire reality. This tense shocker introduced one of the most charismatic and intriguing villains in the DCU

Readers were constantly clamouring for more on the alien Corps Jordan had joined and ‘The Strange Trial of Green Lantern’ (#11, March 1962) introduces another half-dozen or so simply to court-martial Hal for dereliction of duty in a saga of cataclysmic proportions, after which issue #16 of Green Lantern volume 2 (October 1962) takes Jordan’s romantic triangle with his boss Carol Ferris and his own masked alter ego to a new level as ‘The Secret Life of Star Sapphire!’ introduces the star-roving alien women of Zamaron.

Readers of contemporary comics will be aware of their awesome heritage but for the sake of this review and new readers let’s keep that to ourselves. These questing females select Carol as their new queen and give her a gem as versatile and formidable as a power ring, and a brainwash make-over too.

Programmed to destroy the man she loves, Star Sapphire would become another recurring foe, but one with a telling advantage.

As the DCU expanded, the past glories of its Golden Age were cunningly incorporated into the tapestry as another dimensional plane was discovered: a parallel universe where older superheroes existed. Alan Scott and his mystery-men comrades still thrived on the controversially named Earth-2.

Although getting in late to the Counterpart Collaborations game, the inevitable first teaming of Hal Jordan and Alan Scott as Green Lanterns is one of the best and arguably second-most important story of the entire era. ‘Secret Origin of the Guardians!’ by John Broome, Gil Kane & Sid Greene (Green Lantern #40, October 1965) introduces the renegade Guardian Krona, reveals the origin of the multiverse, shows how evil entered our universe and describes how and why the immortal Oans took up their self-appointed task of policing the cosmos. It also shows Gil Kane’s paramount ability to stage a superhero fight like no other. This pure comicbook perfection should be considered a prologue to the landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths

In Green Lantern volume 2 #59 (March 1968) Broome introduced ‘Earth’s Other Green Lantern!’ in a rip-roaring cosmic epic of what-might-have-been. When dying GL Abin Sur had ordered his ring to select a worthy successor Hal Jordan hadn’t been the only candidate, but the closest of two. What if the ring had chosen his alternative Guy Gardnerinstead…?

Following that portentous tragedy-in-the-making, changing times and tastes saw a radical diversion in the hero’s fortunes, as described in the essay and tales comprising Part III: In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night 1970-1985

In 1969, after nearly a decade of earthly crime-busting, interstellar intrigue and spectacular science fiction shenanigans, the Silver Age Green Lantern was swiftly becoming one of the earliest big-name casualties of the downturn in superhero sales. Editor Julie Schwartz knew something extraordinary was needed to save the series and the result was a bold experiment that created a fad for socially relevant, ecologically aware, more mature stories which spread throughout costumed hero comics that totally revolutionised the industry and nigh-radicalised the readers.

Tapping relatively youthful superstars-in-waiting Denny O’Neil & Neal Adams to produce the revolutionary fare, Schwartz watched in fascinated disbelief as 13 groundbreaking tales captured and encapsulated the tone of the times, garnering critical praise and awards within the industry and desperately valuable publicity from the real world outside. Sadly, the stories simultaneously registered such poor sales that the series was finally cancelled anyway, with the heroes unceremoniously packed off to the back of marginally less endangered comic title The Flash.

When these stories first appeared, DC was a company in transition – just like America itself – with new ideas (which, in comic-book terms meant “young writers and artists”) being given much leeway: a veritable wave of fresh, raw talent akin to the very start of the industry, when excitable young creators ran wild with imagination. Their cause wasn’t hurt by the industry’s swingeing commercial decline: costs were up and the kids just weren’t buying funnybooks in the quantities they used to…

O’ Neil, in tight collaboration with hyper-realistic artist Adams, assaulted all the traditional monoliths of contemporary costumed dramas with tightly targeted, protest-driven stories. The comicbook was re-titled Green Lantern/Green Arrowwith the Emerald Archer constantly mouthing off as a hot-headed, liberal sounding-board and platform for a generation-in-crisis, whilst staid, conservative, quasi-reactionary Hal Jordan played the part of the oblivious but well-meaning old guard.

America was a bubbling cauldron of social turmoil and experimentation. Everything was challenged and with issue #76 (April 1970 and the first issue of the new decade), O’Neil and comics iconoclast Adams utterly redefined superhero strips with their relevancy-driven stories; transforming complacent establishment masked boy-scouts into uncertain, questioning champions and strident explorers of the revolution.

‘No Evil Shall Escape My Sight!’ (inked by Frank Giacoia) broke the mould of the medium, utterly re-positioning the very concept of the costumed crusader as newly-minted ardent liberal Emerald Archer Oliver Queen challenges GL’s cosy worldview when the lofty space-cop painfully discovers real villains wear business suits, operate expense accounts, hurt people just because of skin colour and can happily poison their own nests for short-term gain…

Of course, that the story is a magnificently illustrated brilliant crime-thriller with science-fiction overtones doesn’t hurt either…

O’ Neil became sole scripter with this story and, in tight collaboration with ultra-realistic art-genius Adams, instantly overturned contemporary costumed dramas with their societally-targeted protest-stories. Two years later, the creators shattered another shibboleth with ‘Beware My Power’ (Green Lantern/Green Arrow #87, December 1971/January 1972) O’Neil, Adams & Giordano, histrionically introducing a new player to the DCU. John Stewart is an unemployed architect and full-time radical activist. He is the archetypal angry black man always spoiling for a fight and prepared to take guff from no-one.

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

Although the heroes provided temporary solutions and put away viciously human criminals, these tales were remarkably blunt in exposing bigger ills and issues that couldn’t be fixed with a wave of a Green Ring; invoking an aura of helplessness that was metaphorically emphasised when Hal was summarily stripped of much of his power for no longer being the willing, unquestioning stooge of his officious, high-and-mighty alien masters…

For all the critical acclaim and innovative work done, sales of Green Lantern/Green Arrow were in a critical nosedive and nothing seemed able to stop the rot. Although the groundbreaking series folded, the heroics resumed a few months later in the back of The Flash #217 (August-September 1972), beginning a run of short episodes which eventually led to Green Lantern regaining his own solo series. O’Neil, remained as chief writer but soon Adams & Giordano moved on…

With Flash #237-238 and 240-243 new art sensation Mike Grell came aboard for a 6-part saga that precipitated Green Lantern back into his own title. Beginning with ‘Let There Be Darkness!’ (inked by Bill Draut) the watchword was “cosmic” as the extra-galactic Ravagers of Olys undertook a sextet of destructive, unholy tasks in Sector 2814. Represented here by the first, second and third chapters, the schemes begin by occluding the sun over planet Zerbon to eradicate the photosynthetic inhabitants. Next our hero picks up a semi-sentient starfish sidekick in ‘The Day of the Falling Sky!’(Blaisdell inks) whilst preventing the artificial world of Vivarium from collapsing in upon itself after which ‘The Floods Will Come!’ brings the Olys to planet Archos, where they attempt to submerge all the landmasses and drown the stone-age dwellers thriving there…

The buzz of the O’Neil/Grell epic assured Green Lantern of his own series once more, and with science fiction a popular mass genre in mainstream media, the Emerald Crusader soldiered on for nearly a decade before the next big change…

As that time progressed, John Stewart popped up occasionally even as the Guardians’ motives and ineffability increasingly came into question by many of their once-devoted operatives and peacekeepers. All too frequently, the grunts began seeing their formerly infallible little blue gods exposed as venal, ruthless, doctrinaire and even capricious…

As his reputation grew, headstrong Hal suffered an extremely tempestuous relationship with his bosses which eventually resulted in them accusing him of neglecting his space sector to concentrate on Earth’s problems and criminals. When he can no longer reconcile his love for Carol Ferris and duty to the Corps, Jordan quits and the Guardians offer Stewart the position…

‘Decent Exposure’ (Green Lantern volume 2 #188, May 1985) heralds a changing of the guard as writer Steve Englehart and illustrators Joe Staton & Bruce Patterson sign on, with TV reporter Tawny Young outing Stewart on national TV, and he – after some early anger and frustration – decides “so what?” whilst dealing with genuine problems such as psychotic madman the Predator on the prowl and Modoran ultra-nationalist Sonar intent on to destroying the new Green Lantern to prove the superiority of his postage-stamp principality Modora…

Part IV: Twilight of a Hero 1986-2003

In the mid-1980s, DC’s editorial hierarchy felt their then-vast 50-year continuity was stopping them winning new readers. The solution was a colossal braided-mega series to streamline, redefine and even add new characters to the mix.

The worlds-shattering, reality-altering bombast of Crisis on Infinite Earths resulted in such spectacular commercial success, those movers-&shakers must have felt more than justified in revamping a number of their hoariest icons for their next fifty years of publishing. As well as Superman, Flash, and Wonder Woman, the moribund and unhappy Justice League of America was earmarked for a radical revision.

Editor Andy Helfer assembled plotter Keith Giffen, scripter J.M. DeMatteis and untried penciller Kevin Maguire to produce an utterly new approach to the superhero monolith: playing them for laughs…

The series launched as Justice League with a May 1987 cover-date before retitling itself as Justice League International with #7 (November). The new super-team was formed from the ashes of the old on the basis of events comprising follow-up DC crossover-event Legends. The gathering comprised a roster of relative second-stringers as America’s newest champions – Black Canary, Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel, Dr. Fate, and Mr. Miracle with heavyweights Batman and Martian Manhunter J’onn J’onzz as nominal straight-men. Added to the mix was the marmite-tinted Guy Gardner Green Lantern: a “hero” who readers loved or hated in equal amounts since his revival in the dying days of The Crisis.

As the frequently-silly saga unfolds the squad is introduced to charismatic, filthy-rich manipulator Maxwell Lord – who uses wealth and influence to recreate the initial super-team in a dangerous stunt that starts their march to glory by defeating a bunch of rather inept terrorist bombers in initial outingBorn Again’ (Justice League #1 1987, by Giffen, DeMatteis, Maguire & Terry Austin)

Ultimately, Jordan regained his ring and became an elder-statesmen of superheroes but his elevated status – and sanity – was shattered after his hometown Coast City was destroyed by alien overlord Mongul.

In an apocalyptic triptych of tales culminating in ‘Emerald Twilight Part Three: The Future’ (Green Lantern volume 3 #50, March 1994) Ron Marz, Darryl Banks & Romeo Tanghal detail how his war against the Guardians who failed him results in Jordan becoming cosmic-level menace Parallax and destroying the entire Green Lantern Corps.

One month later ‘Changing the Guard’ (Green Lantern volume 3 #51 April 1994) saw the introduction of young Kyle Rayner as the universe’s last and only Emerald Crusader, fighting a one-man war against intergalactic evil…

Revived and refreshed, the franchise expanded again as Rayner rebuilt the Corps with new candidates and rescued old favourites. From Green Lantern and Green Lantern #1 (October 2000 by Judd Winnick, Randy Green & Wayne Faucher and part of the ‘Circle of Fire’ event), ‘Against the Dying of the Light’ sees Rayner and new recruit Alexandra DeWitt hunting down apocalyptic terror Oblivion: a task made harder and more distracting as his new ally is the extradimensional doppelganger of his murdered girlfriend…

After descending into madness and evil, Hal Jordan/Parallax sacrificed his life to save Earth and was divinely rewarded, rebuked and chastised by being linked to ghostly force The Spectre. After serving his penance he was revived for a new generation.

Part IV: Rebirths 2004-Present opens as ‘Blackest Night’ (Green Lantern: Rebirth #1, December 2004, by Geoff Johns & Ethan Van Sciver) sees Jordan alive again, no longer merged with the Spectre, and determined to destroy the immortal entity that was responsible for turning him evil and ultimately for his death in the first place. First though, he must convince his old friends in the Justice League and GLC that he’s not still evil…

Next up is a delightful peek into Jordan’s childhood courtesy of Johns & Darwyn Cooke from Green Lantern Secret Files and Origins 2005 #1: an evocative rite-of-passage yarn as Jordan shares with neophyte Kyle Rayner the true meaning of ‘Flight’

Since the 1970s, the Green Lantern concept has been about challenging heroic stereotypes. The Guardians’ stipulations that their agents be honest and without fear has provided plenty of scope to explore prejudice and preconception amongst the readership, and none more so than in the aliens’ selection of latest earthly recruit Muslim Simon Baz as part of the company-wide New 52! reboot of 2011.

‘The New Normal’ (Green Lantern #0, November 2012 by Johns, Doug Mahnke, Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne & Mark Irwin) details the consequences – personal and global – of the dispassionate Power Ring choosing as its wearer a man deemed by his peers to be a thief and potential anti-American terrorist…

Adding immeasurably to the wonder is a superb collection of covers by Sheldon Moldoff, Reinman, Alex Toth, Gil Kane, Murphy Anderson, Neal Adams, Staton & Patterson, Maguire & Austin, Banks & Tanghal, Rodolfo Damaggio & Kevin Nowlan, Ethan Van Sciver, Carlos Pacheco & Jesús Merino and Doug Mahnke & Christian Alamy.

Green Lantern has a long, proud history of shaking things up and providing dynamic provocative, drama delivered with quality artwork. This compelling assortment of snapshots is staggeringly entertaining and a monolithic testament to the inestimable value of a strong core concept matured over decades of innovation.
© 1940, 1944, 1948, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1968, 1970, 1972, 1976, 1985, 1987, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2004, 2005, 2012, 2015 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

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.
© 1981-1983, 2009, 2018 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Green Lantern: The Silver Age volume 3


By John Broome, Gardner Fox, Gil Kane & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-7847-2

After their hugely successful revival and reworking of The Flash, DC (or National Periodical Publications as they traded back then) were keen to build on the resurgent superhero trend. Showcase #22 hit the stands at the same time as the fourth issue of the new Flash comicbook – #108 – and once again the guiding lights were Editor Julie Schwartz and writer John Broome. Assigned as illustrator was action ace Gil Kane, generally inked by Joe Giella.

Hal Jordan was a brash young test pilot in California when an alien policeman crashed his spaceship on Earth. Mortally wounded, Abin Sur commanded his ring – a device which could materialise thoughts – to seek out a replacement officer: one both honest and without fear.

Scanning the planet, the wonder weapon selected Jordan and whisked him to the crash-site. The dying alien bequeathed his ring, the lantern-shaped Battery of Power and his profession to the astonished Earthman.

In six pages ‘S.O.S Green Lantern’ established characters, scenario and narrative thrust of a series that would increasingly become the spine of DC continuity.

Now that the concept of the superhero was swiftly being re-established among the buying public, there was no shortage of gaudily clad competition. The better books survived by having something a little “extra”.

With Green Lantern that was primarily the superb scripts of John Broome and Gardner Fox and the astounding drawing of Gil Kane (ably abetted by primary inker Joe Giella) whose dynamic anatomy and dramatic action scenes were maturing with every page he drew. Happily, the concept itself was also a provider of boundless opportunity.

Other heroes had extraterrestrial, other-dimensional and even trans-temporal adventures, but the valiant champion of this series was also a cop: a lawman working for the biggest police force in the entire universe.

This fabulous paperback and eBook compilation gathers Green Lantern #23-35 (September 1962 – March 1965) and begins without fanfare as our hero tackles the ‘Threat of the Tattooed Man!’

This was the first all Gardner Fox scripted issue and the start of Giella’s tenure as sole inker, as the Ring-Slinger tackles a second-rate thief who lucks into the eerie power to animate his skin-ink, after which ‘The Green Lantern Disasters’ takes the interplanetary lawman off-world to rescue missing comrade Xax of Xaos: an insectoid member of the GL Corps.

Broome scripted issue #24, heralding the first appearance of ‘The Shark that Hunted Human Prey!’ as an atomic accident hyper-evolves the ocean’s deadliest predator into a psychic fear-feeder, after which ‘The Strange World Named Green Lantern!’ (with inks from Frank Giacoia & Giella) finds the Emerald Crusader trapped on a sentient and lonely planet that craves his constant presence…

Green Lantern #25 featured Fox’s full-length thriller ‘War of the Weapon Wizards! as GL falls foul of lethally persistent ultra-nationalist Sonar and his silent partner-in-crime Hector Hammond, whilst in the next issue Hal Jordan’s girlfriend Carol Ferris is once more transformed into an alien queen determined to beat him into marital submission in ‘Star Sapphire Unmasks Green Lantern!’

This witty cracker from Fox is supplemented by his superb fantasy ‘World Within the Power Ring!’ as the Viridian Avenger battles an extraterrestrial sorcerer imprisoned within his ring by his deceased predecessor Abin Sur!

Fox’s super-scientific crime thriller ‘Mystery of the Deserted City!’ led in GL #27 whilst Broome charmed and alarmed with ‘The Amazing Transformation of Horace Tolliver!’, as Hal learns a lesson in who to help – and how.

No prizes for guessing who – or what – menace returns in #28’s ‘The Shark Goes on the Prowl Again!’, but kudos if you can solve the puzzle of ‘The House that Fought Green Lantern’: both engaging romps courtesy of writer Fox whereas Broome adds to his tally of memorable villain creations with the debut of Black Hand – “the Cliché Criminal” – who purloins a portion of GL’s power in ‘Half a Green Lantern is Better than None!’ as well as scripting a brilliant back-up alien invader tale in ‘This World is Mine!’

This issue, #29, is doubly memorable as not only does it feature a rare – for the times – Justice League cameo (soon to be inevitable – if not interminable – as comics continuity grew into an unstoppable force in all companies’ output) but also because the incredibly talented Sid Greene signed on as regular inker.

Issue #30 featured two more Broome tales: dinosaur attack thriller ‘The Tunnel Through Time!’ and a compelling epic of duty and love as Katma Tui, who replaced the renegade Sinestro as the Guardians’ operative, learns to her eternal regret ‘Once a Green Lantern… Always a Green Lantern!’

The same writer also provided the baffling mystery ‘Power Rings for Sale!’ and the tense Jordan Brothers thriller ‘Pay Up – or Blow Up!’ whilst Fox handled all of #32: tantalizing crime caper ‘Green Lantern’s Wedding Day!’ and trans-galactic Battle Royale ‘Power Battery Peril!’ in which Jordan comes to the initially involuntary assistance of an alien superhero team…

Nefarious villain Dr. Light decided to pick off his enemies one by after his defeat in Justice League of America #12. His attempts in various member’s home titles reached GL with #33, but here too he got a damned good thrashing in ‘Wizard of the Light Wave Weapons!’, whereas the thugs in the back-up yarn, as well as giving artist Gil Kane another excuse to show his love of and facility with movie gangster caricatures, come far too close to ending the Emerald Gladiator’s life in ‘The Disarming of Green Lantern!’

Fox had by this time become lead writer and indeed wrote all the remaining stories in this volume. ‘Three-Way Attack against Green Lantern!’ in #34 was another full-length cosmic extravaganza as Hector Hammond discovers the secrets of the Guardians of the Universe and launches an all-out assault on our hero, after which both scripts in #35 – costumed villain drama ‘Prisoner of the Golden Mask!’ and brain-swop spy-saga ‘The Eagle Crusader of Earth!’ – look much closer to home for their abundance of thrills, chills and spills.

These costumed drama romps are in themselves a great read for most ages, but when also considered as the building blocks of all DC continuity they become vital fare for any fan keen to make sense of the modern superhero experience.

Judged solely on their own merit, these are snappy, awe-inspiring, beautifully illustrated captivatingly clever thrillers that amuse, amaze and enthral both new readers and old devotees. This lovely collection is a must-read item for anybody in love with our art-form and especially for anyone just now encountering the hero for the first time through his movie incarnations.
© 1963, 1964, 1965, 2018 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Team-Ups of the Brave and the Bold


By J. Michael Straczynski, Jesús Saíz, Chad Hardin, Justiniano, Cliff Chiang & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-2793-7 (HB)                :978-1-4012-2809-5 (TPB)

The Brave and the Bold premiered in 1955; an anthology adventure comic featuring short complete tales starring a variety of period heroes and a format mirroring and cashing in on that era’s filmic fascination with historical dramas.

Devised and written by Robert Kanigher, issue #1 led with Roman epic Golden Gladiator, medieval mystery-man The Silent Knight and Joe Kubert’s now legendary Viking Prince. Soon the Gladiator was replaced by National Periodicals/DC Comic’s iteration of Robin Hood, but the high adventure theme carried the title until the end of the decade when the burgeoning superhero revival saw B&B transform into a try-out vehicle like the astounding successful Showcase.

Used to launch enterprising concepts and characters such as Task Force X: The Suicide Squad, Cave Carson, Strange Sports Stories, Hawkman and the epochal Justice League of America, the title then evolved to create a whole sub-genre – although barely anybody noticed at the time…

That was Superhero Team-Ups.

For almost a decade DC had enjoyed great success pairing Superman with Batman and Robin in World’s Finest Comics and in 1963 sought to create another top-selling combo from their growing pantheon of masked mystery men. It didn’t hurt that the timing also allowed extra exposure for characters imminently graduating to their own starring vehicles after years as back-up features…

This was during a period when almost no costumed heroes acknowledged the jurisdiction or (usually) existence of other costumed champions. When B&B offered this succession of team-ups, they were laying the foundations for DC’s future close-knit comics continuity. Now there’s something wrong with any superstar who doesn’t regularly join every other cape or mask on-planet every five minutes or so…

That short-lived experiment eventually calcified as “Batman and…” but for a while readers were treated to some truly inspired pairings such as Metal Men and Metamorpho, Flash and The Spectre or Supergirl and Wonder Woman.

The editors even achieved their aim after Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad remained together after their initial foray and expanded into the Teen Titans

That theme of heroes united together for a specific time and purpose was revived in 2007 for the third volume of The Brave and the Bold, resulting in many exceedingly fine modern Fights ‘n’ Tights classics, and this compilation – available in hardcover, trade paperback and digital editions – collects issues #27-33 (November 2009 – June 2010): the first seven issues scripted by TV and comics star scribe J. Michael Straczynski.

The run of easily accessible, stand-alone tales delved into some of the strangest nooks and crannies of the DCU and opens here with ‘Death of a Hero’, illustrated by Jesús Saíz wherein teenager Robby Reed visits Gotham City and soon decides to help out a Batman sorely pressed by the machinations of The Joker

The child prodigy had his own series in the 1960s as a kid who found a strange rotary device dotted with alien hieroglyphics that could temporarily transform him into a veritable army of super-beings when he dialled the English equivalents of H, E, R and O…

Here, however, after the lad dials up futuristic clairvoyant Mental Man, the visions he experiences force him to quit immediately and take to his bed…

He even forgets the Dial when he leaves, but it is soon picked up by down-&-out Travers Milton who also falls under its influence and is soon saving lives and battling beside the Dark Knight as The Star

What follows is a meteoric and tragic tale of a rise and fall…

Again limned by Saíz, B&B #28 takes us a wild trip to the ‘Firing Line’ as the Flash (Barry Allen) falls foul of a scientific experiment and winds up stranded in the middle of World War II. Injured and unable to properly use his powers, the diminished speedster is taken under the wing of legendary paramilitary aviator squadron The Blackhawks, but finds himself torn when his scruples against taking life crash into the hellish cauldron of the Battle of Bastogne and his martial love for his new comrades in arms…

Brother Power, The Geek was short-lived experimental title developed by the legendary Joe Simon at the height of the hippy-dippy 1960s (of just last week if you’re a baby booming duffer like me). He was a tailor’s mannequin mysteriously brought to life through extraordinary circumstances, just seeking his place in the world: a bizarre commentator and ultimate outsider philosophising on a world he could not understand.

That cerebral angst is tapped in ‘Lost Stories of Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow’ as the elemental outcast crawls out of wreckage in Gotham City and clashes with Batman as they both strive to save homeless people from authoritarian brutality and greedy arsonists. Like the times it references, this story is one you have to experience rather than read about…

Straczynski & Saíz then play fast and loose with time travel in ‘The Green and the Gold’ as mystic Lord of Order Doctor Fate is helped through an emotional rough patch by Green Lantern Hal Jordan. As a result of that unnecessary kindness the mage gets to return the favour long after his own demise at the moment the Emerald Warrior most needs a helping hand…

Illustrated by Chad Hardin & Walden Wong and Justiniano, The Brave and the Bold #31 describes the ‘Small Problems’ encountered by The Atom after Ray Palmer is asked to shrink into the synapse-disrupted brain of The Joker and perform life-saving surgery. Despite his better judgement the physicist eventually agrees, but nobody could have predicted that he would be assimilated into the maniac’s memories and be forced to relive the Killer Clown’s life…

Straczynski & Saíz reunite as sea king Aquaman and hellish warrior Etrigan the Demon combine forces in a long-standing pact to thwart a revolting Cthonic invasion of ‘Night Gods’ from a hole in bottom of the ocean before this mesmerising tome concludes with a bittersweet ‘Ladies Night’ from times recently passed, illustrated by Cliff Chiang.

When sorceress Zatanna experiences a shocking dream, she contacts Wonder Woman and Batgirl Barbara Gordon, and insists that they should join her on an evening of hedonistic excess and sisterly sharing. Only Babs is left out of one moment of revelation: what Zatanna foresaw would inescapably occur to her the next day at the hands of the Joker…

Smart, moving and potently engaging, these heroic alliances are a true treat for fans of more sophisticated costumed capers, and skilfully prepared in such a way that no great knowledge of backstory is required. Team-ups are all about finding new readers and this terrific tome is a splendid example of the trick done right…
© 2009, 2010 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Green Lantern Sector 2814 volume 2


By Len Wein, Paul Kupperberg, Steven Englehart, Dave Gibbons, Bill Willingham, Joe Staton, Bruce Patterson, Mark Farmer, Rich Rankin & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-4078-3

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. The Green Lantern Corps protected the cosmos from evil and disaster for billions of years, policing vast numbers of sentient beings under the severe but benevolent auspices of immortal super-beings who consider themselves the 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 on the world of Oa at the very centre of creation.

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 or its own beat, but being cautious and meticulous masters, the Guardians laid contingency plans as appointing designated reserve officers.

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 Stewart popped up occasionally even as the Guardians’ motives and ineffability increasingly came into question by many of their once-devoted operatives and peacekeepers. All too frequently, the grunts began seeing their formerly infallible little blue gods exposed as venal, ruthless, doctrinaire and even capricious…

As his repute grew, headstrong Hal enjoyed an extremely tempestuous relationship with his bosses which eventually resulted in them accusing him of neglecting his space sector – 2814 – to concentrate on Earth’s problems and criminals.

When he couldn’t reconcile his love for Carol Ferris and duty to the Corps, Hal Jordan quit…

This second stellar Fight’s ‘n’ Tights trade paperback compilation – also available in eBook editions – gathers Green Lantern #182-183 and 185-193, covering November 1984 through October 1985: a period of radical change and increasing cosmic calamity as the DCU counted inexorably down to a reality-altering Crisis on Infinite Earths

Len Wein, Dave Gibbons & Mark Farmer continued their groundbreaking reshaping of the legend as ‘It’s a Dirty Job, But…!’ saw the now merely mortal Jordan second-guessing his decision as he revisits Abin Sur’s remote resting place. Meanwhile, across the universe, the Guardians moved swiftly, promoting Stewart to the prime position in his sector. At the time the architect was working on rebuilding the shattered Ferris Aircraft complex and had no idea that Hal Jordan was the alter ego of his abruptly “retired” predecessor, nor that GL Jordan’s old enemy Major Disaster was back and looking for a fight…

Further complicating matters, Dr. Bruce Gordon – currently building a solar engine for Ferris – was being stalked and harassed by his own inner demon made manifest. Before Green Lantern had helped cure him, Gordon was the unwilling host of a demonic hate-filled energy spirit called Eclipso. Now the monster was apparently back and trying to steal the almost-completed solar engine…

When Major Disaster furiously threatens to destroy a massive hydroelectric dam and flood the entire state, the Emerald Gladiator he stridently demands a rematch with is not the one who turns up…

Refusing to accept any substitute the madman triggers a ‘Day of Disaster’ and learns to his sorrow that the masked black man is every inch as competent and formidable as his despised archfoe.

Green Lantern #184 reprinted the origin of Guy Gardner from #59 in 1968 and has been omitted from this collection but Wein & Gibbons (inking himself again) return for #185 as ‘In Blackest Day…!’ sees the new ringbearer for Sector 2814 fully acclimate to his responsibilities. An overnight celebrity and media sensation, Stewart is courted by TV reporter Tawny Young but earns her enmity after refusing to divulge the circumstances of his origin and promotion.

On a more mundane level, Hal still frets about his decision and loss of power, even as his romance with Carol hits a new snag. Unknown to either of them she has acquired a super-powered stalker determined to protect her from anything he perceives as a threat…

With Eclipso still secretly badgering Gordon, Hal prepares to test-fly the prototype Ferris solar jet, but is ambushed by his old pal and mentor Rich Davis.

The medically-disqualified pilot wants one last flight of glory and takes Hal’s place, only to become a hostage when Eclipso snatches the jet out of the sky in his fantastic landscape-rending moon satellite…

‘In Brightest Night…!’ Wein & Gibbons (with plotting input from Paul Kupperberg) sees the new GL rush to the rescue as Hal can only look on helplessly, but when Carol’s mystery suitor The Predator also boars the moon globe the situation flares beyond control and results in victory at a terrible price…

Kupperberg, Bill Willingham & Rich Rankin then provide a rapid fill-in for #187 (April 1985) as ‘A Day in His Life…’ finds Carol confronted by the Predator who declares his amorous intentions by beating up her current boyfriend Hal even as John Stewart tackles his first space catastrophe and narrowly escapes destroying the malfunctioning space shuttle he was trying to save…

Thankfully, the all-wise Guardians have anticipated teething troubles and despatched veteran GL Katma Tui be his training officer…

The next issue heralded a changing of the guard as writer Steve Englehart and illustrators Joe Staton & Bruce Patterson signed on with ‘Decent Exposure’ wherein Tawny Young outs John Stewart on national TV, and he – after some early frustration – decides “so what?”

With the Predator proving to be far more than a mere abusive, controlling maniac, Hal swears revenge even as European ultra-nationalist Sonar returns to destroy the new Green Lantern to prove the superiority of his postage -stamp principality Modora

After Stewart proves his worth with a uniquely elegant solution to the villain’s sound weapons, ‘Echoes!’ sees Sonar bounce back: escaping from custody with enhanced allies Blindside and Throttle, despite the assistance of Katma Tui. Hal and Carol’s search for Predator lead them to a much-delayed visit with practically-braindead shut-in Guy Gardner, inadvertently starting those long-dormant cogs clicking again…

After Stewart at last apprehends his fugitives a new crisis has struck. ‘Time Out of Mind!’ starts with Tawny Young re-entering the picture, touting years-old video-tape interviews she carried out with Green Arrow, Black Canary, the previous GL, Carol Ferris and Stewart himself. Disturbingly, nobody on Earth remembers the meetings and if the journalist hadn’t been raiding the archives never would…

As she shows the tapes to the astounded superheroes, Predator nonchalantly ambles in to steal the tapes and is stunned to realise that the gimmick he’s used to make everyone unable to see him doesn’t work on alien Katma…

Back-up tale ‘Mind Out of Time!’ then focuses on Hal’s hunt for Predator and furious confrontation in a theatre in front of a bizarre alien musical organ. That preliminary bout becomes the main event in GL #191 as ‘Macho!’ finds John and Katma off-earth and working with Dalor of Timron – Green Lantern of neighbouring Sector 2813 – whilst Jordan’s final confrontation with Predator reveals an uncanny, impossible connection to Carol which revives her own darkest secret…

Green Lantern #192 sees the separate storylines converging in ‘First Star I See Tonight!’ as the space-borne Emerald officers tackle the immortal amazon warriors of Zamaron even as on Earth, Carol reverts to sometime-alter ego Star Sapphire: now finally purged of the annoying, pitiful humanity that held her back from operating as the dominating tyrant and chosen queen of those self-same Zamarons…

Utterly dominating powerless Hal, she reveals the decades long machinations that have led to this moment of terrible triumph before teleporting home where three furious Green Lanterns are waiting…

This volume concludes with the return of another Hal villain in ‘Dead Ringer’, but where Jordan defeated the tragic alien Replikon through brute force and guile, Stewart proves his worth through innovation and compassion: building a solution which makes friend out of foe and rights a grave cosmic injustice…

At the time, many fans and critics felt that the substitution of Hal Jordan with John Stewart was little more than a PC stunt, but time and the quality of the stories has proved the decision to be brilliant one. It certainly offered a cruelly under-served portion of the readership another solid role model but as time progressed and the different personalities and approaches coalesced, the move led to an expansion and re-evaluation the nature of being a DC hero.

And the best was still to come…
© 1984, 1985, 2013 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Green Lantern Sector 2814 volume 1


By Len Wein, Dave Gibbons & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-3689-2

Since the dawn of American comics’ Silver Age, where and when The Flash kick-started it all to become the fast-beating heart of the revived genre of superheroes, his fellow jet-age re-tread Green Lantern has always provided the conceptual framework for the comprehensive, pervasive magic of the DC Universe’s monolithic shared continuity.

Hal Jordan was a brash young test pilot in Coast City, California when an alien cop crashed on Earth. Mortally wounded, Abin Sur 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 Jordan 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.

Jordan grew to be one of the greatest members of a serried band of law-enforcers. The Green Lantern Corps has protected the cosmos from evil and disaster for billions of years, policing vast numbers of sentient beings under the severe but benevolent auspices of immortal super-beings who consider themselves the 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 on the world of Oa at the very centre of creation.

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 in the universe.

For eons, a single individual from each of the 3600 sectors of known space was selected to patrol his, her or its own beat.

As the series progressed The Guardians’ motives and ineffability increasingly came into question by many of their once-devoted operatives and peacekeepers, who too frequently saw the formerly infallible little blue gods exposed as venal, ruthless, doctrinaire and even capricious…

Even as his fame and repute grew, headstrong Hal had endured an extremely tempestuous relationship with his bosses which eventually resulted in them accusing him of neglecting his space sector – 2814 – to concentrate on Earth’s problems and criminals.

This led to the Oan overlords banishing Jordan: compelling him to scrupulously patrol his appointed interstellar beat and never again set foot on Earth…

This fabulous cosmic Fight’s ‘n’ Tights trade paperback compilation – also available in eBook editions – gathers Green Lantern #172-176 and 178-181. It spans January – October 1984 and celebrates the end of that exile as new writer/editor Len Wein united with illustrator/letterer (and vanguard of a “British Invasion” of talent that would reshape the comicbook industry) Dave Gibbons to bring the wanderer home…

After a year way performing heroic service across the starways, Jordan stridently petitioned his master on Oa where a phalanx of his comrades supported his request to be allowed back to his birthworld. His ‘Judgment Day!’ gave him everything he wanted but when Jordan returned to Coast City he quickly discovered that the world had moved on without him…

Reunited with lover Carol Ferris, Hal tries to readjust in ‘Old Friends, New Foes…!’ but an unsuspected rival at work is as nothing compared to the covert machinations of an unsuspected observer and power-broker known as the Monitor (yes, that guy! Check out Crisis on Infinite Earths for more detail) who supplies the mystery villain with a selection of super-powered mercenaries…

The first of these is a German maniac with a penchant for high-tech trick spears who attempts to kill the Emerald Crusader and vaporise Ferris Aircraft in #174’s ‘I Shot a Javelin into the Air…!’

GL #175 offers a fraught reunion with old pal Barry Allen – AKA the Flash – before a predatory mutant archenemy resurfaces to turn Hal’s city and friends into ‘Shark Bait!’

The Shark’s mental assault consumes the hero’s mind, leaving the Emerald Gladiator brainwiped, comatose and dying, but in #176 (inked by Dick Giordano and lettered by Ben Oda) the indomitable personality of Hal Jordan battles his way out of the paranormal predator’s cerebral gullet and back into action through a series of ‘Mind Games!’

The enigmatic enemy in the background still wants GL gone and Ferris obliterated, however, and subsequently commissions more high-tech hirelings in #178: specifically, a squad of construction-worker themed wreckers dubbed the Demolition Team.

Throughout the period of these tales, ferocious deadlines plagued the creative team, with Gibbon’s preference to draw, ink and letter the stories perpetually confounded by the fact that he was generally receiving scripts three pages at a time. In an era before the internet when the fax machine was the acme of technological communication, something had to give, and after a fill-in issue (#177 and not included here) failed to solve the problems, two last all-Gibbons issues were followed by a separation of roles…

Before that though, just as Ferris is battered and shattered by ‘A Bad Case of the D.T.s!’, Green Lantern is called way from Earth by the implacable Guardians to save an exploding planet. Heartbroken and terrified, Carol sees her company practically destroyed until a new, brutally vicious protagonist steps in to stop the Demolition Team in #179’s ‘Let Us Prey!’ (both by Wein & Gibbons).

By the time Jordan returns to view the ‘Aftermath!’ (GL #180 with Mike DeCarlo inking and Ben Oda on letters) the damage has been done both to the factory and Hal’s now-crippled friend Clay Kendell. Appalled at his own dereliction of duty and personal failures, Jordan consults with a number of Justice League colleagues before heading to Oa in #181 (Mark Farmer inks & John Costanza letters) and telling the Guardians to ‘Take This Job… And Shove It!’

They accept, precipitating one of the biggest events in DC history…

To Be Continued…
© 1984 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Green Lantern: The Silver Age volume two


By John Broome, Gardner Fox, Gil Kane, Mike Sekowsky & various (DE Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-6-7107-7

After their hugely successful revival and reworking of The Flash, DC (or National Comics as they were) were keen to build on the resurgent superhero trend. Showcase #22 hit the stands at the same time as the fourth issue of the new Flash comicbook – #108 – and once again the guiding lights were Editor Julie Schwartz and writer John Broome. Assigned as illustrator was action ace Gil Kane, generally inked by Joe Giella.

Hal Jordan was a brash young test pilot in California when an alien policeman crashed his spaceship on Earth. Mortally wounded, Abin Sur commanded his ring – a device which could materialise thoughts – to seek out a replacement officer, honest and without fear.

Scanning the planet, it selected Jordan and brought him to the crash-site. The dying alien bequeathed his ring, the lantern-shaped Battery of Power and his profession to the astonished Earthman.

In six pages ‘S.O.S Green Lantern’ established characters, scenario and narrative thrust of a series that would increasingly become the spine of DC continuity. Now that the concept of the superhero was swiftly being re-established among the buying public, there was no shortage of gaudily clad competition.

The better books survived by having something a little “extra”. With Green Lantern that was primarily the superb scripts of John Broome and Gardner Fox and the astounding drawing of Gil Kane – ably abetted by inker Joe Giella – whose dynamic anatomy and deft page design was maturing with every page he drew, but the concept itself was also a provider of boundless opportunity.

Other heroes had extraterrestrial, other-dimensional and even trans-temporal adventures, but the valiant champion of this series was also a cop: a lawman working for the biggest police force in the entire universe. As such his support team was necessarily composed of some of the brightest talents in American comics.

This fabulous paperback compilation gathers Green Lantern #10-22 (January 1962-July 1963) and reveals how a Space Age reconfiguration of the Golden-Age superhero with a magic ring replaced mysticism with super-science and opens with ‘Prisoner of the Power Ring!’ as the hero responds to a distress call from inside his own emerald wonder-weapon.

Blending Atomic Cold War anxiety with the rescue of a scientist’s family from subatomic exile, GL saves the refugees from their own folly before back up yarn ‘The Origin of Green Lantern’s Oath’ reviews three of the hero’s earliest exploits.

These cases led to him constructing the piece of doggerel he uses to time his ring’s recharging period…

Although neither tale is a blockbuster, the increasingly loose and expressive artwork of Kane, especially on the latter (with Murphy Anderson on inks) are an unalloyed delight of easy grace and power.

The readers were constantly clamouring for more on the alien Corps Jordan had joined and ‘The Strange Trial of Green Lantern’ introduced another half-dozen or so simply to court-martial Hal for dereliction of duty in a saga of cataclysmic proportions, whereas ‘The Trail of the Missing Power Ring!’ focuses on drama of a more human scale when a young boy finds the power ring Hal has foolishly lost.

Issue #12 returned GL to 5700AD as brainwashed Solar Director Pol Manning to thwart an interplanetary coup in ‘Green Lantern’s Statue goes to War’ engineered by an envious magician…

A balance between cosmic and candidly personal stories was developing in those issues sporting two stories, and ‘Zero Hour in the Silent City!’ highlights engineer/grease-monkey Tom Kalmaku’s close friendship with Hal against the backdrop of bank robbers with a super scientific gimmick.

Green Lantern #13 was a true landmark as an interdimensional invasion led to a team-up and lifelong friendship between our hero and fellow Showcase alumnus the Flash. Controversial for the time, ‘The Duel of the Super-Heroes!’ sees them share each other’s secret identities; a rarity then even among the close comrades of the Justice League of America.

This full-length thriller was followed in #14 by the introduction of Balkan ultra-nationalist super-villain Sonar as ‘The Man Who Conquered Sound!’: a traditional frantic fist-fest complemented by the return of Jim Jordan and snoopy girl reporter Sue Williams.

In the frothy romp ‘My Brother, Green Lantern!’ it’s revealed that she’s now romantically involved with the youngest Jordan sibling and – due to a slight mishap with the boy’s fraternity rings – more certain than ever that her intended is the dashing Emerald Gladiator.

Sinestro once more escapes the justice of the Guardians of the Universe to return in #15’s ‘Peril of the Yellow World!’ a cosmic duel testing GL’s bravery and fortitude as much as Space Race thriller ‘Zero Hour at Rocket City!’ tests his wits. The next issue took the Hal Jordan/Green Lantern/Carol Ferris romantic triangle to a new level. ‘The Secret Life of Star Sapphire!’ introduces the alien women of Zamaron.

Readers of contemporary comics will be aware of their awesome heritage but for the sake of this review and new readers let’s keep that to ourselves. These questing females select Carol as their new queen and give her a gem as versatile and formidable as a power ring, and a brainwash make-over too.

Programmed to destroy the man she loves, Star Sapphire would become another recurring foe, but one with a telling advantage. The second story then solves a puzzle that had baffled readers since the very first appearance of the Emerald Crusader.

Gardner Fox contributes his first tale in ‘Earth’s First Green Lantern’ as Hal finally learns why his predecessor Abin Sur crashed to Earth in a spaceship when all GLs can fly through hyperspace and the interstellar voids on ring power alone. A stirring tale of triumph and tragedy, this short yarn is one of GL’s very best.

Also written by Fox, ‘The Spy-Eye that Doomed Green Lantern!’ again revolves around test pilot Jordan’s personal involvement in the US/Soviet race to the stars, and is a fine example of a lost type of tale. In those long-ago days costumed villains were always third choice in a writer’s armoury: clever bad-guys and aliens always seemed more believable to the creators back then. If you were doing something naughty would you want to call attention to yourself? Nowadays the visual impact of buff men in tights dictates the type of foe more than the crimes committed, which is why these glorious adventures of simpler yet somehow better days are such an unalloyed delight.

Green Lantern #18 (January 1963) led with ‘The World of Perilous Traps!’ by Broome, regular penciller Gil Kane and inker Giella who teamed to produce another cracking, fast paced thriller featuring the renegade GL Sinestro, whilst Mike Sekowsky penciled the end of the intriguing ‘Green Lantern Vs. Power Ring’ wherein Broome engineered a startling duel after larcenous hobo Bill Baggett takes control of the green ring, necessitating a literal battle of wills for its power.

Green Lantern #19 saw the return of radical nationalist Sonar in ‘The Defeat of Green Lantern!’ (Broome, Kane & Giella) a high-energy super-powered duel nicely counter-pointed by the whimsical crime-caper ‘The Trail of the Horse-and-Buggy Bandits!’ by the same team, wherein a little old lady’s crossed phone line led the Emerald Gladiator into conflict with a passel of crafty crooks. Issue #20’s ‘Parasite Planet Peril!’ by Broome, Kane & Anderson then triumphantly reunites GL with the Flash in a full-length epic to foil a plot to kidnap human geniuses.

One of the DCU’s greatest menaces debuted in #21’s ‘The Man Who Mastered Magnetism’. Broome created a world-beater in the dual-personality villain Doctor Polaris for Kane & Giella to limn, whilst ‘Hal Jordan Betrays Green Lantern!’ is the kind of action-packed, cleverly baffling puzzle-yarn Gardner Fox always excelled at, especially with Anderson’s stellar inks to lift the art to a delightful high.

Fox also scripted the return of diabolical futurist villain Hector Hammond in ‘Master of the Power Ring!’ (Giella inks) before Broome turns his hand to a human-interest story with the Anderson-inked ‘Dual Masquerade of the Jordan Brothers!’, with GL playing matchmaker, trying to convince his future sister-in-law that her intended is in fact Green Lantern!

These costumed drama romps are in themselves a great read for most ages, but when also considered as the building blocks of all DC continuity they become vital fare for any fan keen to make sense of the modern superhero experience.

Judged solely on their own merit, these are snappy, awe-inspiring, beautifully illustrated captivatingly clever thrillers that amuse, amaze and enthral both new readers and old devotees. This lovely collection is a must-read item for anybody in love with our art-form and especially for anyone just now encountering the hero for the first time through his movie incarnations.
© 1962, 1963, 2017 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow


By Dennis O’Neil & Neal Adams, with Elliot Maggin, Frank Giacoia, Dick Giordano, Dan Adkins, Berni Wrightson & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-3517-8

After the successful revival of The Flash in 1956, DC (or National Comics as they then were) was keen to build on a seemingly resurgent superhero trend. Showcase #22 hit the stands at the same time as the fourth issue of the new Flash comicbook (#108 if you’re the kind who keeps count) with the architects of the Silver Age – editor Julie Schwartz, writer John Broome and artists Gil Kane & Joe Giella – providing a Space Age reworking of a Golden-Age superhero who battled injustice with a magic ring.

Super-science replaced mysticism as Hal Jordan, a young test pilot in California, was transported to the side of a dying alien policeman who had crashed on Earth. Mortally wounded, Abin Sur commanded his power-ring – a device which could materialise thoughts – to seek out a replacement ring-bearer; honest and without fear.

Scanning the planet, it had selected Jordan and brought him to an appointment with destiny. The dying alien bequeathed the ring, a lantern-shaped Battery of Power and his noble profession to the astonished Earthman.

Having established the characters, scenario and narrative thrust of the series that would become the spine of DC continuity, a universe of wonder was opened to wide-eyed readers of all ages. However, after barely a decade of earthly crime-busting, interstellar intrigue and spectacular science fiction shenanigans, the Silver Age Green Lantern became one of the earliest big-name casualties of the downturn in superhero sales in 1969, prompting Editor Schwartz to try something extraordinary to rescue the series.

The result was a bold experiment which created a fad for socially relevant, ecologically aware, mature stories which spread throughout DC’s costumed hero comics and beyond; totally revolutionising the industry and nigh-radicalising many readers.

Tapping relatively youthful superstars-in-waiting Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams to produce the revolutionary fare, Schwartz watched in fascinated disbelief as the resultant thirteen groundbreaking, landmark issues captured the tone of the times, garnering critical praise, awards and valuable publicity from the outside world, whilst simultaneously registering such poor sales that the series was finally cancelled anyway, with the heroes unceremoniously packed off to the back of marginally less-endangered comicbook The Flash.

America at his time was a bubbling cauldron of social turmoil and experimentation. Everyone and everything were challenged on principle, and with issue #76 of Green Lantern (April 1970 and the first issue of the new decade) O’Neil & Adams utterly redefined super-heroism with “Issues”-driven stories transforming complacent establishment masked boy-scouts into uncertain, questioning champions and strident explorers of the enigma of America.

At least the Ring-Slinger was able to perceive his faults, and was more or less willing to listen to new ideas…

Reprinting the contents of Green Lantern #76-87, 89 – barring the all-reprint #88 – and the emerald back-up strips from The Flash #217-219 and 226, this crucial Trade Paperback (and eBook) compiles all the legendary and lauded landmark tales in one spectacular and unmissable volume.

It all kicks off with ‘No Evil Shall Escape My Sight!’ (inked by Frank Giacoia): a true benchmark of the medium, utterly reinventing the concept of the costumed crusader as newly-minted, freshly-bankrupted millionaire Oliver Queen challenges his Justice League comrade’s cosy worldview. All too soon the lofty space-cop painfully discovers real villains wear business suits, have expense accounts, hurt people just because of skin colour and will happily poison their own nests for short-term gain…

The specific villain du jour is a wealthy landlord whose treatment of his poverty-stricken tenants isn’t actually illegal but certainly is wickedly immoral…

Of course, the fact that this yarn is also a brilliantly devious crime-thriller with science-fiction overtones doesn’t exactly hurt either…

‘Journey to Desolation’ in #77 was every bit as groundbreaking.

At the conclusion of the #76 an immortal Guardian of the Universe – known as “the Old Timer” is assigned to accompany the Emerald Duo on a voyage to “discover America”: a soul-searching social exploration into the dichotomies which divide the nation – and a tremendously popular pastime for the nation’s disaffected citizens back then.

The first stop brought the trio to a poverty-stricken mining town run as a private kingdom by a ruthless entrepreneur happy to use agent-provocateurs and Nazi war criminals to keep his wage slaves in line. When a young protest singer looks likely to become the next Bob Dylan and draw unwelcome publicity, he has to be eliminated – as do the three strangers who drive into town at just the wrong moment…

Although the heroes provide temporary solutions and put away viciously human criminals, these tales were always carefully heavy-handed in exposing bigger ills and issues which couldn’t be fixed with a wave of a Green Ring; invoking an aura of helplessness that was metaphorically emphasised during this story when Hal is summarily stripped of much of his power for no longer being the willing, unquestioning stooge of his officious, high-and-mighty alien masters…

The confused and merely-mortal Green Lantern discovers another unpalatable aspect of human nature in ‘A Kind of Loving, a Way of Death!’ when newly-widowed Black Canary joins the peripatetic cast. Seeking to renew her stalled relationship with Green Arrow, she is waylaid by bikers, grievously injured and taken in by a charismatic hippy guru.

Sadly, Joshua is more Manson than Messiah and his brand of Peace and Love only extends to white people: everybody else is simply target practise…

The continuing plight of Native Americans was stunningly highlighted in ‘Ulysses Star is Still Alive!’ as corporate logging interests attempt to deprive a mountain tribe of their very last scraps of heritage, once more causing the Green Knights to take extraordinarily differing courses of action to help…

GL/GA #80 then returns some science fictional gloss in a tale of judicial malfeasance when ‘Even an Immortal Can Die!’ (inked by Dick Giordano), after the Old Timer uses his powers to save Green Lantern rather than prevent a pollution catastrophe in the Pacific Northwest. For his selfish deed he is chastised by his fellow Guardians and dispatched to the planet Gallo for judgement by the supreme arbiters of Law in the universe.

His earthly friends accompany him there and find a disturbing new administration with a decidedly off-kilter view of justice…

Adams’ staggering facility for capturing likenesses added extra-piquancy to this yarn that we’re just not equipped to grasp all these decades later, with the usurping, overbearing villain derived from the Judge of the infamous trial of anti-war protesters “The Chicago Eight”.

Insight into the Guardians’ history underpins ‘Death Be My Destiny!’ when Lantern, Arrow and Canary travel with the now-sentenced and condemned Old Timer to the ancient planet Maltus (that’s a pun, son: just type Thomas Robert Malthus into your search engine of choice or even look in a book).

They arrive on a world literally choking on its own out-of-control population. The uncanny cause of the catastrophe casts an unlovely light on the perceived role and worth of women in modern society…

On a more traditional note #82 enquired ‘How Do You Fight a Nightmare?’ (with additional inks from Bernie Wrightson) as Green Lantern’s greatest foe unleashes Harpies, Alien Amazons and all manner of female furies on the hapless hero before Black Canary and Green Arrow can turn the tide, all whilst asking a few extremely pertinent questions about women’s rights…

‘…And a Child Shall Destroy Them!’ crept into Hitchcock country to reintroduce Hal’s old flame Carol Ferris and take a pop at education and discipline in the chilling tale of a supernal mutant in thrall to a petty and doctrinaire little martinet with delusions of ethical and moral grandeur.

Wrightson also inked #84’s ‘Peril in Plastic’: a staggering attack on out-of-control consumerism, shoddy cost-cutting and the seduction of bread and circuses with costumed villain Black Hand just along for the polemical ride, after which the comics world changed forever in the two-part saga ‘Snowbirds Don’t Fly’ and ‘They Say It’ll Kill Me…But They Won’t Say When!’

Depiction of drug abuse had been strictly proscribed in comicbooks since the advent of the Comics Code Authority, but by 1971 the elephant in the room was too big to ignore and both Marvel and DC addressed the issue in startlingly powerful tales that opened Pandora’s dirty box forever. When the Green Gladiators are drawn into conflict with a vicious heroin-smuggling gang Oliver Queen is horrified to discover his own sidekick had become an addict…

This sordid, nasty tale did more than merely preach or condemn, but actively sought to explain why young people turned to drugs, just what the consequences could be and even hinted at solutions older people and parents might not want to consider. Forty-five years on it might all seem a little naïve, but the earnest drive to do something and the sheer dark power of the story still delivers a stunning punch…

For all the critical acclaim and astonishingly innovative creative work done, sales of Green Lantern/Green Arrow were in a critical nosedive and nothing seemed able to stop the rot. Issue #87 featured two solo tales, the first of which ‘Beware My Power!’ introduced a bold new character to the DCU.

John Stewart is a radical activist: an angry black man always spoiling for a fight and prepared to take guff from no-one. Hal Jordan is convinced the Guardians have grievously erred when they appointed Stewart as Green Lantern’s official stand-in, but after seeing how his proposed substitute responds to an openly racist US presidential candidate trying to foment a race war the Emerald Gladiator is forced to change his tune.

Meanwhile, bankrupted millionaire Oliver Queen faces a difficult decision when the retiring Mayor of Star City invites him to run for his office. Written by Elliot Maggin ‘What Can One Man Do?’ poses fascinating questions for the proud rebel by inviting him to join “the establishment” he despises, and actually do some lasting good. His decision is muddied by well-meaning advice from his fellow superheroes and the tragic consequences of a senseless street riot…

Issue #88 was a collection of reprints (not included here) but the title went out on an evocative, allegorical high note in #89 as ‘…And Through Him Save a World…’ (inked by Adams) balances jobs and self-interest at Carol Ferris’ aviation company against clean air and pure streams in an naturalistic fable wherein an ecological Christ-figure makes the ultimate sacrifice to save our planet and where all the Green Heroes’ power cannot affect the tragic outcome…

Although the groundbreaking series folded there, the heroics resumed a few months later in the back of The Flash #217 (August-September 1972). ‘The Killing of an Archer!’ opens a run of short episodes which eventually led to Green Lantern regaining his own solo series. The O’Neil, Adams & Giordano thriller relates how Green Arrow makes a fatal misjudgement and accidentally ends the life of a criminal he is battling. Devastated, the broken swashbuckler abandons his life and heads for the wilderness to atone or die…

The next episode ramps up the tension as a plot against the Archer is uncovered by Green Lantern and Black Canary in ‘Green Arrow is Dead!’ whilst ‘The Fate of an Archer’ sees Canary critically injured and GL hunting down Oliver just in time to save her life…

Adams moved on to other projects then but returned for one last hurrah with O’Neil and Giordano in Flash #226 as ‘The Powerless Power Ring!’ reveals that the mightiest weapon in the universe is useless if the man wielding it is not up to the task…

As well as these magnificent, still-challenging epics – superbly recoloured by Cory Adams and Jack Adler – this chronicle also reprints the seven all-new Adams covers created for a 1983 reprint miniseries and completing the experience of challenging tales of social injustice which signalled the end of comics’ Silver Age. This volume closed one chapter in the life of Green Lantern and opened the doors to today’s sleek and stellar sentinel of the stars. It’s ageless and evergreen and should have pride of place on every Fights ‘n’ Tights Fanboy’s most accessible bookshelf.
© 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1983, 1992, 1993, 2012, DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Green Lantern: The Silver Age volume 1


By John Broome, Gardner Fox, Gil Kane, Mike Sekowsky & various (DE Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-4012-6348-5

Win’s Christmas Gift Recommendation: Timeless Wholesome Entertainment… 9/10

After their hugely successful revival and reworking of The Flash, DC (or National Comics as they were) were keen to build on the resurgent superhero trend. Showcase #22 hit the stands at the same time as the fourth issue of the new Flash comicbook – #108 – and once again the guiding lights were Editor Julie Schwartz and writer John Broome. Assigned as illustrator was action ace Gil Kane, generally inked by Joe Giella

This fabulous paperback compilation gathers Showcase #22-24 (September/October 1959 to January/February 1960) and Green Lantern #1-9 (July/August 1960-November 1961) and reveals how a Space Age reconfiguration of the Golden-Age superhero with a magic ring replaced mysticism with super-science.

Hal Jordan was a young test pilot in California when an alien policeman crashed his spaceship on Earth. Mortally wounded, Abin Sur commanded his ring – a device which could materialise thoughts – to seek out a replacement officer, honest and without fear. Scanning the planet it selected Jordan and brought him to the crash-site. The dying alien bequeathed his ring, the lantern-shaped Battery of Power and his profession to the astonished Earthman.

In six pages ‘S.O.S Green Lantern’ established characters, scenario and narrative thrust of a series that would increasingly become the spine of DC continuity, leaving room for another two adventures in that premiere issue. ‘Secret of the Flaming Spear!’ and ‘Menace of the Runaway Missile!’ were both contemporary thrillers set against the backdrop of the aviation industry at a time when the Cold War was at its height.

Unlike the debut of The Flash, the editors were now confident of their ground. The next two issues of Showcase carried the new hero into even greater exploits. ‘Summons from Space’ sent Green Lantern to another world: saving an emerging race from a deadly threat at the behest of the as-yet-unnamed leaders of the Green Lantern Corps, whilst ‘The Invisible Destroyer’ pitted the neophyte Emerald Gladiator against the earthbound but eerie menace of a psychic marauder that lived on atomic radiation.

Showcase #24 (January/February 1960) featured another spy-ring in ‘The Secret of the Black Museum!’ but Jordan’s complex social life took centre-stage in ‘The Creature That Couldn’t Die!’ when the threat of an unstoppable monster paled before the insufferable stress of being his own rival. Hal’s boss Carol Ferris, controversially left in charge of her father’s aviation company (a radical concept in 1960 when most women were still considered faint-fodder fluff) won’t date an employee, but is deliriously happy for him to set her up with the glamorous, mysterious Green Lantern.

Six months later Green Lantern #1 was released. All previous tales had been dynamically drawn by Kane & Giella, in a visually arresting and exciting manner, but the lead tale here, ‘Planet of Doomed Men’ was inked by the uniquely gifted Murphy Anderson, and his fine line-work elevated the tale (more emergent humans in need of rescue from another monster) to the status of a minor classic. Giella returned for the second tale, ‘Menace of the Giant Puppet!’, in which GL fought his first – albeit rather lame – super-villain, the Puppet Master.

The next issue originated a concept that would be pivotal to the future of DC continuity. ‘The Secret of the Golden Thunderbolts!’ featured an Antimatter Universe and the diabolical Weaponers of Qward, a twisted race who worshipped Evil, and whose “criminals” (i.e. people who wouldn’t lie, cheat, steal or kill) wanted asylum on Earth. Also inked by Anderson, this is an early highpoint of tragic melodrama from an era where emotionalism was actively downplayed in comics.

The second story ‘Riddle of the Frozen Ghost Town!’ is a crime thriller highlighting the developing relationship between the hero and his Inuit (then “Eskimo”) mechanic Tom ‘Pieface’ Kalmaku.

The Qwardians returned in the all-Giella-inked  #3, leading with ‘The Amazing Theft of the Power Lamp!’ and Jordan’s love-life again spun out of control in ‘The Leap Year Menace!’, whilst GL #4 saw the hero trapped in the antimatter universe in ‘The Diabolical Missile from Qward!’ (Anderson inks) nicely balanced by the light-and-frothy mistaken-identity caper ‘Secret of Green Lantern’s Mask!’ This last apparently crafted by a veritable raft of pencillers including Kane, Giella, Carmine Infantino, Mike Sekowsky and Ross Andru…

Issue #5 was a full-length thriller which introduced Hector Hammond, GL’s second official super-villain in ‘The Power Ring that Vanished!’: a saga of romantic intrigue, mistaken identity and evolution gone wild.

This was followed by another, pure science fiction puzzler ‘The World of Living Phantoms!’ (Kane & Giella) which introduced avian Green Lantern Tomar Re and opened up the entire universe to avid readers…

Having shown us other GLs, Broome immediately trumped himself with the next episode. ‘The Day 100,000 People Vanished!’ brought the Guardians of the Universe into the open to warn of their greatest error: a renegade Green Lantern named Sinestro who, in league with the Qwardians, had become a threat to the entire universe. This tense shocker introduced one of the most charismatic and intriguing villains in the DCU and the issue still had room for a dryly amusing, whimsical drama that introduced Tom Kalmaku’s fiancée Terga in ‘Wings of Destiny’.

In the early 1960s DC production wizard Jack Adler created a process to add enhancing tone to cover illustrations. The finished result was eye-catching and mind-blowing, but examples, such as the cover of #8, really don’t work with the glossy pages and digitised colour-tints of modern reproduction.

Never mind, though, since the contents of that issue, ‘The Challenge from 5700AD!’ comprise a fantasy tour de force: the Emerald Gladiator is shanghaied through time to save the future from a invasion of mutant lizards…

Sinestro returned in the next issue – the last in this astounding cosmic collection – with his own super-weapon in ‘The Battle of the Power Rings!’ (with Anderson once more substituting for Giella) but the real gold is ‘Green Lantern’s Brother Act’ which introduces Hal’s two brothers and a snoopy girl reporter convinced young Jim Jordan is the ring-slinging superhero. This wry poke at DC’s house plot-device shows just how sophisticated Schwartz and Broome believed their audiences to be.

In those long ago days costumed villains were always third choice in a writer’s armoury: clever bad-guys and aliens always seemed more believable to creators back then. If you were doing something naughty would you want to call attention to yourself? Nowadays the visual impact of buff men in tights dictates the type of foe more than the crimes committed, which is why these glorious adventures of simpler yet somehow better days are such an unalloyed delight.

These Fights ‘n’ Tights romps are in themselves a great read for most ages, but when also considered as the building blocks of all DC continuity they become vital fare for any fan keen to make sense of the modern superhero experience. Judged solely on their own merit, these are snappy, awe-inspiring, beautifully illustrated captivatingly clever thrillers that amuse, amaze and enthral both new readers and old devotees. This lovely collection is a must-read item for anybody in love with our art-form and especially for anyone just now encountering the hero for the first time through his movie incarnations.
© 1959, 1960, 1961, 2016 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.