Retro Comics are Awesome

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andersonh1
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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Back to Golden Age Batman vol. 9....

Detective Comics #202
December 1953

Millionaire Island!
Script: William Woolfolk Pencils: Sheldon Moldoff Inks: Charles Paris

Batman and Robin take on smugglers who are bringing luxury items into the country secretly to avoid customs. The clues point toward an island hotel, the Jolly Roger, as the likely hiding place along the chain the smugglers use. As a spot frequented by the ultra-wealthy, it's a place ideally suited for Bruce and Dick to investigate as themselves. There are old pirate caves there, and Bruce spots familiar crooks from Gotham posing as sailors. They quickly find the leader of the smugglers, a man dressed as a pirate, and some bad luck during the fight gets them captured and forced to walk the plank, or rather walk off a rock promontory with a plunge into the ocean below. They survive the fall and allow the smugglers to believe them dead, so they can watch in their civilian identities. After escaping death by electrocution and trailing the smugglers out to sea, they bust up the gang and learn who the leader of the smuggling ring actually is, putting an end to the scheme.

I don't know that there's a lot that's distinctive about this story. It's very straightforward and needed something to liven it up, maybe more mystery or more atmosphere or a more memorable villain. The only things that really stand out from it are the fall from the rock by Batman and Robin, and the fact that they spend more panel time then usual out of costume, given the setting of the story. And is this the same Sheldon Moldoff who drew Hawkman? Is he just trying to mimic Bob Kane's style here, because it's a shame we're not getting much better art from him. I'm not a big fan of Lew Sayre Schwartz, though his art style is serviceable, but I think he's better than Moldoff.

Detective Comics #203
January 1954

The Crimes of the Catwoman!
Script: Edmond Hamilton Pencils: Bob Kane Inks: Charles Paris

No one laughed at me when I wore this! And I'll wear it again! I'll stun Gotham City with such cat-crimes that they'll never ridicule Catwoman again!

I knew it was only a matter of time before Selina Kyle went back to her old life of crime. She's been reformed and working on the side of the law since "The Secret Life of the Catwoman" in Batman #62, December 1950-January 1951, so about three years in real time. And it was interesting seeing her as a costumed heroine, assisting Batman and the Police, but it was never going to last. And here we are: a newspaper storyline about Batman's cases that writes in glowing terms about how he captured Catwoman really gets under Selina's skin, particularly when some thugs make fun of her. Batman says he would never have let that be printed if he'd known about it, but the bug has bitten Selina. She misses the excitement and respect her life of crime granted her. Bruce has tried his best to keep her away from crime, but she's made her choice.

The cat puns fly thick and fast, moreso than I remember from older Catwoman stories as she goes on a crime rampage. She rounds up a gang and goes on even more cat-themed crimes, even if the connection is sometimes dubious. The old flirtatious relationship between Batman and Catwoman is hinted at when she won't let one of her gang shoot Batman. She says he's just a hostage, but I think we all know better. He escapes and he and Robin track her down to a yacht where she's attempting a jewel theft. She escapes, but Batman and Robin find her capsized boat, and unable to find a body, wonder if she's drowned, though Batman isn't sure. And rightly so.

As much as I enjoyed seeing one of Batman's major enemies reform, given how it allowed the writers to do some different things with the character, I have to admit that it's good to have the old Catwoman back and up to her old tricks, though the hurricane of cat-puns does get a bit excessive. We all know she's not dead, and I'm sure she'll be back soon enough. It's been a long time since I've seen Bob Kane actually given sole credit for a story, and I wonder why he took the time to draw this one?

Ah well, at least Harvey Dent still has his happy ending.....

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern #34
January 1965

The Three-Way Attack on Green Lantern
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

The cover for this issue is an odd choice, given what a small part of the overall story it depicts. The splash page shows Hal fighting a Guardian, which is instantly intriguing, and I think that would have made a better cover image. Only when the story begins do we see Hector Hammond, once again plotting to defeat Green Lantern from afar. He mentally looks for GL and happens to catch him as he is leaving Earth for Oa, and thus Hector Hammond learns about the Guardians and that GL answers to them. Somehow he is able to mentally create an "energy duplicate" of a Guardian to attack Hal, and this duplicate has all the power of an actual Guardian of the Universe. I don't see how it's possible for Hammond to do this. He learns about the Guardians by reading Hal's mind so he "can understand who and what these beings are", so physically creating an image of them would be no problem, but imbuing them with the actual power of the Guardians seems beyond Hammond's abilities. Hammond explains it this way:

My energy duplicate Guardian has all the wisdom and power of a true Guardian - inherent in his very structure!

Inherent in his very structure. So since Hammond copied the physical structure of the Guardians, all the power they possess comes with that. I don't really buy it, but I'll roll with it. And it does lead to a pretty good storyline as the "renegade Guardian" (the first time we've seen this concept in the series) attacks Hal, intending to wear him down and exhaust him with a series of attacks. The first is in the jungle, the second in the arctic, and the third in the desert. Gil Kane gives it his all with the art in these sequences, and does a great job. The desert is where the giant iguana on the cover comes in, sort of a mini-boss that lasts for three pages. After wearing him down, the Guardian finally sends the killing blow at Hal, a golden sphere of energy that his ring can't protect him from and which he can't outrun. It looks like an explosion in space has killed Green Lantern.

Hammond is delighted to have finally won. He summons the energy duplicate Guardian to try and give him mobility, only for an unseen foe to attack the Guardian, who then attacks a very confused Hammond. Hammond eliminates his creation and wonders just what happened.

So how did Hal escape? He very cleverly transported himself to Earth-2, and finally able to slow down and think, came up with the idea of using Hector Hammond's indestructible body as a "fortress" from which to fight the Guardian. The fight played out as we saw, and in the end neither Hammond nor Hal realized how each had affected the other. GL reports to the Guardians, who confirm that none of them had turned renegade, and promise to investigate.

If you can buy into the premise that Hammond can create a Guardian of the Universe (or don't buy it and just roll with the flow), this is a great action story with some fairly clever twists at the end. I love how Hal sees the Guardian's face on a billboard for a carnival and that sets up the confrontation, it's a suitably "Twilight Zone" type of weird occurrence. As I mentioned, Gil Kane's art is great, and he depicts Hal's struggles to overcome a far more powerful enemy very well. The use of the Earth-2 Universe as a temporary refuge is nicely done. Hammond still doesn't know all of Hal's secrets! And once again, Hammond's attack on GL is still known only to Hammond as he manipulates events from afar. I liked this one a lot, I can go along with an iffy premise since it gives us a good storyline.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern #35
March 1965

Prisoner of the Golden Mask!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

Before we get into the story, it's worth noting that we get the first minor redesign of Hal's Green Lantern uniform in this story. The green portions on his chest narrow right to the edge of the GL insignia, as opposed to green on either side of the insignia about the same width as the insignia. I'm not sure what the reason for this change was, but I can't say that I like it. I'm on the lookout for the more classic redesign where the green on the chest extends over the shoulders, which we haven't seen yet. If Gil Kane has started tweaking the costume design, it might be just around the corner.

Image

Hal is testing a new jet when he is attacked by a man in a red and gold costume at 60,000 feet. Hal's immediate assumption that he's hallucinating honestly makes no sense, given all the people he knows who can fly, including himself. The man hurls a grenade at the plane, badly damaging it and causing it to plummet to the earth. Hal bails out in a parachute to avoid exposing his GL uniform, and the man tells him on the way down that it's not Hal he's after, it's the Ferris family, and that the spirit of Elke Hensen demands vengeance, which he, the Aerialist, will see that she gets. When Hal tells Carol about it, she knows who the man must be: Otto Fisher, who was in love with high wire performer Elke Hensen. Carol's father had hired the circus both worked in to perform for the company employees, but a lightning strike on the tent during the performance killed Elke, and Fisher blamed Ferris for her death.

Hal goes after Fisher as GL, and gets a pretty good fight due to Fisher's use of magnetism. Hey, it's not radiation. The Aerialist is able to attach a golden mask with no eye holes to Hal's face during the fight, covering his regular GL mask, because thanks to Silver Age pseudo science, this will let him control GL's thoughts and command him. Hal thinks his mask has been turned into gold rather than covering his own, and because it's yellow, he can't affect it. This was the Aerialist's whole plan, and the not-quite-right-in-the-head villain thinks that if fighter for justice Green Lantern destroys Ferris Aircraft, people will think the destruction must have been justified, which of course Hal realizes is a crazy idea. People will just think GL has gone bad. The story does a nice job of making Fisher a sympathetic villain who is fooling himself rather than making him an obnoxious madman, but when GL uses static electricity to remove the mask and then punches the Aerialist out in a fistfight, GL doesn't feel a lot of sympathy for him. He actually gets some satisfaction in settling the fight "man to man" and slugging him out. But then when he turns him into the police, he recommends psychiatric help rather than jail, saying that he's not a true criminal.

I don't think this is the last villain who will be out to destroy Ferris Air, but at least this guy has some redeeming qualities, and one hopes he is able to get help and recover from his delusions. Hal's defense of his condition would be a little more laudable if he hadn't enjoyed slugging it out with him so much. Grant Morrison picked up on Hal's enjoyment of a good fight and has him say as much in one of his Green Lantern issues when an alien attacks him, but I can't say I had quite realized that Hal just enjoys a good brawl until now. Gil Kane's art certainly adds a good sense of mass in motion and impact to these fistfights. This one's not bad, I honestly enjoyed it.

The Eagle Crusader of Earth!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

Then there's Hal switching minds with an eagle, which is too silly to take seriously. And it's all due to radiation. Is there anything radiation can't do (except give people cancer, apparently)? I'm not sure if this story was meant to be a comedy, but the sight of Hal's wild-eyed body with an eagle's mind flapping his arms like crazy and attacking sheep just made me laugh. There's a spy plot in the middle of this as well, and we get another crazy image as Hal the eagle grabs a bad guy's gun with his talons and starts shooting at the understandably confused crooks. Wow. This is the most out there plot of the series so far, and that's saying something for a Green Lantern book. It made me laugh due to how insane it all was, I'll give it that.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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Green Lantern the Silver Age Omnibus vol. 2

My copy of the Green Lantern omnibus vol 2 and the Green Lantern Silver Age omnibus vol. 2 overlap by about 9 issues, with both both containing Green Lantern #36 to Green Lantern #45. Not that it makes any difference in terms of reviews since the material is the same, but I'm switching over to the latter because it's easier to read due to how the book is constructed. The paper in the older book is thicker than it should be, so the book does not open and lay flat without being held that way. The print quality is great, but the paper is very stiff.

Hard to believe I'm halfway through the Silver Age already.

Green Lantern #36
April 1965

Secret of the Power-Ringed Robot!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

The story doesn't start out in the most promising fashion, as a pogo-stick hopping toy steals plans for the Z-25 plane right out of the hands of Carol Ferris, and it dodges Hal's attempt to grab it. They chase it in Hal's car but the darn thing outruns them and jumps into the ocean. Fortunately Hal had used his ring to track the case holding the plans, so once Carol goes for the police, he zips after the plans. Hal tracks them to an old house, where a gang of crooks talks with Marlow, the engineer who built the toy. I love Hal's eavesdropping ring construct, essentially a microphone attached to a pair of lips which speak and tell him exactly what they're saying. Marlow claims the room is filled with deadly radiation that he neutralizes with another of his devices, but anyone who enters without one would die.

So how does Hal enter the house and take on the crooks? He turns himself into a robot. I am not kidding. It's better than becoming an eagle, I suppose. The plan works great until one of his hands breaks off and he's trapped by electromagnets. The radiation in the room has a yellow tinge (of course!) so he can't use his ring, even remotely, but when the magnets draw his detached hand towards the wall, where there is no radiation, he's able to neutralize the machinery and the magnets. I can't believe I just typed that or that it sort of makes sense. Fully human again, Hal easily mops up the crooks and recovers the plans.

So as I said, it's better than the eagle story from last issue, but turning a flesh and blood being into a mechanical being and back again is a power-ring ability that is best forgotten. It's just a little goofy. I suspect this was one of those stories where the cover is drawn, and the story has to be written around it.

Green Lantern's Explosive Week-End!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

Hal has a weekend off and is headed upstate to spend it with friends, but of course trouble always finds him. A strange waterspout has appeared in a local lake and as Green Lantern he stops it by clapping it with a giant pair of cymbals. When he reaches the ranch where he's staying, the owners, Sally and Steve Davis, immediately try to play matchmaker and fix him up with the beautiful, red-headed Dorine Clay. There's a nice bit of Hal's backstory in the dialogue that goes by quickly, noting that he was in the Air Force, and best friends with the couple's son Bill, who was killed during the Korean War. I enjoy these little glimpses of the character's life prior to him becoming a superhero. Dorine is "cool and aloof" and this just strikes Hal as a challenge, so he takes her for a boat ride out in the lake and serenades her, but to no avail. He thinks to himself that of course his heart belongs to Carol, but he's not fooling anyone.

When he finds a map of the lake drawn by Dorine with an X marking the spot where the waterspout was, he uses his ring to probe Dorine's thoughts and learns to his shock that she's an alien, a free-thinker from a planet where the population are controlled by the mentally powerful Headmen, and she escaped to Earth to work on a way to free them from mental control. The Headmen have tracked her to Earth, and so of course Hal has to change to Green Lantern and help drive them off, and it's honestly fairly easy for him. He offers to help Dorine, but she wants to do it on her own. He sees her off and then reads a note that she asked him to give to Hal. All his wooing worked. Hal is delighted, and I'm cracking up at his ego and goofy grin in the last panel. "I had begun to think the old Jordan charm had lost it's magic. I know now it's still as potent as ever. Yes sir!" Oh my.

So this was a big improvement, and it's honestly fun to watch Hal show some interest in someone other than Carol, since she's so hung up on Green Lantern. I enjoy the "aliens among us" type of plot, where an ordinary setting hides something otherworldly. Hal certainly thinks of himself as a ladies' man, so it's funny to see him taken down a peg or two, only to feel pleased with himself at the end. You keep striking out with Carol, Hal, keep that in mind!

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Green Lantern #37
June 1965

The Spies Who "Owned" Green Lantern!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

Hal gets taken in by a beautiful blonde spy working as a secretary for Carol Ferris, though to his credit it's not because he's chasing her (he initially rejects Carol's suggestion to take her out, protesting that he wanted to ask Carol for a date), but because Carol suggests Hal take her dancing to make her boyfriend jealous and hopefully patch things up. Hal becomes fixated on Betty's yellow topaz pendant, and it doesn't take long for the story to reveal that he's been hypnotized, and he carries out commands while he's sleeping, typing up reports on the secret plane he's been testing. What's worse, when he takes on some pirates as Green Lantern during the day, the next night he puts that in his report, so he's given away his secret identity. He's aware of none of this until an electrical fire causes his ring to awaken him (and I love the way it sends out a beam and creates two hands, one to tap his shoulder and the other to point to the fire), whereupon he learns exactly what has happened when he sees what he's been typing and the ring fills in the rest of the details. The power ring can't end the hypnotic commands because, of course, it was brought about by a yellow topaz.

Now the way Hal tracks down the spies is another of those Silver Age powers that is a bit absurd. Hal turns himself into a letter and has Tom mail him. I am not kidding. The address is fake, and the "letter" is dropped in the dead letter box, where one of the spies picks it up and sneaks it out. It's hilarious when the spies pull out the envelope and it grows to human size, whereupon Hal's arm grows out of the side of the envelope and punches one of the spies out before he becomes completely human again. He's able to capture them all along with Betty and turn them over to the Federal Authorities. He's off the hook for failing as GL and has a favorable report for the Guardians. Alls well that ends well as Hal heads to Oa to get the hypnotic commands removed.... but has it ended? Stay tuned....

Hal's a pretty hip and happening dude to know all those different dances, even if he does go dancing in a bowtie and suit. I've always wondered just how old he's supposed to be at this point. He's no teenager of course, and he's probably been through college and certainly the military, given that he's had pilot training and a friend who died in the Korean War. He could be in his late 20s or early 30s. He comes across as not the type to dance anything to trendy, which is what brought this line of thinking on. At any rate, turning himself into a letter is the silliest ring power yet. I get that it's meant to be a way to avoid the incriminating information getting to the spies, but it's just a bit too silly for me. I do like that Gil Kane takes the time to draw Hal's hair as out of place since he's been sleeping. It's a tiny detail, but like his hair blown around by the wind when he's flying, it's just an example of Kane's attention to detail as an artist.

Speaking of the art, Kane continues to tweak the Green Lantern uniform design as we arrive at the "green shoulders" variation, though the design has not been finalized since the green on the chest behind the insignia is still narrow. I'm not sure why these slight redesigns began appearing around this time after six years of stability, but I do like what we'll eventually end up with, though this "transitional" variation doesn't look quite right, so I'm glad Kane did not stop here.

The Plot to Conquer the Universe!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

Picking up right where the previous story left off, Hal is on his way to Oa when he's dragged off course by Evil Star! This is his first appearance, and he brags that his Star Bands are more powerful than GL's power ring, and he sets out to prove it by draining the ring of power and creating his own constructs (I love the phrase "terrible tintinnabulations" for the sound of bells ringing) and nearly stealing Hal's ring right off his finger. Through the help of his "Starlings" he finally beats Hal and takes his ring, leaving him imprisoned in a bell jar construct while he heads off to Oa, disguised as Hal and wearing Hal's ring.

Betty's yellow topaz necklace from the previous story comes in handy here as Hal uses it to hypnotize the Starlings into freeing him and taking him to Oa. Evil Star has frozen the Guardians and probed their minds (and I'd say his boasting about how powerful the Star Band is fully proven here) and when Hal arrives he drops his disguise and destroys Hal's ring, the one he got from Abin Sur. That's an interesting development, one that I don't think I've ever seen a future writer address. In fact they'll occasionally state that he's still wearing Abin Sur's ring. Hal observes that Evil Star temporarily freezes every time he uses his Star Band, and is able to punch him out and take the Star Band, after which he uses the central power battery to free the Guardians of their paralysis. They compare notes, and before they free him from the hypnotic spell, note that it's only because he was under that spell that he could hypnotize the Starlings. "It's as if fate itself were preparing you for this far greater challenge!" a Guardian in a philosophic mood muses. He gives Hal a new power ring to replace the destroyed one and Evil Star is imprisoned on Oa.

I always enjoy stories that involve the Corps and the Guardians, and Evil Star proves to be a pretty effective villain, able to overpower both Hal and the Guardians, with a powerless Hal beating him through observation and his fists (and a handy weakness inserted by Gardner Fox). It's very interesting to me that Hal's original power ring is destroyed, meaning any story that follows that acts like he's still wearing it is committing a continuity error. I'll be watching out for those.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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World's Finest Comics #68
January-February 1954

The Secret Weapons of the Crimesmith!
Writer: ? Pencils: Sheldon Moldoff Inks: Charles Paris

Yes... here I can build any machine for crime!

Batman and Robin capture criminal Rand Garrow, who swears revenge when he's sent to prison for 20 years. While in prison he demonstrates "a genius for mechanics and invention" and is paroled. But Garrow, despite promising to go straight, goes straight back to crime, calling himself the Crimesmith and selling his services to the criminal underworld to build any machine they need. Batman believes that "few inventive geniuses are criminal-minded! There must be some record of this one!", and indeed they figure out that Garrow is likely the Crimesmith by page 5. Rumors keep circulating that the Crimesmith has created a weapon that will allow the entire city to be looted, and considering how effective his other inventions are, it's easy to believe. Sure enough, giant robots appear on tv, but the Crimesmith is pulling an Orson Welles and hoaxing everyone to scare them away while the looting goes on. But Batman has followed the clues and worked out where he is, hiding in an upper story over a parking garage, while he had conned everyone into thinking he had a cave. The Crimesmith is captured and sent back to prison, where he will no longer be allowed in the prison workshop.

Pretty good story all in all, and I like the fact that Garrow is genuinely successful for most of the story. He's supposed to be an excellent inventor, so the story needed to show that he was indeed talented in that field, and it does. And he uses misdirection nicely for most of the story to make everyone think he worked out of a cave, when he was really in the city the whole time. Nice to see that Batman has charted all the caves in the area to make sure none of them connect with the Batcave, that's a very Batman thing to do.

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Re: Retro Comics are Awesome

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I'm really enjoying how Batman seems to do actual detective work in a lot of these old stories.
Check it out, a honey bear! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinkajou

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Ursus mellifera wrote:
Fri Jun 24, 2022 6:22 am
I'm really enjoying how Batman seems to do actual detective work in a lot of these old stories.
I do too. There's a story a few years back, I forget which one, where a frustrated crook who's been captured calls Batman "a human encyclopedia". And he really is, he knows all sorts of facts to the point that small details that everyone else misses are often what clues him in to what's going on in a story. He's meant to be written as someone who is intelligent and observant and knowledgeable, and on the level these stories were aimed at, I think the writers do a pretty good job.

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Green Lantern #38
July 1965

Menace of the Atomic Changeling!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

Tomar-Re is back, and I always enjoy seeing him make an appearance in the series. And what a great splash page, with Hal in the foreground firing his ring at what appears to be an ocean wave with a face while Tomar is caught in the wave. The story begins with Hal experiencing some Peter Parker-level bad luck. Just as he's finally convinced Carol to go on a date with him instead of Green Lantern, and he's walking to her front door to pick her up, flowers in hand, he's summoned by Tomar-Re, who has pursued an alien changeling to Earth and needs Hal's help to capture him. The creature was released from a tomb on a dead world during an archeological dig. The changeling is a shape-shifter, but it has the interesting ability of being unable to be held or captured except in it's true form (which, true to form for the villains of this era, it brags about to Tomar-Re, revealing it's weakness).

Tomar and Hal find it easily enough, but capturing it is another matter. We get a great team-up between the two Green Lanterns as they alternately help and hinder each other while trying to capture the constantly shape-shifting alien. It's Hal who hits upon the idea of tricking it into trying to assume the shape of a non-existent object and freezing it in place. I don't know how much sense that makes, but okay. It works, and Tomar imprisons the creature, whose true form looks like a tiny atomic bomb mushroom cloud. Problem solved, only now Hal has to explain to Carol where he went when he was supposed to be picking her up! The super-hero life messes up the romantic life, yet again.

It looks like the Green Lantern uniform is getting close to taking the form it will keep for a long time with the triangular green extending to the shoulders and the green on the chest around the insignia widening out again. It's a minor tweak of the original design, but one that I prefer. It makes the Green Lanterns look more broad-shouldered and heroic. Tomar and Hal both wear the redesign, so it's a general update across all Green Lanterns, not just Hal experimenting with the look of this own uniform. I always enjoy seeing multiple Lanterns team up, and Tomar is one of my favorites from this era, not that there are a ton to choose from. But it's just nice that Hal has a peer who shares his line of work and about whom there are no secret ID problems, who knows that Hal has his back if there's a problem and vice versa. And it's nice to get a glimpse at what other Green Lanterns are up to while Hal is having his adventures on Earth and elsewhere. The Corps is active, even when we readers don't see them.

The Elixir of Invulnerability!
Script - Gardner Fox Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

We get the first appearance of Keith Kenyon here, later to be known as Goldface, though his look and concept are very different. He's an older man with a widow's peak, greying temples, and wears some kind of military uniform. When Carol sees that Hal is tired out, she sends him on a week's vacation in Hawaii for some R & R at company expense, and Hal (who has been burning the candle at both ends as he tries to balance being a test pilot with being a Green Lantern) doesn't protest too much. But trouble finds Hal wherever he goes, and when he finds a sunken ship and gold coins while scuba diving, he's attacked by men in black scuba outfits, who want the gold. Hal does his best to fight them off without using the ring and giving his identity away, but he loses and ends up in the hospital temporarily. Free to assume his Green Lantern identity he tracks down the gold.

Here's where Kenyon comes in. In some crazy Silver Age "science", he claims that gold that's been in contact with sea water for over a century has special properties when subjected to ultraviolet light, and can not only power amazing weapons, but an elixir will make him invincible. For once it's just a coincidence that the villain has weapons using gold that Hal's ring can't affect, but there are some great indirect uses of the power ring to fight off Kenyon's men as Hal creates a giant hand with the ocean water, or a broom with lava from a nearby volcano. He's gotten very good at thinking on his feet. The thugs go down easily enough, but Kenyon's elixir works and he's immune to punches and immune to the power ring. Hal demonstrates a knowledge of chemistry that would seem more appropriate for the Flash, creates "Aqua Regia" to dissolve the gold, and uses his favorite method to take Kenyon down: a few well-placed punches, after which he's able to relax on the beach and enjoy the swimsuit-clad ladies walking by.

So it's not radiation this time that gives the villain his powers, though "gold immersed in sea water for over a century" isn't much more credible! I like however that Hal isn't sure whether the invincibility potion actually worked, or whether the yellow of the gold was the problem. A number of stories lately end without Hal entirely in possession of all the answers about the adventure he's just gone through, which is a nice touch as far as I'm concerned. We don't always get explanations about everything in life, no reason a super-hero would either.

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Green Lantern #39
September 1965

Practice Makes the Perfect Crime!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

John Broome is back after two issues written entirely by Gardner Fox, and so is Black Hand, who is still talking to the readers. I still don't get it. At any rate, as the story begins, Hal is getting a checkup from a doctor, because he is unable to see art that everyone else can see and appreciate. When he investigates he finds that there's nothing wrong with his eyes, it's everyone else who is seeing an illusion. He deduces fairly quickly that it's the work of Black Hand, who recently escaped from jail. As an aside, a character having an internal monologue that recaps the situation for the reader is outdated and certainly an artificial way for a character to think, but it's undeniably useful. And so is Black Hand talking directly to the reader to explain his plans and his motivations, it's just weird because he's the only character who does it.

Black Hand uses his newfound ability to use his collected Green Lantern energy to create illusions to make everyone in Coast City see Green Lantern as himself. GL is arrested and suffers an odd little brief crisis of identity when he looks in the mirror and sees Black Hand. He has to send a message to Tom to bring his power battery because his ring is about out of charge. Seems like a little more tension could have been milked out of this situation, but Tom walks right into the police station with the invisible battery and is allowed to see "Black Hand". Hal recharges the ring, escapes from jail, and tracks down Black Hand. Each man's weapon disarms the other, so it all comes down to a fist fight with Black Hand spouting his usual clichés. Hal loves to punch guys out and is quite good at it at this point, so he wins the fight, drops Black Hand in jail, and takes his ring energy collection device to destroy it. Black Hand tells us all that he will "try, try again!"

I still think the idea of a villain who is able to collect ambient energy from a Green Lantern ring is a good one. It's a subtle way of using Hal's power against him, and it's put to fairly good use in this story. I'm not a big fan of the clichés, though they don't bother me either, but Black Hand always breaking the fourth wall makes him memorable. I had to look up what was going on with Black Hand, and according to Julius Schwartz and John Broome at San Diego Comic Con in 1998, he was Bill Finger as a villain.

I’ll tell you who Black Hand really was! Black Hand was Bill Finger, who created Batman. Literally created him – and the Green Lantern. Bill Finger would always carry around a notebook and make notes, and Black Hand is really Bill Finger.

See the link below. That still doesn't tell us why he talks to the reader, but hey, it's background information that I didn't know.

https://www.cbr.com/green-lantern-flash ... urth-wall/

The Fight for the Championship of the Universe!
Script - John Broome Pencils - Gil Kane Inks - Sid Greene

So now that I've figured out that Hal enjoys a good bout of fisticuffs, what could be more appropriate than putting him in the boxing ring? He is challenged by a mountain of a man, an alien brawler named "Brutus Force", who got tired of hearing from those he fought on various planets that while he was good, Green Lantern was better. So he headed to Earth to settle things. Green Lantern refuses to fight, because his ring "is for use only against crime and injustice - not for my personal use in public spectacles".

Bru doesn't even know what crime is, and once he learns, he sees it as a method to get Green Lantern to fight him. He's successful, as his theft of cash from the bank causes the police to urge GL to take him on. They meet in a boxing ring, and Bru has some method to repel all energy, so ring constructs don't work on him. It takes Hal pulling a Flash trick and moving at such speed that multiple images of him appear to distract Bru long enough for him to find an opening and knock him out. The police let him go since he's an alien and willingly returned all the money he stole, on condition that he not return to Earth. Both men end up with a friendly regard for each other, which is a nice way to end the story. There's not a lot to say about it other than Bru is not really the usual evil guy with bad intentions. He just enjoys a good fight, and since Hal gave him one, he's happy. A lightweight and fun little story.

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