Green Lantern Issue by Issue #2 - Showcase #23

Alright! I've managed more than one update! I bet this how valid human beings feel all the time.

To business!

"Everything else is just grist to the mill."

"Summons from Space" - This story is kind of interesting for several reasons. First of all, it represents the first time that the enigmatic Guardians of the Universe contacted Hal Jordan in the pages of DC comics (his internal monologue implies that he's received instructions from them before, but this is first we've seen of it). Secondly, it's the first time we see him travelling through space, and using his ring to translate. Third, and most importantly, it's the first time I can think of that Hal uses his ring to callously imprison a seemingly intelligent group of aliens and leave them to die. I say "seemingly" because they're never shown speaking, but the "humans" on Venus tell Hal that the winged raiders are out to become the top race on the planet, which is a fairly complex motivation for a simple predator. All Hal cares about, though, is that they aren't human, so he seals them up in a cave and leaves them to the inevitable cannibalism that is their only recourse. The Venutian humans celebrate the slow death visited upon their enemies, and Hal returns home to make time with Carol.

Despite its reduced size, cancer rates tripled.

"The Invisible Destroyer" - Hal has a run-in with the thief the papers have dubbed the Invisible Destroyer, and quickly discovers that his ring doesn't work on it. I know what you're thinking, random person that stumbled across this blog, "Is it because the Destroyer's costume is yellow, or he has a yellow aura, or something equally stupid?" No! As Hal later finds out, his ring doesn't work this time because the Destroyer is imaginary. It turns out that, for no discernible reason, famed scientist Dr. Phillips created him with his mind. Hal uses his ring to find out the villain's plans, causing the Destroyer to materialize and confess that he's been absorbing radiation from various locations in order to make himself corporeal. The Destroyer then escapes, and detonates a nuke off the coast. Hal manages to shrink the blast, then deals with the Destroyer, which appears to also destroy the part of Phillips' brain that created him. So, the day is saved! Except for, you know, the scientist that Hal lobotomized.

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Green Lantern Issue by Issue #1 - Showcase #22

I'm going to make a confession right off the bat: I've never really read much in the way of DC comics from the Silver Age. I was all of three years old when Crisis on Infinite Earths started, and I read Marvel almost exclusively until I was well into my teens. By that point, there was a huge backlog of stuff to read in order to be able to follow what was happening each month, and the Silver Age books kind of got lost in the shuffle once I realized they weren't entirely relevant to what I was reading. I realize now, of course, the wealth of intrigue, action, and unintentional hilarity I was depriving myself of, but at the time it was simply overwhelming.

Now, however, I have gotten it into my head to start at the beginning of Hal Jordan's tenure as Green Lantern of Sector 2814, and read everything I possibly can. There is every chance I will fail; most likely, I'll get bored in a week, or distracted by something shiny. But I thought, since I'm doing this, I might as well keep a record of this undertaking, just for laughs. Read or don't. I'll get my kicks either way.

So...! Showcase #22.

Meanwhile, at the local Piggly Wiggly...

"S.O.S. Green Lantern" - It's interesting how little has actually changed about Green Lantern's origin over the course of several relaunches. The details may have changed (like the reasons for Abin Sur's crash landing, or what have you), but the broad strokes remain the same. Dying alien cop looks for replacement, Hal Jordan gets yanked along in what appears to be a coin-operated children's ride, becomes Green Lantern. It's a testament to the timelessness of the story that so little really needs changing, and I can't deny getting a chill when he's given the ring.

To be fair, it is one of the more dangerous home furnishings.

"Secret of the Flaming Spear" - A fellow pilot is testing a new plane, when it mysteriously goes haywire. Green Lantern leaps into action, and succeeds in rescuing both pilot and plane, before racing off to find the source of the problem. Turns out, there are some nefarious saboteurs hanging around, because these sorts of things happen in Coast City with the same regularity as lunchtime, whom Green Lantern confronts. Now, this appears to be Hal's first time fighting crime, so it is more than understandable that he might not be used to his ring's strengths and weaknesses. And it's certainly possible that the stress involved in going up against the Commie scum that his hometown is apparently just lousy with could easily cause him to forget about the ring's inability to affect anything yellow, despite the fact that it gets brought up no less than six times per issue. And MAYBE he was too busy mooning over Carol to notice what was happening. None of this, however, will ever lessen the unmitigated joy that comes from seeing him get busted in the mush with a lamp his first time out. Hell, if they'd put that in the movie, it would have been an unqualified box-office smash.

"Yes, little Carol here has really managed to overcome the inherent limitations of her gender."

GL quickly regains consciousness following this ceramic assault, and chases the saboteurs down in their yellow car. Once they're safely in custody, we're treated to a scene in which Mr. Ferris announces he's going on an extended vacation and, in between bemoaning his lack of a son and cursing the uncaring God that allowed such a thing to happen, places Carol in charge of the company. As soon as Mr. Ferris is out of the room, Hal comes on to Carol like a drunken prom date, only to be informed that she cannot have romantic entanglements clouding her mind while she has a business to run. Thus, we have established the dynamic that will carry into the next couple years of stories, and kept alive the rampant sexism that characterizes the comics of this decade.

"Menace of the Runaway Missile" - While harassing Carol in a manner that would make a Kennedy proud, Hal finds out that Green Lantern has been invited to a celebrity ball that evening. Unfortunately, the quality time he would have had with her that evening is cut short in mid-kiss, when he sees a missile streaking toward Coast City. He quickly discovers that the missile is painted yellow, except for its nose, thus continuing what would become a long and storied tradition of "Green Lantern goes to stop something, Green Lantern discovers that it's yellow, Green Lantern stops it anyway". Consulting with the Army and the Civil Air Patrol, GL manages to hunt down the culprit: One Dr. Pariss, who is so intent on being the first to harness "H-Power", that he apparently spends all his time blowing up other research facilities. Green Lantern quickly dispatches the doctor's battering ram, inexplicably the one thing in this issue that wasn't painted yellow, and returns to an unhappy Carol.

All in all, a good issue, and a strong start to the mythos. Carol suffers from an acute case of "Stupid B!$&#", but that's not really any great failing on her part, more the general tone of the industry at the time. It's sad that I find myself longing for Pieface to show up, if only so that the subtle racism will distract me from Carol's fickle bleating.

As for Hal, I am enjoying him immensely, though I am eternally grateful that they manage to make him less sleazy over the course of things. His advances in this issue, like trapping Carol in her chair, are a little off-putting. Overall, though, he's a great leading man, and I'm more than willing to forgive a few false starts along the way.

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