Tuesday, 28 July 2015


Images copyright DC COMICS

The first version of GREEN LANTERN appeared in 1940 in the pages of ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #16, and was railroad engineer ALAN SCOTT.  However, he's not the Green Lantern we're interested in, that particular accolade belonging to test pilot HAL JORDAN, who made his debut in SHOWCASE #22 in 1959 as part of NPP/DC COMICS editor JULIUS SCHWARTZ's SILVER AGE attempt to revive superheroes.  Over the years, the history of GL and the GREEN LANTERN CORPS has become increasingly convoluted (to say nothing of boring - to me at least), so I won't attempt to explain it all here.

Instead, let's just look at some fantastic covers from a time when comicbooks were a lot less complicated - and far more interesting and entertaining.  Hey, here's a novel notion - do you think there might be a connection there?  So, who's your favourite Green Lantern?  Let the world know in our controversial comments section!

All together now:

"In brightest day... in blackest night,
No evil shall escape my sight!
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power - -
Green Lantern's Light!"


TC said...

"My" Green Lantern was Hal Jordan. That's the GL I read about when I was 8-10 years old, both in his self-titled solo series and in Justice League.

I didn't see the Alan Scott version until years later, either in the annual Justice Society team-up in Justice League #91, or in Jules Feiffer's The Great Comic Book Heroes. And by the time John Stewart and Guy Gardner appeared, I was losing interest in comics in general, and didn't come back to them for almost ten years.

I liked most of what Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams did with Batman, basically restoring the Dark Knight image after the camp comedy fad had passed. But their Green Lantern/Green Arrow run seemed preachy and pretentious, and was just an attempt to cash in on another fad, the "relevance" craze ca. 1970.

Phil said...

Look make no mistake. I have these reprints and they aren't as good as the Flash stories. But Hal Jordan is the man because he introduced all the characters and villains that would come to dominate GLs stories for the next forty years. Gil Kane's beautiful art sure helped as well.
Kyle Rayner pfft. I do think expanding the GL Corp was a good idea since it allowed the character to continue with some logic. However getting rid of Hal Jordan by making him a bad guy rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way which pretty much ensured he would have to come back.

Kid said...

TC, I think I have a reprint of the first 'relevant' GL.GA issue, but I could never get into the characters for some reason. The drab green costumes, Oliver Queen's daft-looking beard, whatever - it all just failed to capture my attention. Yeah, they probably overdid the relevance angle at the cost of being entertaining.


Phil, to me, Hal Jordan is the only Green Lantern I'd ever be interested in reading about - and really only stories of the kind offered up in the Silver Age, which weren't 'preachy and pretentious' as TC says. When exactly did the fun aspect disappear from comics? Time they brought it back.

DeadSpiderEye said...

There's this focus on camp, ie. flamboyant, slightly frivolous entertainment with an element of humour and without too much overt serious threat, as a negative aspect of comics and their derived media. While I do see this can be annoying for fans who see their favourites, turned into self parodies, I myself have suffered such indignity as seeing James Bond dressed as a clown, it's not an intrinsically flawed approach. Handled correctly by good writers it can be quite effective and elements perceived as faintly ridiculous, can be used as contrast to heighten drama. Take a look at Alan Moore, who's seen as a leading exponent for darker gritty drama, how did he start off, Daredevil parodies and naff humour strips in 2000ad. Yeah OK, I wouldn't hold those examples up as paragons of the craft but they serve to illustrate a point.

The thing about The Green Lantern, a guy who can make objects appear from his ring with which he can swat opponents, is that, that concept is intrinsically -- camp. It seems to me that attempting to turn him into some kinda pseudo noir anti-hero, misses the point. One of my favourite DC comics was Metal Men, a title that at its best, exemplified the use of humour and frivolity but it still retained effective drama. I've only ever really dipped with Green Lantern, so I'm not really up to speed on his extended mythology: I know of the new rings and the spectrum of whatever, Carol Ferris blah blah, all the stuff but not much about it. Green Lantern was hardest to get into, it seemed to be continually jumping the shark to me. I can say that the best entertainment value I got from him, wasn't from the comics but the CGI series from a few years ago and while it wasn't Burt Ward camp, it did keep a good balance between the lighter aspects and drama.

baab said...

I have the Showcase Presents compilation,black and white.
I only bought it to see Gil Kane's artwork progress over a period of time.
The stories are all typical and uninspiring and the art progress is not as obvious as I would have liked.
The covers are pretty great though.

Kid said...

The thing about Bond being dressed as a clown, DSE, is that it was the most effective disguise to enable him to elude capture in a circus, so I don't think it's quite as ridiculous as you seem to; it was entirely within the context of the film, in fact. Probably more ludicrous was the sight gag of Bond snogging himself in DAF, as that only works from the audience's point of view, not that of the bad guy as he ascended the stairs.

'Camp' isn't quite the word I'd use to describe some Silver Age stories (which differed to the Batman TV show's notion of the word), but they were clearly aimed at a younger, less demanding readership, which resulted in some absurd concepts - but played straight. (At least, as straight as the absurd can be played.) All I really want from a comic is a half hour's entertaining read, not a multi-part epic that's aimed at adults who are embarrassed by their reading habits and want their comic mags presented in a darker and more serious in tone in order to deflect criticism of them being juvenile.

I don't really know if that ties in with your thoughts or not, but your comment gave me the opportunity to say it.


But better in colour, Baab. (You need to get those kids of yours out cleaning chimneys or polishing shoes and bringing some dosh in - you've got a collecting bug to feed.)

DeadSpiderEye said...

Dare I point out, that in fiction, you place your characters in the situations that suit the mood or effect you want to evoke? Guess what effect you evoke, with your main character in a clown outfit? Yeah, I wasn't sure about camp being the right word, it has the connotation of being applied to material, where the levity has become absurd to point where it's painful but it was invoked in this context, so it seemed apt to allude to it.

I don't really wanna come down on a particular side on the issue of the gravity with which characters are treated, because it's not something that can be ordained with any reasonable finality. People have differing views and those view are not necessarily consistent, they're dependent on various contexts and personal mood. Bond is an odd case, because he started off as something of a parody of himself, when he first hit the cinema in Dr. No and Fleming had back peddled himself, even before then, to soften up the character a bit.

I suppose the 60's Batman serial, is the instance that most epitomises the parody of idioms viewed as juvenile but although that series comes in for a lot of stick, I don't mind it that much. Yeah by the third season, it's become too much of a celebrity fest but for kids, the first couple of seasons work in a stylised way, a bit like pantomime does, which I think is a comparison we've made before.

Kid said...

Nah, you're ignoring the context of why Bond is in a clown suit, DSE. In fact, given the situation of impending doom, there's an irony to the scene (the guy in the clown suit is the only one who can save the world) - and Roger does a good bit of acting in conveying desperation and frustration.

I don't mind the Batman TV show, because I take it for what it is - an affectionate p*ss-take, and I don't mind serious comics when they're done right, without going overboard. For example Frank Miller's Daredevil: Born Again, is an absolute masterpiece of suspense and storytelling. Very few writers who've since tried to achieve what Miller did have failed to do so 'though. (In my famously humble opinion.)

Phil said...

Of course I forgot to mention I think Julius Schwartz had the artist draw the cover then give it to the writer to base the story on. Poor John Broome.

Kid said...

They did that with quite a few mags, Phil. And had gorillas on covers quite often, because a gorilla on a cover seemed to sell better.

John Pitt said...

Just like TC and yourself, Hal is my GL too. I used to prefer the stories that involved the GL Corps, but his battles against Sinestro were memorable too.
I seem to recall a team-up with Eclipso in a B & The B once as well?

Kid said...

Ah, Eclipso. Now he was an interesting character, JP.

John Pitt said...

I never really did get into the GL/GA team-ups though, much preferred the crossovers with the Flash in the 60's. As for GA's beard I think they were trying toake him look more like aodern day Robin Hood.

Kid said...

You're right about the beard, JP - but it's a secret identity giveaway.

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