Friday, July 31, 2009
Profiles in Geekery
This was one of a handful of comic books that I kept when I liquidated my collection a few years ago. "Green Lantern/Green Arrow" #107 is nothing particularly spectacular -- a fairly forgettable story -- but it (or rather, another copy of the same issue) was the first superhero comic that I ever read. So without this, I might have saved a lot of money over the years and developed moderate social skills before my twenties.
The cover date is August 1978; I'm not sure what the lag time was between real dates and comic cover dates at that point, but I must have got this shortly after the family moved back from Europe. I have a vague memory that I got it in Savannah, Georgia, but I'm notoriously unreliable on stuff like that.
The plot... well, you may need a little primer in Green Lanternism for this particular issue. GL originally got his ring from another Green Lantern, who died here on Earth. And it doesn't work on yellow, which meant that writers had to work in a yellow threat and force their guy to get creative.
In this issue, he's gallivanting around the heavens, and he sees a deadly (yellow) comet about to plow into a planet. He realizes that the planet is the one his predecessor is from, and since he can't stop the (yellow) comet, he heads on down to tell everyone to get out.
Sadly, upon getting down there, he realizes: no one told the people that his predecessor was dead. GL had been published for 15+ years at this point so you'd think he might have stopped by with flowers, but no. The people of the planet freak out seeing him in the costume, freak out further when he says "yeah, I'm wearing it because the other guy kicked off," don't believe him about the comet for reasons too ridiculous to go into, then beat the crap out of him even though he has this super-powerful ring. They don't even use yellow baseball bats, they just clock him on the head.
Then they see the comet and really quickly decide that maybe this guy's not so bad, if he might save them from the threat. This leads to this classic sequence:
I'm pretty sure this is a bad idea
He ... bounces the moon around until it knocks the comet away. I'm no astrophysicist, but that strikes me as something that might have some unintended consequences down the line. If someone more science-minded would care to tell me what happens when you knock a moon out of its orbit -- I'm betting something bad -- I'm all ears. And that doesn't even get into whether you can actually knock a comet around like this. Seriously, Green Lantern, you've probably just screwed up all over the place.
(When I was five years old, I probably thought this was great.)
He seems to have forgotten about that super-powerful ring again, hasn't he?
By story's end, all's well, except the inhabitants of Ungara are probably all dead because of whatever that moon business did to their planet. Green Lantern (who, at this point, was a long-haul trucker in his Hal Jordan identity) is only concerned about vegetables that he could presumably transport in a matter of minutes using the ring thing.
Thanks in part to getting my start with this issue, Green Lantern became my favorite character early on -- I remember subsequent issues featuring him facing off against a Spanish ghost and then a guy with a giant eyeball-laser on his mask. Green Arrow was booted from the title within about two years after this issue, which made the stories more cosmic in orientation and made me lose a bit of interest. I liked it more when Hal had a few people to hang around, people to tell about his moon-relocating adventures.
In later decades, GL was turned into a recovered alcoholic, turned evil, then killed and turned into a ghost. Now since I quit reading comics, he's been resurrected and reformed. Quite a career for anyone.